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Thursday, August 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 67.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Beer Here: Belgian IPA from the Grumpy Troll
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The Grumpy Troll was once home to a local cooperative of dairy farmers and claims to be haunted by a former maintenance worker.
The Grumpy Troll was once home to a local cooperative of dairy farmers and claims to be haunted by a former maintenance worker.
Credit:Robin Shepard

The Grumpy Troll Restaurant and Brewery is located in a cream-colored brick warehouse just a block off Main Street in Mount Horeb. The building, constructed in 1916, was once home to a local cooperative of dairy farmers and claims to be haunted by a former maintenance worker. It was originally established in 1998 as the Mount Horeb Pub and Brewery. It became known as the Grumpy Troll in 2000.

Brewmaster Mark Duchow started with the original owners and left for a few years, returning in 2006. During his sabbatical he was brewing at a brewpub in Houston when he received a call from a friend offering him a ticket to the annual Great Taste of the Midwest. After traveling to Madison for the event, he had a chance meeting with current Grumpy Troll owner Doug Welshinger, who offered him his old job back.


What is it? Belgian IPA from the Grumpy Troll

Style: The Belgian IPA is still a style in development and is not explicitly defined by entities such as the World Beer Cup and American Brewers Association. Its character is inspired by the hoppiness of the American Pale Ale (APA) and the India Pale Ale (IPA). The Belgian IPA features various malts and, most often, American hops with Belgian yeast. It tends to be spicy and dry with the fruity, yeasty flavors characteristic of many Belgian-styles.

Background: Brewmaster Duchow unveiled this beer about two months ago. He got the idea while sharing a pizza with a friend over a bottle of Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel (Brasserie d'Achouffe, Belgium). Duchow's Belgian IPA is made with British malts, European and American hops, Belgian abbey yeast and healthy amounts of Belgium Candi sugar resulting in about 9% alcohol. Later this year, Duchow plans to make a Belgian Imperial Stout.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Light fruity.
  • Appearance: Light copper with a slight hazy color. Head is thick, soft and tan.
  • Texture: Medium bodied.
  • Taste: Yeasty start, fruit tones of apple and pear, with a firm spicy background.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Somewhat dry, yet spicy tones dominate.

Glassware: This beer is served at the brewpub in a pint glass, but a wide-mouth goblet would really bring out its aroma while showcasing the soft tan head.

Pairs well with: The hoppy, bitter edge of this beer will pair well with many dishes. Among the Grumpy Troll entrees that play off these flavors are the Smoked Salmon Caesar Wrap or the Goats Gruff, a lightly breaded chicken breast smothered in marinara sauce and provolone cheese.

Rating: Three Bottle Openers.

(I am using a one to four bottle opener scale: four is a great beer, distinctive, you'll have this over others; three is a beer you enjoy, reliable, close to its described style; two is problematic, lacks distinction, but worth having again; one is a beer that isn't true to its style, you would not recommend it to a friend.)

The Consensus: This beer relatively new and has not received enough entries to be adequately scored on Beer Advocate nor Rate Beer.

The Verdict: This beer, despite not being within a noted beer style, offers great spicy qualities and a firm, dry finish that really makes it a pleasant companion to most meals. I like it for its uniqueness and for the creativity shown by the brewmaster.


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