1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

3,011 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,011
Reviews: 1,151
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 15.8%
Wants: 164
Gots: 453 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,011 | Reviews: 1,151 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22-ounce bottle into a pint glass.

A: Ruby red-amber in color with good clarity and sparse carbonation building to a two-finger head of dense, white foam which left some decent lacing.

S: Whiffs of honey, cherries, spicy yeast, fruity esters and phenol alcohol in the nose.

T: Very smooth and clean malt bill with spicy and grainy wheat and yeast flavors underlying the malty sweetness. Honey is soft and drying while the semisweet and tart cherries add a bit to the fruitiness. No alcohol really noted, which makes this brew sort of dangerous at 11% ABV. Nice, spicy, somewhat bitter, cherry Tussin finish.

M: Full-bodied clean and smooth with a very quaffable finish.

D: A nice, spiced strong Belgian ale for the holidays. Very clean, smooth and spicy flavors blend nicely with the hints of honey and cherry. The seemingly subdued alcohol also makes it a dangerous brew, as noted earlier because of the ABV. It might be a bit much to handle all day, but after dinner, it's a nice treat.

Gambrinus1184, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of JoeBloe
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

i've not been liking this too much in it''s $18.99/6pk form - but I'm working a growler on a snowy day today-
pours an almost clear reddish golden orange and puts up a 1/2 finger head of quickly dissipated head -lack of lacing belies its slick high abv character - smells pretty nice and sweet, I'm picking up those dark cherrries - taste is sweet up front with a spicy/bitter finish, cherries/prunes/ and sweet honey - mouthfeel is as if this was mixed directly with honey - thick and slick, in an 'ok' way -
this fresh growler is certainly more evenly balanced than the bottled version, yum - drinkability is real good, even though i should know better...

JoeBloe, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of dragonWhale
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

pours with no carb, hazy ruby with bubbles rising. malty, thick sugar sweetness with a brilliant touch of cherries and some spiciness. the cherries don't really come off in the nose but in the flavor they are subtle and perfectly in balance with the heavy malt notes. love the choice of yeast here. some strong phenols. overall, pretty damn good, beautiful mouthfeel and fairly drinkable.

dragonWhale, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of ztaylor1
2.78/5  rDev -28%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance- hazy dark gold, no head to speak of...

Smell- sweet caramel, honey, and grapes. There citrus notes, but they are faint.

Taste- cherries are very dominant. Alcohol is present. Very potent.

Mouthfeel-light body with little carbonation

Drinkability-too strong for me to even finish this bomber.

ztaylor1, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of jsanford
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into my Mad Elf tulip.

A - Pours a ruddy reddish-amber with a thin, quickly dissipating white head.
S - Spicy Belgian-style yeast dominates. Cherries and honey make themselves known as the beer warms, as does a touch of coriander.
T - The yeast dominates again, very spicy and complex. More cherries and honey along with a bit of amber candi sugar, coriander, and ripe banana character.
M - Slick and slightly oily with a medium body and low carbonation. ABV is hidden well, leaving just the slightest warming sensation in the chest.
D - Definitely a sipper, but an excellent one. One of the beers I look forward to every year, Christmas isn't the same without it.

jsanford, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of EgadBananas
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very dark auburn, with a very thin off white head that doesnt stick around, but would be expected with the ABV.

Aroma is sweet, like cherries, with a hint of tart and yeasty characters.

Taste is also sweet, with those cherries, not as much tart, but there is some belgo yeast funk to it that leaves a lingering aftertaste. The finish is ripe with booze.

Feel is nearing medium, with a slick quality, and some active carbonation.

The drink is ok, but booze affects it's sessionability.

EgadBananas, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of curasowa
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper color with a thin cap of head that fades quickly to a ring. The cherries are really pronounced in the aroma, reminding me of cough syrup. There's also some medicinal notes along with hints of sweet, toasted malt. Thick, syrupy and sticky sweet, this beer is creamy and full bodied. Some mild bitterness comes through on the back end to help cut some of the sweetness. The finish is actually fairly fast and astringent, with some hot alcohol showing up. Drinkability is good for such a big, sweet beer. A tasty one, but given its price it's kinda hard to justify more than one.

curasowa, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of mjaskula
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a sniffer. The Beer is a beautiful clear and dark copper red. Unfortunately there is no head to speak of, it comes across visually as more of a port than a beer.

