By Gillian McKenzie
That it’s the brainchild of Williams Brothers Brewing Co’s Scott Williams and Richard McLelland, and Darren Blackburn, the former GM of Edinburgh bar The Caley Sample Rooms, might go some way to explaining the focus.
But, as Richard told SLTN last week, the new outlet on Henderson Street is “not a Williams Brothers-branded bar”.
In fact, the only reference to the Alloa-based brewery is in some of the draught and bottled beers, which sit alongside craft brews from other Scottish producers and breweries around the world.
And although the bar majors in craft beer, there’s also an extensive wine list, a range of premium spirits, and a food offer built around local produce.
Richard said it’s a concept they have been fine tuning for some time.
“I think we had all considered doing bars,” he said.
“People say a lot of girls have their wedding planned out from a young age – for us, the bar was our ‘wedding’.
“We all had ideas. Darren is the experienced bar operator so his point of view was very important. And we sell a lot of Williams Brothers beer to places in Leith so it was really important that we were adding something new and different to the circuit.
“It was never going to be a Williams Brothers-branded bar; it stocks Williams beers but the plan was for a craft beer bar and kitchen, with beers from around the world but also a great wine list and a range of spirits designed to be served neat and sipped.
“We were all on the same page from the word go.”
Having acquired the leasehold of the former Cafe Fish restaurant (now based in Stockbridge) at the end of January, the team got to work refurbishing the interior.
Employing local tradesmen and with “all hands on deck”, they transformed the space in one month to the tune of £70,000.
A ‘natural split’ in the 95-capacity premises created a dining area in front of the open kitchen, which has been framed in wood.
Wood cladding has also been added to the front of the bar counter, which has been paired with ‘distressed’ bar stools.
The rest of the bar area is furnished with two ‘beer hall-style’ communal tables, which can each seat 12, a Chesterfield-style sofa and coffee tables made from wooden pallets.
The bar itself now boasts 13 beer taps (three cask and ten keg) to accommodate the range of draught beers (see board left). There’s also more than 40 bottled beers from around the world, including brews from Williams Bros, BrewDog, Black Isle and Camden breweries, as well as around nine guest bottled beers.
On food, the a la carte menu and charcuterie board feature local produce sourced from Fife-based supplier Wild Tastes as well as seasonal ingredients from producers including Great Glen Game in Fort William, Cairnhill Farm in Ayrshire, Peelham Farm in Berwickshire, Eddie’s Seafood Market, Welch’s Quality Fish and Clark’s Speciality Foods in Edinburgh and Limekilns Cheesemonger in Glasgow.
Richard said The Vintage’s ‘source local’ policy has gone down well with customers since the bar opened last month.
So much so that he, Scott and Darren are already considering a second outlet
“Vintage is a brand that you could tweak depending on the location so it complemented the area,” he added.
“It’s not like moving house where you think ‘I’m not doing that again’.
“We’ve created a bar that we all want to eat and drink in and we want to open another.”
Images – The team at The Vintage sources food () and drink from small producers. Pictures: Copper Mango Photography.