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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

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Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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very good

3,497 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,497
Reviews: 1,206
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 194
Gots: 754 | FT: 23
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,497 | Reviews: 1,206 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ngeunit1
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a fairly hazy deep red color with a touch of brown mixed in, with a finger of off-white head. The head fades fairly quickly down to a ring around the glass leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is full of sweet and slightly tart cherries. There is also some yeast smell and a touch of spices. Really pungent.

T - Starts off with some sweet candied cherry flavor and some nice yeast flavor. Little bit of holiday spices in the background (little bit of clove). Also a bit of honey sweetness. Through the middle a bit of tartness comes out alongside some Belgian yeast flavor. The finish has some lingering sweet cherry flavor alongside some caramel and some booze flavor that lingers very nicely.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate lively carbonation. A touch syrupy and oily, but still really nice and smooth. The booze finish here is really nice.

D - For an 11% abv beer, this stays remarkably drinkable. The flavors are really nice and balanced and work very well together. The sweet cherry flavor is really excellent.

Photo of IIKaRuII
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Half off at Arnolds carry out in willard ohio. Came with the mad elf tulip glass. ( very thin glass I might say )
pours a hazy iced tea color, that almost resembles rust. gets a fairly disappointing head that dissipates quickly. Slight retention.
smells of candied dark cherries. low honey and yeast.
Taste is a smooth cherry. Honey sits on the tongue and allows the alcohol to pass. I'm getting a slight banana in the background as well. yeast is surely there and seems to linger.
Has almost no carbonation and i personally think with as sweet as this is i expect some. drinks a little watery in my taste and the 11% doesn't seem present at all. The cherries seem to mask it well. honey doesn't really play a factor if you ask me.
well this one was a different one for me. I was expecting a lot of bubbles. and carbonation. with as sweet as it is this is a delightful ale. I would expect more from troegs personally, but non the less it was enjoyable.

Photo of alleykatking
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle. Thanks to jdefont for this bottle. Justin you are an amazing friend!

A- Pours a nice ruby color. I mean this beer is a nice shade of red. One finger white head shows medium retention. Spotty lace with a streak of lace here and there.

S- Sour cherries first come out and foremost. Hints of honey come in throughout the nose in a big time sweetness. Belgian yeast can be detected with some spicing and clove. Light darker malts in the ending along with a distinct alcohol on the nose.

T- The cherries that I smelled in the aroma comes in first and huge in taste. The honey does through in a big time sweetness throughout the entire beer itself. Light spicing throughout the beer as well. Hints of clove come in less in taste as in the aroma. Large amount of alcohol in the gives to a warming heat as it goes down the throat.

M- Medium heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Cherries and honey are left on the palate. Aftertaste is cherries, light spicing, honey, and warming alcohol. Flavors were cherry forward and balanced to that. No real off flavors were detected with this one although the alcohol does become much at times. High alcohol drying on the palate.

O- This beer is a great wintertime drinker. The ABV is huge on this making it a little more like a sipper than a drinker. I could have a couple but the overall flavors would kill your palate for the rest of the night.

Photo of mountdew1
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a darker amber orange that was nicely translucent. Head was very thin, slighty off white that left a small ring around the top. Aroma was sweet, slightly licorice hints. Taste was slightly sweet, hints of fruit, and a tad of spicy vanilla. Felt good in the mouth, was just slightly sticky so it coated well, and just a tad of carbonation. Pleasant to drink. Hid the ABV extremely well.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.62/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #47 (Dec 2010):

A cult classic among, beer geeks in the know. From the label to the ingredients it screams Christmas. Crystal-clear red color garners a thin white lacing. Yeasty phenols to cherries to ripe fruit to spice, an amazing nose. Creamy mouthfeel with a bit of crispness to lift the full body. Alcohol chimes in first with lots of warmth, spice and rose water. Cherry juice, candied fruit and faint medicinal flavors hit the middle with a small tartness within. Spice picks up middle to end, making way for the alcohol to really warm. Sweet, spicy finish. This is one of those slow- sipping nightcap brews--after a long day of holiday bustling, you'll probably need one of these.

Photo of dtivp
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap at Pickles in State College, Pa.
Appearance was an amber/brown with a small off white head that receded quickly into a thin collar with slight lacing.

Aroma of sweet candy with spicy yeast and tart cherries.

Taste followed thew nose with a slight sugar candy sweetness with some spices and the tart cherries. You also knew the alcohol was there.

Mouthfell was a little syrupy, sticky, medium body with some carbonation and a good warming from the alcohol.

This is a very nice beer to drink slowly and enjoy. I would caution enjoying more than two in one sitting.

