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Vintage Brewing Company

Madison, WI


Cruisin’ Grade: F

Boozin Grade: C

Vintage Brewing Company-Madison-Wisconsin-Travel-Blogger-Exterior

Our final brewpub chain in Madison and, unfortunately, we did not save the best for last when compared to Hop Haus or The Great Dane. Vintage Brewing Company is a staple for many Madisonians, students, alumni, and residents alike. If you frequent Madison, chances are, like the Great Dane, you have been, or know someone who has been. However, as we always say, brewpubs typically do neither the brewing or pub part excellently and Vintage is our shining example.

Vintage has three locations in the city of Madison, and coincidentally, the fourth, and nicest location is located in nearby Sauk City. That location sports a deck with some lovely Wisconsin River views and a large event space on the upper floor. However, for our review, we are focusing on the West Side, Whitney Way location. While we have not been to the East side location, I believe we can write an accurate review after having been to three out of four.

What we can never get over at the Whitney Way location is just how dark it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s during the middle of the afternoon or during Sunday Brunch, it is ALWAYS dark inside. The absence of light kind of gives it a dingy feeling. Even the aforementioned newest location with its giant deck, also lacks windows that gives it that feeling of always being late in the evening when you step inside (this doesn’t apply to that location's event space upstairs). This lack of light, I don’t know, I can’t shake the feeling of the old school Pizza Hut buffet. You know, back in the 90’s when you’d go there, sit in a shadowy booth with those stained glass lights and sneak off to get some pizza. Vintage has that same energy, except without the deep dish.

Hannah notes that the overall vibe seems to be more of a restaurant that happens to do beer. I guess you could say the same for both The Great Dane and Hop Haus, but those, maybe it's the decor, maybe it’s the spaciousness, feel like they could be either or. Walking into the Vintage, there’s no doubt that you walked into a restaurant.

Those notes aside, there are some positives. Each of the locations- that we have been to- sport a patio or outdoor space. However, I would say they have awful locations for such things (the exception being Sauk City). Whitney Way boasts a large patio directly next to its namesake which is constantly buzzing with traffic while the downtown location has a patio on what is perhaps one of the busiest streets traffic wise (University Avenue). While you can always appreciate some outdoor space, it’s clear that it wasn’t thought through. The patios do have outdoor heaters and tables.

Vintage Brewing Company-Madison-Wisconsin-Travel-Blogger-Bar

The Whitney Way location is dominated by a large, rectangular bar that sports a large, neon-lit fish tank in the middle, something you’d expect at one of those surf n’ turf spots that’s nowhere near the ocean. I guess it’s a unique touch, but here it feels slightly tacky.

Anyway, moving on to the other aspect our blog focuses on: the beer. Which it does give a little more shine than the vibe, but not much.

Vintage Brewing Company-Madison-Wisconsin-Travel-Blogger-Beer Flight

Hannah and I each got a flight of 5 and they are priced by sample between $2-3 per pour which left us with a bill of about $22.00.

*Denotes a seasonal beer

Weiss Nix (5.3% ABV) - This Weissbier was golden and cloudy, and for once a beer description was accurate of its aroma, full of banana and heavy, heavy on clove which also traveled to the palate. This bear was quite bready, as is the style. A decent wheat beer if, a little unenthusiastic.

Dedication (9.2% ABV) - This Dubbel was the color of burnished copper with an aroma of star anise, with perhaps a little ginger. It tasted of dark, rich fruits, maybe something like dates, but probably raisins, and for me, I’m not wild about raisins. This beer finished a little too bitter for the style and honestly had a pretty high alcohol content for a dubbel which I think washed out some of the flavors and messed with the mouthfeel, making it lighter when it should be medium.

Scaredy Cat (6.3% ABV) - This Oatmeal Stout was an opaque dark-brown and tastes of bittersweet baker's chocolate along with raw coffee beans (if you look hard). It was quite bitter in the end with an aroma of sticky molasses. An oatmeal stout that tasted nothing of oatmeal I think it’s far to say this completely missed the mark. An oatmeal stout should be so slick and thick it can almost come off as oily and there was absolutely none of that in terms of mouthfeel.

Jahti* (5.4% ABV) - This Juniper Rye Ale was different and was pretty pleasant, but I’d say you need to be a Gin drinker to think so. Golden with low clarity, this beer smelled very much like berries of all sorts but had a strong juniper flavor (think pine) with a slight bit of that red fruitiness in there. I did not find any spicy notes of rye, which is a shame.

Pumpkin Disorderly* (7.4% ABV) - Oh boy, as if we didn’t get enough pumpkin spice shoved down our throats, this beer smells like a gaggle of tall-booted, leggings-clad, and puffy-vested girls with green mermaid cups in hand at a corn maze. Rich reddish rust in color this beer may have been an easy drinker with low carbonation and clove, but I think if you got hammered on it, you might wake up to find you’re a basic white girl. It is, however, an excellent girlfriend beer if you’re taking a date to a brewery and she usually goes for wine.

Sun D’Appled* (5.0% ABV) - This is a harvest apple tart (which, a tart isn’t really a style of beer, so I might say this is more a a fruited sour ale) that is orange-brown in color with medium clarity and smells of store-bought apple cider (not the stuff you get from a local orchard). This beer makes your entire body pucker from the tartness. This beer tastes of granny smith apples and cinnamon with maybe a little bit of caramel sweetness at the very end. Hannah highly recommends and went so far as to say this is her favorite fall-themed beer.

Oktoberfest* (5.6% ABV) - There is something about going to drink an Oktoberfest in Oktober, expecting that deep rich flavor of a Märzen and then being gutted when it turns out to be an amber. This beer had high clarity to it’s brown color. This beer had the unfortunate smell of a dump bucket at the end of a wedding. Like warm Coors mixed with better beer. There was some malt character, but I missed that deep toasted richness.

Vapour Trail* (7.4% ABV) - This Hazy IPA was a hazy yellow color, with the aroma of pine and lemon. The taste had that bitterness of citrus rind, like if you put a little too much lemon zest on your salad with a very dry finish. Solid Pass from both of us.

Diamond Star Halo* (4.8% ABV) - This sour had brilliant clarity and was the color of dried straw and could almost pass for a lager if you’re looking at it with light behind it. It was described as being quenching but it left me feeling thirsty. If you like sours that are just sour to be sour then this is for you, but Hannah, our sour expert said “no thanks.” There wasn’t much else notable about this one.

Irruption* (5.4% ABV) - This was a tolerable IPA that was silky smooth thanks to the presence of cashmere hops, it even smelled smooth if that makes sense, with just a little bit of citrus. It was cloudy gold, despite not being hazy, and had a strong finish. A note about this one is that a portion of the proceeds go to The Flock, an organization that is associated with the Forward Madison, the soccer team here in Madison. One Barrel makes a better beer partnered with the soccer team though, a crushable cherry kolsch. This one we could take or leave.

We really don’t enjoy the Vintage, and even in Sauk City, we only stop there when we don’t want straight tavern food, but even then, we’ve passed on Vintage to just make the 20 minute drive back to Madison. Hannah found a winner in the the Apple Ale, but there were no six packs to go. Below average beer, and sub-par food is what you come to expect going into a brewpub these days and at that, Vintage hits the mark. Despite it being a Madison staple, we can say that you aren’t missing out on anything by going elsewhere.

Keep on cruisin’, don’t stop boozin.

To learn more about the Vintage Brewing Company please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @VintageBrewingCo or on Instagram: @VintageBrewingCo

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