Tröegs Mad Elf Ale is not at all your typical Christmas beer – but for me it’s the ultimate Christmas beer. It’s the one beer I have to have before I’m ready to declare Christmas season started. If I'm not drinking Mad Elf and listening to The Yobs' Christmas album by Black Friday, I'm inexcusably behind. But the way the Mad Elf flies off the shelves in these parts, I probably ought to start drinking it sooner.
Living as I do in the gray area between south central and south eastern Pennsylvania, I’ve got lots of fine regional craft breweries to enjoy. Harrisburg’s Tröegs is up there with the very best of them. And the Mad Elf is my favorite of theirs. Its taste evokes not Christmas cookies, but something closer to cherry pie. If you like cherries, man, this is your beer! Like any great winter beer, it’ll warm you with more than enough alcohol (ABV 11 %). But it’s light-bodied and silky smooth – how easy it would be to knock back two or three of these while you’re watching college bowl games or the 574th rerun of Elf on the USA Network! Like anything off of the Tröegs line, it’s loaded with premium malts (Pilsner, Munich, and chocolate) and hops (Saaz and Hallertau). But what you’ll really taste are the sweet and sour cherries and Pennsylvania honey, which give this fine ale its oh-so-sweet taste. The cherries define Mad Elf but don’t flat-out dominate. With its spiced yeasty notes and full-on assault of sweetness, this is an ale that might get me through a holiday season in which I’m trying to give up cookies, pies, and cakes!
This is that special time of the year - when TV ads teach me that I'm a complete failure if I can't buy my wife a Lexus for Christmas. It's also time to go buy some more Mad Elf - if there are any left!