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The Beer Circle » Beer, Reviews, Strong Dark Ale, Tröegs Brewing Co. » Tröegs Brewing Company Mad Elf

Tröegs Brewing Company Mad Elf

In my relentless quest to find high quality beer at reasonable prices, I’ve found that one of the best ways to do this is to buy local.  Gaining my education in craft beer (as well as a few other things) at The Pennsylvania State University,  the Tröegs Brewing Company supplied excellent introductions to a wide variety of styles. I still remember my first tastes of their Pale Ale, the doppelbock Troegenator, and, of course, Nugget Nectar.  Each of these are excellent beers, and make for excellent introductions to these styles for the uninitiated, or solid standbys for the more developed palate. Tröegs is some of the best beer Pennsylvania has to offer, and Pennsylvania and her surrounding regions are fortunate to have this gem so close.

Come December 2010, a rather unique new brew showed up on my radar. Dubbed “Mad Elf”, an ale “brewed with honey and cherries”, and clocking in at a hefty 11% ABV, it was easy to see why this caught the attention of those not used to such beers finding their way into collegiate circles.  I first tried this on a whim, with one popular State College bar serving full pints for $3 during happy hour. Still in my craft beer-developmental phase, I was blown away by the flavor and pleasant warming sensation Tröegs had sent my way. I never picked up bottles of it that year, but I always made it a point to grab some when a local bar had it on tap, even in May 2011, when State College’s Z-Bar tapped one last keg that had been “lying around”.

Graduation, then summer came and promptly left, which also marked the beginning of my “real world” life, and a new career. As fall turned to winter, my thoughts turned to that brew that highlighted some of the final days of an extremely memorable time of my life. My good friend and fellow contributor Russ Beck alerted me to when it would be available in the Northern Virginia region, and I picked up a case as soon as I possibly could.

Troegs Mad Elf Ale
[easyreview cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”This beer exudes color. Pouring a bright, distinct red, this gives you an idea of what you’re in for, but is distinctly different than most Belgian dark ales you’ll come across.” cat1rating=”4.5″ cat2title=”Aroma” cat2detail=”The smell of this beer is highly indicative of the taste.  The slightest scent lets you know that you’re in for a strong, yet delightful treat.  Nevertheless, you still may be surprised by what this beer holds within.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”As forewarned on the bottle, flavors such as cherry take center stage here, but also don’t mind sharing with some darker maltiness, primarily evident on the finish. Honey, as mentioned, is in there too, but certainly less prominently featured as compared to those cherries.” cat3rating=”4.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel/Drinkability” cat4detail=”Overall character and mouthfeel seem to be relatively on the light to medium side, but the warming sensation caused by the unique combination of flavors, as well as, no doubt, the 11% ABV, continues to please.” cat4rating=”4″ cat5title=”Value” cat5detail=”I picked up a full case of this for around $56 (Virginia), and have enjoyed quite a bit of it.  This isn’t the cheapest selection around, and doesn’t quite fit into my ‘budget’ category I have a penchant for, but this one is worth it.” cat5rating=”4″ cat6title=”Overall” cat6detail=”The beer, even in the 2011 iteration, is exactly as I remembered it. While this may not be the most complex Belgian-style strong ale out there, it certainly is consistent, reliable, delicious, and hides its strength well. I look forward to aging the remainder of it for the next holiday season, where I’ll be able to compare it to the 2012 iteration. And if I ever find it on tap between now and then, you can bet I’ll pick up a pint of it.  For me, this beer represents more than a simple dark ale – it holds memories within.” cat6rating=”4.5″]

Beer Stats
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 11.00%
BA Score: 87
RB Score: 94

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Written by Garrett Miller

Garrett brings a somewhat different perspective on beer to the table. While always thrilled to try any new, exotic brew that finds itself his way, Garrett finds that he's often quite satisfied with reliable, common craft choices. As such, Garrett is a fan of trying and reviewing these (admittedly less expensive) beers, and using them to introduce the exciting, flavorful world of craft beer to those not-yet-acquainted. Garrett’s favorite styles are IPAs and bourbon stouts, but won’t turn his nose up at anything. Find Garrett Miller on Google Plus

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