Splinter Red | Tröegs Brewing Company

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Splinter RedSplinter Red
55 Ratings
Splinter RedSplinter Red

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Before filtering the final batch of 2008 Mad Elf we racked some beer into bourbon barrels for six weeks of tender loving care. After bottling, we aged the beer for approximately eight months. This allows the tart cherries to push to the front. Subtle vanilla, bourbon, charred wood, coconut and toasted nut endnotes emanate from Splinter Red.

Added by treyrab on 03-29-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 39
Reviews by sulldaddy:
Photo of sulldaddy
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Sampling a cellar temp 750 ml corked and caged bottle poured into a snifter.

The beer pours a clear rich dark mahogany with deep garnet highlights. Minimal fizzy head that is gone immediately to nothing. Aroma is cherries, big booze, and light bourbon hits. No real hop presence anywhere. Quite a nice fruity malt laden nose.
First sip reveals a sticky and slightly syrupy textured body. Very fine gentle and spacious carbonation.
Flavor is sweet malt with cherries, bourbon, and brown sugar mixing together for a fairly robust taste. Again no hops on this sweet beer, I do get a bit of warming booze that keeps this beer a sipper. There is a fair amount of vanilla and brown sugar on the finish. Sweet cherries also linger on my palate.
The beer is actually pretty easy to drink and interesting and complex. I enjoy this beer and wish I had a second bottle. But one for tonight is worth the ride.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this beer. I love Mad Elf so this beer should be great.

The beer pours an orange-amber color with a white head. The aroma is heavy on the caramel malt, with some cherries and bourbon notes mixed in as well.

The flavor is more complex than the aroma. I get a lot of toffee and caramel notes, as well as some brown sugar, pine, bourbon, vanilla and cherry. The beer is also quite boozy, but that doesn't really detract from its drinkability. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice beer that I am glad I got to try.

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Photo of jh1982
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of Desaparecido
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of nickd717
3.69/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle via trade thanks to the extremely generous Deuane on BeerAdvocate. Yeah, Harrisburg! Shared with a small tasting group.

Well, the cork took some real effort to get out. Reminiscent of some Lost Abbey bottles I've had in the past. Not usually a good sign. As expected, it pours a pretty much flat cloudy red color. No head.

Really nice nose on this beer. It has Mad Elf's prominent cherry notes and winter spices. A little tartness comes through, as well as considerable barrel notes: oak, vanilla, and bourbon.

I'm not the biggest fan of Mad Elf, so I was interested to see how the flavors on this one would change. As I had hoped, the barrel-aging worked quite well. The sweetness has been muted a bit and replaced with very subtle tartness. Sweet/tart cherries, oak, spice, vanilla, and very subtle bourbon.

Medium-full bodied with almost no carbonation.

Dammit, with a few more bubbles this could be a great beer! Bummer about the lack of carbonation, but overall it's a well-done beer besides that. Others didn't want much of it, but I enjoyed the considerable amount I had.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.34/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml corked and caged bottle into a couple of snifters.

Pours a deep ruby in the glass, with a finger of off-white foamy head. This rather quickly dissipates into a light fizzy that then eventually goes completely flat. Maybe just a wee bit of spotty lacing hangs around the edges of the glass. I realize that Bourbon-aged beers aren't really known for their head retention but this went VERY quickly. Cherries really push hard to the front of the nose here upon first whiff, which is rapidly followed by sweet & spicy notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and honey. The Bourbon character is putting out a good bit of woody tannins and a generous dose of warmth, which stings one's eyeballs if you get them to close down in the glass. Just a lot of well balanced strength to this bouquet, with the high alcohol elements not overriding any of the flavors.

