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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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very good

2,891 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,891
Reviews: 1,148
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 15.54%
Wants: 138
Gots: 401 | 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: 2,891 | Reviews: 1,148 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Chaney

District of Columbia

4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good grief, this is probably the most brilliantly marketed brew produced in my local area. But is it any good?

A: Pours a beautiful bright red, Christmasy color, with a fair amount of carbonation, and a slight foamy head.

S: Belgian funkiness upfront, with cherries around the edges. I'm also getting a mild banana-like notes which add to the complexity.

T: After the Belgian character hits the palate hard, I got a sort of cherry chocolate cake-style finish which made it very refreshing indeed! The honey basically acts as a buffer between the alcohol and the fruit. I appreciate the subtlety of the spices. This could have easily become a "Christmas Ale," complex with all the holiday spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

M: Thankfully, the sweetness is subdued, the coating in minimal (the glass comes out fairly clean), and the carbonation is great for the style.

D: I've always told people that I thought this particular brew hides its ABV better than just about any that I know. However, always remember that "The Mad Elf" could easily knock you on your ass if you're not careful!

Overall: There is no other brew I can think of that divides more people than this one in my little circle of beer geeks. Some think it's gimmicky and not worth the money. As for me... I dig it and look forward to its release every holiday season!

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2010 22:08:09 | More by Chaney
Photo of BarrelO


3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Ruby red body. Decent head that leaves a smidge of lacing.

S: Yeast, spices, cherries, and alcohol.

T: The Belgian yeast takes over in a big way. Spicy and phenolic. Cherries and honey are detectable, but I probably wouldn't be able to detect them if I didn't already know they were there. Pretty big alcohol burn.

M: Big and thick, little carbonation.

D: As a BSDA, it's merely OK. As a winter warmer, it's more than acceptable.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2010 01:49:52 | More by BarrelO
Photo of hippityhops85


3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber purchased two days ago at Super Food Town in Lansdale, PA.

Pour is deep mahogany. Minimal head that disappears immediately. Understandably so with the abv clocking in a 11%.

Nose is Belgian Yeast, slight cherry aroma. The yeast dominates the profiles.

Taste, when drank cold, the cherries are very abundant. As the beer warms, the alcohol makes itself apparent in a strong way but the cherries are still in the background.

Overall, an excellent winter brew. Picking this up on a 30F night will definitely help warm you up. I wish I had started aging these years ago because they're just going to get more complex with time. And for roughly $4 a bomber, I will be stocking up this year.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2010 21:58:30 | More by hippityhops85
Photo of JayS2629


5/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My favorite beer ever so far. Only the Rochefort 10 gives it competition in complexity.

A- A ruby amber with a slim tan head. Slightly translucent, but a rich deep color.

S- Sweet with a strong belgian yeast at the front. Hints of rich dark cherry and spices. A slight apple and honey smell. Very nice.

T- The honey outweighs the cherry, but it is ver nice. A bit heavy with a slight apple taste. The spice is strong and similar to chai. You can tell its strong, but its masked well with sweetness. Smooth when cold.

M- Full bodied. A bit heavy, but masked so well when cold it goes down to easy to be 11%. Great Christmas beer.

D- full of soul. So smooth when cold you would never guess the alcohol content. Slight burn at the back of throat just to let you know you aren't messing around. Overall sweet and spicy. Absolutely delicious.

Serving type: on-tap

10-31-2010 03:34:55 | More by JayS2629
Photo of tone77


3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has an amber color with a small head. Smell is sweet, cherries and a bit of spice. Taste is good, cherries, spices, a bit of sweetness and a touch of alcohol. Feels full bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability, although not exactly a session beer. Overall this is a high quality beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2010 17:51:53 | More by tone77
Photo of Kitt


4.35/5  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!

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2010 01:55:23 | More by Kitt
Photo of hdofu


4.7/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

For such a monster beer it sure had quite a tan head on top a mahogany color brew. Smell is sweet and heavy of cherry. Taste is sweet and honey. It has a finish of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon cloves and other spices. The beer is pretty smooth with a noticeable but not overwhelming alcohol burn which warms the tongue and the soul. It goes down too easy but put visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head way quicker then I'd feel comfortable cracking another bottle open for at this point.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2010 02:22:27 | More by hdofu
Photo of Axic10

New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into a snifter. 2010 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours a dark ruby red with a small ring of foam around the outside of the glass.

Smell: Sweet candied fruit - apples, pears and cherries, some honey sweetness, sugary sweetness, Belgian yeast, and slight alcohol burn.

