On Saturday i went - with brooke, eric, bethany, shane, & grant - to the quaint (don't look up etymologies, as a general rule) little town of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. It was my first visit to Mt. Horeb, though i'd known it by reputation and street sign for more than a dozen or so years.
The drive there is the same drive (at least at the start - US Hwy 18) as the road to Decorah, so even en route, i am calm and content... On entering Mt. Horeb you pass through a series of roundabouts. The great thing about roundabouts is that you never quite have to stop & wait at them as you would a stoplight. The lousy thing about roundabouts is that Americans don't really quite get them... or trust them.
On arrival, after Rex Grossman walked around and screamed at people downtown, we made a brief stop at the Mustard Museum. There was quite a lot of mustard there.
After this visit, we moved on to the main stop, The Grumpy Troll, a well-run, really pleasant brew pub & pizzeria at 2nd St. & Main St. We sat downstairs, at the bar (the best way to get to know any place is to sit at the bar) and sampled some of the beers. The Troll's beers tend not to fall victim to the great failing of many micro (or home)-brews. Often a small brewing operation tends to rely too much on flavor, forgetting that beer-drinkers, in fact, enjoy beer. A chocolate stout tastes a bit much like chocolate, an ale with a hint of citrus too often gets drowned out by that citrus, but, for the most part, the Grumpy Troll avoids this pitfall. Their jalepeño beer (Slow Eddie) has just a touch of spice, on the finish, and adds a lovely compliment to a pizza (more on that in just a sec). Their only beer that does tend to fall victim to over-flavoration is the Maggie Imperial IPA and, in fact, the way it's over-flavored isn't offensive, rather, pushy. The Maggie measures 100 IBU's (International Bittering Units?), and is, in some ways, an IPA drinker's dream beer, but the bitter almost (but not quite) overpowers all else. In the end, the Maggie is good for a pint, but i'm not sure i'd want much more than that. The champion beer for me, though, was the CCCP Spetsnaz Stout, a lovely, dark stout with chocolate & coffee undertones.
Finally, at 4pm, the pizzeria upstairs opened. The pizza was some of the best i've found anywhere. I think maybe even better than (and certainly distinct from) Mamma Lilla's in Clinton, which is my favorite (comfort food) pizza. The crust was really quite good and they had several well-designed specialty pies. Also adding to the place's charm were the sort of retro video games, including a Sunset Riders knock-off in which we (Shane & I, natch) played some sort of mutant bulls...
After leaving the wonderful company of the Grumpy Troll, we headed back into Madison & hit the Great Dane Pub & Brewery at the Hilldale Mall in Madison. A diverting stop, though, no beer for me...
Finally, on the drive home we made a stop at Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills, having some pints of their Pumpkin Spice Ale and Chocolate Porter as well as picking up a Growler of the Stone Tepee Pale Ale. And, with a gassy belly & a really quite mild beer buzz, we returned home to Milwaukee.