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Tröegs Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
1,240 Reviews
For Trade:
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States | website

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,240 | Ratings: 3,803
Photo of Kenmo1985
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A very strong Belgium ale that as a sweet taste that counteracts the alcohol taste very well, a slight hint of cherry flavoring, which is nice, unlike other Cherry Flavored beers that can be to overpowering and taste like cough syrup. the smell is sweet and robust. mouthfeel is smooth as it enters your lips. overall i gave the beer a 5 and i highly suggesst that you get this beer it is very much a winner in my book.

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Photo of Gavage
4.34/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal clear reddish amber color. Starts off with a nice 1" head, but it disappears rather quickly, and I mean nothing, not even a surface foam.The aroma is sweet and lightly tart, as cherries, malt, cinammon and alcohol are easily detectable.

The flavor is complex. Thick malt is matched with cherry, apple, yeast, alcohol, honey, cinammon, nutmeg, and some other spices. What makes this interesting is that the flavors come at different times during the taste, like cherry and malt up front and honey and alcohol at the end. As it warms the flavors became more intense.

Mouthfeel was thick and syrupy at the start and finish. The malt seemed to stick to the tongue, and an alcohol kick came just after swallowing. This is a super brew, but for sippin' and relaxing on a cold evening only.

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Photo of Kitt
4.34/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From bottle to pint glass, a deep, dark, rich brick-red color. Almost non-transparent. Very weak, thin head with little lacing.

Aroma a malty-cherry; as advertised, a heavy belgian dankness - weighty, humid, musty.

A sinus-clearing, spicy, heavy malt with rich fruity tones. The biting bitter feel with an eclectic lingering spice flavor and a cherry backbone is a lasting and masterful conglomeration. A fantastic spice and fruit face-off that I won't soon forget!

Heavy yet smooth -- sliding right along the throat with no sense of friction!

Drinkability is limited only by the 11 % ABV -- yes, I think there may be a limit here!

I have heard so much about this beer. I was desperate to find it despite the fact I don't like fruity beers. But the fruit is well balanced by the bitter spice and I think the two really complement one another. Walked right into the local liquor store and there it was, the elf staring me in the face! I couldn't find the stuff last season! I am not disappointed with the beer itself -- it is very unique and very good! I only question if it is really worth 14.99/six pk when I'm an hour's drive from the brewery. Perhaps I will answer that question after a couple more rounds! Regardless, this is a worthy belgian-style ale and not far from a top-notch brew!

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Photo of RVigz
4.34/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: The appearance of this beer is a ruby red color with about a quarter inch of head that dissipates quickly.

S: the smell is a sweet cherry and malty smell

T: the taste is similar to the smell, with a prominent cherry taste upfront with a slightly malty/alcoholic aftertaste. slight vanilla chocolate aftertaste that fades out with honey. very delicious. I drank this beer from a tulip glass.

M: mouthfeel was very smooth and not too carbonated, sweetness overpowered alcohol.

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Photo of Risser09
4.34/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a white wine glass - 2007 bottling - Cellar temp

Appearance: Pours a transparent brown color with red and orange highlights. The off-white head reaches 1" and shows decent retention.

Smell: Strong Belgian yeast aroma. Dark cherry and orange peel. Sweet like cherry blossom. Biscuity, with a dash of black pepper. Slight red licorice aroma.

Taste: Belgian yeast & dark cherry flavors. Honey rests in the background and tastes more like a biscuit. Doesn't come across as a booze ridden beer as the abv would have you believe.

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body with a nice, sweet character. Heavily malted with the right amount of fruit. Warms the belly.

Drinkability: Enjoying this so close to summer was no problem for me. A very solid beer worth enjoying yearly.

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Photo of easement
4.34/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours amber red/garnet with a small off-white head. little head retention. no lacing.

S- Honey and spices. I detect sweet fruit.

T- Fruits and sweetness. notes of maple and honey. Hints of cherry, but it's not overwhelming.

M- Very smooth. Small amounts of carbonation. Very syurpy.

D- Surprisingly drinkable for 11%. I could drink a few.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of renegadeburger
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

heard a lot about this beer so decided to try it with our tasting of red ales okay so its not really a red ale by category but it is by color haha plus i had already tried the hopback amber

smells awesome and just like the appearance deep red chestnut definitely tell this one is a monster underneath a cherry spice and plum aroma there was a big booze aroma not that i didn't like it sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't and this time it happened to work really well

the taste was really super delicious the chocolate comes in the end but there is a bitter cherry pit taste too its funny it almost is on the verge of being really really great but its held back just a little bit by something

my favorite thing about it is the pure mouthfeel of this beer it has a real nice thick but not overpowering coating it gives you really nice!

nice seasonal brew and glad i tried it

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Photo of bsp77
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Clear pinkish-copper with not too much head.

