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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

1,203 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,203
Hads: 3,635
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 221
Gots: 920 | 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: 1,203 | Hads: 3,635
Photo of Spica66
1.96/5  rDev -49.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Got this as an extra from gumppette. Thank you, Christine!

Poured into a tulip and shared with gwuilliums after bottling and racking.

A: Medium red color with decent head formation and retention.

S: Funky fruitiness. Musty like a sweaty horse blanket. I look at the bottle and realize that this probably uses Belgian yeast.

T: I should not have opened this beer. I do not like the funky flavors that Belgian yeast gives. Sour cherry cough syrup. gwuilliums would not take more than one drink.

M: Medium body and very good level of carbonation.

D: Too funky in the nose and on the tongue.

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Photo of astrocreep2000
2/5  rDev -48.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

dunno how this beer is so highly rated. this beer tastes like cherry cough syrup, or nyquil. however, it looks nice in the glass and its 11 percent. overall i cannot recommend.

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Photo of Overlord
2.04/5  rDev -47%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to a generous trader!

Pours a dark amber, slightly ruddy color. No head, just a thin white crust around the borders. Pretty color, worried that it has no carbonation. Then again, upon checking the ABV, it's 11%. That surprised me.

Smells like sweet malt (no honey, just really sweet). That's about it. Maybe a vague fruitiness. Cherries, perhaps, or maybe just an indistinct dark fruitiness.

Taste is a blistering assault of sugar. Whoa. A tinge of cherries, but mostly just straight up sugary malt. Lots of bread-y yeast. I can feel my teeth dying from the sugar. The sensation I get is cherry listerine or cough syrup.

Flat. Super boozy.

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Photo of JudgeRoughneck
2.22/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Mad Elf is dark maple colored brew with a thin tan head. It is strongly perfumed with an aroma of cherry-flavored cough syrup that quickly overwhelms faint wisps of hop.

Taste opens spicy with phenols, then sweet malt kept in check by cherry vapors and alcoholic burn. I get a slight tartness in the background and possibly a banana note. The mouthfeel is viscous, thick, flat and syrupy, but I was only able to feel that once my tounge had been numbed to the scorching alcohol.

This is a valient attempt at a new take on x-mas beer but I am not into it. I have been very impressed with the other Troegs beers I've tried, but find Mad Elf a little to close to Mad Dog.

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Photo of nrbw23
2.26/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A- Pours a pretty, clear dark red with an off white head. Head has decent retention, forms a thin layer of bubbles and leaves some nice lacing.

S- Smells of raisins, figs and quite a bit of spices (ginger and cinnamon). Cherries are also pretty strong here as well.

T- Tastes way too sweet!! Other than that a ton of booze, sweetened cherries give way to a yeasty aftertaste and also the honey just adds to the sweetness.

M- Medium body, maybe a touch on the watery side and low carbonation.

D- Tried this one a couple of times and no thanks I'll pass on this one.

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Photo of goldbot
2.3/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a deep, brilliant, ruby red; clear, with essentially no head - which isn't too surprising. Any aroma is very subdued at first - just a barely detectable hint of malt and dark cherries and raisins. Seriously, how does this beer have almost no aroma? There is some flavor, at least. Malty and sweet but lacking any complexity. Hints of bread, raisin, cherry. A subtle, spicy yeast flavor tries to come out but is held back. There's flavor but not very much of it. Somehow the alcohol is very well hidden but I don't know how. Slight bitterness; full bodied but with a thin, watery mouthfeel. Maybe I'm doing it wrong but this beer lacks any character whatsoever. Alcoholic malt water.

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Photo of Hophead717
2.33/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

A fresh 2011 12 ounce bottle, poured into a DFH Signature Glass.

A: A deep, pretty ruby red, with a thin head that entirely dissipates almost instantly.

S: Sweet malt and dark cherries rush at the nose, with notes of honey and hints of spice also making themselves known. this beer is overwhelmingly sweet (not in a bad way). smells almost like candy.

T: Dark cherry upfront, with a strong sweetness to the beer. Unfortunately, the cherry flavor comes across is an identificably medicinal flavor. The more I sip, the more I notice. You're left with the same medicinal taste after the finish. There are some slight hints of spice from the Belgian yeast, but my palate is having a hard time picking them out over the medicinal flavor. I wanted to like this beer...but did not.

M: Nicely carbonated and surprisingly thin for a 11%. Mouthfeel is fine.