Photo of Durge
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Found at the Wild Horse in Beverly, MA this one's a brilliant light mohogany, reddish-copper color with a fair whispy white head and good lace. The aroma brings a eucalyptus cherry caramel malt. Very pleasant. The flavor follows suit with clove and fruit nougat and a subtle lemony hop front. It carrys a thin maltiness with some granny apple hints and yeast overtones. I think this comes off better on tap than it did from the bottle. The cherry backbone seems a bit deeper. Carbonation is kind of fine. It's medium bodied with a slightly syrupy feel. Drinkability is modest, there's a mild alcohol presence. Overall, a nice change up choice on tap, well done with a bit of an edge.

Photo of SickGnar
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Very reddish amber, ruddy copper in warmth. Leans toward off-white head, but small. Decent amount of rising bubbles. More like foamy legging rather than lacing.

S: Sweet with fruity esters. Belgian yeasty - heavy on stone fruit esters, yeasty bread dough, and really light on the peppery / spicy aspects. Bready and lightly toasty malts. Candy sweetness and lots of fruity esters. Increasingly, yet softly, boozy as it warms. Pleasant enough, but lacking in beer aspect.

T: Cherries and honey eh? I suppose, but I get more sweet and boozy. I get general stone fruits, but not overly cherry. Fruit character is ripe to even over-ripe. Heavily sweet, almost cloying - no really tartness. Either way the fruit seems more malt and yeast derived, rather than from actual fruit. I don't really see the honey. Maybe a faint floral hint and fermentable sugars for abv. In addition the fruit notes in the Belgian yeast it also has softly peppery & spicy notes. Malts are mostly grainy & caramel. Hops are shy to the point of being hard to find - perhaps slightly herbal. Mostly I get boozy, but pretty neutral alcohol, and lots of candy sweetness.

M: Rather above medium body, not truly syrupy though it does trend in that direction. Carbonation is only average which makes it relatively light given the heft of this elixir. Full & smooth & slick. Semi-sweet finish with noticeable warming.

D: Even when aware of 11% abv this is sneakily potent. With the sweet and booze this does have a bit of a malt liquor aspect. Still the alcohols are not harsh at all, and I wonder how this would age. Fresh it is a bit thick and sweet, and some how the flavors do nor really meld. Fruity, sweet, florally pungent, yeasty, and boozy. If you sipped a few of these waiting up for Santa you would never stay awake long enough to know for sure.

Photo of sacullen
2.77/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle from 2010-2011 bottling, poured into Duvel tulip.

A: Pours amber/red. It is reddish where the glass is widest. Head is almost effervescent, more like a cola, and very quickly dissipates to a crown and leaves no lacing.

S: Spices are at the forefront, while cherries are muted. Smells yeasty like a Belgian. Label uses the wording "subtle cherries", and I have to agree.

T: Not enough cherry for my tastes. Again, the spices from the yeast are the dominant flavor, while the cherries are most noticeable in the finish. Estery and doesn't quite hide the alcohol.

M: Light and lively in the mouth, flavors/aftertaste doesn't linger long.

D: Not a beer I would drink multiples of in one sitting. The beer is almost forgettable.

A friend bought me a sixer for Christmas this year. I've had a couple and think I will hold on to the rest to see what some time does to them.

Photo of psuKinger
3.08/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had this bottle in my fridge for a little over a year, I believe it comes from Christmas 2009, which should make it roughly ~14-15 months old. The black ink markings on the bottle say something about "TRACK #090814", which doesn't make much sense to me, as this beer couldn't have been brewed in September of 2014 unless it was sent to me from the future... I'll record that little piece of info here, as perhaps some day on down the line I will understand what that bottle stamp means/meant.

Bottle will be poured into my New Belgium globe glass. In general I enjoy cherry flavored beers, but I've never been overwhelmed by the Mad Elf (despite being a pretty big fan of the brewery as a whole). I'll try to do this review unbiased and "start from scratch".

A: Pours a ruby red, vaguely/barely clear color with a light frothy head on top. Not "thick", but not "thin" either. A nice carbonation level for a beer that's sat in my fridge for so long.

S: Spicey yeasty notes and cherry shine through, dominating the nose.

T: Taste follows the nose. Spicy yeast notes announce there presence early, a very mild layer of hops steps up to say hello for second, before the cherry takes over and dominates the finish. Knowing that they use hallertau hops makes total sense to me here, as that traditional german "pilsner bitterness" is what I get from the hops here. Alcohol bite is present, but not as potently as it could be for a beer of such magnitude. Well done by Troegs to mask this giant.

What I find odd is that this beer is classified as a "Belgian Dark", but I pick up more spiciness that I associate with Pales and Triples than I do the dark fruits that I associate with Darks and Quads.