The aroma is sweet and thick and fruity, the cherry come across well as does the alcohol content. I also get some dark fruits. The complex flavor follows the nose a bit and the belgian yeast character comes through. There's some banana flavor from the yeast and the cherry is there as well. The alcohol is well hidden.

The mouthfeel isn't overly viscous and the carbonation is higher than expected given the lack of head. Overall I like this and will look forward to it again next year.

mjaskula, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of Arenbeer
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from THECPJ into a snifter glass. Thanks a lot man!

It's the day before Christmas eve and i figure what's a better time than now for this beer!

A- Pours a nice dark golden brown with a really thin off white head that doesn't stick around at all just leaves some bubbles in the around the edge of the glass.Thin lacing but definitely there.

S- Sweet honey and a lots and lots of cherry's that smells intensely sour! Some alcohol as it warms but not bad, very inviting still.

T- Just like the smell. Creamy and insanely smooth malts with a nice sweetness from the honey. After it goes down your left with a strong cherry flavor and tartness. A good amount of alcohol as well as it warms creating a nice fullness.

M- Medium bodied with moderate carbonation and slight bitter finish but not bad.

SkÅL!

Arenbeer, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

A - One-finger off-white foamy head that dissipates quickly, leaving a ring of big-bubble foam around the edge. Sunset golden-red in color and clear. Just sitting in the snifters on a table by the fire, this beer looks very inviting.

S - Honey, maraschino cherries, and malt all float into the nose on a pleasant pillow of subtle alcohol. As it warms in the glass, the fruit flavors grow more complex.

T - Very similar to the nose, although the cherriness is more subdued and not cloyingly sweet. Excellent slightly toasted malts dominate along with compliments of caramel and just a hint of spices for the finish.

M - Creamy at first, then very smooth as it's sipped. Just the right amount of carbonation to give it some structure.

D - A delicious winter warmer to be savored and enjoyed. The alcohol is nicely hidden behind the malts, sugars, and fruits, but there to make it drink more like a brandy than a beer. I would have opened a second bomber had I bought one.

BuckeyeSlim, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of SASN
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: beautiful red-golden color-one of the prettiest beers I've seen

S: very nice, sweet, cherry aroma but not overly sweet

T: initial sweetnss with cherry notes followed by a touch of bitterness

M: medium, nice body

D: the high alcohol limits the drinkability, also the more you drink, the more you notice the sweetness-it can become too much

Conclusion: a great seasonal, winter beer. Mad Elf= holiday time

SASN, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of drea0695
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: what a pretty beer! Poured into an over sized wine glass, a gorgeous cranberry color.

S: Tart cherries. Not overwhelming but just enough to make your mouth pucker up in anticipation

T: cherries, and a nice biscuity malt, almost like a tart cherry pie and as it warms just a hint of alcohol.

M: light carbonation which definitely helps break up the potential for a syrup bomb.

D: probably too drinkable for an 11%. But it's Christmas! Just don't drive.

I really think this beer is a great addition to the holiday season. It's so flavorful and complex. Pick it up you won't be disappointed!

drea0695, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of GilGarp
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage served cellar temperature into a goblet. The sediment is kept in the bottle for now.

Mad Elf is a bright ruby red color with good clarity when held to the light. The head is short and settles quickly with no lacing.

Aroma is sweet and boozy with a lot of tart cherries. It's a little like English old ale mixed with port wine.

Flavor is strong but very smooth. The base beer is rich and malty with a nice caramel sweetness. The cherries come through very nicely, not artificial at all. A real dark cherry flavor that goes well with the Belgian dark ale foundation.

Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with almost no carbonation at all. The alcohol is fairly well-hidden, considering the strength.