Taste: Candied fruit, honey, malt, sugar, not that much of a boozy taste despite the alcohol content.

Mouthfeel: Felt a little thin, but was very smooth and the alcohol is hidden nicely. Previous years' the it felt a lot thicker.

Drinkability: This is my new winter tradition after moving from Cleveland two years ago (although I still miss endless amounts of Christmas Ale). I get this on draft whenever I see it around and usually pick up quite a few bottles. I really enjoy this beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2010 02:14:07 | More by Axic10
Photo of wvsabbath

West Virginia

3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark tan brown, some red haze, not much head

Smell - Lots of fruits, cherries, apples. Some yeast and floral is present. Can pickup some alcohol even.

Taste - Pretty much what to expect. Strong honey and cherry taste. Big alcohol kick mixed with floral, really simiular to a tripel. The spices and sugars are strong also.

Mouthfeel - Man its quite the treat. Huge cherry and honey tickles your tounge. The alcohol does give it a burn. Surprized it doesnt totally ruin mouth, i wouldnt go drink a pilsner after this but...

Drinkabilty - Its too sweet and strong for much more then 1-2. A nice treat for anytime. Not sure if id get drunk or sick of the sweet kick first. Cant wait, i got a case, going to age a few of these

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2010 05:23:30 | More by wvsabbath
Photo of TheHoppiest


4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into an oversized wine goblet. Pours a honey-amber, with a thin soapy head that quickly disapates.

Has a sweet, fruity aroma, like apple juice or fresh pears. Honey and mild malt can also be detected.

Smooth, sweet, and slightly malty, this beer hides its alcohol well. It also holds its age well, as this ia a 2009 vintage that I'm having tonight. Definite honey, candied cherry (think almost maraschino), green apple, nectarine, and sweet malt, with a whisper of mild tartness to end it. Mild yeast is also present. Well balanced even after a year.

Mouthfeel is thin to medium, and belies its heavy alcohol content.

All in all, one of my favorite holiday beers to quaff. Why not have a little Christmas in October?

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2010 01:34:46 | More by TheHoppiest
Photo of geryeb624


4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into my DFH signature glass. Been wanting to try this one for a while, so here goes...

A- Pours a ruby red with hints of a paler orange color when held to the light. Not a whole lot of head, which is to be expected with the ABV, but a nice slick of foam settles on top.

S- Not much cherry or honey in the nose, but mostly a Belgian yeast aroma with requisite spiciness.

T- Well that's not what I expected. The Belgian yeast dominates the taste as well, with some residual fruitiness from the cherries. Wouldn't have known they were there if I didn't know going in. Not bad, just not what I was expecting.

M/D- Smooth mouthfeel with very well-hidden ABV makes this one really drinkable for the ABV.

Well, I admit this is not even close to what I expected. Which isn't to say this isn't good, it is quite tasty, just be careful if your expecting lots of fruity cherry flavors, as you may be disappointed.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2010 19:16:19 | More by geryeb624
Photo of Thorpe429


3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours reddish brown with a nice off white head with moderate staying power, although it does not leave a terrible amount of lace behind. The nose brings some dark fruits, Belgian yeast, and light cherry notes. A bit of booze and some spice. The taste is dark fruits and cherries with a bit of sweet bread. The feel is nice and medium with good carbonation and a nice alcohol warmth. Pretty good fresh, but this definitely takes on a new character with some age; looking forward to reviewing it in that manner.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2010 00:29:51 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of chefhatt


4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured it into a snifter, i had a nice redidish color with a nice thin whitehead that disaptes to a nice thin lace around the edge of glass. The aroma is sweet of cherries and honey. The taste is sweet but strong of fruit and cherries and a hint of honey. I think it is has a nice mouth feel to it and is very drinkable for a cold day.

Serving type: bottle

10-09-2010 05:06:05 | More by chefhatt
Photo of zimmerbloke


3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From Blind Bomber BIF (Thanks to Hophead101!):

A: Pours very transluscent, strongly red in color... almost the color of cranberry juice when held up to light. Very little head, even with a more aggressive pour.

S: Slight booziness. Fairly sweet with definite dark fruit overtones. Some breadiness.

T: Honestly, the whole taste is fairly muted, even as the beer nears room temperature. Similar to the nose, the booze is fairly present, but doesn't have many strong flavors to back it. Malt profile is bread and biscuits, primarily, all with a generous sweetness. Very little hop profile, only some faint dark fruits as the flavor fades. Pleasant, but not impressive.