M: Light, spicy, and zesty throughout, this beer does not drink "heavily", and it doesn't leave a lot of coating on the tongue.

D: Many of my friends love this beer, but it's just not a personal favorite of mine. I don't hate it, but I certainly don't crave it.

Photo of n2185
3.57/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear dark copper/ruby color with about a finger of beige head. The head almost immediately recedes into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: Sweet candy sugar and bubblegum up front followed by the characteristic Belgian spicy yeast aroma. There's a slight tartness in there, probably from the cherries, but it's more subtle than I expected after reading that there were cherries used in the beer.

T: Similar to the aroma, there is some sweet candy sugar and banana flavors up front followed by a slightly bitter, yeasty bread flavor. The cherries again are very subtle, providing a slight tartness to the finish. The aftertaste is slightly warming from the alcohol along with some yeasty characters.

M: Medium body and carbonation with a dry finish, and though it lacks that crisp quality that I look for in the best Belgian styles, it's not as heavy as many American takes on the style.

D: Quite drinkable, especially for an 11% beer. The alcohol is almost completely hidden, making this beer go down fairly smooth.

Overall, a pretty decent beer. There are better American takes on the style, but there are definitely worse as well.

Photo of SteelerNation
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wayyy past the season, but I picked up one of the last bottles and had to try it anyway

A: Red. I haven't ever seen a pure red beer before so I give it high marks. Average head and lacing for a high gravity ale.

S: Bavarian banana yeasts. Super yeasty.

T: A mad array of flavors. The cherry is pronounced but the honey is subdued. Banana phenol yeasty flavors dominate. I can barely taste the delicate honey flavors. Unbelievably sweet for such a high abv. The alcohol is masked wonderfully. German Hallertau and Saaz hops make an entrance late. The aftertaste is a bit cloying and slightly medicinal.

M: Dextrinous but not too heavy.

D: Tastes more like 8% abv than 11%. Give me a whole six pack of this and I would be wasted immediately.

Complex and maddening. Definitely a Belgian ale.

Photo of readbaron
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Purs out a murky red with a tiny ring of white foam.

Smells like a dark belgian ale with some additional sweetness and a hint of cherry - lots of spicy yeast.

Tastes very similar to how it smells - cherry - some farmyard yeast - a bit of honey. Quite pleasant. I'm typically not a big fan of the style, but this is good.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, medium carbonation, and a bit sticky, yet still refreshing.

Photo of Lukafer
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jdefont for this one!

Pours a surprisingly transparent ruby with a fingers worth of white head that leaves decent lacing. I smell some oxidation right away, followed by some yeast, slight fruit and malts. The first thing I taste is oxidation, immediately followed by cherries, and a lot of sweet malts. I think the oxidation is a bit much, more than the last time I had this beer, for sure. Mouthfeel is sticky with medium carb, probably on the low end. Drinkability is good, especially for the ABV. A good beer that I've enjoyed in the past a little more than this one, but still solid.

Photo of gkunkle
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer really took me by surprise. I wasn't sure what I thought of it, but after I tasted it I was hooked. the beer pours an amber color with a white head about 1 finger tall. Head doesn't last long and there is no lacing, but that cones with the territory of 11% ABV beers. Smell is of honey and cherries. If it didn't say honey and cherries on the label I would have described it as a sweet malt and dark fruit smell. Taste starts sweet then finishes with slight honey taste, there are sweet malts throughout. Thickness is about right, no carbonation though (comes with the 11% territory). Overall, despite the 11% ABV I really dig this beer. I got this in a trade with slvrmon82 and will definitely have to send him some more quality beers in order to get some more of this. I honestly would not have suspected this to be 11%, I could taste a little bit of alcohol, but it wasn't strong.

Photo of joshuaburge
4.82/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A nice red tinted looking beer with little head. It smells of cherry and honey. Tastes of honey and also cherries, very sweet. Loads of alcohol flavor a alcohol %. Can put down a few due to it being very drinkable. An enjoyable beer for the holiday season. Also, is better when aged for a long period of time.

Photo of OakedCanuck
2.92/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into tulip

A - pours a reddish amber, clear. White to off white head that left almost immediately, minor lacing

S - Dark fruits, cherries and a sugar sweetness (caramel) that is very strong, makes me nervous

T - Dang sweet! Very caramelly/toffee sweet malt. Dominates this beer. The cherries, plum and honey seem to be in there as an after thought

M - Medium body, very sticky, medium alcohol burn

D - It is an okay beer, just the sweetness and alcohol dominate the palate too much.

Photo of brew3crew
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured into tasting glass.

