Recently I was given an assortment of beers from Vermont … beers I can’t get here in Illinois. The other night, after a long and stressful day at work, I pulled one out of the fridge at random, and looked down to see a Trout River Pale Ale in my hand. I was excited … something about the label made me think I was mining a rare treasure from the mountain that is American craft beer.

Trout River Brewing Company has been around since December of 1996, and they brew their beers out of Lyndonville, Vermont, just off of Interstate 91. Their website describes only four beers, and Hoppin’ Mad Trout Pale Ale is one of them.

Alas, my need for a satisfying Pale Ale went unmet that night. Hoppin’ Mad Trout was perhaps the biggest let down ever. Here’s why:

  1. They call Hoppin’ Mad Trout a Pale Ale with “toasted malt flavors dominated by hops.” This is just not so. Smell this beer and you will detect barely any hops at all … certainly not enough to be able to distinguish specific characteristics. In truth, the malts dominate the hops. Malts 1, Hops 0. Not a Pale Ale.
  2. The beer pours a dirty reddish brown with pretty much no head at all. It isn’t crisp smelling or clear looking. In fact, it it smells malty and musty. That’s two more strikes.
  3. The taste is confusing. Much of this is psychological: you think you are going to be enjoying a crisp, relatively well-hopped beer, but are met with a strange mix of malt and what I’ll call the “stagnant” taste. Can’t put my finger on it specifically.
  4. ABV is low, so this beer becomes a guzzler. I have no idea why it is made, or what the story is behind it. I have no idea why people in Vermont would fan this beer.

All in all Hoppin Mad Trout was a disappointment. I couldn’t figure out what style it fit under, and frankly it tasted more like a half-assed home brew than a craft Pale Ale. Our resident home brewers Tom, Matt, and Nate have made ales that destroy this beer, hands down.

ABV: 4.7%

Grade: D