Smell: Cherries, bananas, sweet dark fruit, toffee, clove and a general spiciness.

Taste: The Belgian yeast is not as evident as in the aroma - just a hint of banana. Somewhat reminiscent of a huge Old Ale (toffee, caramel, dark fruit) with an additional layer of cherries and a strong spiciness, especially toward the finish. It seems as if the spiciness is more from the yeast than hops, so maybe the Belgian yeast is noticeable.

Feel: Medium to full body that is somewhat syrupy but very smooth. Moderate carbonation, with a semi-dry finish. For an 11% abv beer, this has very little heat. Remarkable.

Overall: This is delicious - a cacophony of subtle flavors that add to a very complex, yet dangerously drinkable, festive ale.

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Photo of kpantz
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Executive Summary: I'm consistently amazed by the quality of the stuff coming from the Troegs brothers. The Mad Elf, year in and year out, is one of those "must buy a case or two" seasonals for me. As my 2006 supply runs out, I look forward to August, when it's been brewed again and I can start the countdown to late autumn when I can get my grubby paws on it.

2006 version.

Appearance: Ruby-amber pour into my chalice with very little head. Barely even a film remains...more of a ring. The color sure is purdy, however...

Smell: Belgian yeasts and cherries. The honey is present as well. Smelling this just reminds me of decorating for Christmas.

Taste: Sweet and tart at the same time. Definitely can discern the pilsener malt as well as both the honey and the cherries. Warming alcohol to finish. Not much in the way of hop presence, but what is there is nice - Czech, I would imagine. A great add-on strategy for a Belgian base. The flavor combinations work wonderfully.

Mouthfeel: Moderate and tight carbonation - very pleasant, enhancing the flavors. It's a sweet brew, but manages not to be sticky.

Drinkability: Unfortunately for my wife, my toilet, and eventually my liver, this is one damn drinkable beer. I could easily put back a full sixer of these in a session. Hopefully I'm done decorating the tree by then. ;)

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Photo of Suds
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I’d been wanting to try this beer for some time. I’d read about it, and even heard about it on a tour of the brewery. This was my first chance. It pours a red, slightly hazy color with a thin head. The head is slight, and disappears quickly. The aroma is intense, and predominately of sour cherries. Underneath, there is a malt-like sweetness and alcohol. The taste is fruity, malty, and fairly complex. Medium to heavy body, with low carbonation. An alcohol warming sets in as you drink this one…but the effect on taste well hidden for an 11% ABV. This is excellent!

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Photo of riversider76
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice copper with a thin white head. Good retention and nice lacing. Aroma is of sweet cherry,honey and dark fruit. Body is medium with some carbonation. Taste is of sweet ripe fruits with cherry up front. Bread and honey in the finish. Excellent!!

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Photo of squilky
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: A deep red like brewed iced tea. Not much of a head at all, though I noticed some lacing around the edges of the glass.
S: Smells sweet like cherries and the alcohol smell is strong.
T: This tastes more like a brandy or wine than beer. But the taste is very enjoyable. Kind of a sweet and sour thing going on here. A mix of sweet and tart all happening at the same time. The nice flavor lingers nicely on the tongue with a pleasing aftertaste.
M: Kind of slick feeling. Not very carbonated.

D: A great seasonal beer. It warms you up inside and makes you feel all warm and cozy inside. Perfect for cold winter nights. I couldn't drink more than one of these at a time, but I definitely want to pick up at least one more of these for when a winter storm rolls through. I think it would be great to sip this while watching the snow fall outside. A perfect beer for the season! I poured the bottle into a pint glass, but I think a snifter or tulip would serve as a better glass for this type of beer. The warmth and complexity of the beer really shine through when the beer warms up a bit.

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Photo of jampics2
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2009 vintage, 12oz.

Bottle poured (appropriately enough) into my Mad Elf snifter. This is a BSDA? More like a beautiful ruby red treasure that looks absolutely still in the glass. No head at all.

Smell is amazing. Most notably cherries and a beautiful Belgian yeast with banana, vanilla, and a sweetness that is unexpected and exceptional.