Overall a good holiday beer but not a great version of a Belgian strong dark ale. Taken at face value though, I enjoy it as a nice slow sipper.

GilGarp, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of wampahoofus
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A maroon to slightly amber beer. A bit of carbonation. Some cream-colored head that fades very fast with little or no lacing.

Smell: Reminders of brandy to the nose. The cherries are there but are not overwhelming. A bit of alcohol.

Taste: Let it warm up. About 55F. Now the flavor is coming out! Lots of fruit, alcohol, nice rounded malt. Just a bit of tartness at the end, but not sour.

Mouthfeel: Has a bit of a lager feel. Tastes like an ale, but has a clean finish for a mouthfeel.

Drinkability: This is a delicious ale. The cherries add a festive quality and the sweetness blends with the alcohol nicely.

This is my Christmas beer for the year. I will be enjoying this beer in my snifter by the fire while watching the snow fly.

wampahoofus, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of Pellinore1
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to CaptinRedBeard for sending this bottle.

Pours deep amber into a tuilp, producing about half a finger of light tan head.

Smells of malts, Belgian yeast, honey, and perhaps a bit of fruit.

This beer begins with flavors of malts and bread, and finishes with Belgian yeast, spices, a hint of banana, and just a little alcohol warmth.

Mad Elf is medium-bodied and smooth, with minimal carbonation. Even at 11%, the alcohol is just barely noticeable, making for a nicely drinkable beer.

Pellinore1, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of HosP
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got from TroyG. Thanks for this nice Troeg holiday treat!

A- Pours a dark amber but clear. Very thin head that leaves quickly.

S- Not expecting that sharp of a nose. Spicy yeasty aroma. Cherry notes come out pretty strong as well.

T- Wow, like the nose, cherries up front, almost like cherry cough syrup. Spices hinted throughout. A little sweetness from the honey, but overtaken by the higher ABV. Big malt background to this beers as well.

M- Medium body with little carbonation. Syrupy and coats the mouth. Some bitterness there too.

D- Wasn't sure what to expect with this beer. Not bad for something different. Could have done with less cherry flavor, but still a pretty easy to drink beer. Still love trying beers that are different.

HosP, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of mendonjoebeer
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz.bottle into tulip style glass.

Took somewhat aggressive pour to get one finger short lasting head. Clear ruby/amber color.

Wonderful aroma of Belgian yeast,spices,some cherry- can't pick up the honey myself

A very good tasting beer- tastes like it smells. The alcohol is there but not overpowering. Not at all too sweet for me- nice balance.

Nice feel- not too much of anything

For such a strong beer, it is very drinkable. A great holiday beer to share with friends or consume by yourself. I have had this on the shelf for a bit and will be sure to buy more this season before it is gone.

mendonjoebeer, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of DavoleBomb
4.4/5  rDev +14%
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.

DavoleBomb, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of TheBrewo
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a glowing, golden-red color. It has a meager, half finger head of white bubbles that disappear quickly. The glass is otherwise almost translucent, with little carbonation to speak of. The aroma is a bag of sugary sweets and fruit. More specifically, the honey and cherry boasted from the bottle, candied apples, and Christmas spice. Malts are also present, with a faint smattering of citrus for the balance. As we sip, the front of the taste is malty, with a bit of wheatiness. This is then joined by the tangy fruitness of the cherries through the middle. The flavors here are clean and sweet. The alcohol finally rears its head on the finish, which also includes hollow echoes of fruit and tinny yeast. The aftertaste breaths a bit spicy, with black pepper and a soothing alcoholic flame. The body is medium, and the beer is undercarbonated. As the beer sips it is almost syrupy, which helps to leave the mouth coated. There is a slight drying characteristic, and a light burn from the alcohol. The large abv and sweetness to certain parts of the beer make this a sipper.

Overall, the best thing about this brew was the aroma. While it was quite sweet smelling, the contributory components remained complex. There was also a nice and rich maltiness that helped to smooth the drink along. In the end, this mad elf certainly brings happy holidays!!

TheBrewo, Dec 17, 2010
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
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,011 ratings.