Posted by Rachel Saenz / Thursday, June 13th, 2013
“It’s a little bit like alchemy… a combination of science, art and mysticism.” That’s how Mad Horse’s latest addition, Thomas Troxell, describes making the best of brews. Texas-born and Maine-raised, Troxell has lived near, far and in-between, honing not only his craft but his passion for brewing. Finally settled and embracing his new role (as of last month) as Mad Horse’s Head Brewer, he’s happy to share his experience and just “serve the best beers possible.”
NVM: How did you first get interested in home brewing?
TT: I was in the military, working as a medic. I had just started to do home brewing when I was shipped to Iraq. The longer I was over there [researching homebrewing] the more I realized I wanted to pursue it. When I got home, I dropped everything and enrolled in the Seibel Institute of Technology in Chicago. The course was only a couple of weeks long, but it was really intense. We had some of the big guys teaching us from MillerCoors and well knowns from the craft brew scene like Randy Moser.
Where have you brewed professionally and what was your work like?
I started off at Sea Dog [Brewing Company] in Maine. I worked there for about a year, while I was also working at Black Bear Microbrew. I was learning both sides of beer. With Sea Dog, I was doing fermentation and brewing, and with the other I was doing packaging, kegging…it was 40 hour work weeks, six or seven days a week. Probably the biggest company I’ve worked for is Stone Brewing Company, out in California.
Why did you come to Mad Horse Brewpub?
I was looking for something a little smaller, something with a little more interaction. I saw a listing for this position at Mad Horse and applied. Now here I am.
How do you like Mad Horse so far?
I love it. I love the vibe I get here. It’s a good, down-home, family-friendly community. When I can, I volunteer to work behind the bar so I can meet the people, the regulars. I really just love being able to see folks drinking my beer. Maybe it stems from my Army days as a medic, but I like talking to people and knowing they’re cared for.
I know there are going to be some changes coming to Mad Horse. Anything to take note of?
We’re really just trying to establish our identity and renewing our commitment to making good quality beers. We’re mostly just adding to our brew lineup, but slowly, we may tweak some recipes that we feel need an update. I’m a big IPA fan, so if anything, I hope to bring some good hoppy beers into the mix. We’re not going to bombard people with our changes though. Folks should stay tuned in to our website and Facebook page for updates.
Why do you think the craft beer scene is exploding?
People really love flavor. I’m not trying to knock what the big guys are doing as they are to be respected for having a consistent product, but people like to experience new flavors. In the craft brew world, we have something to suit any personality. It also kind of feels like you have a say in it. People come in all the time and ask if I’ve ‘heard of this’, or ‘tried that.’ It’s truly becoming a passion across America and I think it’s due to the fact that it’s local and flavorful.
How do you think good beer is made?
It’s understanding the strangeness. It’s being an artist and creative with it—knowing all your mediums and letting the yeast work its magic. I often say I’m working for the yeast. There is a bit more to it than that, but I like to give the yeast its credit.
Tags: craft beer, craft brew, Lovettsville, Mad Horse Brewpub, Northern Virginia, Northern Virginia dining, Northern Virginia Magazine, northern virginia restaurants, NoVA, NoVA Beer, NoVA Dining, nova magazine, NoVA Restaurants, Rachel Saenz, restaurants in northern virginia, Siebel Institute of Technology, Thomas Troxell, virginia beer