Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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: 3,650
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 224
Gots: 932 | 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: 3,650
Photo of sickpuppy
4.53/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a dark amber to almost crimson red color. The aroma is malt and cherries but the cherry aromoa is faint to me. As far as the flavor I agree with the cough syrup taste however it is not a bad thing as I think of it more as a fruit backing of cherries. Overall I would not drink this beer on a regular basis however this is a great beer for an occassional quaffing!

 379 characters

Photo of bob3701
4.53/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was not sure what to expect with this beer and considering the steep price for a 6-pack, I hesitated. I am now happy I picked it up, it was fruity and spicy and more perfect for the holiday season than I thought it would be. A very unique beer.
Head disapates quickly and not much lacing but a great aroma that hints of what is to come. You can feel the alcohol in this one but it is very drinkable. This made my mouth very happy and after two the rest of me was pretty happy too.

 483 characters

Photo of Edwin
4.53/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at the Troeg's Brewery during their release party.

Appearance - A nice, deep brownish-red. Some initial head that disappears fast, similar to all Troeg's beers.

Smell - Smells like the holidays. Some sour notes with a cherry smell is evident in there. Hints of spices throughout.

Taste - Not for everyone, but will definitely satisfy most. Taste of sweet/sour on the entry and a leftover display of cherry, spice, and some other fruits I can't quite put my finger on. Definitely a different beer than anything I have ever tasted.

Mouthfeel - Strong yet smooth. A very powerful feel on the tongue. After two of these bad boys, it gets easier and easier to send down to the stomach.

Drinkability - It is very drinkable on a cold day. Reminds me of Christmas in frnt of a warm fire. Be careful...at 11% alcohol, this one will turn your Happy Holidays into 8 Crazy Nights if you aren't careful!

 920 characters

Photo of wrx2ndregime
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a- pour is dark red in appearence, very little head from the 2007, considerable down from the 2006.

S- dark cherries, lialac flowers, warm honey.

t- the 2007 I just drank it from aging it about 7 months from last season, the taste didn't improve much from aging it. deffinatly can taste cherries and honey. 2006 was much better from memory.

m- very warming alcohol sensation, bold, and sweet.

d- I've only ever had 3 at a time, and I was pretty much done after 3 of them. It's great on a cold night to sit and savor.

2006 was better then the 2007, I can't wait to get my shipment of 2008 in this year.

 606 characters

Photo of sonicdescent
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Oh double dear, this is too damn drinkable for the amount of alcohol in it. Pours a nice gold with scents of honey and sweet malt. Taste is dangerously good and smooth with a
Medium body that coats the Mouth with it's honey goodness. I could drink this all night and that's why this beer scares the he'll out of me.

 315 characters

Photo of IPAlmighty
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Great on tap, but if you buy it bottled it needs to be aged. Get a six and cellar it for a year or two. Solid for a cold winter night, a sipper of the first order.

 163 characters

Photo of crhensel
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

(Bottle into tulip) This beer came very highly recommended over the past 2 holiday seasons, but I had a hack of a time finding it until this year, and I frankly have been saving this one in anticipation. I was NOT disappointed!! Poured a nice red color but with little to no head that was gone in a heartbeat. The nose was heavy with the honey and cherry as advertised, as well as a background of the alcohol. Lively carbonation on the tongue and the drink itself is very smooth. The taste was very surprising, however, as I was expecting more sweetness based on the aromas. There was some sweet there, but also a nice spicy bite (nutmeg?) that lingered, giving that warm holiday feeling and a fine finish. I will definitely be on the lookout for more next year!!

 763 characters

Photo of tenant
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sweet cherry and yeasty banana play well against eachother in the nose. The color is a reddish amber topped off with a ring of white around the edge of the glass. Tight, almost abrasive carbonation gives the tongue a heads up while a rush of tastes enliven the palette. Noble hop aromas, carmelized cherries, subtle malt sweetness, along with a complex, spicy dimension typical of Belgian strong ales combine to express qualities of licorice and bubblegum. The high alcohol content is gracefully hidden in the taste, revealing itself with a warming sensation in the chest. This is a big beer that most certainly must be consumed in moderation. I am more than impressed with the Elf, however Mad he may be. This years version easily lives up to all the hype.

