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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,965 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,965
Reviews: 1,149
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 15.54%
Wants: 148
Gots: 433 | FT: 20
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:
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 added by: WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,965 | Reviews: 1,149 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.51/5  rDev -9.1%

Pours a clear dark amber/ruby with a small white head that fades away. Some spotty lacing.

Smell is dominated by sweetness with and holiday spices. Cherries are pretty strong with a hint of booze.

Taste is pretty sweet as well. Honey, cherries and more spices dominate with very little bitterness and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is a bit sticky and syrupy.

This seems to be one of the most accessible Holiday beers because it's sweet and high in alcohol. A bit too syrupy for me.

TheMultiYeast, Nov 05, 2011
Photo of aorloski
3.9/5  rDev +1%

Appearance - Pours a very rich and lavish deep amber color. About a fingers worth of off white head on this one and great carbonation at 11%

Smell - Smells like an over sweetened quad, in a good way. Ripe fruit, cherries, raisins, some brown sugar in the backbone.

Taste - I must say, at 11% the alcohol is hidden ridiculously well. An incredibly sweet beer but once again in the best sense of the word. Cherries and dark fruits dominate this one, absolutely no bitterness just all sweet malts, molasses and some carmel notes. Great stuff.

Mouthfeel - Whoa this one coats the mouth, after drinking one the flavors seem to just sit in your cheeks.

Overall - This is a very well rendered beer, it is missing some of the "funk" from a belgian style dark but i dont think this is intended to be like that. This tastes more like an over sweetened quad but an incredibly delicious beer for sure.

aorloski, Nov 05, 2011
Photo of railman
4.28/5  rDev +10.9%

I love this beer! The color the label everything! Picked this up after a suggestion last year.
Happened to see it on display at a local beer distributor. Had to get it.

Poured from a 12oz bottle. No freshness date.

This brew pours a nice burnt amber / ruby red color.
Virtually no head or lacing noticed. Almost no carbonation.

Smells a little on the sweet side with little cherry on the nose. Almost no hops detected.

Tastes sweet but not overdone. Minimal cherry flavor.

Feels somewhat syrupy but again not overdone. Medium to full bodied brew.
I really like this brew. Too bad its 11% cause I can suck these down all night.


railman, Nov 04, 2011
Photo of kennylopez
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: a slightly hazy reddish dark amber color that pours about a finger thick worth of fine white head that fades to practically a film and leaves tiny spot of lacing.

Smells: almost like a barleywine in my opinion, but a lot sweeter. There is a slight honey smell but it is mellow with the cherries.

Tastes: I taste a lot more honey than I smelled, but it is sweet and cherry note come through the Belgian yeast backbone.

Mouthfeel: for weighting in at 11% this ale is quite a punch...at least a lot of solid little jabs(every sip) because it is easy on the burn and well carbonated despite the appearance.

Overall: I picked up a six pack and enjoyed the first couple, I was going to see how the rest age, but I am going to buy another case because it will disappear and I know I will drink it for the holidays.

kennylopez, Nov 04, 2011
Photo of Scourge07
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%

A: Poured into pint glass from bottle. Had about a finger of head that dissipated down a bit, but maintained retention. It's not as red colored as it appears in some of the pictures online. It's more of a rich, clear copper color.

S: Spicy yeast - very Belgian. Very sweet smell with a touch of honey. Cherries not as apparent, in my opinion.

T: Honey, sweet malts/yeast. Slight hint of cherries in the aftertaste. Very sweet with practically no bitterness.

M: Easy drinkin' for 11% Only a slight alcohol burn in the aftertaste. Full/syrupy mouthfeel

O: This is definitely a great Belgian-style ale, and perfect for the holiday's. However, I was expecting the honey and cherry flavors to stand out more, since they were advertised on the bottle. Unfortunately, they were quite subtle. Not something I would buy again, but definitely worth trying!

Scourge07, Nov 04, 2011
Photo of Koufax21
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

Poured a 12 oz. Bottle into a snifter. It pours a beautiful transparent ruby liquid with 1/2" head that quickly disappears. Smells of spice; clove is what I’m getting with some peppery accent. Tastes of sweet fruits. Clove, fig, and cherry. The cherry was not as pronounced as I imagined it. The honey adds another layer of complexity. Very smooth for 11%. Mildly carbonated and medium bodied. This is definitely a cold weather beer. After 6 oz. I can feel the warming effects.

