Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Color: Ruby Red
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Yeast: Spicy Belgian
JuJu: Pennsylvania Honey, Sweet and Sour Cherries
A Merry Christmas Beer for all! Season’s greetings from all of us (I am the only person on this blog…) down here at Beer in My Belly. May your bellies be full of beer, and your homes be full of cheer!
The Mad Elf label is a little weird. Yes, I get that the elf is mad, and probably drunk, but he just seems terrifying to me. The holiday colors and wonky “elf-lettering” are nice touches, and usually I love the graphics that Troegs provides, but I’m a little more uncomfortable with this one. On top of that, some of the boring text is too apparent and cluttered on the bottom of the bottle, and the bit that says “Ale brewed with honey and cherries” is also rather cluttered and doesn’t quite work with the larger title text for the beer. This bottle is a little bit of a disappointment to me really, but I still would save this label for my scrapbook.
This beer is the first to emerge from my cellar after a short two month sleep. The beer pours a ruddy ruby, with a light, gently cream colored head. The body of the beer is clear and caramelly with little to no carbonation coming up through. On the nose the beer smells big with honeyed raisins, slight candied sugars, bready caramel, and only the faintest ghost of cherry. Spicy alcohol, similar to what you might find in a quad, is also definitely present in the nose.
The beer tastes lightly of cherries and honey, transitioning into bready caramel and Belgian yeast character, with a light alcohol spice. The beer begins with an almost framboise like cherry sweet flavor, mixed quickly with spicy alcohol and then creamy honey which opens the beer into grainier caramel and Belgian yeast notes, and light candied sugars. There is a huge cereal bread taste in the middle of the flavor which dies off quickly, but does leave a light bread lingering in the finish and aftertaste. This beer is hugely complex in flavor, and with only 2 months in the cellar it seems to have none of the huge alcohol flavors that other reviewers describe. On the mouth this beer is smooth and caramelly, sitting on the tongue at a medium to heavy body with nearly no carbonation to speak of. The only bite comes from the faint alcohol at the back of the throat, but this is really quite faint, and considering this is 11%, I really don’t taste the heavy alcohol flavor. Overall, I’m a huge fan of this beer. It is a great holiday sipper, to be had in moderation for sure. I could obviously not slug this beer back, but if you put it in a small glass, swirl it around and observe its holiday-appropriate color, and then savor and enjoy it, then it works great. It kisses the tongue, packs a nicely masked wallop of alcohol, and seduces my taste buds with the warm sweet flavors that I want in a holiday beer. A beer to have on Christmas night for sure!