 757 characters

Photo of 2x10
4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy brown with a lovely red tint which makes its appearance very enticing.

Tastes of chocolate, honey, and apple with a very bready nose.

as the beer warms, the cherries become very evident and a true warming feeling comes across. The alcohol is truely hidden in the taste, but is felt throughout the body after about 2.

This is by far, my wife and I's favorite beer because of the combination of belgian strong ale, the fresh cherry honey flavor and the fact that its not a beer that compares to the "winter" versions of other beers. You can drink this one year round and we LOVE to save it for the summer time.
This beer also gets better with age and can be stored for several years and is surprising refreshing aged and great in any weather.

Its unfortunate that the mix and match beer stores are buying it all up and limiting the cases that can be bought. It just came out last week and is pretty much sold out in pittsburgh or is being hidden in the back of distributors for special customers.
Get it while you can and savor the yummy goodness that it brings.

 1,077 characters

Photo of BlindPig
4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Cheers to Todd1 for hooking me up with a bottle of this.

A- Thin off white head on a clear deep amber body. Has a tint of orange in it too.
S- Big cherry aromas. Other candy like fruits also. Maybe some candyish sugar? Light spices, not much hop aroma, and a little pale malt in the back ground.
T- Some big cherries come up front right away which then fades into a more subtle sweetness with honey and some mellow spices. That then changes to a very light bitterness with the warming of alcohol at the same time. Maybe just a tad harsh on the warming but is still a nice touch. They do very well on covering up the alcohol in the taste.
M- Full body (maybe just a tad on the medium side) and low carbonation.
D- It is a very interesting and different brew. I really like it and probably would get it if I could. It is nice and complex and a lot of different levels of flavor.

 886 characters

Photo of pavandal
4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beer poured into my tulip glass from a growler purchased today. It poured a nice honey - red color with a 1 inch head. Honestly, the most inviting beer I've ever had. lacing left a nice bubbly coating on the glass as I drank.

Smell began with some bready smells, but as the head disolved, it turned to honey and cherries, with alchohol behind it.

As the beer hits your tongue, the first flavor you taste is a bitey sweetness. this is probably due to the cherries involved in the brew. I also taste a lot of bready notes. The high ABV can't be tasted, as far as I can tell. This is a very great tasting brew.

I can see this beer getting dangerous to those that aren't familiar with it. This beer feels great in the mouth, light enough to make you want more, but it has some weight behind it to make you know you're drinking something.

I really, really dig this ale. if the ABV wasn't so high, this would be a constant (as much as it could be, given it's limited run) for me. I don't know why people have said that this tastes like cough syrup, because I sure can't taste it.

 1,088 characters

Photo of I_imbibe
4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bought this December 2012. Aged in a dark cellar. Over a few years your Elf will mellow and impart deeper cherry and mahogany flavor. It is delicious fresh, of course, but save a sixer for around 3 years! Drink it in the summer, too. Why the hell not?

 254 characters

Photo of Heatwave33
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle to a Dogfish Head Snifter.

Color: Amber with an off white head.

Smell: Cherries, hops, malts and honey.

Taste: Cherries, hops, malts, honey, slight alcohol presence.

Mouthfeel: Great carbonation, smooth and slighlty dry.

Overall: Very well balanced! Couldn't tell it is 11% ABV. As it warmed up the alcohol was present but still very tastey. A great winter brew. Cheers!

 401 characters

Photo of santoslhalper
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, glowing dark red with a thin head. A tiny bit of carbonation bubbles up. Chocolates and cherries burst through the smell of this beer. A nice warming scent of alchohol as well. This is a suprisingly malty tasting brew. Very sweet and fruity with a small but pleseant amount of hops coming through in the back. A beautiful holiday beer. This is going to be one of my "12 beers of christmas" this year. The best offering from Troeg's I've had. This is one of those beers that you won't forget for a long time. Highly, highly recommended.