O: Definitely disappointed. This is a beer I've heard a lot about and was excited for. Oh well. I have five more that I'll age for a bit and we'll see what happens. Expectations are low.

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Photo of mfc
2.34/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Let me first off say, they get one full point for their label art. Pretty cool. Sadly, the rest of it wasn't so great.

A: It looked decent. Dark orange, almost red with a hint of cherry color. Almost no carbonation (I assume because of how alcohol-heavy it is?)

N: Lots of cherry, syrupy

T: No bueno. Sorry. It is flat and alcohol city, USA. Reminds me of cherry schnapps.

M: Flat flat flat and way too heavy on the booze without any balance or attempt to mask.

Addendum: Reading other people's reviews, I think I may have gotten a bad bottle. Mine had nearly zero carbonation. I'm going to bump the mouthfeel up to 2 for that, but I stand by the fact that it is too syrupy and tastes a bit like cherry cough syrup.

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Photo of ChrisBowers
2.4/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Maybe this thing needs to be cellared for awhile but I am not a fan. It reminds me of Robotussin. In the words of Chris Rock "Out of Tussin? Put water in the bottle and shake it up, More tussin!" It definitely has a lot of stuff going on, I'll give it that. Tons of alcohol in this one with a big malty sweetness. The cherry aftertaste though is horrid. Truely horrid. A very unbalanced beer, the alcohol is very evident and makes it an unpleasent, if warming, drinking experience. Lots of people seem to like this so maybe my tastebuds are tweaked the wrong way but this stuff tastes like cough medicine to me.

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Photo of claspada
2.44/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Aromas of layers of sweet cherries and some sublter Belgian yeast funk smell, with lesser bananas and clove esters.

The taste is a complete flop for me. Simply put it tastes like a cherry cough syrup which was fermented with Belgian yeast. Way too sweet as well from the honey I presume. This isn't beer in my opinion but a mead/lambic hybrid mess.

The only saving grace is that the mouthfeel isn't totally syrupy and cloying; medium bodied and very good level of carbonation.

Overall this is a miss for me, too alcoholic, unpleasant and even ended up being a drainpour. Will not revisit ever again, even for free.

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Photo of eggplantwiz
2.47/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an ommegang goblet.

A: No real lacing, no / minimal carbonation. Flat-ish amber appearance.

S: Overwhelmingly sweet, honey and cherries come out. This is the strongest point for this beer.

T: A little bit unexciting really. Sure, I taste the honey and cherries, but it's almost cloyingly sweet with negligible complexity. I'm not sure why this beer gets such good reviews.

M: Smooth enough mouthfeel, medium to light bodied.

D: Surprisingly drinkable for 11% -- the alcohol is well hidden here, no booziness at all, really. Very smooth, but still not exciting.

Overall, a below average beer, but pleasant enough. I don't think I'd seek this out again.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
2.47/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

$6 @ Gulu-Gulu, Salem MA

Arrived at the table a beatiful ruby color but with not even trace amount of foam. I'll assume a bad pour. Came in a big boy glass which was nice because Boston seems to be trending towards even remotely big beers in miniscule pours.

Smelled of light grain and thick, sweet cherry juice. I guess you get what you ask for. Taste is syrupy medicinal cherry with a boozey slickness. Bleh. I couldn't finish it.

For some reason I feel the addition of juniper would greatly improve this beer. Get on that Troegs. Thank you.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.5/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

When I first had this beer, I really hated it and I had trouble finishing the 12oz. This second review is off a bomber -- a generous extra from boatshoes -- and the experience was so different that I felt a re-review was appropriate.

A: Pours a clear reddish amber color with an inch of off-white head. After a few minutes there is almost no trace of carbonation left except for a thin head at the edges. It's not an effervescent brew, that's for sure. I expect much more life out of a BSDA...

S: A nicely pungent aroma of cherries, spicy honey, and some booze. The booze actually makes it smell a little medicinal, like cherry cough syrup.

T: The taste is not bad, though. I guess the honey is all fermented out; it's quite a dry beer, delivering only some light honey flavor but mostly cherry, dark fruit, brown sugar, and spice. A firm alcohol bite in the finish.

M: Light-bodied. It's quite dry. Low carbonation, and a booze bite.

D: Eh... It's ok. I didn't hate it this time, and unlike last time I managed to finish not only 12, but a full 22 oz. It's drinkable, but I won't go after it again.

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Photo of djmichaelk
2.52/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours a slightly hazy dark amber, with little to no head, and no lacing. Not especially encouraging.

