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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

2,967 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,967
Reviews: 1,149
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 15.54%
Wants: 148
Gots: 436 | 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: 2,967 | Reviews: 1,149 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pburland23
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into my Great Divide Brussels glass.

Mad Elf pours a bright, ruby red color with about two fingers of off white head that quickly receded and left some moderate lacing. It's a good looking pour.

A traditional Belgian yeast aroma leads the nose followed by sweet cherries and a touch of honey.

The taste also features a Belgian yeasty flavor that overwhelms the other flavors that are present including a slightly tart cherry taste and a touch of sweetness from the honey. None of the major taste components are overwhelming. As a result, Mad Elf is well-rounded and very balanced.

The mouthfeel is very smooth. You wouldn't guess that there's 11% of alcohol behind this brew. The carbonation is also sufficient...not overpowering.

Drinkability is good. Given the 11%, you probably don't want to drink more than one in a sitting, but what a pleasant sitting it will be. A well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable holiday beer.

pburland23, Dec 15, 2010
Photo of PearlJam1221
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this in a snifter at Good Dog bar in Philadelphia.

I ordered this knowing nothing about the beer (I know, that's unacceptable for a BA from Philly, but please bear with me). Fantastic smell, slight cherry, malt, and hops come through in the end. Head was minimal and disappeared quickly. I was surprised by the taste, cherries came through rather strongly, then some alcohol,
Mouthfeel was a little thicker than I prefer or expected, but good for the style. I appreciated that it wasn't sticky and very little alcohol burn. I couldn't believe that the beer was 11% when I checked BA on my phone as I finished the beer. I could easily see ordering a 2nd, but I hadn't eaten yet!

PearlJam1221, Dec 15, 2010
Photo of SkunkWorks
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured into a chalice. I know this is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but I'm taking into account that its clearly meant to be a Christmas beer as well in my review and you're just going to have to deal with it!

Look: clear, ruby red with a very few carbonation bubbles visible in the body. The head is a bit on the thin side at about one finger and looks white with a hint of reddishness. It doesn't retain very well and doesn't leave lacing behind, which is fine since its 11% alcohol by volume.

Smell: honey, maltiness, some Belgian inspired spices and a bit of cherry. A little alcohol is there but not as much as I'd think.

Taste: One of the things I was apprehensive about this beer is that the cherries would be overdone, since I don't particularly like cherries. Luckily, they take a back seat to the other flavors. There's honey sweet maltiness, some cherry, Belgian inspired spices, and a bit of booziness. There's some spiciness from the hops but its quite subdued.

Feel: medium bodied, especially at the alcohol content, not much carbonation, and a bit of booziness. Not much in the way of hop bitterness, which is to be expected given the low IBU.

Drink: very drinkable for such a strong beer. I could drink this all night if I wanted to but would probably die in the attempt.

Overall, a very, very good beer to drink around Christmas. Its a solid Belgian Dark Strong but really stands out as a Christmas beer. I think the B+ rating this has is a bit on the underrated side. This is easily my favorite beer I've had from the Troegs Brothers. Try and get this one if you can! Cheers!

SkunkWorks, Dec 14, 2010
Photo of deapokid
2.88/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Vintage '08 bottle purchased from Capone's. Label on bottle notes a date of 2006.

Pours a thin cherry red that's translucent when held to light. Sort of looks like a very filtered and clean cherry lambic. Carbonation is rather high, but head and lacing are nearly non-existent.

Cherry aroma is not of the tart variety. It has more of a creamy/milky smell and age has removed all booziness from the nose. It also lacks any acidity, which I had expected to come through due to the cherries.

The booze present in fresh models is all but gone from the taste, leaving behind a sort of thin, cherry popsicle flavor, which plays second fiddle to the big belgian yeast at the end. This combination doesn't necessarily work and, outside of the creamed cherry and dry yeast, there really isn't much else going on here. Strikingly one-dimensional.

Mouth feel is very smooth and it just so happens to be one aspect that has benefitted from age. The lack of booze seems to have eliminated some of the dryness.

This is a beer that I like less and less with each passing year. I figured an older model would develop some flavor, but it just seems like a fresh model without the boozy kick. Frankly, this is a huge disappointment.

deapokid, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of lovindahops
4.4/5  rDev +14%
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!

lovindahops, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of JunkYardJake
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Molly's Pub in Lancaster.
Suprisingly (and probably unlawfully) served in a 16oz pint glass. Looks yummy. Has a larger head than expected for an 11% brew. Crystal clear and crimson in color. Smells absolutely potent and delicious. Dark fruit, cherries, and honey. Palate is very raw and powerful. The tart cherries stand out without feeling like a ''fruit beer''. The alcohol is very strong and warming, which is perfect for a snowy afternoon in the pub. A bit spicy but not over-spiced. Very unique and delicious. Obviously, this is not a beer meant to chug but is plenty drinkable. Probably the best holiday beer I've come across.
12/17/11 Side note: Had a side-by-side tasting with a fresh bottle and one aged a year in my cellar. Wow. What a difference a year makes. The booziness is all but gone and the cherry flavor really stands out. Great beer fresh and even better with some age on it.

