Yes, it's true. I've been very, very bad this year and quite honestly do not deserve any presents at all. Which is why I am resorting to a present from LAST year for four of my 12 Beers of Christmas series.
Bad Elf came to me as part of a gift set from Vermont Beer Delegate, Mattias Dahlstrom. It's a 6% ABV ale that claims to use three pounds of hops per barrel, which is quite exciting if you love hoppy beer. (Still to come from this awesome gift box is Very Bad Elf ale and Warm Welcome.)
Christmas is coming up like an express train, there's tons of crap to take care of and you're feeling the pinch. Fear not, pour one of these babies and all your troubles will melt away.
Bad Elf ale is a red beer that's got quite a fruity nose, but no head to speak of (perhaps because I cellared it for a year before sampling it). I even found myself reminded of cheddar cheese while smelling this beer -- don't ask, it must have been one of those days.
My initial reaction when I tasted it (as you'll see from the video) was that the hoppiness I was expecting to dominate was a bit more understated than I'd anticipated.
Sure, the fruity notes were in danger of being overwhelmed by the bitter hops, but it wasn't the thrill ride of hops you get from some extreme, overhopped ales out there.
However, I can report that later on, after I'd dragged the rubble from our garage conversion down the freezing cold driveway and perhaps blown away some of the day's cobwebs, I found that the bitterness was way more prevalent.
Either way, my comment about the balance of this ale changing from moment to moment stands. It is as if the bitter hops and fruity notes fight for supremacy in your mouth.
I really enjoyed Bad Elf. It makes me realise how good winter ales can be, with a very different character to the beers we enjoy all summer long.
But it wasn't too heavy, a good, balanced ale that will warm you up and make you forget all your holiday woes. At least, until the morning after!
I'll give it Nine Ladies dancing on the 12 Beers of Christmas index. Cheers and happy holidays!
Even the impossible can be found on eBay, if you are patient in your searching.
Try searching for Russian River
(you'll need to narrow down by beer name, ex. Pliny, Damnation, Temptation), Black Albert
or any of the BIG beers. Don't overlook eBay's Belgium Beer results either...