Beer people are proving, as a whole, to be remarkably, surprisingly and frustratingly over-prompt - especially when it comes to seasonal drinking. Oktoberfest beers? Gone by the end of September. Pumpkin beer? You're a total loser if you wait till Halloween. So it's no surprise then that one of my favorite Christmas beers - Mad Elf Ale from Tröegs in Harrisburg - had already been nearly cleared out from local distributors while the Thanksgiving turkey was still warm.
I understand the Mad Elf madness. This strong ale (11 percent) brewed with real cherries and honey has "jolly ruby cheeks" written all over it. It's also amazingly well-balanced (even with a chocolatey aftertaste), considering its festive stuffing. Luckily, the Elf has a second life on draft that's slightly delayed from the bottle frenzy, and a number of bars are giving us seasonally delayed drinkers another chance to toast Santa's little helper by the glass.
- Craig LaBan
Tröegs Mad Elf on draft, $6, at the Wishing Well (767 S. Ninth St., 215-238-6555); $5.50 at the Khyber Pass (56 S. Second St., 215-238-5888); and numerous other bars.