JunkYardJake, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of BillHaverchuck
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a deep ruby red with a shallow white head, looks like the holidays
smells sweet and fruity
deliciously sweet mouthfeel to this, nice carbonation level here as well
a nice sour note comes from the cherries, blends well with the sweetness from the honey creating a wonderful tartness
dangerously drinkable for an 11% (aka great for the holidays)

BillHaverchuck, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of jbone78
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this from a friend swveral months ago. There is a code on the bottle, but I couldn't find where to use the code on their website.I'm guessing it is an '09. But I bet that's fine.

Pours slightly hazy and amber in color. Nearly no head, which I would've thought odd because it's labeled a Belgian Strong. Smells a tad malty, but not much there. Tastes is complex to me. It starts with a spice and the sweet cherry flavor follows, but the sweetness (I'm sure) is from the honey. I don't pick up a distinct Honey flavor, jus the sweetness.

Carbonation is low to medium and at 11% this one drinks easy. It's not very syrupy, I like. I could easily drink more than one.


jbone78, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was quite tempted to purchase this after reading the two sugar donors (cherry and honey), and finally gave in...but $16 is an expensive evening! Either way, I've paid more for beer and what better way to spend it.

A cranberry copper with little head formation, but a fair amount of carbonation anyways. I wouldn't expect an 11%abv ale to have much of a head anyways, that is a rarity outside of the bottle conditioning world. The head that did form was initially about a 1/2 inch and white. I poured the beer into my Belgian tulip and found the choice appropriate. Unfortunately, the beer is filtered, and that means there was no bottle conditioning...which I feel is essential for a good Belgian style ale.

This beer smells terrific! Belgian yeasts mixing with a distinct sweetness unlike many Belgians I've had. I typically fall deeply in love with a Belgian when I first smell it, this is definitely the case. The beer exudes a bready yeast funk, but within reason. The keytone and alcohol fragrances are modest and you might not suspect that it was 11% by smell alone. I get deep rose and banana bread.

Wow. I am relieved that my purchase was well worth the premium. There is strength and balance. I am aware of the fruit present in the beer, and I am not certain about pre-knowledge bias, but I can actually sense cherries and honey. The beer is rich in flavor and sweet like the season. I am impressed once again by this local gemstone of a brewery. I will vouch that this Belgian-style is of considerable authenticity, which for some breweries is easer to say than do.

Smooth and sweet. The only issue I have with the beer is the sweet aftertaste it leaves. However, there are enough other good things going on with this beer to overshadow this minor complaint. The beer went well with dinner and made an even better desert. I do not note a tremendous funk from the yeast, most was only present in the smell.

Highly drinkable. I have gone through 3 tonight and 2 just writing this review. Very well received from all who tried the beer this evening, even those that don't like Belgians refer to it as drinkable. Very smooth and a very worthy addition to my staggering review list. I would purchase again, however, not this season because the best things come after a long wait.


ThePorterSorter, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of mjw2808
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very beautiful golden mahogany that leaves a little less that a 1 inch white head. Doesnt leave much lacing. All i get in the nose is a lot of alcohol and some berry fruity sweetness. The taste however, is more strong of berry than alcohol, although both of which are very noticeable. There is also a small presence of malt sweetness. Good mouthfeel. average mouthfeel. Very good drinkablilty for an 11% alcohol beer. Probably gonna buy this again, and if your wondering if you should buy it, you definitely should give it a shot.

mjw2808, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of ksimons
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a clear red amber with a small amount of head that leaves a ring of lace around the top

S-sweet, a little tart cherry, and booze

T-very sweet, cherry, with huge warming alcohol. There is some malt in there though so its not cloyingly sweet

M-medium body, syrupy thick, low carbonation

D-the high abv and sweetness cut down on the drinkability, but its still a good one to try

ksimons, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of mountsnow1010
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2009 Mad Elf - aged in pretty reasonable temps but transported around quite a bit. Poured into a chimay goblet.

Funnily enough I didn't intend to age this - I found it in March having purchased it last November - and figured what the heck, and let it sit until now.

