Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin Christmas: Naughty Elf on the Shelf returns

Next up, Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas:mikkeller

Thanksgiving is over. You are now free to deck your halls without fear of snickering and dirty looks. Perhaps more importantly, Elf on the Shelf is back on the…er…shelf.

If you remember last year, Elf (or “Flappy” as he is named in our house) was working through some pretty serious substance abuse issues. Here are a couple reminders of Elf hitting rock bottom:

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Veterinary prescription bottles are NOT elf-proof.

When he said he missed snow, I thought...wow.

When he said he missed snow, I thought…wow.

I have since found out that my naughty Elf posts were so popular that the Big Guy himself ran across them on Pinterest. Now, as a condition of his continued employment, Elf must undergo regular drug testing, and in the offseason he has been demoted to cleaning the stalls of the North Pole Reindeer Husbandry Unit.

Obviously, with Elf still drying out and me maybe being an eensy-weensy bit responsible for his downfall, there was some awkward tension the first couple days. However, Elf and I were chatting one night, and we’ve apparently found common ground. We both hate Sophie the Giraffe. I really can’t figure out for sure why Elf hates Sophie. I just figured it was a harmless manifestation of Elf’s crippling sociopathic narcissism…until I came downstairs late one night to inspect some racket and caught Elf doing this:

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I think I preferred the substance abuse.

Apparently, his anger isn’t quite as harmless as I suspected! Elf and I had a talk, and I hoped it sunk in, until the next day…

This is going to be a problem.

This is going to be a problem.

Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas is an IPA brewed with ginger and pine needles. It pours a slightly hazy orange-gold, with a dense and creamy off-white head that leaves decent lace. A first huff gives you a big rush of ripe, juicy, citrusy hops, which eventually fade a little to reveal some biscuity malt. At first the taste is mainly pine with some orange and grapefruit, then as it warms you get some ginger. While I don’t think I would immediately identify it as such without a mention on the label, there is definitely a certain gingery zippiness to it. It’s on the sweet end of the sweet-dry spectrum, but I certainly wouldn’t call it sweet. And while there is a piney aftertaste to it that lingers lightly, it is pretty darn drinkable.

I like. Even though I still find hops and Christmas to be strange bedfellows, there are a couple beers (this one, Sierra Nevada Celebration, and Lagunitas Sucks) that are bringing me around.

The Haybag: This is some damn fine hoppy lovin’. Oh, and FYI, I’m not a fan of waking up from a nap to find you doing creepy photo shoots with dolls.

Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2012 and Further Elf on the Shelf Shenanigans

Next up, Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale 2012 (brewed and bottled by Unibroue):

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Unexpectedly, my Tröegs Mad Elf review ended up pretty popular. I think this was mostly due to the coke-snorting and Bacardi-swigging Elf on the Shelf pics. I clearly underestimated how sick you people really are. So, since I am nothing if not a traffic whore, I give you more naughty Elf on the Shelf.

Here is Elf on the Shelf celebrating the Colorado Governor signing into law Amendment 64:

You have to admire his DIY initiative.

You have to admire his DIY initiative.

And here is Elf proving that child-proof veterinary prescription bottles are not elf-proof:

photo (93)Now, with that out of the way…every year Unibroue brews and bottles a holiday beer for Trader Joe’s. Each year seems to be slightly different. Here is the review for the 2011, which tasted pretty Coca Cola-y. Also of note, in the review I make fun of French-Canadians…but who doesn’t really.

It pours dark brown…chestnut, I suppose, if you’re feeling festive. It has a tight, tan head that recedes begrudgingly to leave a ring and thin layer. It smells like ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. There is a hint of Coke, too, but not nearly as much as last year. It tastes like some moderately zippy gingerbread, and it has a tell-tale fruity and spicy Unibroue house yeast flavor to it. Carbonation is moderately high, but that’s not out of sorts for a Belgian Dark Ale. And it finishes pretty clean with a little licorice lingering around like the last Christmas party guest to leave, but they help with the dishes, so it’s cool.

It’s pretty good, especially for the price. And it’s definitely better than last year’s…or at least a little more complex.

The Haybag (from her shot glass-sized pregnancy portion): Gah. The carbonation is too much, it’s killing my heartburn. My advice to any pregnant readers: Don’t drink this.

Tröegs Mad Elf and Elf on the Shelf

Next up, Tröegs Mad Elf:Mad Elf

elfChristmas looms on the horizon. That means the triumphant return of Elf on the Shelf. For those of you not familiar with Elf on the Shelf, he is an effeminate-looking elf that shows up between Thanksgiving and Christmas to watch over the kids during the day. Every night, Elf flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa. Then Elf returns to sit in a new vantage point the next morning (sometimes with a treat in hand to reward good behavior). Quite frankly, it’s lazy parenting at its best. December is littered with hollow threats about how Elf is watching.

Eh, Elf will take care of it.

Eh, Elf will take care of it.

Another thing: Unreasonable Christmas lists from the kids. This is my 4-year-old daughter’s list:

Hula hoop, OK. Scoter/Scooter, OK. Cell Phone! WTF?!

Hula hoop, OK. Scoter (Scooter), check. Cell Phone! WTF?!

Item #3 had me particularly concerned. I needed to get some leverage over Elf so I could influence his daily Naughty/Nice Threat Assessment with the Big Guy. Thus, I stalked Elf after-hours (when he was supposed to be reporting back to Santa)…

Aha!

Aha!

This could be the leverage I needed, but based on the smell of some Santas I’ve encountered, Saint Nick seems to be OK with drinking on the job. Plus, Elf told me that he had been down lately because he hadn’t seen snow in days. That seemed fair, until the next night when I discovered he wasn’t jonesing for frozen precipitation…

Bad Elf!

Bad Elf!

It pours ruby-red with a white head that recedes to a ring (and eventually to nearly nothing). The smell is big. I’ve never heard anyone say this, but I think it smells like booze-soaked cake, which is good. It also smells like cherries and an unspecified, phenolic spiciness. It starts out fairly sweet, with some cherries. It’s all like candied fruit up in here. The middle brings some spice; and it ends sweet, a little spicy, and with a hint of boozy heat. As it warms, it opens up even more, and I swear you can smell and taste a bit of honey. It’s not heavy, but it’s definitely something to drink slowly.

This beer can be divisive. I like it, though, and loyally get it every year. It’s not sweet enough to wire you like an Elf on an 8-ball bender, but you do have to be able to hack sweetness to enjoy it.

The Haybag (from her shot glass sized pregnancy portion)I like it. I wish I could have more. I blame you.