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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,193 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,193
Hads: 3,597
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 15.32%
Wants: 215
Gots: 882 | FT: 21
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:
Beer added by: WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002

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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,193 | Hads: 3,597
Photo of scotorum
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 10/15/14. Two months old.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick

a; Clear copper with virtually no head or lacing. 3.25

s: Ripe dark fruit, 3.5

t: Dark ripe fruit followed by moderate hop bite. Some alcohol throat burn. 3.75

m: Medium, good body, some carbonation tingle. 3.75

o: Sweet and fruiity, as might be expected of a brew made with Belgian yeast, honey and cherries. The combination tastes more like plums but it hides most of the alcohol in this Belgian strong dark. Net effect is a tasty and powerful holiday ale.3.75

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Photo of JooJooEyeballs
1.24/5  rDev -67.8%
look: 2 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Amount of Honey used is over-the-top with the amount of Cherries being over-the-top-of-the-top. A simply ridiculous beer by the master brewer Chris Troeg!

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Photo of HopBomb515
3.76/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Ruby red with a small off white head that fades very fast and leaves no lacing. Aromas of cherries, honey, caramel, light chocolate, and medicinal. Taste opens heavy cherry and honey flavor, slight medicinal quality, burnt caramel and alcohol heat comes through. Well carbonated up front gives way to a smooth finish and full body. This is a nice change of pace, but alcohol heat and medicinal flavors keep it from being truly great.

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Photo of Mikus
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

I am not a big holiday beer guy. Pumpkin, Oktoberfest, XMAS, etc. Had to give Troegs a chance though. Found one reasonably priced (couple of bucks). This sat really nice, though. Smelled and tasted the cherries, nice Belgian yeast, and warming booziness. Taste of alcohol, however, was well-hidden for a 12% beer. Smooth mouthfeel. Might be my fave XMAS brew. Still have a couple more stragglers to try, though. Cheers!

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Photo of rjs246
3/5  rDev -22.1%

Based on the nose alone, which was super heavy in both cherries and honey, I wouldn't have even finished the bottle. But the flavor was actually pretty nice. Honestly couldn't even detect the cherries. Not my thing but certainly drinkable.

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Photo of VirginiaBeerMan
3/5  rDev -22.1%

I think you either love this, or not. For me, it's not really what I think of when I think of beer. It's certainly nice in appearance and a swirl of fruit and spice and perfumy scents. The taste is more of the same, but with a significant alcohol punch, making it more of a sipping beer. At first, I didn't think I was going to finish my draft, but it slowly grew on me. Again, not my preference, but I can see why people might enjoy this. I kept thinking this might be good warmed. It's worth trying, but split it with someone just in case.

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Photo of Doctor_Bogenbroom
3.89/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Now, be good little boys and girls, and take your medicine! I was told I'd be knocked off my seat once I tried Mad Elf. Well, that didn't happen, and Mad Elf was a lot milder than I expected, but I will tell you, it definitely tastes like medicine. The cherry and the alcohol both hit your tongue right away. Even the dark cherry color reminds me of something medicinal. There is a definite cough-syrupy finish that I wouldn't say I hate, but it didn't do me any favors either. Overall, this is an acceptable brew in small quantities. I wouldn't want to drink too much of it, and I definitely wouldn't want it all the time.

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Photo of TheBeerMaster1
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

At first taste it honestly tasted like a flavored steely. Boozy and totally not what I expected. Also, I was initiating my taste buds for cherries and honey. You can get hints of the cherry after a few more sips. For 11%, the more I drank the more I realized it was pretty smooth. Definitely a different beer but glad I got it. $14.99 for a 6-pack at a retail store.

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Photo of gcamparone
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a nice amber body with a 1 inch head that reduces to a layer of foam.

Aromas of raisins, vanilla, dark fruit, caramel and some spices. Smells like a dubbel or tripel.. quite tantalizing.

On the tongue is bananas, wheat, dark fruit, honey/caramel, some cherry on the finish.

