Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Rustic Ale

Capital Brewery
Middleton, WI

Style: Altbier
ABV: 4.5%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Fresh off my bashing of Capital Brewery for their adulterating of the once incredible Autumnal Fire, I pulled tonight’s featured brew out of the fridge: Capital’s newest widespread release, Rustic Ale.

Capital has been promoting the bejesus of out their latest production, what with billboards, print ads, and even radio spots. A little uncharacteristic—maybe even unbecoming—for a craft brewer, if you ask me. They’re touting the fact that it’s brewed using local grain—from Washington Island, although that’s kind of pushing the term “local” with it being 250 miles from Middleton—and as a traditionally brewed, “throwback” beer, hence the “rustic” in the title. On their web site they call it an American amber ale, which is a little perplexing since they already have a decent amber. I have a feeling that things are really fucked up in Middleton right now.

Rustic pours with a lively, fairly sticky head crowning a pale, slightly hazy amber. The head hangs around for about half of the drink, and leaves not a whit of lacing. The color is pretty damn light for an amber.

The aroma is bready malt with a tiny bit of tinniness in the far back. A pretty unassuming nose overall. The sip starts with a hint of caramel-tinged maltiness, segueing into bone-dry, biscuity malt. A bit of the sweetish malt comes up for the end, with some barely noticeable, earthy hops providing a decidedably medium-length finish. Body is on the lighter side of medium, with a pretty hard mouthfeel. As the brew warms, the malt opens up more, becoming a little bigger on the front and back and drawing that finish out a tiny bit more.

This beer, Rustic Ale, is perfectly fine. It’s a little lighter and more drinkable than their Wisconsin Amber, making it a standard session brew. But … yawn. The beer I grabbed from the fridge right after this was one that, albeit in name only, was of the same style: New Glarus Alt, a beer that I’m beginning to realize deserved a five-mug rating instead of the four I gave it. Alt is mind-boggling in both complexity and craftsmanship, while Capital basically mailed in Rustic Ale. This is why New Glarus is still a vibrant, dynamic brewery with a big presence in the American craft beer scene while Capital is a fading star. You know what? I think I’ve had it with Capital. I’ll grab a singleton or maybe even a six pack of the Blonde Doppelbock when it comes out next month, but that’ll be it. Maybe, hopefully, the Blonde will get me reinvigorated with Capital. But I doubt it.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on January 15, 2009.
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