A-translucent amber/red with white lacing around the edges
S-very suprising. Almost a banana smell to it. Light honey.
T-tastes a lot like it smells. Spicy banana. Really suprising here. Did not expect this at all.
M-medium bodied and smooth
D-very drinkable. Especially for abv.

Photo of BeerAndBourbon
2.96/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A. Looks pretty good. Orange with a red tinge with a white foam cap.

S. Cinnamon with yeasty malt. Banana eaters come out as it warms.

T. Sweet malt with honey and spiciness. Some cherry
, but it might just be the label influencing me.

M. Medium mouthfeel with creamy carbonation.

D. I'm not a big fan of spiced ales and this is no exception.

Photo of Urbancaver
3.29/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber red with a decent amount of head that dissipates quickly. Smells really strongly of cherries and spice. Honestly... Doesn't smell that good. Tastes spicy and a bit tart/sour. Its got a lot of yeasty tastes to it too... It has a solid mouthfeel and is fairly drinkable but it doesn't really do that much for me.

Photo of Jesstyr
3.23/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Was excited to try this beer, and enjoyed it in a Palm tulip and some great cheese.

Overall very disappointing. Looks great, ruby red with a thin bubbly head that remains throughout the drink. Nose definitely shows off the honey and cherry, but its not particularly full or well rounded.

Which leads to a similar flavor - it essentially comes off as a flavored beer, without the depth of Three Philosophers, which is the closest comparison I can think of. The body is too thin for the style and there seems to the raisin/chocolate sweetness you like to see in a strong dark. Overall this is a decent dessert beer, but not much else.

Photo of jmdrpi
3.35/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, stamped 2010/2011.

appears a bright clear ruby red color. the color is brilliant, but there is little head.

strong cherry aroma, and the cherry and honey flavors dominate the taste. very sweet.

just a little too syrupy for me, maybe it could use more carbonation?

not too boozy, but the sweetness hurts the drinkability a bit.

****update a year later from same batch

appearance is the same. aroma and taste is not as cloyingly sweet. Body seems to have thinned a bit, as I don't have the same "syrupy" complaint. Overall, an improvement.

Photo of harrymel
1.6/5  rDev -58.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Thanks again to Chaney and Steelerx for setting me up with this as an extra! One for now, one for later!

Poured to NB globe.

A: Orange amber ale with little to no head. Surface is simply the pinnacle of the beer. Not even edge bubbling. No lacing. Unimpressive.

S: Sweet, alcoholic. Reminds me of a malt beverage (as noted on label), but not really getting the honey and cherries as I had hoped...Stand corrected, slight sweetened cherries in the mid point.

T: Very alcoholic. Very sweet. Wish I could sense the crastsmanship in this drink. I am having a hard time finishing this one. Wow, I was sent two of these, I will probably send the other out in a trade as an extra if I have space to fill. Horrible. Astringent.

M: think, medium carb. Very average.

D: This is unlike anything else I've had from Troegs: intolerable. I had a hard time finishing this one.

Photo of ms11781
3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a tulip.

Pours a slightly hazy, deep red color. Looks like it wants to be a brownish red or rust color but every way I look at it, including holding it up to light, it's red. The thinnest of an off white head shows up and its gone almost instantly.

Smell is of ripe, dark fruit up front. Think cherries more than raisins or plums. The ripe fruit aroma is followed by a slight sweetness. The smallest amount of alcohol is detected at the end.

Taste is surprisingly sweet. The fruit flavors are still there but there is a sweetness that seems to ride underneath the rest of the flavors. Sweet up front with a fruity taste in the middle. Finishes mellow with an almost honey and sugar flavor. Sugar isn't the dark/brown sugar that is consistent with the style. As with the nose, the slightest hint of alcohol comes through in the finish.

Smoother mouthfeel due to a medium body and low carbonation. Beer really is smooth all the way through and finishes even smoother with the honey at the end.

Drinability is ok. At 11% ABV a 12oz bottle is enough. However, even if I was to move on to another one it would be something else.

Photo of Stockfan42
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a few of these at the Tavern at the end of the world.

Poures a dark red body (it was dark in the room so couldn't tell ya if it really is a lighter beer) and thin white head.

Aroma smells of cherrys with a bit of a malty undertone and you can easily smell the alchahol.

A pretty tasty beer that let's you know it's 11% right away. Alchahol is the first thing I taste almost instantly, followed by a sweet malty sugary flavor, cherrys, a little bit of hops and a spicy bite that reminds me of hop devil.

Mouthfeel has a bite of alchahol and spice, not something I could sit and drink all evening but a very tasty brew indeed.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,497 ratings.