This summer is a big anniversary for the Troll Capital of the World as Mount Horeb celebrates the sesquicentennial of its founding. In the midst of the summer-long community events and special weekend activities, I've found myself there more than once, so naturally, I've turned to the Grumpy Troll for a pint or two.
What is it? Sesquicentennial Brew from the Grumpy Troll Restaurant and Brewery of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
Style: Grumpy Troll Sesquicentennial Brew is based on early American beers of the mid- to late 1800s, which were greatly influenced by German brewers who settled here. Grumpy Troll brewmaster Mark Knoebl researched the types of malts and brewing techniques used by some of the first Wisconsin brewers, such as Jacob Best, Frederick Pabst and Frederick Miller. Those early beers are the foundation of the classic American pilsner, a style based on an all-malt recipe, unlike the standard American pilsner, which may be made with adjuncts like corn and rice. The classic American pilsner has low to medium malty aroma and a yellow to golden color. It is generally light-bodied, with a firm maltiness.
Background: Grumpy Troll Sesquicentennial Brew was released in June, just in time for Mount Horeb's Summer Frolic, which kicked off a series of celebrations marking the community's 150th birthday. Knoebl uses Pilsner and Munich malts with roasted barley. It's hopped with Hallertau, Saaz and East Kent Goldings. As a lager, it ferments for six to eight weeks and finishes at around 5% ABV. The beer sells for $4.25/pint or $8/growler (refill).
Sesquicentennial Brew is expected to be on tap at the brewpub through August. Knoebl will hold back the final keg for the community's Thirsty Troll Brewfest on Saturday, September 10.
- Aroma: Light malt.
- Appearance: A hazy, light golden color with a medium soft white head.
- Texture: Light bodied and round.
- Taste: Maltiness up front and early, tapering off quickly, with a clean flavor profile.
- Finish/Aftertaste: A faint dryness.
Glassware: The Grumpy Troll serves Sesquicentennial Brew in the modern bar pint. However, 150 years ago, it was likely served in a mug or stein.
Pairs well with: While overall this is a versatile meal beer, the flavor of Sesquicentennial Brew is light, so don't overwhelm it with an aggressive entree. From the brewpub's menu, try the lighter summertime selections, such as the grilled salmon salad or the garden wrap.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: Grumpy Troll Sesquicentennial Brew has a light, up-front grainy maltiness that slowly tapers off to a clean finish. That light and well-balanced flavor makes it a nice meal beer. For some, it may seem a little tame, but that's why I appreciate it. I can't envision Captain Pabst sitting around enjoying a big robust West Coast double India Pale Ale that's so rich in hop resin he gets cotton-mouth. Mark Knoebl's research into early brewing recipes has produced a pleasing beer that's in the spirit of Mount Horeb's 150th birthday.