Girl Meets Beer: Vintage Brewing Co.
One of my favorite things about writing is getting the chance to meet the Brewmasters behind some of my favorite beers and breweries. Though I didn’t get a chance to sit down with Scott Manning of Vintage Brewing Co., I still got a chance to fangirl over his brews and catch a glimpse of his playful personality via email.
Let me give you a brief history on this Madison based brewery. In 2002, Vintage Spirits & Grill (VSG) opened near the UW-Madison campus with Mark (Scott’s Uncle), Trent and Brittany Kraemer (Trent is Scott’s cousin, Brittany is Trent’s wife) at the helm. With the success of VSG and talks of opening up a brewpub swirling through the family, they had another goal, bringing Scott home. Scott, after graduating from UW-Madison in 1995, made his way out to Tucson, Arizona and started working as a brewer at Breckenridge Brewpub in 1997. With the next 13 years dedicated to being a brewer or head brewer at several establishments out West, he was still actively trying to create a plan to open a brewery back home with his family. Scott, his wife and their children left Reno, NV and Scott’s stable income to take part in the family business. In early 2010, Vintage Brewing Company first opened its doors for business.
Scott references that scary moment he left the stability of a corporate brewery gig to venture into the entrepreneurial unknown when asked about the now 2015 bronze GABF medal winning Scaredy Cat Oatmeal Stout. That and there being a lot of dog references in beer names. Cold, dark Wisconsin winters led Scott to create a rich, thick stout brewed with oatmeal, specialty malts and enough hops for balance. Personally, this is one of my favorite stouts because it’s just plain enjoyable and drinkable in multiples because of the 6.3% ABV. It has all the mouthfeel of a heavy complex beer that beer nerds crave and love, but offers the newer craft beer drinkers a worthy choice for consumption.
Though I didn’t get a chance to ask Scott in detail about the 2016 silver GABF medal winner, Better Off Red, which is an American-style Amber/Red Ale, I did get a chance to taste it. Drinking down a better part of a 32ounce crowler, I found this beer to have a rich, deep coppery color with a definite hop aroma. The six hop varieties in this beer leave your mouth full of resiny, citrusy and dank flavors. My favorite was the earthy, oaky notes from the hops that finished with the beer's bitter bite. When I asked Scott how winning a GABF medal felt he humbly said, “It feels great to be recognized at the GABF.”
To any prospective brewer, Scott offers some advice, “Learn all you can. Brew at home. Sharpen your skills and understanding of raw materials, process, and fermentations. Hone your tastes. Obsess about cleaning and sanitation. Become a beer style expert. Pay your dues as a low-level brewery employee. Master all aspects of the mundane, non-glamorous brewery tasks. Give freely of your time for beer promotions, festivals and events. Your new best friend is a squeegee. Beer owns your soul now. There is no real ‘you’, only what beer wants to make of you. Did I mention cleaning? Warn your spouse or significant other that you’re considering life as a brewer, give them a fair chance to leave in favor of a ‘normal’ life.”
Manning is definitely proving that having a sense of humor is necessary in life and business. The family owned and operated Vintage Brewery Company is now expanding to Sauk City. They have secured a 10,000 square foot space in the heart of downtown overlooking the Wisconsin River. They want the Woodshed Ale House to have a Wisconsin corner bar feel, but with local craft beer, house-made pizzas, live music all with friendly service. They will also have a banquet space that will accommodate up to 250 guests.
Though you can’t find Vintage’s brews on the shelves just yet, you can certainly find a few of their beers on tap at some of your local favorite craft beer bars. If you make the trek to Madison, be sure to stop in and grab some crowlers to go! And as always, if you love it or hate it, let me know by reaching out to Girl Meets Beer on Facebook and Twitter.