Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

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Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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very good

3,389 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,389
Reviews: 1,185
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.5%
Wants: 196
Gots: 663 | 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:
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: 3,389 | Reviews: 1,185 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ChadQuest
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 bottle. so its 4 years old now. the cap came off very easily, like the metal had become more rigid, and i was worried about possible oxidation issues from a bad seal, but after the end i don't think there were any problems. awesome.
This one looks better then most, the head and lacing is just barely off white over a crystal clear cherry body.
Aroma has a deep dense cherry sweetness thatmatches evenly with the flavor. the 4 years must have toned this down i assume because the alcohol is nowhere to be tasted. this doesnt have the spice character i assumed would be in a christmas beer, but instead a rich creamy sweetness from the malts, honey and cherries.


Photo of OtherShoe2
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours darker brownish red with some light off-white foam that does not last. No lacing.

Aromas are muted a bit, but you still get some nice spice, cherry fruit, toasted malt.

Big sip of cherry, then some spicy notes and sweet toasted malt, then the bitter comes in, but balances nice with the sweet -- the bitter has a chocolate edge, like a chocolate covered cherry. Plate clears with light spice, light bitter, but mostly sweet. 11%? Not a hint of the alcohol until you try to get out of your chair. These could be dangerous.

Medium bodied. Not as much as expected, but well done. The sweetness of this would be too cloying of this stuck to your palate.

I want to start off by saying that I dig this, but it is the equivalent of a very rich meal. Only so much before you don't want any more. Great flavors. Could never drink alot of this at one sitting, and with the extremely well hidden 11%, this could be killer. Very smooth but sweet-ish beer.

Photo of gopens44
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark red with a decent two finger frothy head

S - Dark cherries and booze. I like that smell, so I liked this already

T - Much like the nose, a boozy cherry time ensued. Following the cherry's shenanigans was a spice party that included clove and coriander, but not overwhelming like a Belgian Ale. Just a nice balance to the powerful cherry booze fun.

M - A little more than thin, and a smidgeon chewy. Not much carbonation, and a bit of bitter aftertaste.

I really enjoyed this mad bastard, and I'll probably get more this season to drink and age. Love to see what a year or two may do to this.

Photo of donkeyrunner
2.4/5  rDev -38%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

$6 @ Gulu-Gulu, Salem MA

Arrived at the table a beatiful ruby color but with not even trace amount of foam. I'll assume a bad pour. Came in a big boy glass which was nice because Boston seems to be trending towards even remotely big beers in miniscule pours.

Smelled of light grain and thick, sweet cherry juice. I guess you get what you ask for. Taste is syrupy medicinal cherry with a boozey slickness. Bleh. I couldn't finish it.

For some reason I feel the addition of juniper would greatly improve this beer. Get on that Troegs. Thank you.

Photo of mjw06
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip, a watery head that dissipated rather quickly back into the dark rich cherry colored body.

The nose packs the cardamon spice of a belgian strong, with a lot of sweetness which smells a lot like maraschino cherries and malted raw sugar, a tad bit of brown sugar, and a tad bit more of honey.

The cardamon hits immediately pulling behind it a warm alcohol that shoots down the center of the tongue and to the back for the finish. Sweet cherry and honey sticks to the mid of the palate. Overall tastes like a warm holiday cookie.

I wasn't diggin how watery this beer seemed to me and the way that affected the taste that was left on my tongue, although it did seem pretty close to style.

A good beer. I'd say be mindful of how you want to drink. Good by itself, but be particularly selective with a pairing. This beer packs a lot of strong favors that can easily take away from whatever you're eating it with.

Photo of DanThomas
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A- Cherry/orange color, no head, lots of bubbles fizzing to the surface.

S- Lovely melange of scents. Bubblegum, cherry, alcohol, honey, and raisins.

T- Lots of cherry flavor, but in a good way (i.e. it's not cough syrup, but a nice, mellow authentic cherry) that combines with bubblegum, banana, and a ton of other flavors that I can't even pick out. This beer is endlessly interesting on the palate, always changing. The alcohol on this is really nice. It warms the throat and the spirit but it's really smooth going down so you barely notice it.

M- Soft carbonation that's quite right for this beer, and the alcohol, as mentioned, is done perfectly. Overall it is pretty thin-bodied but a very substantial beer nonetheless.

D- I love it a lot but the alcohol on this hits you hard; plus, the myriad of flavors gets frustrating after awhile even though the beer tastes great.

Not my favorite winter warmer, but it is without a doubt the most interesting.

