Monday, December 9, 2013

On the Third Day of Beermas...Troegs Mad Elf!

Beer: Troegs Mad Elf
Brewery: Troegs Brewing Co. (Hershey, PA)
Type: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 11%

Despite our best intentions to try to streamline the Christmas Decorating Day process, it always turns into a hectic and stressful afternoon.  It begins well before the tree is brought upstairs from the basement storage. The layout of our house is kind of stupid (the result of having one large square room that counts as office, library, den, bar, and dining room), and so every year there is the debate as to where the tree should go, because no matter where it goes, it always ends up blocking something.  Once placement is finally settled, assembling the tree is the next challenge.  We have an artificial tree, which tend to come with their own Christmas lights pre-attached, but we always like to add a few more strings to throw some colour and sparkle into the mix.  Sounds great on paper, but the procedure always turns into a Griswaldian nightmare of tangled lines and burned out bulbs.   Last year, we found a way to make things easier by simply leaving the extra lights attached to the tree, meaning all we have to do is assemble the three pieces. Or so we thought.  Turns out one of the strands was essentially damaged beyond all hope, and so we had to start all over.   Don't get me wrong, the net result is always spectacular, but it nevertheless Christmas Tree Day is a mad occasion in our household - one that definitely calls for a mad beer.

(Oh yes, in case people are wondering - yes, those are lobsters under our Christmas tree.  Family tradition, don't ask me why.)

Mad Elf is Troegs' winter seasonal offering, and it is a brew that has featured on many a "Christmas Beers You Should Try" list online, so I knew it was something well worth seeking out. The name itself is quite appealing right off the get-go: one can certainly envision an elf going batshit insane after years and years of incessant Christmas music, unpaid hard labor, people doubting your very existence - all the while knowing that one day you might be selected by the powers that be to live out the rest your life spying on small children and making nightly Orwellian reports to Miniluv (North Pole Div) regarding their devotion to Big Claus and any incidents of counter-revolutionary playcrime.

Yes, I have a bit of an issue with "Elf on the Shelf."  We'll just leave it there.

Mad Elf is an interesting looking brew in terms of style - instead of the big English ales, winter warmers and stouts one usually sees this time of year, what we have here is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale that packs quite the boozy punch at 11%.  The bottle states that Elf is brewed with both honey and tart cherries, which begs the question: will we have a festive, fruity Christmas cake of a beer, or will Mad Elf be more kriek-like in its complexion?  

Let's find out:

Poured into a goblet.  Nice bright cherry red and caramel, with a a thin crown of head that yields just a bit of lace.  It's a boozier beer, that's for sure.

Nose is cinnamon, spices, a bit of cherry, Belgian yeast, raw honey, sugar, and booze.

I didn't actually know this was a Belgian ale going in, but you can certainly taste the influence of the yeast in this one.  There's a mild tartness from the cherries, some mild malt, good mix of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), honey, a bit of chocolate, and a boozy Barleywine quality to it.  The cherries remind me a great deal of a mead that is made just outside of Niagara, in which some sour cherries are added to the mix.  The interplay of honey and cherry is quite enjoyable - different enough that I'm appreciating every sip for what it is.

Good heft to the brew, certainly has that "Belgian barleywine" feel to it.  Well-carbonated, just a bit syrupy.

Unique Christmas brew experience, that's for sure.  I enjoyed it a great deal (my wife not so much, but she's not a fan of sour cherries).  The 11% certainly helped me enter into that blissful sleepy state I love to be in when I stare vacantly at my Christmas tree, savoring the colours, the lights and the decorations that I have no desire to put away for the foreseeable future.

No comments:

Post a Comment