I should confess up front that I not only love Tröegs Mad Elf, but I love it perhaps a bit too much. As proof of my unnatural obsession with this beer, I flash back roughly 10 or 15-years to when I first encountered Mad Elf. At that time I used to head out and buy not one, but two cases of Mad Elf. One case to enjoy through the holidays that year, and one case to set aside for the following year. Then the following year I’d enjoy a six pack of the previous year’s beers and another new case of Mad Elf. For a few years I was actually sampling five different vintages of Mad Elf every year. I’ll admit I no longer maintain multiple vintages of the elf, but I do chase this beer and enjoy this beer every holiday season.
It is with much excitement that I get to actually begin sampling 2020 Mad Elf in mid October this year thanks to a wonderful care package from Tröegs. I’m also really excited to get to sample their Mad Elf Beer Cheese alongside the beer itself.
Beer and cheese not only have a lot in common in the how they are created, but they both have a lot in common for me as well. Over my adult life I have definitely dabbled in brewing, fermenting and enjoying beer and you may be surprised to know that I also have spent a lot of time making, eating and writing about cheese. With that in mind, I’m here to say I much prefer beer & cheese pairings over the more touted wine and cheese pairings….so off we go.
Tröegs Mad Elf 2020
Style: Belgian-style Strong Ale
Packaging: 12oz Cans
Appearance: Deep ruby red/mahogany
Aroma: Earthy fresh cherry & honey
Mouthfeel: Full bodied & satisfying
Taste: Tart cherry, dull robust honey, mild cocoa & bready biscuit malt
Overall: Mad Elf is a holiday classic that not only represents all of the flavors you expect in a robust winter beer, but a number of new and exciting flavors not traditionally on display in this category. The combination of sweet honey and tart cherry provides the perfect backdrop for the Belgian yeast and cocoa flavors to quietly shine. Overall I’m reminded just why this beer is one of my all-time favorites and why it is simply so good.
As exciting as it is to announce the return of Tröegs Mad Elf, I’ll admit I’m even more excited to get a chance to try out Tröegs Mad Elf Beer Cheese. If you’re not familiar, Tröegs has teamed up with the GIANT Company and Caputo Brothers Creamery in Spring Grove, PA to create an exciting new cheese made with Mad Elf (the curd is actually marinated in Mad Elf before the cheese is aged). The cheese uses cows milk from PA dairy farms, as well as a spice rub of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove from Calicutts Spice Co in Hershey, PA. If that’s not enough fun, the cheese is rubbed with Hershey’s natural cocoa and freshly ground Little Amps coffee. This cheese is the third collaboration cheese with Caputo Brothers and I personally hope we see more and more. But enough chatter….let’s taste cheese!
Tröegs Mad Elf Beer Cheese is semi-soft with a really creamy mouthfeel and a blend of soft satisfying flavors. The cheese is complex and you can definitely taste the influence of Mad Elf in the cheese before you even get to the rind. The mix of ingredients in the rub/rind and the addition of more Mad Elf in the rub make for a really heavenly blend of flavors that work perfectly with the cheese. I found more honey with a touch of cinnamon and I love how the coffee adds just the right counterpoint with the sweetness in the cheese. Perhaps my favorite flavor combination of all was how nicely the roasty chocolate and sweet creamy cheese blended together for an almost dessert-like experience. Overall I’d have to say that Tröegs Mad Elf Beer Cheese has to be one of my favorite cheeses and one that I hope will return again in the future. I should also quietly admit right now that I ate every drop of this cheese and didn’t share even a shred….it is that good!
Tröegs Mad Elf is available now in 12oz cans & bottles and Tröegs Mad Elf Beer Cheese is also available now (and for a limited time) exclusively at all 185 GIANT, MARTIN’S and GIANT Heirloom Market locations and available for purchase through GIANT Direct and MARTIN’S Direct, the company’s online grocery service. The cheese is also available for delivery via caputobrotherscreamery.com or in person at Tröegs.
So get out there and try 2020 Tröegs Mad Elf & Tröegs Mad Elf Beer Cheese for yourself (individually or together). You will thank me when you do and you will be supporting PA Dairy farms and local businesses. And as always, when you do try them, be sure to let us know what YOU think.