Not too noticeable alcohol for the high abv, relatively easy to drink. Medium body

Overall a nice change of pace. Wish there was a little more cherry but nice nonetheless.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%

Bottle, no obvious date:
Pours a quite clear rose colored beer. Head gathers at end of pour, but reduces to edges fairly quickly. Lacing is spotty, but head returns quickly with agitation. Nose is obviously Belgian: in this case banana pervades the rest of the scents. I do get some cherry tartness, as well as a soda-like scent (maybe cherry 7-Up??).

The taste is similar to the nose, with the Belgian notes grabbing hold first. Banana bread and cherry soda come through from the nose, but the honey sweetness comes through much better in the taste. The carbonation is a bit prickly, but the body is seemingly light with a decent depth if flavor.

I've gone back and forth in this beer, almost from bottle to bottle. It seems to me to be a beer I have to be in the mood for, but I'm never sure what that mood is. Will likely grab a pour of this and/or a six pack each year.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a bright, vibrant, ruby coloring, with a slow flow of carbonation and a sparse, filmy, off-white surface coating of head. Aromas of very rich, sugary fruit notes of cherry, fig, date, as well as notes of bubble gum, cotton candy, a blend of nutmeg and cinnamon spice, rich honey, tangy caramel, and woody notes. There's an overall roast character dancing around in there, too. Flavors are rich and sweet forward, with an undertone of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Sweet flavors are caramel, an old-world fruit blend, cherry tart and sweet, rich honey, and earthy notes. There is a subtle booze warmth that builds as you drink. Solid. The beer is slick and light in mouth, despite all the heavy palate notes. There is a tangy fruit sweetness in the aftertaste, with some of the booze lingering around. The finish is slick, slightly oily, with a decent fruit and booze linger. Good beer.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, poured into a tulip glass at approximately 45 degrees F.

A: Pours a clear red-amber, that reminds me of a good Vienna lager. Forms a nice three-finger head of foam that quickly collapses to a cap and thick ring, which leaves decent lacing. Appears to be highly carbonated.

S: Sweet cherries over caramel malt open the aroma, with other yeasty undertones appearing, such as banana and plum.

T: The sweetness from the nose is present, alongside a wallop of tartness. Fruit flavors abound through this beer, with the cherries being front and center, surrounded by some fig and plum along the sides through the middle, and a distinct hint of banana at the finish. There's an alcohol heat that appears in spots as well, and a touch of spice flavor - clovey, not the usual winter beer suspects.

M: Sharp and prickly carbonation, this beer tries to bite back. Aside from that, it is a thin and light brew.

O: Not bad. I was honestly expecting a winter warmer when I picked this up, as opposed to a Belgian ale. I don't know if I'll repeat this one when it's on shelves next to Trois Pistoles for a comparable price point, but it was a pleasant surprise.

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Photo of TimeBandit
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

I have had this before, and always found that the alcohol finish at the end reduced my enjoyment. Just opened a bottle that a friend kept in his cellar for close to a year. The beer aged quite well, in my opinion. The sweetness from the cherries and honey was still quite prominent, as was the yeast spice. But it seemed to me that it had mellowed and become smoother in terms of the alcohol heat. I am now motivated to pick up six to put away for next year.

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Photo of matridium
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%


this beer would get a 5 but I think if it was just a little lower in alcohol
flavor is right no for a festive brew for the holidays.

Nice for a cold winters night!

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Photo of GameOfBeers
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

What is this beer?

Pours a ruby red, light head, terrific lacing.

Tastes like cherries and spice (go figure) but there is a deeper fruit profile I am still working on. A little sweet but not too sweet.

Smells of sweet cherries again.

Crisp and satisfying but not overpowering on the alcohol. Very balanced.

Overall, fantastic. Not exactly what I think of as a winter beer, but it has its moments. Definitely buying this again.

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Photo of weirdohappy
4.75/5  rDev +23.4%

Vary, vary guut beer. reminds me of something. But not sure what. Beautiful amber color. Smells of wine? Like a chardonnay. But an amber chardonnay. And also called a beer.

