This Tröegs seasonal beer is one that I always keep around for at least a year before I drink it. Fresh, I find the beer a bit "hot" from the high ABV and overly sweet. The ale is brewed with honey and cherries. I am not a fan of fruit in beer and I find Mad Elf to be cloyingly fruity sweet when first released. However, I discovered years back that aging the bottles for at least a year mellows it out. I've got some 5 year old bottles still in the cellar. The bottle I enjoyed on Christmas was from the 2009 release and was quite enjoyable.
The beer is an attractive deep red color with a thin beige head. The aroma is sweet with dark fruit and a mild earthiness. The flavor of this aged beer is still a bit tart from the cherries, but a hint of sweetness balances that out. The high alcohol content is well-masked. The mouthfeel is thick, leaving behind a sticky coating on the lips.
Even aged, the beer is just sweet enough that one was plenty. Of course, the 11% ABV is a factor as well. In any event, I enjoyed lingering over my glass of Mad Elf Ale. Which reminds me, I probably should look at restocking my stash.