Each sip of the taste just drips with Bourbon flavor. You feel it first once it hits your lips but then the cherries, honey, and spices creep in to add some complexity to this. A flush of vanilla creeps along the back, helping to tone down the fierceness of the barrel but it still hangs tough on the breath with a warm and boozy feel. Just a touch of a charred woody feel hangs on the edges of the profile, with a lot of lingering intense dryness to the finish from the Bourbon and tannic character. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied, with a moderate amount of creamy carbonation to it but this is mostly beefy and slick feeling on the palate. There is a LOT of alcohol and warmth to this, with the combo of the Bourbon and ABV ensuring that this is one that you will take your time with.

The Mad Elf was just a great choice to put in a barrel, with it's hefty sweet flavorings more than up to the task of melding with the Bourbon character, while the vanilla tones from the barrel really helped bring out the bright feel of the cherries. My only real issue with this (besides no head retention) was the overall drinkibility which was just too heavy and warm to call it anything else but good. This actually mellowed some since I had last tried it at EBF '09 and I'm curious to see what some more time in the cellar will do for it. This was a great debut effort to the new Splinter Series for me.

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Photo of akorsak
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to janlud for sharing. A corked and caged 750 mL bottle.

A: The cork popped out with a bit of a struggle and looked rather ragged. Luckily the ale itself wasn't impacted. The dark ale is a ruddy brown color, full and opaque. A moderate level of carbonation results in a wispy head. The ale has decent legs.

S: Sweet bourbon, vanilla and coconut, draws out the tart cherries. The result is a lush, sweet aroma. The cherry ends up dominating but there is plenty of bourbon to go around.

T: Mmmm, delicious bourbon. After nearly a year in the bottle, the ale has mellowed nicely. Both the bourbon and Mad Elf shine. The barrel leads off first, lending oak, vanilla and coconut flavors. The oaken aspect, woody as it is, isn't overpowering. Instead, the bourbon flavors win out. Underneath the bourbon, the Mad Elf's tart cherries stand out. They, along with the vanilla, leave a lasting impression. The two flavors have melded together nicely.

M: The mouthfeel is luxurious. The bourbon so sweet and cherries so tart. The extra time in the bottle has done the ale some good, allowing the flavors to come together.

D: It's strong, stronger than regular Mad Elf. I was glad to finally spend some time with this Splinter version.

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Photo of Dodo2step
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

P- Troegs Brewery
750 ml

A- burgundy and reddish brown. Yeasty floaties sparsed throughout the beer as well. Very lil head but that is ok.

S-mad elfish. Bourbon hints come out as well as the oak wood it was aged in. Cherry tartness hits the nose as well. it almost smells like a red wine.

T- Very heavy beer. The bourbon is faint but it is there. Sour cherries and grain. Nice Belgian yeast flavor adds and complements the bourbon taste.

M- very smooth despite the pronounced bourbon in the mouth. It feels like i had a shot and a beer pretty much. Very nice and rewarding.

D- this bad boy is heavy. Even though it doesnt give an ABV id bet its around 10 somewhere. I will be nursing this 950 for a good hour.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

dark ruddish color body puts down two fingers worth of head that are really going nowhere. really very, very well done i have to say. aroma is cinnamon, nutmeg, lots of hops which i was not expecting, ground spices, roasted nuts and a hint of peat. very deep and complex and very much welcomed around here. flavor is more of the same with a light punch of hops pushing through before being taken over by a bum rush of holiday spices. lots of nutmeg and cinnamon, again a touch of light peat, brown sugar and a nice mix of dark fruit yeast that seem to seal the deal for me in the end. finish is very clean and the alcohol is hidden so well it was rediculous.

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Photo of largadeer
3/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nickd717 shared this alongside Splinter Gold. Thanks!

The cork was ridiculously difficult to dislodge. The beer itself pours a flat maroon color, moderately hazy with no head and no carbonation. It smells equally of sweet cherries and bourbon, with a touch of fruity esters rounding things out. Not a lot of depth, the barrel is rather overwhelming. It's boozy and a bit tannic to the tongue, lots of candied cherry flavor, brown sugar, boozy bourbon. No carbonation, which I find a bit disagreeable for the style. Finishes tannic, fruity and boozy with some lingering solvent. This isn't bad, but I wouldn't go out of my way to drink it again.

