Monday, May 11, 2009

Them's The Rules - Grumpy Troll Maggie IPA

I don't have a bottle right now to review, but wanted to point you in the general direction of Whole Foods on University Avenue here in Madison. You will find, at least The Grumpy Troll ownership assures me, the Maggie IPA on sale there. This will mark The Troll's first forays into bottling and retail sale.

Which, brings up an interesting issue: this awesome new brewpub law vis-a-vis bottling. Here's what the brewpub law has to say about bottling and sale of beer by brewpubs:

1) Any entity holding a brewpub permit cannot brew, under any circumstances, more than 10K barrels per year. While I don't like this hard cap on barrel limits, the reality is that 10K barrels is quite a bit of beer (to give you an idea, neither Tyranena nor Ale Asylum will brew 10K barrels this year - and probably not next year, either; Lakefront brews right around 10K barrels) and for a "brewpub" (what we traditionally think of when we think of brewpubs) it's a TON of beer (The Great Dane doesn't brew anywhere near 10K barrels in all three of their pubs put together). The "problem" with the hard cap is situations like Great Lakes in Cleveland, which started out as bottling brewpubs (similar to Ale Asylum) but have grown quite large - Great Lakes, a well-respected regional brewery that also happens to be a brewpub, could not exist here in Wisconsin.

2) Brewpubs are permitted to bottle. However, this is subject to some caveats, discussed below.

3) Brewpubs may fill and sell growlers.

4) Brewpubs may sell to wholesalers as much beer as they like (up to the 10K barrel limit)

5) Brewpubs may sell directly to retailers only up to 1K barrels (and for the sneaky: no, the retailer cannot then turn around and sell it to other retailers)

So, that's the rules under the new brewpub law about brewpubs bottling and selling at wholesale or retail. It gets kind of tricky for brewpubs here in Madison though. And, rather than a long dissertation on why, I'll just present the following interesting question:

The brewpub law requires that brewpubs hold three licenses: 1) brewpub license; 2) restaurant license; 3) Class B "liquor license" (allows sale of beer for consumption on-premises). The first is issued by the state, the others are issued by the city of Madison. For the acquisition of a Class B license by a restaurant, the city has a general rule that the restaurant must make more than 50% of its income from non-alcohol related sales in order to get the license. So, does the bottling of a brewpub count against the restaurant license such that the restaurant would have to sell enough food to offset the beer income of up to 10K barrels in order to maintain the restuarant's Class B license? Or, does only the beer served by the restaurant count against its 50%?


  1. I like the Troll a lot, but I fear they may need some work on QC in their bottling process. For whatever the numbers on the beer rating sites are worth, the ratings for Maggie show a significant difference between ratings done on tap at the pub, and ratings from the bottles.

  2. We have 7 beers available at Wholefoods on University. As for the comment, I always prefer beer fresh from the tap over any bottled selection of the same name. I even bring a Growler home occassionally and open it up less than 10 minutes after filling the bottle. For some strange reason, it never is quite the same. Overall we have very good response to our bottled beer. I gave a friend two bottles last week, Maggie and Monk Sweat. I saw him today near Milwaukee and he pleaded for more. I would much rather people try our beer than judge it at all from a rating site. As for the technicalities of bottling the beer, come on out, grab a pint and ask the master himself, Mark Duchow. Cheers. Doug W. Owner P.S. We now feature gourmet pizza on the second floor of the Grumpy Troll.


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