Koufax21, Nov 03, 2011
Photo of nas5755
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%

Mad Elf '09, at just about 2. 12oz bottle

Cellar temp

A: Head is present, nice retention. Kinda surprised. Wasnt expecting much.

S: Bready malts, honey, cherries, less bubblegum and fruit than a fresh version. spice is subdued.

T: So smooth, cherries are really beginning to shine. The bubblegum flavors have mellowed and the cherries are taking over, very smooth on the finish with honey and lots of bready malts are present throughout providing a solid backbone. Very nice.

M: Smooth, I was expecting more carbonation based on the pour. On the low end.

Overall: I love this beer and time brings out the better qualities. More cherries and more honey, less yeast spice and less bubblegum. A very fantastic experience. I still have 3 or 4 left in the cellar and I am gonna see what happens over the next few years.

nas5755, Nov 03, 2011
Photo of keanex
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Crystal clear red with some carbonation bubbles. Thin white creamy looking head.

S: Yeasty with cherry scent meets booze. Strong scent with cherries being smelled from a foot or so away. Good scent.

T: Boozy up front with a yeasty spicy cherry flavor laced throughout. Slightly syrupy, but rather clean.

M: Creamy with a medium body and light-medium carbonation.

O: A decent beer, but it's a bit overhyped. I don't think it deserves the huge hype it gets, with stores being very sneaky hiding it and such, but it's a good beer. I don't think I would buy this again though, it's not balanced enough, too much of a booze flavor.

keanex, Nov 01, 2011
Photo of BeerLover99
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%

A: ruby red/shiny body, no head,

S: honey, cherries, spices, malt

T: honey, cherries, malt, plenty of
alcohol warmth, spicy semi-crisp finish

M: med/heavy body, smooth, low
carbonation, light oily mouth

O: Very nice Winter offering. Great
to see an American craft brewery take
on a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Wish
it had a little more body and head.
I will get this again and recommend to others.


BeerLover99, Oct 31, 2011
Photo of chodinheaven
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%

Color of a dark cherry, good clarity. Looks like a port, maybe a little lighter. Virtually no head, even on a medium-heavy pour. Basically no lacing as you sip. Honey and sweet ripe cherries do come to mind as well as a touch of booze. Malted barley rounds it out. A little like cough syrup in aroma actually, but somehow not really to its detriment.

Sweetness of the cherries and the honey are combined with a warming alcohol presence to bring out a very nice sipper of a dessert beer. Maybe a touch too boozy and a touch too sweet, but with the right setting, this is a decent selection. The pilsner malt and munich malts contribute to a malty backbone that keeps it just hearty enough to work. Spicy yeast is welcome as it adds a prickly mouthfeel that compliments the low-medium carbonation level. Actually without this little spiciness, this beer would be thrown out of whack and lose the continuity that makes it all gel together. Surprisingly light in body and finishes bone-dry.

Would have to be in the mood for this one as it is pretty sweet and a little boozy. But the two flavors work well together and make for a good holiday after-dinner sipper.

chodinheaven, Oct 30, 2011
Photo of stephenjmoore
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%

A- A cross between red, orange and pink. Virtually no head, looks very interesting.

S- Cherries and honey hit up front. Notes of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and some dried fruits).

T- Very complex. Spicy notes in the front, the cherry and honey is pretty subtle compared to the smell. Tastes very similar to a fruit forward Belgian ale but a little more subtle.

M- Light carbonation and mouthfeel. Very slight alcohol burn.

O- Very interesting beer. Very drinkable for an 11% beer. The complexity is unique and I am sure would change even more with some age.

stephenjmoore, Oct 29, 2011
Photo of smerrell
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%

Appearance - translucent red, the head dissipates quickly

Smell - Strong alcohol, candy-sweet smell that dissipates quickly

taste: like a black cherry Belgian beer. Hops are barely noticeable and you don't taste the alcohol until after you swallow

Mouthfeel: high carbonation, the soft finish coats the tongue and stays with you

Overall: This is a great seasonal beer, with a great, unique taste. If you are a fan of Belgians, this is a great change of pace. high in alcohol, you shouldn't (couldn't) drink more than 2 of these easily, but this is a terrific Christmas beer.

smerrell, Oct 29, 2011
Photo of Centennial
3.48/5  rDev -9.8%

12oz bottle

A. Deep ruby red with bubbly head

S. Honey, and assorted fruits with tart fragrance.

M. Medium to syrupy with spot on carbonation.

T. Cherry, Honey, and assorted fruits with alcohol burn pulling through and alcohol taste lingering.

O. Great on a cold fall or winter day, but not an everyday drinker or something I crave too often but still a nice holiday treat to have around.

