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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,209 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,209
Hads: 3,655
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 224
Gots: 934 | FT: 24
Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002

Hop Bitterness (IBU's) : 15
Color (SRM) : Ruby Red
Availability: Seasonal, 12 oz. & 3L bottles, 1/2 and 1/6 kegs (contact your local retailer to pre-order)
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Yeast: Spicy Yeast
Pennsylvania Honey West Coast Cherries
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,209 | Hads: 3,655
Photo of Bendurgin
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip. Thanks Andy for sharing your Christmas gift from me! Poured into a tulip. The beer pours a dark cranberry color with about an inch of white head that vanishes almost immediately. The body is clear and transparent. The aroma is full of dark cherries and malt. It kind of has a medicinal aroma to it also. Again, cherry flavor right up front. It kind of rounds out with vanilla and oak. Again though, it's kind of medicinal; like a cherry cough drop. The feel is fair. It's kind of dry. It seems to have tannins like a red wine. It's drinks fair, I'm glad I've tried it, but I probably won't grab this unique beer again.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
3.19/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured it into a Sam Adams Perfect pint glass and this is one of the best looking beers I've ever seen. Pours a reddish amber color with excellent clarity. The foamy head was decent in size and was an orange cream color that produced very generous amounts of lacing. It really looks more like a nice hearty lager than anything else in my opinion, but I found this beer to be pretty average from here on out. I'm not overly experienced in tasting Belgian style ales, but it tasted pretty average to the style in my opinion. It said that it was brewed with honey and cherries, but I really couldn't smell either of them. Belgian yeast seems to dominate the nose in opinion, followed by some roasted malts. I was impressed that there was no smell in the alcohol until it got to room temperature, and it still wasn't that strong then either. Very surprising for a reasonably high ABV. The taste was pretty good, it gets sweeter here. If you try you can taste the honey a little bit, and there is almost a cherry aftertaste. Other than that it's pretty average. The mouthfeel is ok, a little bitter, still no alcohol bite that is pretty impressive, reasonably well carbonated. I really didn't find this beer to be all that drinkable.

I had heard this was a red/amber ale, so I was surprised to find out it's actual style. I actually ended up getting a 22oz, which wound up being a little too much. All in all it was ok, I wouldn't go out of my way to try it again.

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Photo of ProLiquorMan
3.19/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: What a beautiful color! I'm going to call this color red amber. Very little head. But this could be because I don't know how to properly pour beer.

Smell: The only thing I'm getting is some citrus smell. Think about a grapefruit without the sourness and bitterness.

Taste: The taste is very similar to the smell. Again, all I got was some citrus/grapefruit taste. Was expecting more flavors.

Mouthfeel: It was a very "clean" beer.

I was disappointed with this one. There is nothing wrong with it, but it certainly wasn't worth the $16 for 6 bottles. The bottle claims to have some cherry and honey notes. I didn't get any of those. It really lacks flavor.

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Photo of woodske1
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Great logo on the bottle and a great name. I am not impressed with the taste though. They went too over the top with spices in my opinion.

What it does do is offer a wonderful aroma. It smells like christmas inside that bottle. The taste however makes it not very high on drinkability.

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3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber to a pint glass.

A: A beautiful red/coppery brown brew with ruby highlights. Very clear. The head was average, off-white, with big & small bubbles but very short retention. The bubbles cleared from the center to the edge of the glass efficiently and with purpose, like in a video game how a bomb would clear an empty field. Minimal lacing.

S & T: Huge aroma and very enticing but quickly went from excellent to overwhelming. Halfway through I was already looking forward to an IPA to reset my palette. Big caramel malts, average pine hops with a hint of lemon rind. Definite yeast presence. So many (read too many) unmistakable aromas and flavors: cherry, over-ripe banana/bubblegum, honey, apple, peach, peppery spices & champagne vinegar. Almost masked, the 11% ABV could not quite be suppressed. This brew is way too sweet.

M: Again, started out great, nice and lively carbonation. Slick texture. What seemed at first a medium body, was really thinned it out by the high alcohol. Ended up as a cloyingly sweet and syruppy hot mess.

D: Not very drinkable, but definitely not a drain pour. Order one, get your buzz on, then move on.

It's interesting how I rated the first half of my pour compared to the second. I did a lot of crossing out on my review sheet as my opinion continued to change for the worse. Each criteria except appearance was docked at least one entire point by the end of my review. OVERWHELMING. The flavor and aromatics were relentless.