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Photo of teromous
2.89/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark transparent ruby brown ale with an eggshell white head that fades to a creamy layer on top of the beer. Some lacing. The red color of the beer gives it a nice holiday accent.

Aroma: Alcohol esters right off the bat, then there is a fig note. A slight scent of bananas at the end. It doesn't have much Belgian Yeast character on the nose.

Taste: Mellow flavor of banana chips and figs with a hint of caramel at the end. I should note that although the label states that this an "ale brewed with honey and cherries," neither of these characteristics are present. I don't get a honey flavor, and it doesn't give me that fermented honey "mead-like" flavor either. The ale itself tastes pretty average for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but don't expect cherry flavor from this.

Feel: Smooth, creamy mouthfeel with light carbonation. The alcohol is present enough that it is noticeable as a slight warming sensation at the back of the mouth, but the smoothness of the beer keeps it from burning. It is full bodied but not quite as thick as I would like from a BSDA.

Overall: It's pretty average stuff for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. It has a slightly lighter mouthfeel than what is experienced traditionally, so if you find standard BSDA's to be too thick this might be right up your alley. For me it is a bit too light. It has a decent amount of flavor to keep me interested and enjoying the beer. I am disappointed in the distinct lack of honey and cherry flavor. For a BSDA it's a good beer but for a spiced holiday ale it lacks what people crave in a holiday beer. Drinking this early (at the end of October) with no presence of the advertised flavors, I can only imagine how it will taste in two months...

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Photo of threeviews
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%

12oz bottle (BOD: 09/25/14) into a Rastal Teku 2.0 glass...absolutely fresh!

A- Pours a beautifully clear, ruby red with <1/2 finger of a white head which disappears as quickly as it forms. (4.0)

S- Sweet, heady aromas of chocolate, stone fruits (cherry, plum, raisin), banana, honey and clove-like spice are all represented which blend very well. (4.5)

T- The fruity components are noticed first followed by a milk chocolate flavor across the palate. The finish is long and lingering, but far from cloying. (4.5)

M- Despite the lingering milk chocolate sweetness, it finishes quite dry, making this full-bodied beer easy to consume. Although not much head formed, the beer's carbonation is near-perfect. (4.75)

O- Regardless of category, this is a well-crafted beer...and perhaps one of the best in Troegs' profile. It blurs the lines between a Belgian Quadruple, Belgian Dark Ale, Fruit Beer and English Strong Ale. Very Unique and again, very well executed. If you have a love for big Belgian inspired beers, this is a must try! (4.5)

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Photo of buzzedup
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%

really enjoying this beer but I need to put half of my case away for a year or 2 maybe even 3 . this could be outstanding (world class ) with some age on them .

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Photo of MikeWard
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

on tap at the Deer Lake Pub, Deer Lake PA, last Saturday. From a barrel that had been held back over the winter for the "Xmas in July" feature. Not a big fan of this beer, but wanted to see if the age smoothed out the spices a bit.

Came to the bar in a 5oz snifter, which I appreciated, since I was a bit wary of this one. ($5.00 tab was less appreciated) Cloudy amber color with a thin off white head. The head persisted well, and left some very nice lacing.

Smell was of yeast, sweetness, banana, and a hint of booze. Wasn't getting too much in the way of spices.

Although the spices were muted, and only faintly present, the beer seemed to me to be all sweetness and booze, with a good wash of Belgian yeast. I wouldn't say it was unpleasant, but just didn't do it for me. I know others rave about this as a holiday beer. Just not my cup of tea I guess.

Mouth was a quite a bit above medium, with a syrupy feeling to it.

Overall, a good one for those who like the style, interesting to revisit it, but wont be on my Xmas shopping list.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BA SammyJaxxx for sending this along. Reviewing from notes after drinking on 3/25/14. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz brown bottle and I didn't write down a bottling/enjoy by date, most likely because there isn't one to be found. That said, it's a winter seasonal from the most recent winter, for a guesstimate on age. Poured into a large snifter glass.