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Photo of ShanePB
3.74/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle opened at the Weyerbacher Rapture release. I'm not sure who you were that opened it, but a big thank you for doing so!

A: Dark murky reddish color with some orange and brown hues in the light. Some floaters can be seen. A very small thick bubbly head was there but vanished just as quickly as it formed. No lace, no retention, it looks sort of flat. Certainly not the most attractive beer.

S: Black cherries, smokey bourbon, vanilla and some Belgian spices. A touch of cinnamon and perhaps even nutmeg(?) towards the end of the aroma. It's weird but certainly is quite aromatic and does smell quite good.

T: Smoked wood, vanilla, touches of bourbon and sweet malts. There is some cherries here towards the middle, along with hints of honey and more wood. The cherries impart a slight tartness but overall it's more of a cherry flesh and skin flavor.

M: Very low carbonation, it seems to have mellowed out quite drastically in the bottle. Some minor bubbles are on the back of the tongue but it almost seems very flat in nature, although clearly it's not.

This was certainly a nice treat to have and I'm glad I was able to try this. It wasn't my favorite in the Splinter series but wasn't a bad beer at all. A very unique medley of flavors that seem to potentially be on their way out. Thanks again for busting this out, it was certainly nice to try!

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Photo of oline73
3.79/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a tasting snifter.

Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy reddish amber color with hardly any head.

Smell: Sweet with an apple juice like aroma. I'm getting a belgian candy note along with some cherries.

Taste: This was a very smooth beer at this point. I don't feel like I'm getting a ton from the barrel. Some banana and cherry notes. Tastes like it has some age to it.

Mouthfeel: The body is a bit syrupy with very little carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I wouldn't say this was fantastic, but I'm really glad I got to try it. I like Mad Elf, so this one was a treat.

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Photo of weeare138
3.87/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appears a semi transparent amber with a small white cap that quickly fades into a collar. Spotty streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of oak, faint bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, and a touch of cocoa.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with the bourbon being very light and the caramel malt mixed with vanilla pulling up more with a touch of raisins.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied, chewy, and mellow.
I was expecting more of a bourbon characteristic from this beer but was slightly let down.

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Photo of Ezekiel81923
4.52/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired a few bottles of this at the release at the brewery. The cork on this one was damn near impossible to get off. Needed a cork screw, then needed to break half the cork off and use a cork screw again to get the whole cork out. Anyways, It was poured into a chalice and this is how it tasted:

Appearance: Color was very reminiscent of normal mad elf..maybe even a bit lighter. Head was minimal and lacing was decent. Color was an orange amber color. Not too much yeast floaties until the last pour (it took 4 into this particular chalice before the bottle was empty) and the the last was FULL of them.

Smell: Very mad elf but without a dominant cherry aroma. Definitely hints of bourbon and oak in this one which lend a different kind of sweetness than a normal mad elf does. Vanilla, mild cherry flavor, no tartness.

Taste: Bourbon, oak, vanilla. Though none are terribly prevalent. Mostly sweet cherry, yeast, and some sweetness. Some clove and caramel seem to be intertwined in there as well. Subtle bourbon flavor is a treat, I'm not a big fan of beers that taste just like a shot of bourbon. No sure where people find the tartness, the only dominate fruit flavor is a taste like over-ripened cherries.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied beer that is incredibly smooth. Not cloyingly sweet either. Just a slight hint of the alcohol, which I presume is in the 12-13% if you assume the mad elf was 11% and it picked up a bit in the barrel aging process. Not nearly as much alcohol warming as a fresh mad elf, though this one did have 1+ years on it though before being bottled.