M: Light mouthfeel with a fair amount of carbonation. If this is some sort of barleywine/old ale, it's lighter than pretty much anything I've had before. Not my favorite; I think a thicker mouthfeel with a bit less carbonation would fit the boozier overtones of the beer better.

D: The alcohol doesn't feel particularly well hidden. That, in combination with as sweet as the beer is, would make me reluctant to work through another bottle. However, more than happy to be drinking through one.

All in all, I enjoyed this beer, but it definitely wasn't anything mindblowing. That being said, I drank it with expectations of an American style that may have created different expectations that made me reflect differently on the beer again. I would definitely drink this again to review it to style. Thanks, Greg!

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2010 21:00:10 | More by zimmerbloke
Photo of AleWatcher


3.35/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Blind bomber #9

Served in a snifter.

Looks like apple cider. A slight coudiness in a deep reddish brown color. A very slight head became a ring of bubbles. Some spotty lacing. Looks a bit undercarbonated... A little dull.

Smells of spices and apples... And cherries. Some alcohol is noted as well.

Tastes sweet up front-- perhaps some cocoa? Dark fruits too, maybe? The booziness of the finish blocks a lot of other flavors... And the cherry notes are cloying and sticky... There are some spices in this beer, or least a spice imparted by the yeast. Hard to really pick out more than that. I'm certainly thinking this is a Belgian styled ale-- but the 22 oz format and its contents lead me to think this is an American version. This is almost like a lesser version of Three Philosophers... Just not as thick or delicious.

The body feels a little thin and the bubbles feel tiny.

This is certainly a beer for a day like today-- mid to low 60s, cloudy, and very windy. The beer seems to work as a night cap on a chilly day, but would be awful on a hot one. I'm really thinking this is a weak quad or a spiced dubbel.

Rips open envelope-- Troegs Mad Elf
Hmmmm... A 2008 vintage.
This beer is one I haven't had yet, but I have a 12 oz bottle of the 2009 in my cellar right now. The beer is a "Belgian strong dark ale," so I cannot compare it to quads-- which will help the score (if compared to quads, this would be VERY low scoring).
It isn't unpleasant-- it just is a bit boozy and isn't very complex.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2010 12:43:18 | More by AleWatcher
Photo of obireidkenobi


3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes from Growler Tasting -12/12/09

Growler purchased at brewery, Harrisburg, PA

Wow. Lots to talk about with this beer.

Smell - Honey and malts

Flavor - Honey, malts, cherry, some candy. Sweet notes covering the higher alcohol finish. It's a bit like fruit cake, but one you actually want.

Very drinkable, but don't drink much. It's a heavy hitter. Unless the Christmas party is that bad, lol.

Serving type: growler

09-10-2010 02:46:55 | More by obireidkenobi
Photo of mtnbikerpa


3/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours dark dark amber with an abundant 2 finger head. Lots of carbonation. The first scents were of candied cherries and booze. One sip and it hits my tongue, the sharp unnatural candy cherry taste along with strong alcohol, not hidden at all. Some minor flavors of malts, nothing outstanding. All and all this brew might be great for a fast buzz if you can stomach it. I hope it mellows with age.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2010 11:15:47 | More by mtnbikerpa
Photo of SamuelJackson45


4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer about over 6 months span from my first time in season to 2 weeks ago when 6 month age. And this beer mature very well. The sourness of the cherries die down and just so sweet the beer is like liquid candy with some kick. The age made it sweeter but also stronger which is good to my liking. I do enjoy this beer and wish this was a year round beer. The Troegs brothers got this making beer down and just impressing me and more.

Serving type: on-tap

08-02-2010 13:26:16 | More by SamuelJackson45
Photo of beergod1


3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It smells like Black Cherries. I also pick up some caramel in the aroma. A clear copper color with a moderate white head. The flavor is very acidic and a little sour. I definitely pick up the sour cherries as well as honey and some citrus. Spicy aftertaste. Its very belgian-esque. Not for everybody, but I will buy this along with my other winter brews.

Serving type: bottle

07-25-2010 20:43:21 | More by beergod1
Photo of cdizinno

South Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep orangeish red with a small head, minimal lacing

S: Cfruits on the front, notes of cherries and grapes, some honey in there along with banana. Smells quite nice

T: Sweet with fruit flavors, cherries and grapes, this gives way to a bitterness in the middle which seems out of balance with the delicate sweet flavors on the front. The finish has some spicy notes and a long finish

MF: very light for the ABV, alcohol is well masked. Carbonation is nice.

