Splinter Red | Tröegs Brewing Company

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 39
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

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.

 606 characters

Photo of mothman
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Stone Old Guardian glass

Pours very little head. Color is a burnt orange ruby hued caramel brown.

Aroma: Sweet, lots of spices, toffee, cherries, ginger, the oak is light and what ever barrels were used hardly show.

Taste: More cherries in it. Oak flavors, vanilla, spices, plums, dry fruit flavors. A little more barrel aging shows here, but still not a lot. Toffee and caramel malt here.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and dry. Medium body with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends with a lot of spices in the aftertaste.

Overall, I am not too impressed. It is good for what it is. I think this one was hyped up a bit. The barrel aging notes were very subtle.

EDIT: As it warms, coconut comes out more and the vanilla shows more. The taste is better. The flavors begin to blend together in a good way. I also get some nut flavors and some toasted flavors. The mouthfeel got warm and I enjoyed it more.

 909 characters

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.

 645 characters

Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -2.2%

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.

 417 characters

Photo of dfhhead25
3.84/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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.

 2,248 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared by yourefragile. Thanks Michael.

Served side by side with 2008 Mad Elf, also thanks to Michael.

The beer is a relatively hazy reddish amber hue with a small, fleeting head. The aroma offers candy, sugar, cherries, Belgian yeast, booze. Flavor continues this path with additional notes of vanilla. Pretty good. A bit sweet and still boozy. A bit of age seems to have served this well, though I never sampled this fresh. Light to medium feel. This is definitely best shared with a group, as more than a small serving would be overkill. perhaps a touch of cocunt in the finish with subtle, lingering oak. Not my favorite, but certainly a special treat.

 658 characters

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.

 658 characters

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

Big thanks to E-Light aka SpoolinVW who brought this to the inaugural "Imminent Liquidation Bottle Share" event. Bottle poured into a taster glass.

A - Pours light red; with a good amount of floaters; with a small half finger tall white head, dissipating down to nothing at all, leaving no lacing down the glass.

S - Some tart cheery puree, vanilla, honey, dry oak, and some light bourbon heat. Good overall balance but still a tiny bit too hot. Still very good tho.

T - Exactly what you would expect if you put Mad Elf in a bourbon barrel. Tart cherries, sweet malt, honey, and vanilla mix well with the light bourbon heat and dry oak. Finish is still a bit hot with some lingering tart dryness. I liked this a year ago and now I love it. Wish I still had a few bottles of this...

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Nice smooth feel with a tiny bit of lingering heat in the finish.

D - Very good. I am a fan of the normal version of Mad Elf and this one is no different. I had this at the release and it was still pretty raw and hot but a year in the bottle has really done this one some good. It is now quite smooth and enjoyable. Glad I finally got enough to review it properly.

 1,205 characters

Photo of stakem
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes taken on 7/26/10.

Poured into a snifter, splinter red appears a hazed amber red color with some orange tints around the edges. The head appears as a fizzy white cap less than a finger strong that receeds quite quickly.

The aroma initially has a bold front of bourbon notes that slowly give way to a fruity scent of cherry. The undeniable character of mad elf runs all through the nose of this brew with suggestions of belgian yeast and the usual scent of alcohol intensified with bourbon. Where splinter red takes a turn from mad elf is in it's complexity. The smell of vanilla meets some woody notes and nutty character. Also evident in the aroma is a sweetness almost like molasses (but not as dark smelling) honey and a bit of carmelized sugars.

The taste again is unmistakeable mad elf but with a kick of bourbon. Taste of belgian yeast and alcohol upfront with an extra kick of booziness from the bourbon. An alcohol heated sweetness is evident caught in a clash of caramel meets honey and cherry.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. The alcohol really starts to ramp up half way through the experience and starts to open up the depth of flavor in this brew, not just the typical barrel aging depth but some nutty flavors which I never picked up on in mad elf before. Quite drinkable and enjoyable but it is a sipper.

 1,372 characters

Photo of BMart
3.67/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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!

 1,361 characters

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.

 558 characters

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.

 623 characters

Photo of yourefragile
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of HopHead84
3.59/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Bottle courtesy of Deuane, thanks! Poured into a snifter.

A: Hazy reddish orange with a bubbly white head that disappears in the blink of an eye.

S: Bourbon blends with caramel and a light brown sugar character. Some toffee and a little apple. Lightly spicy, with some cinnamon and all spice. Evident oak. The combination of bourbon, caramel, and spice is pretty nice. Alcohol wafts from the glass.

T:  Bourbon caramel with earthy hops and lots of oak. Moderate spiciness. Pretty strong booze presence. Light oxidation. Better than I expected.

M: Upper medium in body with lower carbonation. Mouthfeel is sticky and smooth with alcohol warming.

Overall: Not a great beer, but certainly enjoyable.

 712 characters

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.

 509 characters

Photo of corby112
4.42/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Deuane for busting this out at our tasting.

Pours a deep, dark ruby red color with dark golden mahogany edges when held to a light source and a one finger off-white head that quickly dissipates into a very thin ring. Not much in the way of lacing.

Complex aroma with an interesting combination of bourbon, honey, vanilla and sweet cherry. Slight earthy oak with prominent bourbon in the nose along with some sweet vanilla that compliments the cherry and honey presence. Much more bourbon in the aroma than I expected but it doesn't completely overpower the other characteristics. Hopefully the flavor holds up.

On the fuller end of medium body with a very unique balance of flavors. The idea of bourbon barrel aging a beer like Mad Elf seems like a strange idea but it definitely paid off. The barrel presence is prominent up front with a healthy dose of bourbon, oak and vanilla. Although the bourbon flavor is strong the beer isn't hot at all really and is well balanced by the sweeter characteristics. Lots of sweet dark cherry and honey notes compliment the vanilla and really mellow out the bourbon presence quite nicely. Slightly vinous with other dark fruit flavors and subtle warmth in the finish. I'm not sure what the ABV is but the alcohol is excellently masked making this complex beer dangerously drinkable.

I wasn't too sure about this beer going in but I absolutely loved it. My favorite of the Splinter Series so far.

 1,453 characters

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.

 1,235 characters

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.

 898 characters

Photo of gford217
3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Albert for this gem.

Pours a deep, clear amber with a small head with lots of big bubbles that recedes to a collar and some sticky legs along the sides.

The aroma is massive on bourbon with tons of vanilla but it's the wood that balances out the underlying caramelized sugar, dark fruits and even some chocolate.

The taste is big on bourbon as well with an initial sting which left no doubt about the barrel presence. The hefty caramel malt backbone holds up well with the bourbon giving way to the sweetness of the caramel as well as raisins and plums. There is also a hint of spiciness.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and sticky sweet, but with a burning whiskey presence in the finish. The dryness of the oak also adds to the character.

This is a very good ale that is really hot right now with a ton of bourbon which could take some time to smooth out. Nonetheless, very tasty.

 908 characters

Photo of jophish17
3/5  rDev -26.7%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Splinter Red from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.09 out of 5 with 55 ratings