 549 characters

Photo of Dantes
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Package: 12oz. brown, longneck, crowned bottle. Great holiday red label depicts a tipsy elf hanging on the Troëgs name. Blurb describes beer as an”ale brewed with honey & cherries.” 11% ABV. No information about bottling date or specific year, but I know it to be from Holiday 2003.

Cost: $2.25 per single at Gary’s

Presentation: Snifter at ~60º

Appearance: An absolutely beautiful glowing ruby red that formed a substantial bone-colored head during the pour, which subsided quickly. Obvious gunsmoke on opening. Interestingly, the beer poured brown, but was definitely red in the snifter. The carbonation was so fine, requiring close examination under a halogen desk lamp to detect it.

Smell: I was pleasantly surprised by the multi-dimensional aspect of the aroma. No cough syrup cherry here! Alcohol is very restrained, allowing sweet cherry, pale malt, subtle spiciness, and some other fruity esters to come to the fore.

Taste: Obviously the cherries and honey are the stars here, but this beer isn’t overly sweet. Impressively, the cherries don’t impart the sweetness of maraschinos, but more of a dark, morello cherry depth. A little more dark malt toastiness might have been a nice counterpart. Some phenolic “burn” and yeastiness also cuts the sweetness nicely. Very warming, but with a relatively light finish for such a big beer.

Mouthfeel: Deserves special mention here. I just don’t know how they did it. This is a heavy, warming beer, that manages to be light on the tongue and palate. As mentioned above, the carbonation is spectacular: ultra-tiny bubbles run through this beer, helping cut the sweetness and alcohol, while providing a creamy texture. The carbonation is definite and long-lasting, while being very subtle. Much like a ballet dancer, it combines grace and delicacy with the strength of an all-pro linebacker. Unique in my experience amongst barley wines and other high ABV brews.

Drinkability: So drinkable, it probably ought to be illegal to sell this! The alcohol is subtle and the flavors full but not overwhelming. Dangerous!

I don’t know how I haven’t reviewed this yet. According to my records, I bought 4 of these. I drank one almost right away, and pulled this one yesterday. That means that there should be 2 more in my cellar. I think I must have drunk the first one too cold as I don’t remember its making this kind of impression. Heeding VENOM’s warning, I served this one warm (but not quite room temperature as I expected it to warm further). Great advice, but next time I will probably start drinking this a touch colder, as it warms quickly and the sweetness begins to dominate. This is an impressive achievement, combining complexity, depth of flavor, warming alcohol, and an impressive texture in one great beer. A bargain considering the product. I’m only sorry I didn’t get more. Next year, I’ll be buying much more if I can get it.

 3,002 characters

Photo of ckollias
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a large snifter glass.

A: Pours a clear reddish-amber hue with a white ½-finger head that quickly dissipates in to a wispy lace.

S: Sweet cherry and fruit aroma with an alcoholic twinge.

T: Flavor is very sweet with an alcoholic punch to face. Very fruity – cherry is definitely present and dominate. This is almost wine-like.

M: Very strong and boozy. Medium body and minimal carbonation

O: Wow – this beer was great! Definitely a sipper at 11% abv. It wallops quite an alcoholic punch but is easily drinkable.

 555 characters

Photo of mattgreger
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This holiday brew pours a deep ruby amber color. It has a small light tan head, that fades pretty quickly. Color is pretty translucent, but still has a wonderful color.

The aroma that comes from this brew is also great. The front of this brew has a nice strong belgian yeast, followed by a mix of cherry, honey, and spices. There is also a pinch of apple, a very sweet nose on this one.

Flavor is very nice on this brew. The front of this brew is a honey and cherry. There is a bitterness at the end with apple. The spices in this brew blend really well with the other flavors. This is a strong, heavy brew, but the sweet flavors mask it pretty well.

Mouthful on this one is surely full bodied. It is pretty heavy, but is covered very well with the sweet flavors in the brew. Being a 11.0%, this brew goes down pretty well, especially when chilled.

Drinkability on this one is great. Though it has a high ABV, it is covered very well. As you drink this brew, there is a nice little burn on the back of the throat, but the brew is solid and is an amazing holiday brew. I will most certianly seek this brew out again this season.