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Photo of cro250klr
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tried this one on the advise of a friend who likes yet another Troegs brew, Trogenator. I've had the Trogenator before and I though it was a bit heavy and on the syrupy side. Not at all what I'd call a session beer.
Now, while I absolutley love high abv Belgian Darks, I have to admit that I was a bit let down here. The Elf is dark, the appearance looks wonderful and the smell hints of spices of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Albiet faintly, but they are there. From that alone I was thinking that this was going to be a treat. Alas, the mouthfeel was clean , but the taste seemed to be missing the spices. The alcholol wasn't that pronounced, which was good, but something was lacking overall. From the nose I'd be thinking of something Belgian. However, the aftertaste assures me that this is an imitation. All of that combined made me glad that I had crossed paths with this one at a local pub. I had almost purchased a case, ( Archaic Pa. LCB Law), prior to finding this one bottle. For the abv content the case cost was rather low. I should have known something was up. While the Elf is a far cry from being the worst, it's an even a further cry from being the best. A nice try by the Harrisburg brewers but, I wouldn't stick my neck out for this one.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Ruby red into the glass with next to nothing head with no retention and no lacing.

S - Smells like a pretty fruity belgian triple. Cherries and yeast hit the nose early and give way to a wider variety of dark fruits.

T - Sweet, not enough sour or tart from me, although not that it is what you would expect from tha style anyway. Yeast is slightly subdued. Get a nice taste of alcohol, nothing real special here, overly sweet for my liking.

M - Flat and syrupy, not unpleasant but definately not memorable.

D - Not horribly hard to drink at 11%, but this wasn't a beer I enjoy enough to drink a lot of it.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle from winter 2007. It's time to start killing the cellar, and this is some low-hanging fruit.

Decanted, this is a clear, copper-colored beer with a thin, tan head that rapidly recedes to a ring. Not much lacing is present, which is disappointing for the style. The nose is pretty decent. Dark honey and cherries are noticeable on the nose, but there's also a moderate malt character, with caramel and a surprising chocolate/cocoa character that makes me think of cherry cordials. Alcohol is well hidden, making this less medicinal than fresh samples. Moderately spicy as well, with the alcohol and yeast playing off each other. Despite its age, this still smells pretty vibrant.

The palate, OTOH, isn't as impressive. Like a mellower cough syrup, there's just something about the cherry character here that makes it medicinal. Moderately sweet with honey and fruit cake. Some cherry skin tannins are present to balance the sweetness. The spices seem a little more muted on the palate, and the mid-palate feels a little watery at times. Sweet on the finish with alcohol, some honey and cherry tartness, there's a lingering yeastiness as well. Carbonation is moderate, making this beer, to my palate and given the style, average at best and not one I'd seek to revisit in a hurry.

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Photo of mrfrancis
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a clear, ruby-tinted amber with virtually no head (there is a creamy white mousse that disappears within a minute). The lack of head retention underwhelms me, and I begin to immediately question the quality of this batch.

S: Pronounced aromas of sweet cherries, honey, caramel, and gingerbread are immediately evident. Surprisingly, I am not picking up a boozy, alcoholic scent.

T: Opens spicy and bready with notes of red apple, caramel, gingerbread, honey, sweet cherries, and cognac. The finish is delicate, warming, and long with bread, honey, and cherry notes. I was expecting greater complexity and a more assertive flavor profile.

M: Slick, oily, and full-bodied. Feels thinner than it is. Goes down smoothly. Par for the course for this style.

O: I don't think that I would recommend this ale. It is ridiculously overhyped and overpriced. There are far better and far more authentic Belgian strong dark ales on the market.

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Photo of d0ggnate
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 1/10/09. Poured from bottle to goblet.

A: Poured copper/amber/orange color with no lacing and head layer fading to nothing quickly.
S: Strong citrus, sweet floral and honey aromas, notable candied sugars.
T: Very sugary. Slight citrus continued. A bit sour, vinegar-like, probably cherries. Later noted some caramel and banana flavors.
M: Slick. Watery. A bit oily. Almost no carbonation.
D: The taste was a bit off, to me. I was expecting more, but wasn't impressed overall. The carbonation was lacking and the beer was way too sweet for my taste.

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Photo of nomad
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A deep red color, glowing, but showing nothing else. Smells of dark honey with wonderful natural tones to it, like the floral scents of a fresh and natural honey. Bare black cherry scents behind, as the smell of wonderful sweetness is never cloying or noxious.