S - Sweet and pretty forward with the cherries. Very much like a typical BSDA, but the cherries are not doing it any favors.

T - The closest I can compare to would be St. Bernardus. It's got that same Belgian spicy yeast, then the cherries really take over. The sweetness is a little cloying. I'm having trouble getting through the glass.

M - Strange. Carbonation is almost too aggressive, making it seem a bit harsh. At the same time, it has such a sweet finish that it almost seems syrupy. I'll give it a pass since they both almost cancel each other out.

O - I wanted to like this, but to be honest it was a struggle to get through the entire beer. I can't say that I'd seek this out again.

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Photo of PretzelCity
2.53/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This was my third and final attempt at trying to figure out why people seem to enjoy this beer. That being said it poured a nice copper red into my glass with a one finger white head. The smell was mostly alcohol with a hint of cherry. The taste, for me, was lacking. It says right on the bottle "ale brewed with honey and cherries". Not typically a phrase that leads me to purchase a beer but I've had some great brews that were made with cherries. This is not one of them. The cherry flavor is weak and seems artificial, like Ludens Cough Drops. I know this is not a sour but I'm still underwhelmed. Mouthfeel and drinkability are low due to the medicine/alcohol traits. Overall,the third time wasn't a charm. Although it did get a little better each time it never turned into a good beer. Being from Pennsylvania I did want to like this beer but it seems to me it's all hype.

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Photo of ratedz
2.54/5  rDev -34%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours a hazy dark amber with minimal off-white head. The little head that it did have was gone in the matter of seconds and didn't leave any lacing on the glass.

The nose is full of cherries along with a bit of sweetness, which I would assume is from the honey. There is some definite spiciness going on in there too, which gives it a familiar Belgian aroma.

To me, this one tastes like a Belgian ale (a tripel, maybe?) with a splash of cherry syrup. Some sweetness on the back end before the tart cherries and spicy Belgian yest come back in the aftertaste, which lingers for quite some time.

Mouth feel is fairly thick and creamy, which was a bit of a surprise. Very little carbonation combined with the thick body made this feel like cough syrup going down because it coats the inside of your mouth and throat. The lack of carbonation seemed way off from other Belgian ales that I've had.

Drinkability was below average because all I could think about was cough syrup. I'd heard a lot about this one and was looking forward to trying it for the first time, but it certainly didn't live up to the hype. Definitely a disappointment in my book.

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Photo of Spider889
2.55/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Had on tap at winking Lizard last month, review from notes.

To be honest, this one did not live up to the hype in the slightest. There seems to be a really strong following of this one, but I found it to be lackluster and undesirable for future sessions.

Appearance is a cloudy pinkish red color. Not much in the way of head or lace.

Smelled faintly like a triple - it has that slightly sweet yeasty Belgian character. Other scents: a sour cidery quality, clove, and ginger.

The taste was fairly one dimensional and stunted imo. Tart cherries and an apparent sweetness dominate. Not much in the way of other spices, but ginger once more makes a brief appearance.

Too low on carbonation. In fact, on further retrospection the carbonation was way too low considering that this is a Belgian style ale.

Again, I won't be paying for this again. There's been an increasingly large influx of new Christmas beers every year, and that coupled with the old staples that always wow will ensure that I always have many better options for my seasonal fix. The one bump I do give to drinkability is that the 11% abv was very well hidden considering.

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Photo of beer1018
2.56/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Picked this up because of a recomendation by a friend. 6 pack of bottles poured into a tulip glass.

Small head that keeps a small layer on top for awhile. I would say it is close to ruby red but has allot of brown in it as well.

Smell is all spicy bitter phenols with a touch of cherries and malt.

The first thing i taste is the spicy phenols and some sour cherry. I am not a fan of how spicy this is though. I wish they would have used a diffrent yeast strain for this beer. I also get a unplesent sour taste as well.

Mouthfeel is good as the carbonation isnt to strong.

Drink is low just because i am not a fan of the flavor at this point and dont want to drink more then one.
I am going to celler the rest of my pack and re visit them thorughout the year. Also at over $17 a 6 pack here in Ohio i wishi would have got a single instead.

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Photo of largadeer
2.59/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle received from dyan in our latest trade. Thanks.

Appearance: Auburn in color, good clarity, reddish highlights. The head disappears within seconds of pouring, a byproduct of the 11% ABV and cherries I'd guess.

Smell: Fruity, sweet, bready, and a bit yeasty and medicinal. There's a touch of cherry, but it blends in with the malt and yeast.

