12/9/19: Tröegs Independent Brewing's Mad Elf

2:30 PM

So, I'm sick. I don't know exactly what I have--it's not a cold, it's not the flu, it's not a sinus infection. Yet, somehow, it's squarely in the middle of all of those, brining with it their worst signs and symptoms.

Whatever it is, I've been battling it since last Tuesday (this was originally planned to be a Friday night post, but we just blew right on by that, huh?). I'm still not super well, but I'd like to think I'm on the mend. That means that while I'm still coughy, sneezy, and groggy, I can taste and smell just fine.

Considering that, I think it's finally time for me to break into the next Christmas beer I've had slated to talk about. With illness no longer holding me back, here it is: Tröegs' Mad Elf.

Tröegs began as a shared dream between brothers John and Chris Trogner. While they were college-aged (or just thereafter), the two found themselves in Colorado, diving into the burgeoning beer scene. In 1997, they opened Tröegs in their native Pennsylvania. They moved from their original Harrisburg home to a newer, larger Hershey-located facility in 2011, and they've been (at least, according to their "Our Story" page) brewing and growing ever since.

Mad Elf is an 11% ABV ale that comes around this time each year. It's packed with notes of honey, cocoa, cinnamon, allspice, clove, and cherries (The "We taste" portion of its official page also lists peppercorn).

An initial waft from my bottle nets me the honey, the chocolate, and the cherries. I'm also picking up on the spices, though these aren't as prominent as they would be in other, spicier Christmas beers. It's a silky smooth bouquet that's unhindered by any boozy notes (which means these beer'll be pretty dangerous). Purrl gave the ale six whiffs, indicating that it's a tad too sweet on the nose for her liking.

Sorry. I just took a swig. Nope, this ale's not as dangerous as I would've thought. It's big and boozy here. Like, super warming, as in a few fingers of bourbon warming. I find the honey, the clove, and the cherry with little issue. The chocolate lingers a bit in the finish. Really, this whole affair is reminiscent of a chocolate-covered cherry, which is a treat my family's been associating with Christmas since well before I can remember.

The ale has a good bite of carbonation, but it's creamy-like. Velvety. A nice accompaniment for both the bouquet and its flavor profile.

So, I've said that chocolate and cherries are flavors that, especially when combined, I associate with Christmas. In the last few years (specifically, since I had started my undergrad) my folks have been making chocolate cookies with cherries. Basically, it's a chocolate cookie with a maraschino cherry pressed into before the whole thing is covered with chocolate frosting. Man, that cookie would be a doozy of a pairing with today's ale.

It took a few tries, but, with Tröegs' Mad Elf, we've finally hit upon a beer that's good and Christmasy. The ale is the kind that'd be a perfect fit for a fireside, either on a rainy day or a cold, starlit night. I'm giving my bottle a 9.0/10. I'll definitely pick up more of this before it disappears for the season.

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