Photo of taigor
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 8oz glass.

A - Poured clear amber color with medium head that slowly dissipated leaving moderate amount of lacing around the glass.

S - Smell is sweet malts, raisins and cherries.

T - Taste is overly sweet with malts and honey. Cherries and slight chocolate taste come through as well.

M - Medium bodied with average carbonation.

D - Alcohol is high and not masked. I would recommend it but dont go out of your way to get it.

Photo of mountaineer99
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I tried this beer a few years ago at a bar because it was on special. My wife and I both liked it and noticed it's punch when we got up from our seats. Last year when I tried looking for it in our area but it was too late SOLD OUT. So this year around the first weekend in November I stopped in and they had it. I was a little taken back at the price $14 for a 6-pack but I wanted to try it again.
This is a very robust beer. It has lots of flavors and it's pretty smooth I think considering the ABV%. I still only drink one of these in a sitting I think two or more would just be too much for me to enjoy fully.
It is a beer that I recommend but I wouldn't necessarily go for the 6 pack since it also comes in a 22 oz bottle also.

Photo of BigMike
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: looks like carbonated cranberry juice. Ruby red with toms of bubbles streaming. A thin off white head that's gone quickly.

S: The Belgian influance is definitely there. Spicey banana yeast, sour cherries and booze.

T: The initial taste is booze. When that fades the banana and spicey clove like yeast flavors move in. Then the sour cherries followed up with sweet honey that finishes it off.

M: not quite medium bodied. In fact it's almost a bit thin. Good amount of carbonation. The 11% is not as noticable as anticipated and it's quite smooth and easy to sip on.

Overall: so for one reason or another this is my first Tröegs Mad Elf. And I live in PA for crying out loud. All I can say is I have a new favorite holiday seasonal and it's called Mad Elf. This is a tremendous blend of crazy flavors and mouthfeel that all blend together in a sort of organized chaos. I highly recommend this one.

Photo of jc85
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up at a local Wegman's. I didnt realize how expensive this 6pack was until I got to the register.

Appearance- Poured a nice redish brown, with a finger off white head that dissapated quickly.

Smell- Defnitly my favorite thing about this beer. You can cherries and honey bombard your nose as soon as you take a whiff.

Taste- Good taste, definitly more cherries than honey, and the carbonation level is a nice balance, gives it a little sting when you take your first sip.

Mouthfeel- Light bodied, it fits the flavor nicely though.

Drinkability- You could probably throw back a couple of these before you remember that its 11%, by then it will be too late.

Overall good beer, cant wait to see what a year of cellaring will do to this.

Photo of Bouleboubier
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Damn, this is a difficult one to track down if you don't buy some or all of it the moment it comes out, huh?! Gave up trying to find singles or bombers of this - I ain't paying $18 for a six-pack, sorry. Had it at my local today - the first time in a few years trying it - and I gotta say, it's good, just maybe not quite worth the (local) hype.

A decent finger-width, rocky head topped it off to start, but it sunk down quietly and refused to lace. Not expecting much on that end, however, what an intense, gorgeous ruby glow it puts out! (+ 0.5 pts) Big honey and cherry sultriness in the aroma, round and silky smooth, but it never transcends far beyond "hints" and "notes".

You do, however, get a sense that the taste offers a much more concentrated intensity of these scents. Honey carries the bulk of the flavor and feel, coming across like a fruit-flavored mead/braggot. Awfully smooth (one of the most apropos uses of this word) and light - perhaps a result of the quiet-storm profile of the alcohol (which now decides to come out and play). You almost don't feel this flowing through, going down.

Don't be mistaken, the cherry addition to this recipe is substantial as well, and thankfully not in a cough drop or maraschino way - simply a mellow cordial, and in wonderful harmony with the honey. I couldn't, for the life of me, pick out what, if anything, the chocolate malt added to the flavor.

It's remarkable how much I was reminded of my favorite non-beer alc-beverage, Drambuie, when tasting this. It's a well-made brew, if not mind-blowing. A nice digestif - at the least, something to have on a special occasion - but with the slow-creeping and dope-ifying and dastardly-concealed 11%, I'd have trouble putting down more than one at a time.

Photo of MbpBugeye
3.25/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- This beer can achieve a nice big head but it can't support it for long. The result is that there is no lacing on my glass. The color of the beer is the best thing about the appearance. Its a nice vibrant, poinsettia red that is mostly clear.

