Name: Mad Elf Ale
Brewery: Tröegs Brewing
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 11%
First Brewed: 2002
The bright ruby color points clearly to the cherries added after fermentation. A fresh honey aroma hits the nose before spicy pepper and cloves bite the tongue for a palate-cleansing finish.
When we lived in Indiana, we could get Tröegs with ease. We can’t get Tröegs here in Arizona, so I had to acquire this beer in a trade. It was a fun trade, and I met the guy on Facebook. He also tossed in a few bottles I have never heard of, and I am excited to drink those, too. But I am stoked to drink the Mad Elf, even though it’s not Christmas time. I just figured this was a boring amber or something… nope, it’s a Belgian strong dark ale that uses a clone of Duvel Belgian yeast. I like Belgian beers, and I am sure this one will be delicious. It better be at 11%! Oh, and I love the label. The elf is so cute. Well, mad. But cute!
I have to dedicate this review to Jason Wicklund for making this beer possible.
In the Glass: The book talks about the beer being red, and showcasing the cherries they use in the fermentation. This isn’t a fresh bottle, and I am curious if Tröegs had an issue with cherries due to harvesting issues this year. I know Epic had some issues. There were issues with pumpkins this year, too. At any rate, this has a nice amber color, and a very thin tan head. The beer poured like a Belgian should, and there isn’t much lacing here. Excited to drink this, because I could smell this as I was pouring it.
Nose: I was rinsing out the bottle, and I could smell the cherries. I hope that aroma carries over to the flavor… I love cherries used in beer, especially when they are added after the fermentation process like they are here.
The beer smells like a Belgian strong dark, but with hints of cherries around the edges. Not as much cherry as I wanted, but enough that you know there are cherries present. The beer also smells malty and like a Belgian beer should. Like I said, SO excited to drink this!
Flavor: Here we go… it’s too cold, but I can’t wait any longer! Holy. Cow. That is AMAZING. You would never know it was 11%, and the cherries show up in full force. They are quite tart, and the flavor reminds me of a typical Belgian beer. Belgian yeast produces a consistent experience one beer to the next. Anyway, the beer drinks like a Belgian should, and the tartness really has me sucking my lips.
The beer is quite thin, and my second sip I tried to create some bubbles and it actually thinned out more. The thin mouthfeel, which I will get to, is nice… but the flavor and the finish is the best part. With each drink, the tartness subsides as well. This is a good beer coming from the east coast… and I am impressed with how they get the Belgian flavors here in the USA.
Mouthfeel: The first drink, it was cold, and somewhat carbonated but finished smooth and mellow. When I swished it around in my mouth, it didn’t really do much but mellow out and provide a thicker more polished flavor. This is 11%, but you would never know it. I could easily drink 6 of these just for the sheer flavor profile.
Aftertaste: A good Belgian dark strong is Terrible. Not terrible in taste, but the beer is called Terrible from Unibroue. That might be the best beer they make, and one of my favorite Belgian dark strong beers. This beer, while it doesn’t taste like that, has a similar finish to the Terrible. The cherries really make this beer a success. They also use, per the bottle, honey in the brewing process… but I can’t find them. As I continue to swallow, the cherry flavor is still creeping in.
We can’t get this beer here in Arizona, but I am glad that Jason sent me two bottles… this is too good to only have once! I might have to trade for a case next year! I am going to let the second half of my glass warm up a little, and I am sure it will get better as it heats up. Hershey, PA is known for chocolate… but they need to also be known for their beers! Prost!
Mad Elf Ale – The bottle says: “A Cheerful creation to warm your heard and enlightening your tongue. Fermented and aged with a spicy yeast, this ruby red beer delivers subtle cherries and enticing aromas.”
“The Mad Elf, a jolly and delicious beer for the Holidays.”
I’m not feeling very good today, so I hope that doesn’t affect my review. This actually sounds like a really good beer. The label says “ale brewed with honey and cherries”. I mean, who wouldn’t like that? Honey and cherries… yum. It looks like honey and cherries in the glass. It’s definitely darker and redder than you would expect an ale to be. It’s basically a honey-colored ruby red. It’s a little thick, but not too much. It smells spicy, but also has a bit of a fruity scent to it as well. There’s not a lot of head – there was some in the beginning, but it’s mostly gone now. Based on the description and what it looks and smells like, I have high hopes for this beer. Let’s hope it doesn’t let me down.
Wow. Yep, this one is a winner. I can’t really taste the cherries as much as I can the honey. It’s very flavorful. I’m not sure what the ABV is, but it tastes pretty boozy to me. There seems like quite a bit of heat there. That and the honey flavor are what really hit you the most. There’s almost a maple syrup quality to it. But you know what? I just took another drink, and after you start to get used to the honey/maple syrup taste, there are the cherries, there at the end. It’s an excellent beer. I’m very impressed. We had to trade for this one – I wish we could get it here! I would definitely buy this beer again, and it might be one of my new faves. I need to find out more about these guys!