Last night I had nice little tasting session with my lightweight but knowledge-heavy friend Johnny.  He brought over some bottles of Mad Elf (we postponed the case splitting adventure).  I was glad to agree with him (and Ethan) on the tastiness of the Mad Elf.  I generally idolize barleywines as my winter season style, and pugilize spiced winter beers.  (See previous posts for my thoughts on pumpkin beers to get an idea of my feelings for cinnaminy nutmegy beers).  But I think the Mad Elf represents a whole new direction for winter beers.  A direction that I’m glad to head in.   Pairings?  Bring on the fruit cake!

Afterwards, I brought up 2 bottles of Golden Monkey, one from eariler this year, and one that was bottled in July of 2007.  Side by side tastings confirmed what I suspected before:  After about a year this beer starts to decline.  The newer one (maybe 6 months old) however was at its prime.  The spices (different ones! don’t cry “hypocrite!”) and the alcohol had mellowed out, while the body retained its fullness and flavor.