Vintage Brewing Company
Sun D'Appled Orchard Ale at Vintage Brewing Company
The fall apple harvest in Wisconsin usually brings with it the opportunity to try one or two new local beers. This year, Vintage Brewing has an apple beer worthy of attention. The Madison brewpub recently tapped its Sun D'Appled Orchard Ale, made from apples grown on its brewmaster's family farm.
What is it? Sun D'Appled Orchard Ale from Vintage Brewing Company of Madison, Wisconsin.
Style: Sun D'Appled Orchard Ale is based on a Belgian Abbey-style table beer. The style is traditionally low in alcohol at less than 3.5% ABV, and is historically enjoyed at meals by all members of the family. Belgian table beers are light-bodied brews that range in color from pale to dark brown in color. Malted barley, wheat and rye are common ingredients to the grist, which is the case with Sun D'Appled -- made with 20% rye and 20% wheat malts. When brewers add fruit to this kind of beer, they want to influence the overall flavor without overwhelming the underlying style of beer.
Background: Vintage Sun D'Appled Orchard Ale is made from apples harvested on the Sauk County farm owned by brewmaster Scott Manning's grandmother. Scott's cousin Trent Kraemer, also a partner in Vintage Brewing, recently began restoring the apple orchard on the farm. This September, family members and a few Vintage employees took to the orchard for a harvest. About a week later they held a pressing party using a hand-operated antique apple press.
Because different varieties of apples were used, the resulting juice had a distinctive tartness. Manning added the juice during the boiling of the wort, at a ratio of about 10% to the total volume of finished beer. Manning also created a spice tea with Vietnamese cinnamon, adding it to the beer during conditioning in the bright tank. The beer is fermented with a Belgian yeast that combines with the cinnamon and rye malt for a subtle spicy flavor and light dry finish.
Vintage Sun D'Appled Orchard Ale takes about four weeks to make, and it ends up at 5% ABV. It sells for $4.50/glass or $10/growler (refill). This beer is currently only available from Vintage's west-side location.
- Aroma: Light spicy nose. The cinnamon comes out with almost a light pepper-like aroma.
- Appearance: Amber to bronze, somewhat hazy. A bubbly off-white head.
- Texture: Light to medium and bubbly. A sharp carbonation.
- Taste: A firm apple tartness is up front. The spicy light cinnamon tones seem to be strongest midway through the flavor profile.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Soft hints of spice and a lingering light dryness.
Glassware: Drinking this beer cold -- less than 38 -- will sharpen the crisp tones of the tart apple and spice. Vintage serves Sun D'Appled Orchard Ale in a stemmed glass with a deep, rounded base reminiscent of the shape of an apple.
Pairs well with: Best as an appetizer beer. Its fruity tartness, spiciness and effervescence will sharpen the palate for the meal to come.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: Sun D'Appled Orchard Ale is not sweet in its apple flavor; rather, its sharp tartness and mild spicy accent complements the malty backbone of the beer without overshadowing it. The initial few sips can be a little deceiving, especially if you're expecting more sweetness. Get to know a glass and come to your own conclusion. Its tartness grew on me, and I found myself thinking about the crispness one gets from Granny Smith apples or even pear cider.