Two growlers. Two beers. Two frosted glasses. One winner.
Harpoon Winter Warmer
I'm detecting clear traces of cinnamon and nutmeg. It's almost reminiscent of a pumpkin beer. While the spice in this beer is not what I would call subtle, it also does not overpower. It strikes a fairly nice balance. It gives off a powerful scent and features a fine dark color. Overall, it is much better than I expected it to be.
Troegs Mad Elf (2011)The Belgian flavors of this one are huge. It's right up there with the heavyweights. The Chimays. The Ommegangs. The spicing is a lot more subtle than the Harpoon. Of course, that means that it lacks a little bit in the complexity department. Supposedly, Troegs changes the recipe for each year's vintage (which is standard-issue protocol for many Christmas ales) and I feel like I've had stronger versions.
In what I believe will be considered a more than mild upset, I have to go with the Harpoon Winter Warmer. On this occasion, the spices and the complexity simply made it the more enjoyable beer experience. However, I will add a bit of a caveat on this episode of Growler Wars. After I made the purchase of the two growlers, I realized that I had a couple friends at the bar about to play a little Quizzo. I stupidly (yet enjoyably) decided to play a couple rounds while my beers sat out getting warm. There is no telling how this exposure to warmth could have affected how the beers would be received later. Being that my wife - a big fan of Mad Elf - said the Troegs offering tasted "flat," I have to believe that it suffered a bit during my dilly-dallying at the bar.
Growlers purchased at Chap's Taproom.
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