Taste & mouthfeel: Malty sweetness paired with fairly reigned-in fruity esters. Cherry is evident in the taste but actually well balanced with the malt, more a subtlety than a dominant flavor, lending a mild tartness as well. This tastes like a bastardized Belgian quad. Some spicy phenols appear in the finish. Very medicinal and cough syrup-like. Bitterness is non-existent. Pretty tough to drink, not my favorite Troegs beer by a long stretch.

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Photo of korguy123
2.59/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Review from notes 2010 Release

A- Rich copper with deep ruby highlights. A vigorous pour produces nothing but the thinnest ring around the rim of the glass. Lacing is non-existent but the alcohol holds on for dear life.

S- Right off the bat is rich, sweet honey notes followed by bready yeast. Lemon zest and slight coriander. Cherries start to strengthen as the beer warms further. Alcohol is present and gives the beer a fruit cake smell.

T- Warm alcohol and honey upfront with sweet cherries lingering in the back. Almost borderline too sweet. Lemon zest and coriander. Alcohol is a little overwhelming and overpowers most of the flavors. Tart cherry aftertaste.

M- Medium bodied, low carbonation makes it feel slick. Sticky on the lips.

O- The Alcohol is not hidden at all, it's borderline too sweet and just not my thing. Perhaps time will help mellow the alcohol but I'd have to experiment before a re-review.

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Photo of bubseymour
2.6/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Appearance - 1 finger head and best that quickly disappears. Clear ruby red hue.

Smell - sweet and fruity. Definitely cherry notes.

Taste - Not as bad as I would have thought for an 11% cherry beer but still too boozy and heavy to really enjoy. Not quite cough syrup but just a tad below it.

Mouthfeel - full bodied

Overall - Sorry, I drainpoured about 1/3 of it. Not completely horrible but also extremely challenging to drink and be refreshed. Basically its a great tasting cough syrup..but unpleasant beer.

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Photo of dnrobert24
2.62/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at the Gingerbread Man in Carlisle, PA. Had to see what the hype was about, and I was not impressed. The beer had a dark red hue, with a very thin head that did not retain much aroma. Something mildly fruity was there, like watermelon. The first sip was metallic and stingy. Hot alcohol abounded. Midway through, the fruit came through more predominantly--strawberry mostly, and other juicy red fruits. It reminded me a bit of Juicy Fruit gum. I could not detect the spicy yeastiness normally associated with Belgian-style beers. The pint I had felt a little thin. It was not what I was expecting or hoping for in an American-made Christmas release of a belgian strong dark.

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Photo of LuckySevens82
2.63/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle courtesy of Dithyramb
Pours a pale, slightly hazy rose color with a small, but well formed white head. Retention is a bit lacking, but the lacing and collar are nice.
Smell is cherries, slight honey, some hops, a bit of caramel, definitely wine like in character, with just a hint of cough syrup.
Taste is a bit bitter up front, with some residual sweetness. Cherry cough drops come to mind. Bitter hops finish this one out. It seriously tastes like Vicks Cherry cough drops. Which I like, but not in my beer. I was hoping that this would be a lot sweeter than it actually is.
Mouthfeel is okay, carbonation is nice, and it's not particularly hard to drink.
Overall, wow, I was really hoping that this would be better. Nevertheless, I'm not very fond of it and I probably won't have much more of it.

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Photo of kegger22
2.64/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a clear red with modest head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma was cheap cherry Kool-Aid. The taste wasn't as bad as the aroma would lead you to expect, but it wasn't very good either. Something my mom would have poured into ice cube trays to make homemade popsicles, 40 years ago. The feel was medium bodied with reasonable carbonation. Drinkability was only decent due to high ABV and questionable taste.

This was a bad idea that went badder (if I may). While not horrible, everything about it screamed artificial, cheap and tawdry. Does Boone's Farm make a cherry?

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Photo of seanwhite
2.65/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: Pours with a deep reddish hue, clear, and no lacing to go along with no head and no bubbles.

S: Aroma of green straw and sweet yeast liquor.

T: Surprisingly bland, a flat sweetness but nothing else. It seems to be lacking something.

M: A remarkable waste of honey and cherries if that is what went into this beer. While it is mildly sweet and there is a reddish color I cant think of a more lackluster beer in all categories.

O: The lack of carbonation and any distinguishing characteristic makes this one of the weaker examples of a bomber one can buy. Bottle 2011.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,203 ratings.