S- Sweet cherries dominate with an overcoating of Belgo style yeast esters. Spiciness is nice but a little bit more would still be appropriate. I'm getting scents of cinnamon rolls, apple pie, nutmeg and vanilla.

T- This is a very sweet beer, a Tad sweeter than I expected or wanted. Lots of sweet cherries, vanilla, apple pie. I would have liked a touch more Christmas type spices to break up the sweetness.

M- Very very low on carbonation. It makes it seem that not all of this beer ever leaves the palate, creating a slick afterfeel.

Photo of jera1350
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Joe (krisandajt) for this one. I've been sitting on it for about a year now.

Ruby colored with a thin head that reduces to a ring around the glass. A little lacing.

Bubblegum and some fruity sweetness.

Belgian yeast with notes of bubblegum,banana, cherry syrup and honey. Some noticeable alcohol is also present.

Very smooth with some light carbonation and a dry finish.

An interesting take on a belgian. The fruit is a nice compliment to the overall beer. The alcohol does rear its head a bit to take the drinkability down a notch. A really nice beer that is worth trying.

Photo of Grintbrad
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is ruby brown with very little white head. Head dissipates quickly with little lacing.

Aroma is cherries, yeast, bread, sugar and yeast.

Taste is pure cherries, malt sweetness, with subtle spices (cardamon? Clove?) - not as over powering as expected for a holiday beer. The taste is definitely belgian style with brown sugar and spice, but cherries dominate the flavor to the end.

Mouthfeel is flat - moderate body, but very little carbonation or lacing. Somewhat surprisingly for a Belgian style specialty ale.

Drinkability is just average. The alcohol is quite hidden, but the sweetness to me is overpowering without it, and hinders the ability to have repeat glasses.

Overall, a tasty holiday beer, one of the better ones.

Photo of Duhast500
4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Allagash tulip glass,

The color is a ruby red with a thin wisp of foamy off-white head with no lacing.

The smell is cherries and some nice honey with a touch of some alcohol in the background.

The taste is subtle cherry flavor that slides along the tongue and is not too strong that it's abrasive. There is a popping sugary flavor that is hitting on the back end and mixes with a small bitterness at the end as well.

The feel of this beer is light and playful and almost goes down too easy helping you forget that it's 11% ABV. It is very drinkable, goes down easy and is quite refreshing.

Photo of jjanega08
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage

A= Pours a nice hazy dark amber color with a ring around the glass head on it. The lack of head is expected from being two years old and an already huge beer.

S= The smell is a little spicy from the yeast and very mellowed. The cherries come through quite a bit for the age. Sort of has a marciano cherry smell to it. Very similar to a pie.

T= The taste is also very similar to a cherry pie. I'm suprised the pie has stuck around so much after the years. Super smooth and mellow. No oxidation coming from it. The yeast spice is there but somewhat subdued.

M= Super smooth and clean. Not much of a mouth on it.

D= This beer is super drinkable for the strength of it. Tastes like cherry pie and finishes clean as hell. Worth checking out.

Photo of steelerguy
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Very clear amber with some ruby tones. Nice head that faded to a covering quickly, and low carbonation.

S - Belgian phenols and spiciness, cherry bubblegum, and a touch of red licorice.

T - Clean malt flavors up front, the dark cherry flavor then comes on but not overpowering at all, nor does it have the sourness of a lambic. It then ends with some light banana flavors.

M - Moderate body, was expecting it to be a touch lighter. Leaves a little coating on your mouth, would like a touch more carbonation to clean that up. The alcohol warmth is noticeable and nice.

D - For such a high alcohol beer this is pretty damn drinkable. Does NOT drink like a Stong Dark Ale, in fact, I don't think it is one. More of a Belgian Specially Ale. Not stellar, but certainly a good drinking brew.

Photo of cbutova
3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark red with a small white cap. Head retention is pretty low and only a tiny bit of lace stays behind.

S- Mostly has a Belgian spice, like cardamom/coriander feel to it. Definitely a bit of dark fruit vibe from the cherries. Surprisingly faint to me. Some pine.

T- Interesting. Starts with a big blast of strong, dark fruit. The finish brings a good deal of yeast spice notes (coriander, zest) with that fruit. The cherry and yeast are very strong flavors and some alcohol comes through as well. Clove and banana really become huge as it warms.

MF- Moderate body with high, palate-stinging carbonation. A bit of a creamy feel to it. Pretty damn hot from the high ABV. A bit of a burn in the back of the throat.

DB- The flavor to me is a decent mix of dark cherry and strong Belgian yeast spice. The high ABV makes this a one bottle deal for me, a sipper.

