Had a bottle, loved it, so bought a Sixtel of it to go alongside my Mad Elf. Great winter beer, and unlike the Mad Elf I can drink more than two and not be shitfaced.
My only complaint is that with my Mad Elf aged, the two are just similar enough that I feel like there's not quite enough variety in my selection right now.
I think I like the Breckenridge better.
I know we've done it for Pumpkin Ales. Luckily, Christmas beers seem to have a much greater selection than Pumpkin Ales, probably because it's a more standard, traditional category. I find very few that outright suck.
Troeg's Mad Elf is probably my favorite. Then there's a whole collection of local ones that taste pretty similarly: Great Lakes Christmas Ale, Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas, Fat Heads Holly Jolly Christmas Ale, Southern Tier 2XMas. The Breckenridge is very good and even though it's not a traditional winter warmer, the Great Divide Hibernation Ale is one of my favorites.
I don't think I can even get into the Belgians, but there's a lot of them too. I think the Scaldis Noel is probably my favorite, but I haven't tried many.
I thought I remembered I had really liked that one from last year. Yep, sure did. Spicy but not too spicy and well balanced.
I love Great Lakes. Breckenridge is good too. Those are my favorites.
Mad Elf is better on tap.
That is why I look at them carefully before buying them. Generally I steer towards the winter ales. Brooklyn has a pretty good winter ale.
DuPont Avec les bons Voeux. It is simply wonderful.
St. Bernardus Christmas. Rich plummy goodness.
DeRanke Pere Noel. I always search this one out.
I bought some of the stuff based on the reviews of this board, and I hated it. I don't like mead, so I should have known better than to buy it when I saw it was made from honey.
Aging definitely mellows the Cherry taste, and brings out more spice.
Meaning, stick it in a dark corner in your basement until next Christmas and let the yeast go to work. I agree with your assessment that cherry is too dominant in fresh Mad Elf, but the aging mellows it out while introducing more complex flavors.
when I want a snicker-doodle I'll eat a snicker-doodle.