You may have heard the saying "Good things come to those who wait, but not necessarily to those who hesitate." That's a good way to sum up the latest summer seasonal at the Grumpy Troll brewpub in Mount Horeb. Brewmaster Mark Duchow showed incredible patience in brewing a beer that's been fermenting for nearly a year and a half. But get it now, don't hesitate, because this special brew could be gone before mid-August. His creation is a bold, assertive Belgian ale made with peaches, a beer he's named Grumpy Peach.
What is it? Grumpy Peach from Grumpy Troll Brewery, Restaurant & Pizzeria of Mount Horeb.
Style: Grumpy Peach begins as a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. The style is pale to golden in color. Its nose often consists of fruity esters with some moderate herbal notes and spiciness. They are light- to medium-bodied beers, and usually very effervescent. However, because some can be quite high in alcohol at 7%-11% ABV, a smooth and warm sensation is not uncommon. The main flavor profile of the Belgian Golden Strong Ale features fruity and spicy tones along with some sweetness and spiciness found in higher-alcohol versions. There is low hop bitterness in the Belgian Golden Strong Ale.
Background: Duchow actually peeled and quartered peaches to make this brew. Once they were sliced, he froze them, then thawed them to break down cell walls and create a peach "slushy," which was added to fermenting beer.
However, the base beer was initially brewed in February 2009. It was fermented for about two months, before being transferred into old bourbon barrels along with additions of Brettanomyces -- a wild yeast often used in Belgian beer styles such as lambics that is known for adding distinctive sharp, fruity and sour flavors. The beer continued to ferment for an additional five months before the peaches were added last September. Duchow says about a pound of peaches went into each gallon of beer. The peaches and beer remained in the wooden barrels until last week, when he put it on tap.
Duchow made about 45 gallons of Grumpy Peach, and he expects (or hopes) it will remain on tap for several weeks. Grumpy Peach has an alcohol content of 10% ABV, and it sells in the brewpub for $4/snifter.
- Aroma: A light peach aroma amid spicy and oaky tones.
- Appearance: Copper with a light haziness. The head is thin and tan.
- Texture: Medium bodied, bubbly; however, some softness from the high alcohol.
- Taste: Sweet peach in the beginning and main flavor profile. Some spiciness, with hints of oak and vanilla.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Ends with a dry, rough yeasty fruitiness.
Glassware: The Grumpy Troll serves this beer in a brandy snifter, which focuses the peachy aromas, and, when allowed to warm, it brings out more of the oak and spices.
Pairs well with: With its fruity flavors, Grumpy Peach is a wonderful companion to the brewpub's mandarin Asian salad, which features mandarin oranges, mixed greens and red onions on a bed of crunchy chow mein noodles. Altogether it makes for a great summer lunch.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: Grumpy Peach is an unusual brew with a strong, yeasty, spicy character that goes well with the fruity flavors of peaches. It's a fun beer, a great summertime seasonal for the hot humid days of July and August. It's a bit high in alcohol (at 10%) to be refreshing on its own; however it's a great beer to pair with a light summer salad.
I really enjoyed Grumpy Peach. There certainly is a lot going on with it, and in particular the hints of bourbon and vanilla from the aging in oak barrels seem to compete with the fruity peaches. This leaves the beer rather harsh in its flavors, especially in the finish. I was hoping for more smooth sweetness complemented by the alcoholic warmth, so I can't help but wonder what this beer might be without the extended aging in oak. However, give Mark Duchow credit for creativity, stamina (in peeling all those peaches) and in his patience leaving the beer to itself to mature for 17 months. It's a summer treat worth the trek to Mount Horeb.