Taste is good. Surprised this is as crisp and lively as it is. The cherry, belgian malt, yeasty esters, and sweet peaks of flavor take you on a journey. Other subtle flavors emerge in the course of a glass. You can taste the alcohol, but it's nice how this beer doesn't shy away from flavor or try to sneakily conceal the booze.

Mouthfeel is good. As still as it looks in the glass, it is actually a bit too sharp for me.

Drinkability is exceptional. I always grade drinkability with a curve for higher ABV beers. For as strong and distinct as this is, I think it's absurdly drinkable. Too strong for more than two (at the most), but a great beer!

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Photo of madelfonatree
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Look - Unfiltered red body. Head is gone quickly but light tan. No lacing.

Smell - Strong cherry. Faint honey. Slight dank hop.

Taste - Wheat beer with Christmas spice. Cherry. Honey. Stronger than desired alcohol taste, but drinkable.

Feel - Chewy. Heavy. Carbonation comes through where it doesn't in the look.

Overall - Part of my namesake. One of the first beers that moved me to high ABV. I always get a few of these each Christmas (and same some for the Summer).

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Photo of soulfly967
4.36/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Fat Heads in the Southside of Pittsburgh. Poured a ruby red, very little head that quickly vanished. The smell was of cherries and a bit of alcohol. The taste was amazing. Cherries, alcohol, and a hint of chocolate. A very exellent beer for the holiday season, I only wish that they would have made more of it... maybe next year. Beware, that 11% abv will come back to haunt you in the morning, but it's well worth it.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a golden color with a light brown tint. It has a thin, off white head. The head fades quickly, leaving minimal lacing.

This beer has a fruity aroma. I smell raisins, and figs. It also has a slightly clovey spicy aroma. It has a slightly biscuity malt aroma also. The high alcohol content is very well hidden in the aroma.

This beer has a sweet malty flavor. I can taste some spicyness. It has a slight cherry flavor to it that I didnt pick up in the aroma untill I tasted it. As with the aroma, the ABV is well hidden in the taste.

This beer is smooth. It is full bodied, but not overly aggressive. It is only lightly carbonated. It leaves a sweet cherry like aftertaste.

This beer might not be the greatest session beer just because it is rather high in alcohol. It tastes good, and it mild enough that it might be easy to drink a few though.

Overall: Thanks go out to ggaughan for generously hooking me up above the agreed trade. This beer was good, and I am happy to have had the chance to try it.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Got accepted to med school today, so time to celebrate!

3.5 A: Nearly clear ruby red color. A half finger of fizzy/frothy head that falls quickly and leaves no lacing.

4.0 S: Cherries are very pronounced. Yeast components comes through offering black pepper, clove, and yeasty spiciness. Candied fruits, sugar plums, sweet caramel and honey. Finishes with a slight touch of the "Troegs character."

4.5 T: Tastes like the nose, but is even better. Cherry and honey come through well. Pepper, clove, and a surprising amount of banana. Caramel, fig, prune, currants. Lots of fruitiness. The 11% is barely noticeable. Really good.

5.0 M: Mouthfeel is pretty much perfect. Medium body, but quite creamy. Aggressive, but not overly so, spritzy carbonation. Super smooth. A touch of warming on finish.

4.5 D: Damn tasty beer. Troegs seems like they can do no wrong. Every beer they put out (well, almost every beer) is about as good as it gets. Way too easy going down for an 11% beer.

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Photo of Tombomb
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Reddish amber. Clear. very little head

S: some hops and fruit, very little malt.

T: Tart cherries with some subtle alcohol.

M: very light an about water in texture

D: Way too easy to drink this one! at 11% you could run into probles very easily.

I got this in a beer club as a 'big" beer. This was the biggest and one of the most drinkable

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle. Nice dark red/brown color, with a strong fruity aroma (cherries predominant) and a hint of spice. No visible head, medium carbonation. Taste of cherries is overpowering; smooth silky finish leaves you wanting more. Very good drinkability. Even though it has 11% ABV, you don't feel it until you are more than halfway into the beer. Another solid beer from Troegs. They definitely have some winners.

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Photo of VFBeerman
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pretty much every year I consider this my first Christmas present.

Pours a lovely reddish color fitting of the holiday season. You can actually smell the warming character on the nose - definitely yeasty, but in a good way. All the typical qualities of a really nice Belgian but with the wonderful flavor imparted by the cherries and honey.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, split with my roommate. It's a celebration, as I just moved out my ex-GF from hell. Let's get it on!