Photo of wcintula
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a tumbler, the beer is clear reddish amber with very little head. The smell is very sweet, obviously sweetened. Cherries are noticeable in the aroma and taste with a with the Belgian yeast coming through on the end. A touch of alcohol. Kind of a slick feel to it, four of these beers will sneak up on you and beat you over the head if drunk too quickly.

Photo of ixodus
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Mohawk House in Sparta, NJ.

A: Light red wine looking color with a very small head that dissipates into little white spots on the top.

S - Sweet Malts, Sweet Medicinal Cherry flavor, Cranberries, Honey, Alcohol.

T - Lots of dark cherry flavor with some cranberries . Slight hopiness and a touch of alcohol.

M - Medium bodied with a nice amount of carbonation. Great Mouth-feel

D - I can see me having a few of these on a Christmas day. I noticed the alcohol but it's not overpowering

Delicious. Despite the high abv I really didn't get any warming feeling.

Photo of Sachsenfreude
3.4/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

appearance; reddish-brown, white head that dissipates very quickly. Kind of flat and boring looking.

smell; all aromatics are quite mild. Definitly some cherry in there with the sweetness from strong alcohol surrounded in spicy malts. Decent smell but the balance could be better.

taste; not as sweet as I expected. Really good actually. Cherry like sweetness only hangs around the aftertaste. Main flavor has a nice balance of hops and malt. Some alcohol gives a fruit flavor but not in a sweet way. A festive tasting beer, Glühwein like without much spice.

mouthfeel; acceptable but nothing special, pretty strong alcohol burn and spotty carbonation, otherwise pretty flat.

drinkability; taste good but does not hide the alcohol well. I would definitly drink again but would not seek it out.

Photo of Overlord
2.03/5  rDev -47.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to a generous trader!

Pours a dark amber, slightly ruddy color. No head, just a thin white crust around the borders. Pretty color, worried that it has no carbonation. Then again, upon checking the ABV, it's 11%. That surprised me.

Smells like sweet malt (no honey, just really sweet). That's about it. Maybe a vague fruitiness. Cherries, perhaps, or maybe just an indistinct dark fruitiness.

Taste is a blistering assault of sugar. Whoa. A tinge of cherries, but mostly just straight up sugary malt. Lots of bread-y yeast. I can feel my teeth dying from the sugar. The sensation I get is cherry listerine or cough syrup.

Flat. Super boozy.

Photo of teamizm
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A bottle from last year. Figure it's close enough to Christmas, so why not. Plus, there's no seasons in LA, so its all the same.

A - Pours a medium amber color, almost like ice tea. A little head, but recedes pretty quickly. Not too bubbly. For a Belgian dark, seems a bit light in color.

S - Cherries and honey with some nice winter spices. Lots of malts. The one off-putting smell is a slight cherry cough syrup note, reminds me of SA CW.

T - Definitely can taste the cherry, honey, and spices. Again, a slight cherry cough syrup taste as well at the back end.

M - Despite the lack bubbles, the carbonation actually feels about right on this one.

D - Can't really tell its 11%, so definitely drinkable.

The reviews seem to be all over the board on this. I think I'm taking the middle ground, but there's much better interpretations of winter BSDA out there (Delirium Noel comes to mind, I'm sure there's others)

Photo of CruisaC
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into my DFH glass

Pours a warm red-amber color. Looks like cherries were used somewhere in the process

S--I gather the faintest hint of cherries, almost artificial but not in a bad way. Quite pleasing to the nose

T--I gather a little of the honey, then the cherry at the end. There is a sensible amount of booziness but it's not overwhelming and I would not have guessed 11%--Especially after having a GI BCS the night before that nearly knocked me on my feet at 13%.

M--Goes down well, nice balance between the carbonation and alcohol

D--Very nice overall. This was a first for me but I found it very good. I could drink these on a semi-regular basis during the winter

Photo of ohiobrewtus
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter, served at 53F.

Appearance - Poured with a halo of off-white head. Deep ruby/crimson color, brilliantly clear.

Aroma - Dark cherries with hints off deep caramel, dark fruit (fig, dates) and honey. Slight hint of alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel - Medium to medium full body, medium carbonation. medium low alcohol warmth.

Flavor - Big sweetness up front that is a combination of honey/pils/caramel with hints off typical BDSA dark fruit.

Overall - One of the more enjoyable 'holiday' beers that I've had. This beer is proof that great holiday beers can exist without a ton of the typical, potpourri type spices.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,389 ratings.