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Sunday, December 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 23.0° F  Fair
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Beer Here: Rye Bob from Grumpy Troll
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Credit:Robin Shepard

The holiday season often brings out memories of family and friends as we share a good brew or two. And sometimes we raise a glass and toast those who made a difference in our lives.

Grumpy Troll brewmaster Mark Duchow recently lost his father. After throwing himself back into work, Duchow decided to pay tribute to his dad with a special creation. Rye Bob, a dry and spicy ale, was put on tap a couple of weeks ago, complete with Mr. Duchow's picture on the tap handle. It's a great beer for anyone who wants to have a drink with their dad, or in honor of him.

What is it? Rye Bob from Grumpy Troll Restaurant and Brewery of Mount Horeb.

Style: Rye Bob is an ale made with a large percentage of malted rye in the grist. Such beers are usually straw-to-amber in color and medium bodied. They may be light to moderately bitter, and commonly have spicy and fruity flavors. Depending upon the type of malt that gets added to the rye, roasted or toffee character can also be found. Overall, the rye ale should focus on a bitter dryness from the rye and hops, yet with a balance from malted barley. Rye ales have a large range in alcohol strength, from 4% to 7% ABV.

Background: Grumpy Troll brewmaster Mark Duchow said he was in the process of preparing to make a Rye Bock in late October. But the day he filled his hopper with grains in anticipation of brewing the following day, he found out his father had died. When he returned from the funeral, he was surprised to find an 11-pound box of Slovakian hops sitting on his desk in the brewery. They were hops that he hadn't ordered. After doing some checking with the supplier, he learned they were a free trial batch, given in hopes that he might like them and place a future order.

Mark Duchow says his father was a frugal man who would appreciate not letting a gift go to waste. So that's just what he did, brewing a batch of beer with the free hops. The beer is actually a blend of malted rye and Maris Otter barley, that when combined with three additions of Slovakian hops creates a malty, spicy and dry flavor profile.

Rye Bob has an alcohol content of 4.2 ABV with 32 IBUs, and it sells for $4/pint or $12/growler (refill).

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: A light spicy hoppiness.
  • Appearance: Hazy orange copper with a medium-soft tan head.
  • Texture: Medium bodied.
  • Taste: A sharp, spicy hoppiness.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness.

Glassware: The Grumpy Troll serves this in a common bar pint. A classic bar pilsner or small weizen-style glass with a slight inward taper near the lip will focus the aroma and enhance the spicy qualities of this beer.

Pairs well with: Rye Bob is good beer for appetizers. On a recent Sunday afternoon it paired well with a plate of nachos and a football game.

Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four).

The Consensus: Rye Bob has not received enough ratings to be evaluated pm either RateBeer or Beer Advocate.

The Verdict: This is a basic rye ale, not to be confused with a rye pale ale or rye porter, two more common adaptations of the style. Rye Bob is a beer with a spicy and somewhat earthy start. However, that dryness builds, giving it unique character and flavor. Beer enthusiasts have an adage, one to the effect that you really should take your time with a beer, enjoy it slowly, and get to know it before casting judgement.

That sums up Rye Bob -- at first I wasn't sure about the spicy tones, but this is a beer that grew on me. Cheers to Duchow for sharing the beer -- and letting us get to know a little bit about his father.

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