Appearance - Pours a deep maroon red with hints of wine coloring and a pretty translucent body that would likely allow me to see right through it if it wasn't so dark in color. Atop the body sits a half finger of off-white foam that recedes to a film across most of the liquid, but with thicker buildup in a ringlet around the edges as well as a collection of larger bubbles on one side of the glass, frothy from the pour. Not really any lacing to speak of.

Smell - Initially the fruity yeast profile you expect from a BSDA, but not in the vein of dark fruits. More along the lines of cherry and possibly red plum, with sweet phenols and some winter spice as well as faint impressions of the honey. It's a little one note for my expectations from the style, which is often one of the more complex out there, with lots of layers of flavor from the yeast and malts. This one is bordering very close to fruit beer in the smell.

Taste - Very similar to the aroma in that it has some of those quintessential BDSA/Quad characteristics, but like a shallow version. Notes of cherry and light fruit sweetness as well as some faint baking spice and esters from the yeast. Not much bitterness from hops or toasted malt at all, with fruit and some notes of King's Hawaiian sweet bread.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and moderate to light carbonation, with a slightly sweet finish and aftertaste.

Overall, a nice beer, but not one that blows me away by any means. It's simple and unassuming, but is having to fight an uphill battle against my expectations for the style. Just a bit more depth of flavor--maybe some bitterness to counter the sweetness, or some flavor profiles beyond the sweet would be helpful.

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Photo of Beastcpa
5/5  rDev +29.9%

This is the beer that made a mixed drink person a beer person. It is the best holiday beer in the world, period.

Hold it for up to 5 years, as it only gets better. Have a case in my basement from 2013 for 2014 and beyond. Drink 3 of these and you will be stone cold drunk and happy.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 8/18/2013. Pours fairly crystal clear ruby red color with a 2 finger fairly dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, plum, cherry, pear, apple, fig, light banana, honey, caramel, toast, candi sugar, bread, light chocolate, light nuttiness, herbal, light clove, light bubblegum, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, cherry, fig, pear, apple, light banana, honey, caramel, toast, light chocolate, candi sugar, bread, light nuttiness, light clove, herbal, light bubblegum, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of raisin, plum, cherry, fig, pear, apple, light banana, honey, caramel, toast, candi sugar, light chocolate, light clove, herbal, bread, light nuttiness, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity of dark/bready malt and yeast ester flavors; with a nice malt/yeast flavor balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Belgian strong ale. All around good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of ThickNStout
3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from GreenMonster12 (thanks Jay!). Bottled 9/13/12. Served in a goblet.

Pours a ruby hued chestnut with about one finger of pale cream head that quickly receds to a thin cap before disappearing completely without leaving any lace.

Aromas of cherry skins, raisin, caramel and a yeasty apple-like note.

Flavors of bright cherry preserves, bitter fruit skin, dark fruit, caramel, Belgian yeast, a little honey and a pretty healthy dose of alcohol. The booze blends a little better as it warms up. Pretty good

Medium body with fairly sharp carbonation. Boozey finish with cherry skin, caramel and yeast.

While I think 1 is plenty for me in a sitting, this is a decent American take on the Belgian strong dark ale style. The cherry and honey additions give it character that helps elevate Mad Elf above other similar brews. I won't go hunting more but this is something I would certainly enjoy again someday.

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Photo of bleedsblu
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Poured from an ice cold bottle into a glass.

I gave it an aggressive pour into a bottle, which produced an 1/2 inch head with a little carbonation and it had a nice amber color.

It smells fresh, I'm not getting the cherries at the scent anyway.

It has a nice mouth feel, thick and not bitter.

It has a good taste, its a nice ale, I'm not really getting the honey or cherries but the flavors are good.

Overall its a good beer and I'm looking forward to the promotional special beer and glass coming out soon, this is an ABV of 11% so this seasonal is certainly a sipper that I highly recommend.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,193 ratings.