A- A nice caramel, ruby red, robust coloration with a fizzy, but nice head. For 11%, it's fantastic.

S- Caramel, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin pie, alcohol.

T- Very flavorful; Like drinking cider/potpourri/maple syrup/pumpkin pie. An orgy of spices, mild alcohol noted. Very tasty. Puts me in the Christmas mood, alright.

M- A bit boozy, but nowhere near the 11%. A bit hot, due to the spiced aspect... very nice. A winter warmer on steroids.

D- I'd have a whole bomber to myself, I love this beer. My first time trying it; I will be buying more for sure. Not the cheapest winter beer, but for sure one of the best. Very well done.

Note- Doesn't strike me as a Belgian Strong Dark... maybe a Belgian Spiced Amber, if such a category existed. Whatever it is... it's fantastic!

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Photo of shapudding
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

No dating on the bottle, but this is 2004 batch. Georgeous pouring with such a show! Everything is just shooting all over the place like fireworks! When that is done I am looking at a glass of clear amber topped with a think whitish, creamy, frothy layer. Scents of marachino cherries, so candy sweet! Bit of clove spiciness coming up from the glass. Can feel the carbination, even hear it when you swirl the glass a bit. But it is very well done IMHO, not too much at all, just a good amount without whacking you with froth. God this is just good stuff. The cherry flavor is not too strong at all, I mean, it is there, trust me. But it is not like you have a lambic in front of you. Bit of the honey sweetness left on your tongue after each sip. Very ripe bing cherries, more like dried bings actually, or dried cranberries, where you get that candied sweetnes from the fruit. Some port in the aftertaste. The sweetnes is not cloying, just very nice. The alcohol is very well hidden, can't taste the percentage in this, it is so nicely drinkable. Just another lovely one from the brothers.
Fun one in the case splitting extravaganza with Stingo, BrewAngel, and The BlitheringIdiot.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Allagash tulip glass,

The color is a ruby red with a thin wisp of foamy off-white head with no lacing.

The smell is cherries and some nice honey with a touch of some alcohol in the background.

The taste is subtle cherry flavor that slides along the tongue and is not too strong that it's abrasive. There is a popping sugary flavor that is hitting on the back end and mixes with a small bitterness at the end as well.

The feel of this beer is light and playful and almost goes down too easy helping you forget that it's 11% ABV. It is very drinkable, goes down easy and is quite refreshing.

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Photo of froggyfrog
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Love the Elf.

I've been waiting for this beer to come out for months and it has been worth the wait.

This particular serving is from a bottle purchased three days ago on the day '05 ME was released.

The View:

An exciting warm red and amber marble. Very "Belgian-looking" if that makes sense to anyone but me.

The Scent:

Lots of estery components to be had. Olfactoraly reminiscent of a mead. The cherries read like a Luden's wild cherry cough drop.

The Flavor and the Tactile Experience:

Nice and smooth. This brew is rich in flavour but light on the tongue. The taste of prickly honey dances through the mouth as the liquid passes. An effervescent burning sensation is there and gone so quickly that it never really existed. Or did it? The fruit flavours add to the complexity of the Elf but are so wonderfully muted that this beer could never be mislabeled as "fruit beer".

The alcohol is well hidden. The main tastes are of dry honey and fruity Belgian esters.


Actually it is hard not to suck these down in rapid succession because they taste so damn good. Add to that a hidden 11% ABV in a super-smooth liquid bullet train and you have a potential recipe for disaster.

Final Notes:

I highly recommend this beer. I feel that it is very approachable and quite tasty. If you happen not to like it, um, good, more for me!

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Photo of lovindahops
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

absolutely love Troegs. Everyone should get a chance to have their brews.

A- an exuberant dark cherry red with a big time head that crackles away to the thinest white head on the top. Mad elf is really a different look and it's impressive

S- that Troegs yeasty scent (that I love in dream weaver) is just as present as the cherries and sweetness from the honey. While it's not over powering it's a great profile

T- what a brew! The malt flavor is a combo of flavor. It's warming with the sweet cherries and honey flaovrs. There is a sting from the alcohol but it's almost not even evident because of all the flavor. The end has spice that ties the whole brew together and makes it incredible

M- fantastic flavors dance around the mouth. Real good flavors

D- this is the winter brew to go to. Troegs really crafted a christmas brew that will impress everyone who has an open mind to craft beer. You really can drink this because the flavor hides the 11%. What a brew!

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,240 ratings.