Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Mad Elf Ale (review)

Beer Review #61

Its neither beneficial (to the health of craft beer) or possible to quantify "Best Brewery in Pennsylvania," and if you could I'm certainly not the one to do it (lack of experience). That said, one could make a pretty good argument for bestowing the honor on Troeg's Independent Brewing . Check out my reviews for: HopBack Amber Ale, Perpetual IPA, Hop Knife Harvest Ale, and Java Head. The point is, these Central Pa boys have got their shit together...

..but a holiday themed winter warmer ale (11% ABV) brewed with honey and cherries? Whats up with that? I am of course referring to The Mad Elf Ale, a seasonal available between October and December. I guess the only other "Christmas" beer (and forgive me if i'm ignorantly mixing styles here) to my credit is 4 Elf Winter Warmer Ale, a supremely spiced offering from the brew gods at Dark Horse Brewing (no connection to the awesome Comic Book publisher!). These two beers aren't actually very similar, beyond the fact they're big on flavors and aromas that are not found in your more typical watery-malt-yeast libations.

The Mad Elf Ale smells like honey and cherries, or make that raw, unprocessed, un-manipulated honey and cherry - which both have deeper, less sweet aromas than we think of when somebody says "honey," or "cherry" as we think of pouring honey over breakfast, or downing a bowl of black cheery ice cream. Remember, after all, that a fresh cherry off the tree can also be quite tart. Tartness is a flavor, i know, but there is a certain aromatic character that goes with it. Think of that - and you've locked down The Mad Elf.

This beer pours red-amber and is mostly translucent after the foaming white head dissipates. Head retention isn't great (at fridge temperature - drinking this one a little colder than recommended), but there are good legs nonetheless.

Taste: honey and cherry notes, a touch of alcohol (at an 11% ale that is to be expected) along with some spicy yeast character that reminds me of that Allagash Belgian Tripel I had last week, and a touch of clove like that 4 Elf Winter Warmer I mentioned earlier.

Musical Pairing: Wizards in Winter by Trans Siberian Orchestra

Twin Tiers Beer Trail:
-Twin Tiers Craft Beer Club
The Jolly Farmer, Waverly
Bluestone Brewing Company (Sayre)
- Diversion Brewing Co. (Chemung)
River Barge Brewing (Wyalusing)

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