Drinkability: Honestly, not that bad at all. I finished the whole 750ml in a little less than an hour. I was feeling the buzz, but nothing really stopped me from enjoying and consuming the whole thing.

All in all, a very satisfying brew. I'm not the biggest fan of the barrel aged beers, but this one seems just right. Only aged enough to pick up the flavors without tasting like actual bourbon and still retaining some of the original beers flavor. Definitely glad I still have more of this.

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Photo of ChrisPro
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

Photo of llllDrGONZOllll
4.86/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This ale was a rare treat and boy I am sure glad I scored a bottle. I poured this baby quite aggressivly and what little head was present faded fast.
The small floaties were no bother to me I have had much more in beers that were not so special. Lets get down to the aroma and taste. Upfront cherries and vanilla. As my glass warmed I began to notice a smooth bourbon character.
The taste is much smoother than Mad Elf, but it is there. This ale has a more complex taste, and is much sweeter. Cherry vanilla bourbon aftertaste with yeasty delight. The booze is harder to detect, however it is quit warming. The ale is almost bitter sweet to drink. There is no chance of mr grtting this one again and I sure wish I had a nother bottle.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.37/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice moderate brown with some crimson highlights. Nose brings forward good amount of cherry, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and hints of Belgian spice. The taste is mainly cherry and bourbon along with a little bit of sweetness and some other dark fruits. A dose of oak as well. Nice full mouthfeel with good carbonation and a nice amount of alcohol heat. Deliciously smooth and quite drinkable.

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Photo of grub
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

lantern corps beer summit 2010 - day 2, oct 9/2010. Maltzilla contributed this one. thanks diego!

750ml corked and caged bottle.

pours lightly hazy red-brown wiht a fine ring of white head. drops fast and leaves no lace.

aroma is good. bourbon and vanilla. caramel and toffee. alcohol. bit of dark fruit. cherry and date.

taste is great. similar to the aroma but with less barrel character and more fruityness. toffee and caramel. just under medium bitterness level. earthy.

mouthfeel is good. just over medium body. slightly below medium carbonation level.

drinkability is great. great balance. good barrel character.

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Deep red/rich mahogany with not much head or lacing. It does have a lot of nice sediment floating around in glass and settling at the bottom.

S - More on the cherry side than Mad Elf but has a pleasant bourbon aroma with not much trace of any woody notes. Some sweet dark fruit and Belgian sugars are noticeable in the background as well. I thought the honey scent was cut down a little due the pungent aroma of the bourbon.

T - Definitely heavier on the bourbon in the taste than in the aroma but the cherries punch is quickly and give a nice sour contrast to the bourbon's subtle sweetness. Again, not much of the wood flavor leftover from the barrel aging. The honey is harder to pick up than in Mad Elf but its sugary presence is there a little in the aftertaste as well as a lasting bourbon flavor on the palate.

M/D - Tons of very small carbonation bubbles are felt on the tongue but doesn't take away from the heavy body on this beer. It has a semi-dry finish but nothing like oak aging. DEFINITELY a sipper, regardless of the $23 price tag, with just enough of a lingering bourbon flavor to add a nice amount of depth to this brew.

Troegs definitely hit a home run with Splinter Red but smacked a grand slam with the Splinter Gold. Either way, this is a must try for any Troegs/Mad Elf lover!

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Photo of randomdanger
5/5  rDev +22.2%

Photo of kels
4.44/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cheers, Andy! Gonna miss you around here :(

Pours a deep, ruddy brown, somewhat cloudy, with a slight clarity that reveals tons of chunky sediment within. A short, white head fizzes out pretty quickly, and leaves behind spitty spots of lace that slide back down into the brew.

Nose is full of sticky-sweet caramel and tart cherries. The charred oak of the barrel is very apparent and delicious, as is the hot, full presence of the bourbon.

