Winter weather and an overactive imagination found me listening to traditional medieval Christmas music, with candles going in a mess of holly that I painstakingly wrapped around some deer antlers (Seriously. Holly is a sharp plant), while bottling my home brew and cooking a roasted and honeyed chicken from Inn at the Crossroads, a Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones if we are going by HBO) based recipe site. You know, pretending I was a wildling, or some sort of forager. “From the box” meals such as Hamburger Helper and Mac n Cheese have always been a bit of a four-letter word to me throughout my upbringing, I can count the amount of TV dinners I’ve had on two hands, and because of this there’s, there’s something soothing and primal about cooking a hearty dinner (on a budget) from scratch with seasonal ingredients, and I try to do it nightly. Especially when the meal is based on an ancient Roman recipe and conjures up images of Winterfell. And a mug of a good ale completes the feeling.
I decided to open up my bomber of Tröegs Mad Elf Ale (11% ABV, 15 IBUs), because it’s kind of the essential Christmas beer. The one thing that really upset me more than it should have was that I didn’t have the signature Mad Elf tulip glass that I’m so accustomed to drinking this from. This beer, known for its blend of honey, cherries, underlying yeast, winter spices, and chocolate malts was the perfect compliment to my chicken, roasted with honey and stuffed with bread and grapes.
The beer pours a clear, cherry/ruby color, with a thin white head that quickly dissipates, leaving no lacing. You can’t see the color too well in my photo, but it’s almost like cranberry juice, except lots of carbonation.
The smell is very reflective of the taste, with the Belgian style carrying over through the beers spicy yeast esters and malt scents, with prominent notes of dark, ripe fruit and alcohol.
And like I said, the taste of this beer is the quintessential winter beer. It doesn’t look like it would be a thicker beer, but appearances can be deceiving because the mouth-feel says otherwise. Initially I tasted the ripe cherries I had smelled earlier, along with Belgian candy sugar and honey coming in mid-sip. The beer ends on a warming alcohol note, as a winter beer should, with the spices really kicking in.
It’s one I’m definitely going to go pick up another bottle of and age. I’ve been trying to do that with seasonals lately so I can compare them to subsequent years. but I usually always just cave in and drink them. So maybe I should go pick up enough bottles so that I can both drink some, and condition some…yeah. That’s it.
Winter is coming, and with this combination, I’m okay with that.