Tastes of sweet honey, barely some cherry, and a caramel flavor like crystal malt. In fact feels like there is a big malt base to this beer. A large and largely creamy finish, it becomes oily near the end, wiping out the quick first flavors. Thinnish mouthfeel.

A decent holiday beer.

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Photo of PatrickCT
3.16/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 once bottle into a tulip.

a: Festive Ruby colored body. Like a cherry gold color more specifically. 2 1/2 finger slightly off white head. Disappears quickly. Little lace.

s: Faint malts, honey, Cherry juice, alcohol, wormwood.

t: The Cherry and alcohol overpower everything. The combination of the two make the beer taste like it has an overdose of cherry bitters.

mf: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Thin finish with a slight alcohol burn.

o: I don't like slamming beers but this isn't for me. On a personal note I get too much bitters flavor from the cherry, spicy yeast, alcohol heat combination. I like bitters in cocktails but a few drops.
On a style note, aside from being high in alcohol, this is not reminiscent of a Belgian Strong Dark to me.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.16/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz 2008 bottle poured into a troegs pint glass. Picked up a single of this on a whim.

A- Mad Elf pours out a copper reddish color almost ruby like in appearance. A decent frothy white/beige head pops up to an 1/2 inch leaving some very spotty lace. This minimal lace eventually fell down into the liquid.

S- Even though this is billed as brewed with cherries and honey, the cherries are very faint in the nose. The honey comes through a tad bit more but nothing impressive enough to make it a dominate smell. I do get a ton of alcohol in the nose which does not bode well with me. A lot of malts wih some hops and some spicy yeast.

T- Alcohol is the main factor here which is a shame as it detracts from the taste, at least for me. Some sweetness coming from the cherries but not even half of what i was expecting. The honey used increases the sweet taste of this and actually saves this beer. The three different malt varieties are noted and work well while any bitterness from the hops is minimal at 15 IBU's. Some yeast notes in the finish.

M- The malts would make this a smooth sipper but the alcohol completely drown out any other flavors making it a task to drink. It is both smooth and cloying from the alcohol if that makes sense. Mad Elf has a medium build with some carbonation nothing exciting. The mouthfeel does not remind me of a christmas ale even though this is billed as a BSDA.

D- Not that high for me. I've tried this occasionally through the years trying to find something new but this beer never wowed me. It's a decent BSDA but if your looking for a christmas style brew with a nice spice factor look elsewhere. The alcohol completely gets in the way of the cherry and honey additions. I'm not sure if aging this would do any good either.

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Photo of mdvatab
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Received as an extra in a recent trade.
Poured from 12oz bottle into a large red wine glass.

A: Sweet bubble gum, freshly-sliced apple, some banana, and a clovey yeasty spiciness. Not a bad.

A: Copper with a tinge of ruby. Excellent clarity. The one-finger off-white head, however, does not hang around for long, and leaves a thin ring of fine bubbles around the inside of the glass.

F: Apple, banana, cherry, clove, light cinnamon, and caramel. A bit cloying and one-dimensional. I got tired of it after a few sips.

M: Medium-low carbonation, and medium-low body. Light heat (actually less than anticipated, though).

O: Not horrible, but again, not too much to it. No head retention, and a bit cloying. I have one more bottle, which I'll probably drink at some point, but I wouldn't buy this one if it were available here.

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Photo of thekanna
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: pours the color of rust, with a thin white head that dissipates quickly
S: some holiday spices and a light sweetness and nuttiness
T/M: sweet and spicy on the uptake. Flavors of honey and alcohol overwhelm the palate and drown out anything else. Medium carbonated with heavy body, almost syrupy. Too strong and phenolic for my tastes.

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Photo of ts183
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Out of a bottle, pours a dark amber hue with minimal head that dwindled to nothing. No lacing.

Smell is sweet and malty with a hint of fruitiness and booze.

Taste is more of the same. The cherries take on more of a dark fruity taste that's very faint, which is a good thing. As it goes down the alcohol makes a strong presence.

Interesting but not a beer I would grab again.

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Photo of tayner
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle with date on neck of bottle

pretty amber colored brew with fast rising white head that all but disappears quickly leaving no lacing behind and no ring.. nothing.

bready smell with a hint of fruit, cherries. not very strong

taste is bready yeast up front followed by some semisweet cherry flavor which to me is almost medicinal in quality. then the finish is a warm alcohol flavor. for 11% it is not bad though.

Seems a little under carbonated for me, makes it hard to drink.

I think this might be a better brew, for me, without the cherries. I am not fond of the medincinal quality the fruit lended in this particular brew, i dont think the cherries did the belgian yeast any favors. just my opinion.