Great brew!

Serving type: on-tap

07-12-2010 22:03:30 | More by cdizinno
Photo of JamnesCameron


3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a New Holland Pint glass.

A - not very dark. More of an amber color. Very little head, leaves a thin wisp after about a minute. Not very close to style for a belgian dark ale, even taking liberties with the fruit and honey added.

S - Cherry pits. Sweet, honey, and malt. The cherry really dominates.

T - Cherries, cherry pits, and sweet honey. Don't taste anything particularly belgian about this or dark ale, but it is very "good" - just don't taste the underlying style.

M - mouthfeel is medium, some fruit tannins, dryness from the fruit pits, mildly astringent. Some tartness builds up after a few sips.

D - I wouldn't call this representative of any particular style, much less belgian strong dark ale. But it is very "good." Very pleasent drinkability, almost dangerous.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2010 00:10:04 | More by JamnesCameron
Photo of kbeals

North Carolina

3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

brees6221 sent this to me a while back when he hooked me up with plenty of Troegs brews.

A- Dark, murky orange in appearance with a finger of off-white, fizzy head. Head sticks to the side of the glass leaving an array of lacing. Good head retention as well.

S- Smells of apples and sugary sweet honey. No real hint of cherries to be found in the aroma. Maybe it's been sitting for a little too long?

T- Once again, apples and honey, a touch of sweet cherries comes through as well but it is pretty muted compared to the other flavors. Also has a bit of a yeasty taste too it. A little too sweet in my opinion.

M- Medium bodied with soft, bubbly carbonation.

D- Pretty drinkable despite the sweetness. The ABV doesn't really make itself known very well. A good brew, but I probably wouldn't seek it out again.

Thanks agains brees6221!

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2010 13:10:28 | More by kbeals
Photo of homebrew311


3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: pours a deep orangeish red with a small head, minimal lacing

S: candied fruits on the front, notes of cherries and grapes, some honey in there along with banana. Smells quite nice

T: the front is sweet with cherries and grapes, this gives way to a bitterness in the middle which seems out of balance with the delicate sweet flavors on the front. The finish has some spicy notes and a long finish

MF: very light for the ABV, carbonation seems on par

D: this is a great BSDA, the aroma promised something better than what I tasted, but overall it is not bad. The abv is very well hidden, this drinks more like a 7-8% brew.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2010 01:02:41 | More by homebrew311
Photo of maximum12


3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to three different BAs who have sent me bottles of this brew in both big & small bottle format. Splitting this 22 ounces with my wife in our stylin' New Holland glasses.

The pour & the smell remind me, both in ways good, bad, & nostalgic, of Bartles & James Wine Cooler in the early 1990's. Smell is pure strain cherries leavened with a healthy shot of alcohol. Tinged a borderline orange/red despite the obvious addition of barrels of cherries.

This is a very sweet beer. The cherries have only a hint of tartness to them, which is quickly whacked into submission by the sweet fruit & roaring current of honey. There is a medicinal quality to the brew too, but strangely, it's attractive rather than repulsive, which it usually is for me. Candied Belgian sugars push this further into lush tooth-rotting category, & a good push of alcohol rounds out the experience. However...one glass is clearly going to be enough.

This would seem to all be too much, but somehow the whole thing, with sweet piled upon sweet & almost no balancing characteristics, works well. Perhaps it's the post-sip 11% bite that reminds me I'm not sucking off a sippy cup of Welch's Cherry juice.

Very good beer. Unique, & a little mad, but I completely understand why one would want to sip this around the Yule log. Cherries forever!

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2010 02:40:39 | More by maximum12
Photo of bonsreeb85


3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Special thanks are in order for G311. Thanks again Vince!

The color is a ruby red with a slight haze, featuring a quickly fading minimal head.

The smell is full of dark fruits, black cherries, spice and a sort of medicinal scent.

Although it's drys out near the end, this is initially quite sweet but is balanced by a delicate spicyness and even slighter tartness. Dark fruits and typical belgian yeast flavors are in the forefront, but the honey and cherries are definately in the mix(as the bottle states)and add a nice dimension to this flavorful brew. THe alcohol peaks it's head out a bit but never really gets hot.

THe feel is medium bodied and a smooth texture and moderate level of carbonation. Good stuff. I wish I could get this here. Very drinkable for such a rich and high gravity beer.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2010 01:36:17 | More by bonsreeb85
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 2,891 ratings.