Taste is full of exceptionally hot alcohol, which doesn't surprise knowing that Mad Elf is the root of this beer and it's been aged in bourbon barrels. Speaking of, the flavors really lean more to Scotch than Bourbon to me, but that's just fine, and the effect is tasty. A little of the bourbon and barrel essence comes out in a hint of vanilla, which gives strong but tasty contrast to the honey and wintry spices that still hold their ground against the heat. The wood is deliciously charred and earthy. The feel is slick, sticky and full, and despite lower carbonation manages not to fall flat on the palate. Aftertaste seems to last for days thanks to the heavy, full and sticky flavors.

Tastes delicious, but that alcohol is still so hot and the feel so syrupy thick that this one is a definite sipper.

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Photo of sideshowe
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of John_M
4.37/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Generously provided by Adam at the BA event at Max's today.

The beer pours a honey amber color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose, the bourbon is pretty pronounced, along with honey and vanilla. The flavors replicate the nose pretty closely in this fairly sweet beer, though I was impressed that the sweetness was not overwhelming or over done. The beer has something of creamy mouthfeel, and a very long, rich, flavorfilled finish. Drinkability is pretty good, especially considering the abv. and sweetness. A very solid beer from Troegs, and a beer style I hope they will continue to make. Very impressive.

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Photo of aglose45
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split with my father-in-law on Xmas day 2010! Poured into a tulip glass. Tasted side by side with a regular '08 Mad Elf.

A: Pours a beautiful ruby cherry red, nice haziness from the barrel, but minimal head that receded quite quickly (also due to the barrel). The differences in appearance are that the Red is hazier and a more beautiful red color.

S: Delicious bourbon and vanilla up front, followed by strong oak notes in the middle, and finishes with a sweet cherry aroma bringing things together. The main differences are that cherries aren't as tart and the honey is not noticeable in the Red.

T: The taste is similar to the nose, bourbon and vanilla up front, then quickly switches to a sharp oakiness, which transitions into a mild tart cherry. It finishes with a dry oaky flavor, which leaves you longing for more. The flavors meld very well with each other. The obvious differences are there are no bourbon or oak, and the cherries are more tart and honey prominent.

M: Medium to heavy body, very mildly carbonated, and very drying. The differences are a slightly lighter body, mild to medium cabonation, and not drying at all.

D: The flavors really work well together. Mad Elf is a perfect fit for bourbon barrels. The extra year we let this sit also helped it. The bourbon isn't harsh at all, it's very smooth. Overall, a delicious brew that we very much enjoyed! I'm very excited that we have two more bottles! The differences are, while flavors of regular '08 Mad Elf are delicous, the Splinter Red's bourbon barrel aging added a much more complex flavor.

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Photo of Deuane
4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally, after knowing of this beer for nearly 2 years, I had it at EBF 2009 before it was released, then at the release in December 2009 and another bottle sometime down the road I broke out a bottle to share with a group of friends and will give it a review.

A-Deep, dark, ruby red with dark, golden kissed, copper highlights. A thin, off-white, head quickly reduces to a thin wispy ring. Minimal hint of lace with spotty flecks left behind.

S-A pleasant, but not overwhelming, aroma combination of complex sweetness with the malt, honey, vanilla and cherry taking the forefront. A nicely balancing blast of bourbon and oak dryness takes over on the back side.

T-I am a Mad Elf fan and I figured the combination of it and a bourbon barrel would be a match made in heaven....well it nearly is! A delicious combination of the sweet notes--caramel malt, cherry, vanilla and honey--moderated with the boozy dryness of the bourbon barrel aging.

M-Medium to medium-heavy bodied and somewhat viscous without being syrupy or cloying. Nice lingering bourbon sweetness, oak dryness and touch of alcohol heat.

D-Well, well, this one has aged with dignity. A most lovely combination of flavours all rolled into one big, sneak up bite you in the ass, barrel aged brew. Looking forward to seeing how my other bottles hold up over time.

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Splinter Red from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.09 out of 5 with 55 ratings