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Photo of doppelmeup
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light reddish pour into a chalice with a half inch head that faded quickly to a ring of lace. Very clear brew.

Tart pie cherries lead the way, just as advertised, with a slight cough syrup feel. Reminds me of Three Philosophers.

Kind of odd flavor. Slightly tart cherries prevail, pretty much drowning out any other flavors. Very one dimensional.

Dry, sticky mouthfeel. High ABV well hidden. Fizzy.

Overall, IMO this is a mediocre beer, kind of gimmicky. Lots of marketing but little substance. Not recommended.

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Photo of mcallister
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Fiery earthy orange/ruby/scarlet pour. No head except for some minimal traces around the edges of a tan formation.

Very belgain spice driven aromas and something in there I'm just not crazy about but also I'm not sure what it is. Bing cherry, orange marmalade, belgian yeast, herbal suggestions as well. Fruits and lively aromas.

Lots of evaporating alcohol on the tongue and the chest. Medium bodied to slightly thin especially for the style. Some cherry, spicey, herbal, earthy belgian yeasty aspects. Nothing says "stand out" about this beer. Just seems like an everyday run of the mill American brewed belgian style beer. However it is not a bad beer by any means.

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Photo of Redwood21
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is one of the few that I've tried that has a prominent aroma. It smells sweet, and of fruit, which since its made with cherries and honey makes sense. I wouldnt say its a smell that really reminds me of beer, but i do like it. It has this nice amber color with very little head. It has an almost sugary sweet taste, which is a little too sweet for my taste. It's worth a try.

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Photo of BrewerB
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks goes out to TwinsDaddy for trading this beer my way. Cheers!

Poured into a globe glass, this beer showcases lots of carbonation but head formation/retention seems poor. Hazy and dark amber in color with a thin off-white head that dissipated quickly. Spices and cherries mix with bready malts in the nose. Cherries carry through into the taste but tend to lie beneath the richer, bready malts. Lacking in complexity I'd expect from this style. Bitterness is moderate though the tart cherries help carry balance. Medium/medium-full bodied with a moderate-high level of carbonation. Overall, not that impressed with the execution on this beer. Perhaps I'm drinking an old bottle but I'd certainly not order a second.

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Photo of greenmonstah
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into Allagash chalice

A - Very aggressive pour eked out a one finger head, tan in color. Red-amber in color with plenty of bubbles pouring up from the bottom.

S - Sweet cherry. Belgian yeast producing some banana esters. A bit of cinnamon spices the beer. Not picking up much honey.

T - Cripplingly sweet, even overly so. Booze is powerful, but covered largely by the sweetness. Tons of cherry. Sweet sweet cherry, not dark. Cherry cough syrup. Way too medicinal for my tastes.

M - Medium to full in body, with a slight dryness in the back of the mouth at the finish. Wet and sticky otherwise.

O - Overall I just don't love to drink it. It tastes far too medicinal. The alcohol and the cherry juice drown everything else out and keep me from really enjoying this one.

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Photo of cannabanaceae
3.13/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Look was ruby red, small ring of head around rim stayed almost the whole way through.

Smell was belgium yeast, sweetness from the malt, red wine,big red bubble gum, and a bannana clove hefe smell.

Taste started like a triple, yeast was milder than expected from the nose, honey played a mellow roll in smoothing out the yeast. Alcohol is well hidden. The cherries turn up in the end, finishing like a flat cola. Medium body, with a tart mouthfeel.

A mellow sipper, pretty good, not in your face. Still with that said, I think a couple years in the cellar would improve the overall flavor.

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Photo of stercomm
3.12/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bomber into a big tulip glass

A - Coppery orange in color, extremely big and thick 3 finger tan head that receded slowly

S - Very bold and strong can smell it from far away. Get honey and biscuits, some spice.

T - Honey, alcohol and cherries, definitely taste the alcohol

M - medium bodied and medium carbonation

O - A bit too heavy for me, strong profile

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Photo of lunarbrew
3.11/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Ahh, the thin line between a drain pour and a creative beer. This toes it close.

Beer pours red with little head and thin lacing. Smells like very little. Highly generic nose. Some faint cherries and sugary malt. A general "beer" scent. It's a little like cracking a coors. Tastes like fake cherries and brown sugar. Very sweet. Not too pleasing, but I'm trying to get through it. Consistency is slick, syrupy, and sticky. Pretty flat. This didn't quite work, imo. It's interesting, but ultimately a flop in my eyes.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,209 ratings.