One night, this past winter, I drank four bottles of Troegs' Mad Elf Ale (11.0% ABV). Going into it, I knew taking four bottles of Mad Elf to a BYO holiday party was probably a bad idea. However, I did manage to drink two Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale and two Mad Elf only a few nights earlier and it was a pretty good time. I knew that didn't quite add up to the same experience as four Mad Elf, but I was confident I could make up the difference.
There may have been a slight error with my calculations.
Troegs Brewing Company's Mad Elf is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale brewed with honey and cherries. A winter seasonal release, the Elf has a hint of red to it and and smells more like candy and spices than a Belgian beer. The taste is an impressive mix of dark fruit, honey sweetness, and spice with nice Belgian backbone working in the shadows. The high alcohol is almost entirely hidden with a decent amount of carbonation and syrupy sweetness – and it is those two elements that I think really make the beer enjoyable and easy drinking – sometimes too easy. Too often, the downfall with beers similar to the Mad Elf is the carbonation. When too minimal, it allows the syrup side of things to overpower, reminiscent of something in a medicine cabinet. With Mad Elf, I would venture to say it smells thicker than it feels.
I didn’t realize it until it happened, but apparently I've been waiting my whole life to say that something 'smells thicker than it feels'. I would like to learn how say that in Russian. I would like to run in deep snow. I would like to run in deep snow, carrying a large log. I would like that large log to double as a secret cooler filled with Mad Elf. I would like some respite from the thick heat and humidity that is mid-summer in Pennsylvania before I lose my mind.
Next time someone asks me if their breath smells, I will reply, “It smells thicker than it feels.”
And yes, I get asked that a lot.
By my Wife.
Her name is Hallie.
And I love her.
But that's not her real name.
Her real name is Maya.
Ivana Manda Smellmybreath?
Regardless, Mad Elf, like the mild heat stroke I am currently working through, is a wild ride. The complexity of the flavors really change as you make your way down the glass. Make your way down a few too many glasses on a cool winter night and all sorts of simple things will seem abruptly and absolutely complex.
While showering that next morning, I thought about my experiences from the night before and marveled at my lack of hangover. I reflected back on the conversations I had before I lost control. It started out mildly enough - “I saw so-and-so the other day” - which led to some fond remembrances of people and places that we used to know and go. From there, strange weather was discussed. And increases in insurance rates. And how strange weather was the cause of increases in insurance rates.
Then somewhere between bottle two and three, I started a conversation about red clay soap, about how I ordered some online, and about how excited I was with the idea of cleaning my muddy crack with actual mud. How I worked this topic into general conversation is a mystery. I pray there was some context. What's strange is that, at the time, I hadn't actually ordered any soap. I had been thinking about it, researching it, and checking out prices, but I didn't order it until the following morning. In a way, it's like I saw the future.
I may or may not have stated to whoever would listen that my attic is a rainforest. I most likely said it multiple times.
From there I made fun of my tall friend. I said he reminded me of that Red Bull YouTube video, the one where that guy falls from space. Actually, I’m not sure if that’s what I said, but it's what I meant. What that statement actually means, I have no idea.
As I finished #4, I entered a desperate tailspin. A desperate and serious tailspin. I spotted Wife on the other side of the room, acted out some sort of hand jive S.O.S. signal and we were on our way. Walking home, I had extreme difficulty negotiating the sidewalk balance beams that line the streets of my town. Then, I nearly fell off a bridge. When I got home, I tried to hock a loogy before I went inside and instead vomited on my shed.
Once inside, I was thankful I was not wearing a belt. The buckle would have been a puzzle I was not prepared to solve and would have been a serious hindrance to using the toilet in a timely and proper manner.
I woke up the next morning in my bed wearing socks, underwear, a button down dress shirt, and a sweater vest.
I never wear socks to bed.
On the bright side, I didn't shit my pants.
Mad Elf Ale, Troegs Brewing Company 3.95/5
look = 3.4/5
smell = 3.8/5
taste = 4/5
mouth = 4.2/5
overall = 4/5