Centennial, Oct 28, 2011
Photo of MaxSpang
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%

Served in a Christmas tulip!


This Elf is a lovely deep copper red color. It's more translucent than expected. The head was about a one finger khaki color, and disappated in a hurry. None of it remained. Looks like a lovely brew! I feel like the cherries were added to give it a good amount of color, but not so much on the flavor (more on that later).


There is some definite big Belgian character coming through. Surprisingly, alcohol isn't that present. There is a lovely honey aroma, but not a lot of the cherries. There's a good bit of raisin bread character, and the Belgian spiciness is met with some dark fruitiness. Smells amazing.


Yum - this is a big bad ass beer. There's a lot of chewy breadiness, and some wonderful dark fruit character. The sweetness is definitely high, but not cloying. The honey comes through at the back of the tongue and hangs around for a little while after the swallow. The cherry flavor is present, but it's not very noticeable. The Belgian spiciness is a nice addition to to overall flavor, but isn't the focus of the beer. Alcohol? Schmalcohol, this beer doesn't appear to have the stuff.


This Elf starts off big and chewy, and feels slightly syrupy (the good kind of syrupy). At the end, there's a bit of dryness that ups the drinkability. It's nice and warming after each sip, and even though you can't taste the alchol, you can feel it! There isn't much carbonation. The beer is pretty drinkable, but demands to be savored.


This beer is excellent. This is definitely not a beer to drink every night, but is great for winter nights. It doesn't have as much spice character as other Holiday beers, but is a MUST for this time of the year. I don't know what made the Elf Mad, but this beer makes me very happy. Plus, I love the fact that they sell it in a variety of ways - 22 Oz Bombers, 12 oz. Singles, and even six-packs instead of four-packs! It gives you the opportunity to buy a sixer, drink a few, then age the rest.


MaxSpang, Oct 27, 2011
Photo of jayhawk73
3.63/5  rDev -6%

Pours an amber color w/ a reddish tint when held to the light. Not much in the way of carbonation or lacing, but w/ the high 11% ABV, I won't ding it too much. Somewhat clear in appearance. Nose is that of mainly cherry, honey, and some alcohol. Not as complex as the best in style- a little one dimensional for me. Taste is the same- it's not bad.. but up against the best in style, it's lacking complexity and taste. This is a tough style list though, so it's really not bad. Feel is on the lighter side, w/ a nice sweet honey aftertaste. Overall, this is a good beer, it's just missing more yeast, malt, and complexity in the taste/feel. I like the idea of it though. Cheers.

jayhawk73, Oct 23, 2011
Photo of dbc5
4/5  rDev +3.6%

Fresh 2011 bottle poured into Duvel Tulip.

Appearance: Really nice looking beer on initial, aggressive pour. Ruby red with 1.5 finger off white head. Unfortunately, the head doesn't stick around very long which is someone expected given the 11% abv.

Smell: Smells very nice. Sweet cherries, some bready malt, honey, and an underlying tart quality.

Taste: Flavor carries over the tart cherry and sweet honey. The malt comes through in the backend and keeps this from being too sweet. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden given the 11% tag, although you certainly get a nice alcohol warming as you work through the glass. This seems appropriate for a Christmas beer.

Mouthfeel: This is a bit odd for me as I simultaneously get a syrupy feel that somehow seems thinner than I expected. In no way off putting, but just average here.

Overall: This is probably my favorite Christmas seasonal around (although it seems pretty early to have this coming out in mid-October). A nice departure from the typical spiced holiday offering.

dbc5, Oct 21, 2011
Photo of mrfrancis
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%

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.

mrfrancis, Oct 20, 2011
Photo of WMEugene
4.53/5  rDev +17.4%

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass. Current vintage.

A - Pours a deep ruby red color with minimal head which quickly dissipates into a thin ring. Minor lacing on the glass.

S - I smell the bready yeast, cherries, and malt right off the bat. A very sweet and delightful smell.

T - Very sweet and a little tart. Strong notes of cherry, honey, alcohol, and assorted fruits. In the background is the malted and yeast flavors commonly found in Belgian-style beers. Very delicious, but you better like sweet beers.

M - Full bodied, almost syrupy. Carbonation levels are ok. A little boozy.

