Some holidays have very defined food and drink standards, like turkey on Thanksgiving, champagne on New Years and obscene amounts of candy on Halloween. Food on Christmas in the U.S. seems to vary from family to family. My parents usually cook up a roast beef or pork while my in-laws enjoy lasagna Christmas Eve and turkey on Christmas Day. There is also no defined beer style to best celebrate the holiday. Some breweries release fresh hopped beers from the fall harvest, while others do maltier ESBs, winter warmers, or stouts. Many Christmas beers include spices or fruits that complement the distinct flavors of the holiday season. One of the most sought-after Christmas releases is Mad Elf by Troegs Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. Mad Elf is a Belgian strong dark ale brewed with cherries and honey. I am a fan of Belgian dark beers in the winter and especially during the holidays. The malt sweetness and fruity esters from the yeast result in a bold and complex brew. The yeast flavors can also nicely complement subtle additions of fruit and spices. Mad Elf is available for a very short time on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Troegs Mad Elf pours a clear deep amber with a mild off-white head. The scent is a mixture of roasty malts and some spicy Belgian style yeast. The taste starts with the malts, significant dark fruit flavors including plum, currant and raisin, along with notes of caramel and chocolate. The yeast is also present with touches of apple, clove, pepper and pear. The cherry flavor is noticeable but subtle, and the honey adds alcohol along with some mild sweetness. At 11% ABV the alcohol is noticeable, but mild on your palate so the beer actually goes down very easy. There isn’t much hop flavor, but the hops add enough balance to keep the beer from being cloying. Troegs Mad Elf is a full bodied sipper that finishes with a touch of sweet fruit. This has emerged as a classic holiday beer for a reason, it is complex, flavorful, and perfect for a cold winter night. Pick up some before it’s gone! Merry Christmas – enjoy your food and beer, whatever it may be! Hoppy Boston score 4.5/5.
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