Towards the end of the festival, I got a chance to talk to Scott Manning of Vintage Brewing. Scott brought two of my three favorite beers from the fest, so it was great to talk to him about them. Sadly, one was a fest favorite and it ran out early and I wasn’t able to snag another glass while we spoke, but we did enjoy a few beers during our discussion! Thanks Scott!
WIBG - What did you guys bring today?
Scott Manning - We have nine different beers on tap, although we are down to seven at this point. We’re moving a lot of Hibiscuis Saison and the Dubbloon was pretty popular one too, that’s our Abbey Dubbel aged for seven months in a Yahara Bay rum barrel. So, there’s a whole lot fo complexity of flavor, almost barleywine like as far as the depth of maltiness.
WIBG - Yeah, I keep sending people over here for Dubbloon, I should probably stop doing that.
Scott Manning - Yeah you probably should, although you can send them over here for Square Pig, that’s another good one. It’s our hoppy Rye Ale. We’ve got a new beer called Crooked Grain Crooked Grain which is an India Brown Ale, so its as hoppy as an IPA, but its as rich as a nice brown ale, its kind of a hybrid. We’ve got our Schwarz bier back on tap now and our Kolsch, so a couple of really stalwart German styles. I’m drinking a Schwarz bier right now, its dark, but at the same time its very light on the palate and refreshing. Our Day Tripper is our Summer Ale, there’s a whole lot of summer flavors going on right now. Whipoorwill is our Belgian Style Wit, which is really palate pleasing on a warm summer day.
We also have our Grätzer which is 100% Oak smoked wheat as the grist bill. So it’s quite smoky, but also quite hoppy. We tried to replicate the Marynka hops from Poland, we enlisted the help of our friends over at Gorst Valley to match the oil content and build it. So it has some Saaz and some English hops that matched up well with what we think Marynkas might taste like, without being able to get some. It’s a really archaeic style, Grätzer haven’t really been popular since the 1800s, and only around the little town of Grodzisk. It’s our lightest beer in color, and our lightest beer in alcohol, but its drinks soo big. It’s got all this oak, smoked flavor, and this wonderful hop flourish right up front and then its gone from the palate. It reminds me a little of sausages, and that’s a very complimentary thing to say for a smoked beer in my world, but we don’t want to call it the hotdog beer necessarily. But, when you first sniff it, there’s something in there that reminds you of a great mild sausage.
WIBG - Would it be possible to try some of that?
SM - Oh, yeah sure.
(Scott filled my glass with Grätzer)
WIBG - Oh, Nice!
SM – Isn’t that beautiful? IT has awesome head retention from all that wheat. There’s tons of protein so you’ve got this big sticky head that just stays there and leaves a nice lace in the glass.
WIBG - Well, it definitely is a hot doggy, smoky kind of beer.
SM – I brewed this for the first time last year and I thought , “there’s no way that the public is going to go for a weirdo, archaic, polish smoky beer, but they went ape-y for it, it was great! The Isthmus, a magazine out of Madison named it their best beer for the year for Madison, for Wisconsin. It was unbelievable. Not that I don’t believe it doesn’t deserve that, I just feel like there is an awful lot of great beer in this state.
WIBG - Well yeah, it’s a great archaic style, Zymurgy did a write-up on Grätzer, four or five issues ago
Scott Manning – That’s true, ours deebuted right before that issue came out, so it made us look like superstars, like “Wow,” somehow we invented this thing. We like to stay just one step ahead if we can. I hear that at GABF this is the first year that Grätzer is going to be judged as its own style.
WIBG - So, are you going to be submitting this?
Scott Manning – We’ll see. It won’t be judged up against the smoked porters or smoked rauchbiers, its going to be its own thing. I think in previous years Grätzer was not well understood. It takes a few good articles and some good modern research to help redefine and learn the facts.
WIBG - It was almost a dead style, right?
SM – The way I heard it, and it may be from the Zymurgy article, is that a few brewers were left over from the breweries that still produced Grätzer. The old brewers were still lingering around and a new home brewing movement is going on in Europe, just like it is here. So there are a lot of young brewers, bringing it to these old guys and asking if this is what they remember. It really was kind of rescued from the grave almost. But a true Grätzer, as I understand it would be a lot lighter than this even. So it should start around 7 or 8 degrees Plato, which is very easy on the grain, so it should dry right out and be a 3-3.5% beer. It’s really a thirst quencher, something that you could still maintain while you are working.
This one is a bit beefy for a Grätzer at 10 Plato, so we’re talking 1.040 specific gravity, but I think, at least for us in our pub that I don’t want to put out a beer that’s so small we have to discount it in a weird way because then the perception is well, why is this $3 when everything else is $4, so I just made it a little bit bigger. It’s an Imperial Grätzer, if you like.
WIBG - This is really good, thanks for brewing this, and thanks for bringing it Thanks for helping to revitalize old styles!
SM - It’s one of the things we like doing, and I like doing. Being forward looking as far as modern American brewing, but at the same time with a name like Vintage we have to level it out. We have a bar full of great old console tv and cool little knick knacks that we remember and even a few things that our folks remember, and even older than that. So it makes sense for us to really be curious about the past.
We did a Gruit with Sweet Mullets Brewing Company, the Toil and Trouble. And that was a lot of fun, to get your imagination going, do a little bit of research and speculate on what things would tasted like in the middle ages knowing that they didn’t have any understanding of yeast really, as far as the microbes that were doing clean fermentation. You know it would have been sour, it would have been like how do you get a pleasing sourness with not hops and the kind of rustic malt bill they might have had. So it’s the kind of thing I really like doing. It’s not punch the clock and come in to brew beer, it’s more about “how do we bring new and interesting flavors to our locale.
That’s all for today, check back soon for another post. And if you enjoyed this post, I am working on scheduling a full interview with Scott!