O - The Mad Elf is a delightful seasonal take on a Belgian-style beer. It is sweet and boozy, so it's not a beer to take lightly. If you like sweet beers, give this one a try.

WMEugene, Oct 19, 2011
Photo of DaveHS
4/5  rDev +3.6%

Vintage 2009

A-Pours the color of watered down cranberry juice with a thin, brilliant white head.

S-Honey, plum, cherries, rum soaked raisins, fruitcake.

T/M-Honey is the dominant component of Mad elf. Big, earthy honey sweetness with notes of cherry, plum, prune, brown sugar, fruitcake and more honey. Like a Belgian Christmas ale blended with a mead. Full bodied and rich, but never gets too sweet.

O-Brings back fond memories of Pennsylvania.

DaveHS, Oct 08, 2011
Photo of korguy123
2.53/5  rDev -34.5%

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.

korguy123, Sep 29, 2011
Photo of daveytheformer
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%

22oz from 2010 Gift Box!
A big thanks to canjeeps for this pain in the ass to ship

Poured into a Mad Elf chalice

Appearance is a nice clear red with a thin white head that fades to some lacing. Golden hued when held up to the light.

Smells sweet and like light pumpkin spice. A not so tart cherry aroma is also detected.

Tastes fruity, sweet and spicy. Light butter tastes followed by lots more spice. A little creamy with just a very light tartness, not really sour just a very light tart flavor.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with not a whole lot of carbonation.

Overall is great! Looking forward to getting more of this and more Troegs stuff.

daveytheformer, Sep 02, 2011
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%

Pours amber with just a slight head. Smells of sour cherries and sweet malt with some oak tannins on the back end. Tastes quite tannic with a lip puckering bitterness that carries through to the finish when more sour cherries kick in and help balance the tannins. Not quite what I was expecting, but unusual enough to be enjoyable and interesting.

Georgiabeer, Aug 22, 2011
Photo of kzoobrew
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%

Reddish tinged amber body, clear no sign of sediment. One finger soft white head sits atop momentarily. The head recedes back to a slim cap. Slight lacing left behind.

Cherry Starburst flavor pours from the glass. The cherry is very sweet and candylike. It takes a bit of work to dig beneath the fruit up front. Sweet malt can be noticed, some soft yeast characteristics. The smell is pleasant though fairly one dimensional.

The flavor is an improvement from the aroma. The cherry flavor is not as dominant and much less artificial. Sweet, dark cherry flavor melds with an earthy honey flavor. Very strong belgian style dark ale notes are displayed below. Dark fruit and chocolate flavors compliment the cherry up front. There is a decent amount of heat in this beer. It is not out of place, but it is a little more than what I would like.

Medium to full bodied beer. Moderate carbonation, appropriate for the style. Heavy sweetness coats the tongue making for a long finish.

I like this beer, very appropriate holiday beer. The flavors work well together creating an interesting interpretation of a belgian style beer. Mad Elf is a little boozey but not to the point of being off putting. I would like to drink this again, preferably when there is snow on the ground.

kzoobrew, Aug 19, 2011
Photo of jwhancher
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%

Pours a clear ruby colored red with soapy-like head that fades down to nothing. Smells of cherries with some hot alcohol burn. The alcohol notes increase as it warms. Tastes of cherries dipped in syrupy chocolate. Some brown sugar notes and a tad of spicy notes likely from the yeast. I get the honey a little bit. Tastes surprisingly light bodied. Rather even balanced in bitterness. Nice on a winter night.

jwhancher, Aug 02, 2011
Photo of warnerry
3.55/5  rDev -8%

From notes: Bottle 8/19/10 consumed 12/24/10

A Christmas Eve treat? We'll see...

A - Pours a beautiful clear reddish brown with one and a half fingers of off white head. The head dissipates rather quickly.

S - A sweet cherry smell predominates, with some honey also coming through. A rather faint hoppy aroma is present as well, along with a decent amount of malt.

T - Sweet cherries up front. Some faint hop presence followed by malt and more cherries. Has some of the faintly medicinal taste on the finish that often comes with cherries.

M - Nice full mouthfell, but not overly heavy.

O - the ABV and heavy cherry presence reduce drinkability a bit, but still rather easy drinking. I saw someone taking down a 6-pack of this at the MSU-PSU football game last fall, which I definitely don't recommend, but I would have this again.

warnerry, Jul 31, 2011
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 2,965 ratings.