I’ve Begun Beer Hoarding for the Holidays

Forget wabbit - I'm hunting Elf!

If you’re like me, then you have certain must-have beers that mark the holiday season.  And if your must-have beers are seasonal brews, you know that you must strike while the shelves are full to ensure you have what you need when those special days roll around.  For me, the holiday beer hoarding just began in earnest. 

It actually started several weeks ago, when The Bruery released this year’s batch of Autumn Maple, an ambrosia of a beer that I absolutely must have on my Thanksgiving table.  I still have one from last year (I think), and I recently picked up two more and have stashed them away for Turkey Day.  Good thing, too, as it seems my local beer stores are now sold out of the stuff.

But the most important portion holiday hoarding began last night, when I went Elf hunting.  You may recall from years back that I was searching and searching for the “taste” of Christmas, but was continually let down by all of the seasonal releases, which tasted like slightly tweaked versions of their everyday craft beer cousins.  They were nice and all, but none of them really jingled my bells until I got a taste of the King of All Holiday Beers, Troeg’s Mad Elf.  This boozy ale brewed with cherries and honey is like fruitcake in a bottle, and has become the official Taste of Christmas in my house.

The problem is that many folks are turned on to the goodness of Mad Elf, and if I want enough to mark the season and to share with friends, I have to load up early.  I won’t go to the mall during the holiday rush and compete for the latest Tickle Me Elmo, but I will go from beer store to beer store to get my Elf on.  It’s the only real holiday hustle I get into, and it’s usually over by the end of October.

I started my rounds last night, striking out at the first store I hit, but finding 12 bombers on the shelf at my small local beer store.  This was the same place I cleaned out last year, buying every bottle they had on the shelf, which turned out to be every bottle they got for the year.  Kind of a dick move on my part.

Last night I took a different tact, trying to be more thoughtful of the next guy.  I picked up three of the bombers and left the others on the shelf for other beer geeks to discover.  I got to chatting with the store manager about the stuff, and he said he’s expecting 5 cases of 12oz bottles next week, and he took my name down with a request for two cases worth.  We’ll see if he comes through, but I’ll probably wind up scoping out some other stores in the meantime to see what I can get.  I can’t leave my Mad Elf stash in the hands of a single small store.  They might only get one case, then I’m screwed!

This may seems a little overboard, but the flavors of these holiday beers have now become deeply ingrained as part of the season, just like pumpkin pie and stuffing and peppermint candies.  Just seeking them out gives me a little tickle in the pit of my stomach, a sweet twinge of that good old holiday feeling.

I even have a new tradition to kick off the season.  Last year I got a little nostalgic on Amazon and ordered up a copy of Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas.  It happened to arrive the same evening that I scored my first batch of Mad Elf.  I sat down with the family and cracked one open, enjoying its boozy goodness as Emmet and Ma figured out a way to out-talent the Riverbottom Nightmare Band.  For some reason that moment stuck with me as the kickoff to the holidays, and it’s one I intend to repeat this year and for many more to come.

Until I insert the disc and press play, I will continue hunting Elfs, with a song in my heart…

Oh there’s no-thing like hoarding for the holidaaaays…
So to beer stores so far away you roam,
Because you pine for the sunshine of a brimming case,
For the holidays, Mad Elves should fill your home.



Now THIS looks like Christmas zen to me!




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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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31 Comments on “I’ve Begun Beer Hoarding for the Holidays”

  1. johnking82
    October 27, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Big fan of Emett Otter, but I’d make sure Don doesn’t get ahold of that furry filled holiday cd.

    I may have to try and get some on my 9 day East Coast trip over the Holidays. Thanks for not being a dick, dick.

    • October 27, 2011 at 10:41 am #

      You’re welcome. 🙂

      And you’re right about the furry thing, especially that rough-and-tuble bear who’s the leader of the Riverbottom Nightmare Band. I’m sure Don would watch it over and over, muttering “I’m gonna be a nightmare on your riverbottom, my furry little treat” again and again.

      Eww. Thanks for putting that in my head, John!

      • johnking82
        October 27, 2011 at 11:10 am #

        for the love of God.

        • October 27, 2011 at 11:31 am #

          Oh sure, blame me!

        • Don
          October 27, 2011 at 11:39 am #

          Yeah…Blame you. I thought this Christmas DVD sucked!

  2. October 27, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    This is a good idea. I started stocking imperial stouts in the spring when it was becoming too warm for such treats. Now, I have a nice stockpile of stouts (among other more wintry styles and my own stout) in my cellar. Bring on the snow!

    • October 27, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      Yeah, I try to get enough Mad Elf to last into February. I even manage to save a bottle for my birthday in July most years. Guess I can’t resist the “Christmas in July” schtick – but it sure tastes good!

