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Sunday, January 25, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Beer Here: Maggie Imperial IPA from the Grumpy Troll
Grumpy Troll brewmaster Mark Duchow named his assertive Imperial IPA Maggie for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Credit:Robin Shepard

The brews of Mount Horeb's Grumpy Troll Restaurant & Brewery are racking up some impressive reviews of late. just picked the Grumpy Troll as #40 on its list of the top 50 brewpubs in the US. Only one other Wisconsin brewpub made the list, Madison's Great Dane Pub and Brewery.

Last fall, Grumpy Troll's Amnesia Baltic Porter brought home a Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. And the Chicago-based Beverage Testing Institute is taking notice of brewmaster Mark Duchow, whose beer earned seven World Beer Championship medals in 2007, one of which, a bronze, went to Maggie's Imperial IPA.

What is it? Maggie Imperial IPA from Grumpy Troll Restaurant and Brewery

Style: Imperial India Pale Ale, also called a double IPA. Anticipate a strong hop profile, with resiny and citrus tones. But you should also expect some robust maltiness sweetness in the background that lends a complexity to this style. The finish will have some alcoholic warmth. The imperial IPA is often considered an American creation, evolving from the hop lovers' quest for bitterness.

Background: Grumpy Troll brewmaster Mark Duchow named his assertive Imperial IPA Maggie for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Duchow actually expanded upon the recipe of a homebrewing buddy to make this beer. Maggie is offered year-round at the Grumpy Troll.

For a special treat, a "freeze-cured" version of Maggie, Ice Maggie, is currently on tap at the Mount Horeb brewpub. To make the Ice Maggie, Duchow needed to find a way to lower the temperature beyond what his brewery was capable of, because Maggie won't freeze even at temps in the 20s. So when the outside temperature dropped to zero a few weeks ago, he improvised and sat a few kegs outside on the loading dock of the brewpub. When ice crystals form in beer they can be removed and the result is less water, more flavor and, yes, more alcohol. Ice Maggie comes in around 9.5%.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Light hoppy nose.
  • Appearance: Hazy copper with a soft, marbled, off-white head.
  • Texture: Full bodied, round.
  • Taste: A hoppy start, with a caramel background the builds over a pint.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Long lasting, resiny, bitterness.

Glassware: The basic nonik or brewpub pint will accentuate this beer's beautiful copper body and marbled head.

Pairs well with: You need an aggressive entree with this beer. Hot wings or the Cajun Chicken Quesadillas are great companions from the Grumpy Troll's menu.

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: B+ (very good) from Beer Advocate and an 83 from Rate Beer.

The Verdict: The Maggie offers strong bitterness with some resiny and piney tones. Its warmth will build over the course of a pint. A way to bring out the complexity of flavor for both the Maggie and the Ice Maggie is to allow either to warm over the course of a meal. That'll help accentuate the malty background, especially in the Ice Maggie.

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