What is better than some new beers to try around the holidays? Well, a new beer to try at any time of the year, really. Though, this one is only available around one time of the year. I happened to get a year old bottle of this one and I would love to taste it fresh, especially after this tasting but, hey. I will take what I can get.
Each season the tiny brewery increases its production, and every year it still manages to sell out before Christmas. Although cherries and honey certainly produce distinct flavors, the deeper character of this hugely flavored ale comes from neither of these ingredients. Instead, it's the Belgian yeast--a Duvel clone--that does the work, slowly fermenting over two months at a relatively high temperature to produce exceptional spiciness. Think pepper, clove, and ginger. Together reminiscent of fruitcake, or perhaps a glass of Malbec.I did not get much of the spiciness, pepper, cloves, or ginger they discuss. But maybe that is just a side effect of it being aged... or maybe because I happened to be using a lot of nutmeg at this time.
Mad Elf poured a short lived off white head appeared on top of a deep ruby colored body. Pouring it into the glass, it looked pretty thick, almost like a cough syrup. Sour Cherries and some sweet malts were very pronounced on the nose. There was a vinous alcohol scent on the top as well and a touch of sweetness to top it off.
On first sip there was a sudden rush of cherries and on the back end a bit of sweetness. I thought it was a tad medicinal at first but it kind of grew on me and that flavor went away. Maybe it was the 11% alcohol by volume that was just doing the talking and tasting for me at that point, but who knows. A light carbonation and a bit of spice and dark fruits to finish it out. Quite a chewy mouthfeel.
Like I said, this one grew on me. Glad I got to taste it but based on distribution and price tag, I don't think I will be seeing it again for a while.
886 Bottles Of Beer To Go!