 1,135 characters

Photo of matridium
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%


this beer would get a 5 but I think if it was just a little lower in alcohol
flavor is right no for a festive brew for the holidays.

Nice for a cold winters night!

 181 characters

Photo of clvand0
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to meathookjones for the bottle of this. I've been waiting to try it. Pours an amber/red color with a very small head. The aroma is excellent. Aromas of cherries, honey, spices. Very nice. The flavor is odd in a very good way. The honey and cherries meld together for a great flavor. There is a spice there to ... possibly from a belgian yeast. Very drinkable. This is one that could easily sneak up on you. Dangerous.

 425 characters

Photo of threeviews
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%

12oz bottle (BOD: 09/25/14) into a Rastal Teku 2.0 glass...absolutely fresh!

A- Pours a beautifully clear, ruby red with <1/2 finger of a white head which disappears as quickly as it forms. (4.0)

S- Sweet, heady aromas of chocolate, stone fruits (cherry, plum, raisin), banana, honey and clove-like spice are all represented which blend very well. (4.5)

T- The fruity components are noticed first followed by a milk chocolate flavor across the palate. The finish is long and lingering, but far from cloying. (4.5)

M- Despite the lingering milk chocolate sweetness, it finishes quite dry, making this full-bodied beer easy to consume. Although not much head formed, the beer's carbonation is near-perfect. (4.75)

O- Regardless of category, this is a well-crafted beer...and perhaps one of the best in Troegs' profile. It blurs the lines between a Belgian Quadruple, Belgian Dark Ale, Fruit Beer and English Strong Ale. Very Unique and again, very well executed. If you have a love for big Belgian inspired beers, this is a must try! (4.5)

 1,042 characters

Photo of buzzedup
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%

really enjoying this beer but I need to put half of my case away for a year or 2 maybe even 3 . this could be outstanding (world class ) with some age on them .

 160 characters

Photo of drink_like_a_wahoo
4.49/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Mad Elf from bottle served in a snifter.

Look - Golden red
Smell - Dark cherries with hints of honey
Taste - Black cherry sweetness up front that fades into a smooth, less sweet belgian yeast finish
Feel - Smooth and light in the mouth

I have had this beer from multiple years at various ages. My absolute favorite was the 2014 at 14 months, but really everything after 8 months has been delightful. Aging really smooths it out and rings in the up front sweetness that younger bottles carry. One of my favorites

 523 characters

Photo of djkman
4.49/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a totally subjective standpoint:
I drink this after a meal. As in not guzzle but slow drink like a desert drink.
This is how I drink it.
I can taste the strength I the ale. The honey and cherries make me think and enjoy the Christmas holidays.
Of course the 11 percent is off the chain but I thoruoghly enjoy this brew.

2015 update. Drank one aged 6 months . Still great.
HERE is the thing.... Went to the brewery in August.
NAKED ELF....... Mad elf without the honey and cherries.
Bartender was all out. Could only get it at the brewery. I missed out. Was told people were liking it. Especially the people who are not into the honey and cherries.

Wanted it but no go.
Still getting the mad elf for 2015.

 714 characters

Photo of KTCamm
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into a tulip glass. 1/14

Pours crimson red with very little foam. Cranberry juice appearance. Cherry oak nose. Honey too. Pickly taste, oaky back. Firm alcohol pop. Sips great, and packs a sneaky wallop. Earth bitter in back. Great for a cold day. Excellent.

 280 characters

Photo of sublimesipping
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

There are many good things about living in the city of Brotherly Love. Finding Mad Elf on tap unexpectedly would be one of them. This may be my favorite holiday beer. I love the color, ruby red. Elegant, sophisticated, like the taste. Beer tastes more like a cordial, essence of berry, a warm brandy like effect. Excellent balance and mouthfeel make this beer dangerously drinkable, even for some of my non-beer friends. The big suprise being that is has a decidedly strong kick to it(11% can defintiely sneak up on you..)A wonderful, happy glass of holiday cheer, a way to keep the holday spirit alive through cold winter nights. If you can find it on tap, it is worth it! Drink it with someone you love.

 705 characters

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