A - Hazy brown with a pretty much nonexistent head/lacing. Almost looks like a dark apple cider.
S - Belgian yeast funk smell, bananas, cloves, cherries (nearly as much as a fresh mad elf IMO), a bit of an acetone like odor/sort of general ketone-y, a bit spicy as well
T - Starts quite sweet with a fruity taste, a bit of a sour kick at the end with dryness and mustiness, quite alcoholic. Spices again. I don't know what the year of age did- I think it brought the cherry down a lot - I can't really taste it.
MF - Starts off fairly creamy, and then ends with drying sensation. Pretty thick too, feels like it coats the lips.
D - I find the alcohol to be pretty apparent here. This is definitely a sipper, even with a year of age on it. Just one would be enough for me.

mountsnow1010, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of Spica66
1.93/5  rDev -50%
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.

Spica66, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of Citadel82
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Finally sampled this at the Open Door, 110 John,Downtown, Manhattan, NYC. Not so sad that I waited. Okay it is a strong beer that masks its alcohol very, very well...behind the cherries and honey. Not my cup of tea as it were, but a definitely solid flavorful brew.

I asked my friend Doreen and "drink shrink" to pour it into a Palm tulip. It poured a dark amber with minimal head. I know she rinsed the glass for sure so not sure why there was o head and minimal lacing. Oh well.

Aroma was sweet honey and tart cherries.

Taste was malty sweet, tart fruity cherries and honey finish. Clover???

Mouthfeel was nimble for the gravity. Not oily or slick.

Drinkable - hell yeah but not something I would seek out regularly.

Citadel82, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of StormKing47
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on tap at my local establishment and reviewed from my napkin notes. We can't all carry around notebooks all the time now can we? So away we go...

A- A glowing ruby red appeal with a dark amber hue that invites you in for more than a smell and taste. It's captivating, almost looks like a fine wine. There is almost no head to speak of because of the ridiculous amount of carb. It's even more razor thin than razor thin. Love that this one comes around every year for Christmas, because it looks like Christmas in a glass.

S- Wow that is an uppercut to the nose. Right away a swell hello from Mr. Abv himself along with some spices, sweet cherries and a cloying honey. As it warms the cherries come to the front and are mellowed by the sweet honey. There are also hints of vanilla and spice notes from the Belgian yeast strain.

T- Kapow! A plague of sweet cherries and a warming of alcohol wake up the taste buds right away. It is a rush of cherry and honey sweetness that has a spiciness and big abv burn to finish. As it warms the abv burn in the finish is subtle and the yeast spiciness takes over to make the beer much more enjoyable.

M- Chewy and thick with a warming sensation like a weak brandy. A little syrupy, but not too thick. Very coating and sticky.

D- Honestly it is very drinkable because the abv is hidden as it warms up and it mellows a little and allows the sweetness of the honey and cherries to come out. Obviously the high abv warrants sipping, so it is all at the discretion of the drinker. Enjoy!

A welcomed winter brew that I look forward to each year. Brings in the cold weather with a tingling warmth. Always a fun time with this beer. Thanks Troegs.

StormKing47, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of JMB22
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a 12oz glass. Wonderful dark red color, but almost no carbonation and almost no head. That may be the biggest downfall. The taste is overpowering, not really a bad thing, but very intense. Lots of cloves, and very festive. Almost no head halfway through. It's extremely high alcohol content is fairly obvious. Overall pretty darn good, but I am only man enough for one!

JMB22, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of Bi0hazrd
4.48/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: ruby red with a 1 finger head and minimal lacing.

S: cherries and malt

T: cherries, honey and sweet malt

M: very smooth with a nice medium carbonation

D: very tasty and easy to drink but not sessionable due to the high ABV. Two of these and I was quite buzzed.

Bi0hazrd, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of tmcelvain
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

L: Amazing ruby red color - I rarely see one that has this neon quality.
S: Malty Alcohol.
T: Alcohol dominates here, too, with sweet cherry undertones. Bready malt body - not a beer for the hopheads. Tastes more of an English Ale to me - I don't get any Belgian yeast flavors.
M: Smooth to start, with a spicy, carbonated finish.
D: Too alcoholly, and not enough complexity to dig in, but is a great winter warmer. At 11%, must be enjoyed in moderation - 12oz had me reeling.

tmcelvain, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of despainmakesbeer
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium ruby color with medium brown highlights. No head, light tan ring around edge of glass. Aroma is spicey but everything blends very well together, pick out the clove and some very faint cinnamon/cardamom but not getting too much of the cherries. Mild carbonation. Definitely on the sweeter side. Alcohol present on the end to finish. Spices are present in flavor but not overpowering. End is a little thick, but not too heavy. Alcohol becomes more present with warmth. Not the most drinkable Christmas ale, but still good.

despainmakesbeer, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of DrDemento456
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A new year and got myself a growler fill of this perfect winter warmer.