  3. October 27, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Awesome. Me, too. Picked up a bunch of STBC Creme Brulee and Mokah a couple of weeks ago. The Creme Brulee is always a hit at holiday parties, even with people who don’t normally like beer. Hoping to pick up some Pumking and Autumn Maple today. Pumking is supposed to hit shelves today. A lot of good craft beer is popping up right now. My bank account can tell. :^/

    • October 27, 2011 at 10:52 am #

      Consider it an investment in ‘good cheer,’ Chad.

    • johnking82
      October 27, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      What did you think of the Creme?? I thought the Mokah was fantastic, one of the better smelling/tasting beers I’ve had this year, but the Creme was a little too much.

      • October 27, 2011 at 11:31 am #

        That’s probably why folks like it – it’s almost not a beer, more of a liquid dessert.

      • Greg
        October 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

        I thought the Creme was decent, but I couldn’t finish the bomber. Really sweet tasting.

        • October 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

          It’s a good beer to drink with female non-beer-nerds. It’s sweet and tasty, which appeals to folks seeking out a sweet treat, not necessarily a craft beer.

          I imagine it’d make a good float as well.

  4. Greg
    October 27, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    I usually pick up some Christmas beers but haven’t found a fave. I’ll have to try the Mad Elf. Of course this year I have a case of my own 9% Barleywine to drink, so that’ll carry me part way through winter.

    • October 27, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      Definitely give the Elf a shot – just do it in the next two weeks. After that the little critters get scarce!

      • Greg
        October 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

        Ok, went out a lunch, one of my local stores had a case. I just grabbed a sixer since I’ve never had it before. $8.99 not bad for am 11% beer, but I think they made a mistake since it rang up as ‘Misc’. Looking forward to trying it.

        • October 27, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

          Nice! It’s cheap for what you get, but delicious. A bargain. Let me know what you think!

        • Greg
          October 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

          Good beer, sweeter than I like, but very drinkable with such a high ABV.

  5. DaveSDC
    October 27, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Jim my hoarding time is just about coming to an end. I love all of the fall/pumpkin/Oktoberfest beers! i will definitely have to try and find this Mad Elf that you speak of though, with all the hype I feel like I have to try it.

    • October 27, 2011 at 11:42 am #

      I now realize that I’m hurting my chances by promoting the beer, so I say don’t bother, Dave! You’ll HATE it! 🙂

      • DaveSDC
        October 27, 2011 at 11:48 am #

        HAHA don’t worry Jim I won’t buy it all. Maybe a bomber just for a sample. I’ll leave some for my other Mad Elf-loving brethren.

        • October 27, 2011 at 11:54 am #

          Nice – that’s not what I did last year!

          This year I’m trying to spread it around more. Just hit up another beer shop during lunch and asked them to call me when they got their cases. A little from here, a little from there and I’ll be all stocked up before you know it.

  6. Jeff
    October 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    My favorite is Abbey Affligem’s Nöel…haven’t seen it in years…time to make some calls methinks.

    • October 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

      That’s the best way to get what you want…

  7. October 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    I finally found a bottle of Autumn Maple this year – you’ve been singing the praises of that one for years and I’ve been dying to try it! I haven’t had a good chunk of time to savor it properly yet, but Thanksgiving sounds like a good time for it.

    BTW, that’s a LOT of Mad Elf! Aren’t you at least a little worried that the shine will wear off?

    • October 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

      Enjoy the Autumn Maple, Scott, and don’t drink it too cold – those kind of beers only work when the sweetness is there, and that part of the flavor only shines when the beer is a little warm.

      I went through about three cases of Mad Elf last year between me, my wife and some friends. We enjoyed it from early November through February and I was sad when it was all gone. It’s really wonderful stuff!

  8. November 3, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Jim, is Mad Elf mainly an east coast brew in terms of availability…?

    • November 3, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      It’s by Troegs, so wherever they are distributed you have a shot. Here’s what their website says: Tregs Distribution is limited to a 3 hour driving radius of the brewery. Harrisburg is centrally located so we are fortunate to include PA, NJ, DE, MD, VA, NY, OH, and MA

  9. November 3, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    well, that shoots me down…i live in sunny so cal… 8-P

  10. January 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Mad Elf is fantastic. I’m also very fond of Santa’s Private Reserve by Rogue. The description from the Rogue website:

    Style: Red Ale

    Food Pairing: Pork, Beef

    Tasting Notes: A double-hopped Red, reddish in color, with a roasty, malty flavor and a hoppy spruce finish.

    10 Ingredients: Carastan 30-37 & 13-17, Crystal 70-80 & Rogue Micro Barley Farm Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Chinook & Rogue Farm Revolution & Freedom Hops; Free Range Coastal Water and Pacman Yeast.

    Specs: 13º PLATO; 65 IBU; 73.1 AA; 26.75º L.

    • January 30, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      I went through my supply of Mad Elf, but can still find a sixer here and there, which is cool. I haven’t tried the Rogue – I’ll have to see if there’s any lingering about…

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