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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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very good

3,533 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,533
Reviews: 1,215
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 203
Gots: 793 | FT: 22
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: 3,533 | Reviews: 1,215 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of YouSkeete
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Nice full copper/ruby red color, mildly orange. Almost completely transparent. Tiny white head, practically no lacing at all.

S: Big malt and fruit aroma up front, followed by notes of honey, caramel and molasses. Bananas and cherries make up most of the fruit.

T/M: Smooth yeast/bread flavor with a simple balance of mildly citrusy fruits. Big Belgian yeast flavor, almost at the point of being overpowering. 11% ABV is extremely well hidden. Bananas and cherries are definitely a big part of the body in this brew, while smooth malts and barley follow. Medium body with medium carbonation.

D: Pretty good. Not my personal taste, but a well brewed ale nonetheless. A decent Christmas-time ale.

Photo of BigTomZ
1.82/5  rDev -53%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A - Pours a nice looking red with decent white creamy head that stayed around.

S - Smells like sweaty ball sack, with some cherry notes.

T - Taste was like cherry cough syrup with pennies and band-aids in it.

M - Mouthfeel was thick and syrupy.

O - That thick mouthfeel combined with the sweetness and metallic taste did not make for an enjoyable beer. I really enjoy most beers from Troegs, but not this one.

Photo of steve8robin
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Have not had a whole lot from Troegs. Let's see how this is. 12oz bottle...

A: A nice clear red color with a small tan head that fades quickly to a lace atop the brew. Good.

S: A nice bready and sweet caramel malt scent upfront with some faint cherry in the middle. Some more sweet malt on the back. Decent.

T: A nice faint sweet cherry upfront with some acidic sweetness in the middle blended with some nutty / bready malt. A faint bitterness on the backend. Alcohol not evident at all! Very good.

M: Full body with a good carbonation. A sweet finish. Decent.

O: All in all, this is a very solid beer. I was surprised since fruit beers are hard to make and make well. This has a faint cherry, but just enough to add a nice accent. Try if you like sweet, boozy beers where the booze is well hidden.

Photo of Brouwerij78
4.92/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a delicious seasonal ale! A dark, cherry colored and fragrant ale worthy of the higher price tag. I bought this in a 6-pack (which is much more economical than the large bottle sold) and really enjoyed it's fruity, rich and slightly sweet flavor. This beer is a thicker style and is best enjoyed chilled in a thin baloon style wine glass to be sipped, savored and enjoyed! A treat indeed!

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

12oz bottle
Served in a tulip glass

A - It pours burnt orange and has an inch of beige head.

S - The aroma is banana, clove, and brown sugar.

T - The taste is similar to the aroma. The spices from the Belgian yeast come out while the banana stays hidden. The alcohol comes through as a warming sensation.

M - Moderate to thin

O - This is one of my top three Christmas beers. I don't think it stands up as well as I would like it to with a few months of age on it.

Photo of UMNbeerhunter
3.27/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Darkness tulip on 6/10/11.

Pours a dark amber with a nice size off white head that dissipates very quickly leaving no lacing. Head was gone in an instant lots of bubbling carb head.

Smells of some kind of fruit but if cherry is a faint after smell. I also smell carmel and roasted malts.

Taste is of booze, a little bit of cherries, and some malts. Not much to say about this beer. I had high hopes but...

Mouthfeel is moderate in weight and not bite at all. Again I had hoped for some more then just a fruity aftertaste.

Overall I am really unimpressed with this brew. I had heard great things but... Yeah one and done on this brew for me. No taste complexity, weak smell, and I just can't get what the big deal is about this brew. Pass.

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

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: The body has a deep reddish brown to orange amber color with a light haze. On top is a small off white head which quickly fades from a one inch cap to just a thin light ring of lace. Only a few spots of lace stick to the glass.

Smell: Its aroma is full of big fruity notes with dark cherry notes standing out. It also brings a heavy sweet bready maltiness with some hints of wild flower honey. The big 11% abv is also quite noticeable as well.

Taste/Palate: The flavor comes close to the aroma with a big sweet, warm (boozy) and malty character. In it are lots of fruity notes, bready malts, and spicy yeast which adds a touch of clove like and white pepper like spiciness. It also has big boozy warmth which adds some grain and honey mead like character to the finish. The carbonation is mellow and the palate feels smooth.

Notes: This is a big beer and it lets you know it.

Photo of happy4hoppybeer
3.91/5  rDev +1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, ruby red, a little dark, but clear ruby red. Almost no head or lacing to speak of.Hmmmm....

Very strong aromas of sweet malt, of course the honey and cherries, sweetness throughout, but a heavy scent of alcohol as well. Very inviting, sweet,malty,fruity and boozy.

Malt sweetness and fruits are obvious on the mouth, the cherries and honey slightly less. Light carbonation,though maybe more than there should be,carbonation is light yet seems to come through stronger than the flavors. Alcohol is actually less noticeable than on the nose, and is quite discreet for such a high ABV brew.

A nice change of pace brew for those who are burned out on the usual hops vs. malt fare, but it can be improved a bit by bringing out the flavors better.

Photo of Knapp85
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The mad elf, it pours out as a rich caramel color with pretty nice tan head on it. The aromas are spicy and most definitely Belgian. There might even be some Christmas berries in there too. The taste reminded me of a sweet cherry jelly mixed with a lot of alcohol and some spices to give it some tingle in the aftertaste. This is an enjoyable beer for the winter season, it's a heavier mouthfeel too. The ABV will keep ya warm when you out shoveling snow as well.

Photo of jmfc8237
4.27/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a decent amount of head that disciPated quickly. Ruby red semi cloudy color and zero lacing in my snifter. Aromas of spicy Belgian yeast clove spice banana and cherry. Some phenol is present as well. As it warms the flavors intensify and have a nice blend of sweet spicy and bright fruit. I'm sertainly loving the Belgian strain in this beer it compliments the maltiness very well. Strong alcohol follows a great balance of sweet spice and everything nice. Velvety mouthfeel makes this aa great session ale. I will be having this again

Photo of mdaschaf
3.43/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Nice ruby color with a 1/2 finger tight, egg white head that reduces rather quickly to a ring of thin foam around the outer edge.

S: From far away I could smell the cherries, but they aren't as overwhelming as I thought they would be, especially when I get my nose up close. The honey is present and there is a sweetness. Slight bit of alcohol as well.

T: Very sweet, cherry flavor, and the honey comes out as well. There is almost a mead-like flavor.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Slight alcohol heat on the flavor profile and on the finish.

O: Its good, just not my favorite. I don't have a problem with the slight alcohol presence, just not really for me.

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.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,533 ratings.