A - A nice solid ruby read poured heavily as instructed on the side of a box I saw to unlock the hidden flavors. This resulted in an inch of head which is amazing for the ABV.

S - Warming alcohol with some sweet herbal cherries and tons of honey put in for good measure.

T - The first sip starts off intense with the alcohol burn start followed by a sort of herbal not sweet cherries and honey backbone finish rounding out the burn

M - The warming feeling of this is pretty intense but after the second glass it felt so right.

D - I struggled to finish the growler myself so get some help damn it! Taking a whopping 3 1/2 hours to get the whole thing down by the 4th it actually felt like the night before Christmas and Santa was waiting for me with gifts, to describe the giddiness was the true definition of a winter warmer. Enjoy this with friends and family!

DrDemento456, Dec 07, 2010
Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I like this beer a lot, surpasses Great Lakes Christmas in my book for sure. A dark red brown color with smallish head on it. Nose is sweet malt, some fruitiness (cherries?), some nice spicing to it too. Very holiday, honestly. Flavor follows with some of the same notes, almost fruit-cake-y overall if you up the spicing (cinnamon, nutmeg, and others)--very good. Very smooth and an easy drink. Nice beer, one that I will be getting again.

LordAdmNelson, Dec 07, 2010
Photo of perrymarcus
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a snifter glass.

pours a clear dark amber/ruby tone with a finger of off-white head that quickly recedes into a thin collar around the glass; patchy lacing.

nose smacks of sweet malts; lots of candied fruits, cherry, and a touch of honey. nice aroma but makes me worry it will be too sweet. (a concern that fortunately isn't realized.)

flavor follows the nose with a strong front of sweet maltiness. does a nice job with the sweetness, however; doesn't cross into the dreaded cloying realm. cherry presence lasting through the finish, where the 11% ABV (unsurprisingly) is most noticeable. enjoyable brew, if nothing mindblowing.

medium bodied mouthfeel, average carbonation; feels nice in the mouth... drinks dangerously well for an 11 perenter.

perrymarcus, Dec 07, 2010
Photo of jlandis
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a beautiful clear ruby color with thin white head that slowly fades to a few wisps. The aroma is full of sweet candied cherries and bubblegum. The flavor is a combination of sweet cherries, bubblegum, honey, and banana. There is some alcohol burn that adds a fantastic finish, but at 11% it is hard to imagine. The body is moderate with subtle carbonation.

Not a bad beer at all, although probably one that I wouldn't drink all that often. I would love to pick up a few bottles and see how they taste with a few years age.

jlandis, Dec 06, 2010
Photo of orangesol
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served thru a dogfish randall-the-animal with brandy soaked cherries and vanilla.

A - Pours deep, dark, amber with no head at all leaving minimal lacing down the glass. Looks like normal mad elf with no head.

S - Lots of cherrie skin aroma that lingers for some time. A bit of booze from the brandy but it is hidden very well. Very nice nose.

T - Cherries up front that carry thru the entire drink. Middle is a nice mix of cherrie and a bit of chewy malt. Finish is strong with a bit of cherrie syrup and plenty of booze. This has to be close to twenty percent after the brandy was added. It is hidden so well it is honestly scary.

M - Medium body with a heavy flavor and moderate carbonation. Tart finish with plenty of booze lingering on the pallet.

D - Fairly high. I loved this one but after having so many beers already this was the final straw, I had to leave after this one. I have had normal mad elf, splinter red aka BA mad elf, and yet this was the best mad elf I have ever had. The balance was great but the ABV is so high you just can't have more than one.

orangesol, Dec 05, 2010
Photo of Stigs
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, had to get this one out of the way. served its appropriate glassware, a 12oz Mad Elf tulip.

A - pours with a *very* short lived film, mostly settling to a loose ring of bubbles and a few spots of foam. the beer is crystal clear, amber in color, with a slight reddish tint.

S - freshly squeezed and crush, maraschino cherries are kept in check by a hefty amount of booziness. not much else creeps through here, maybe some hints of vanilla.

T - sharp, sweet yet not at all tart cherries dominate the palate. alcohol is the bed of delivery here, which is both good and bad. barely any other flavors are capable of making its way through.

M - lightish body, with tight punchy carbonation - but missing (for better or worse) that effervescent fizzyness of most Belgians. alcohol burns a bit (a lot) here and there - actually helps cut through the cherries for the most part.

D - more of a tradition around here than anything else. this beer with a year or more on it though, and thats good stuff. fresh, its unabashed and wild, and not subtle at all. great if you like lightly alcoholic cherries, otherwise, dont expect a whole lot.

Stigs, Dec 05, 2010
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 2,967 ratings.