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Beer Review: Troegs Mad Elf

by Tara Nurin on Dec 12, 2011 in Beer
Beer Review: Troegs Mad Elf

Oh, Mad Elf, you devilish fiend. Poets like Joe Sixpack sing paeans in your honor (by naming you the world’s best Christmas beer) and beer lovers line up by the dozens to lubricate their year-long thirst for you each winter. Every year, it seems the legend of Mad Elf grows, making its attainment more of a quest. But is it worth the hype?

This reporter says unequivocally yes. Though the Belgian Strong Dark Ale lies still in the glass with nary a sliver of head when poured from a bottle into a sample-size tulip glass, its rich and shining dark copper hue is worth a hundred million pennies.  The aroma is redolent of cherries, light clove and bread loaf – a combination that evokes the scene of a pie cooling on a window sill. On first sip, a young Mad Elf bites with the tart taste of Atlantic-grown berries then immediately mellows as it gets washed in the sweet nectar of West Coast honey. Faintly spicy alcohol is detected on the finish; it greets a throat that has perked up in anticipation of the piquant tingle. Then a warm relief settles over the drinker’s  body as it releases the day’s stress in response to the beer’s 11% ABV.  Yes, Mad Elf lives up to its reputation.

This year’s release of Mad Elf was rumored to be more limited than usual, fueled in part by the delivery of kegs a week late and the big brewery move from Harrisburg to Hershey in the middle of production. But the truth is that Troegs brewed 20% more bottles this year than last, and every market received at least the same number of kegs as last year. It is true that the pesky elf was brewed at both facilities (and was the first large-scale brew at the new one), with recipe left unchanged from 2010 to 2011. Despite the brewers’ efforts, cases are already hard to find (having been snatched up quickly), though taps are still pouring at select bars. Don’t wait until Christmas to capture this Christmas beer – a mad elf is anything but predictable.

 

Top photo via Flickr user Another Pint Please
Bottom photo: John Trogner samples the first batch of Mad Elf brewed in the new location, by Tara Nurin

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