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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

3,553 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,553
Reviews: 1,220
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 204
Gots: 813 | FT: 24
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: 3,553 | Reviews: 1,220
Photo of stephenjmoore
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A cross between red, orange and pink. Virtually no head, looks very interesting.

S- Cherries and honey hit up front. Notes of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and some dried fruits).

T- Very complex. Spicy notes in the front, the cherry and honey is pretty subtle compared to the smell. Tastes very similar to a fruit forward Belgian ale but a little more subtle.

M- Light carbonation and mouthfeel. Very slight alcohol burn.

O- Very interesting beer. Very drinkable for an 11% beer. The complexity is unique and I am sure would change even more with some age.

Photo of smerrell
4.04/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - translucent red, the head dissipates quickly

Smell - Strong alcohol, candy-sweet smell that dissipates quickly

taste: like a black cherry Belgian beer. Hops are barely noticeable and you don't taste the alcohol until after you swallow

Mouthfeel: high carbonation, the soft finish coats the tongue and stays with you

Overall: This is a great seasonal beer, with a great, unique taste. If you are a fan of Belgians, this is a great change of pace. high in alcohol, you shouldn't (couldn't) drink more than 2 of these easily, but this is a terrific Christmas beer.

Photo of Centennial
3.46/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle

A. Deep ruby red with bubbly head

S. Honey, and assorted fruits with tart fragrance.

M. Medium to syrupy with spot on carbonation.

T. Cherry, Honey, and assorted fruits with alcohol burn pulling through and alcohol taste lingering.

O. Great on a cold fall or winter day, but not an everyday drinker or something I crave too often but still a nice holiday treat to have around.

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

Served in a Christmas tulip!


This Elf is a lovely deep copper red color. It's more translucent than expected. The head was about a one finger khaki color, and disappated in a hurry. None of it remained. Looks like a lovely brew! I feel like the cherries were added to give it a good amount of color, but not so much on the flavor (more on that later).


There is some definite big Belgian character coming through. Surprisingly, alcohol isn't that present. There is a lovely honey aroma, but not a lot of the cherries. There's a good bit of raisin bread character, and the Belgian spiciness is met with some dark fruitiness. Smells amazing.


Yum - this is a big bad ass beer. There's a lot of chewy breadiness, and some wonderful dark fruit character. The sweetness is definitely high, but not cloying. The honey comes through at the back of the tongue and hangs around for a little while after the swallow. The cherry flavor is present, but it's not very noticeable. The Belgian spiciness is a nice addition to to overall flavor, but isn't the focus of the beer. Alcohol? Schmalcohol, this beer doesn't appear to have the stuff.


This Elf starts off big and chewy, and feels slightly syrupy (the good kind of syrupy). At the end, there's a bit of dryness that ups the drinkability. It's nice and warming after each sip, and even though you can't taste the alchol, you can feel it! There isn't much carbonation. The beer is pretty drinkable, but demands to be savored.


This beer is excellent. This is definitely not a beer to drink every night, but is great for winter nights. It doesn't have as much spice character as other Holiday beers, but is a MUST for this time of the year. I don't know what made the Elf Mad, but this beer makes me very happy. Plus, I love the fact that they sell it in a variety of ways - 22 Oz Bombers, 12 oz. Singles, and even six-packs instead of four-packs! It gives you the opportunity to buy a sixer, drink a few, then age the rest.


Photo of jayhawk73
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color w/ a reddish tint when held to the light. Not much in the way of carbonation or lacing, but w/ the high 11% ABV, I won't ding it too much. Somewhat clear in appearance. Nose is that of mainly cherry, honey, and some alcohol. Not as complex as the best in style- a little one dimensional for me. Taste is the same- it's not bad.. but up against the best in style, it's lacking complexity and taste. This is a tough style list though, so it's really not bad. Feel is on the lighter side, w/ a nice sweet honey aftertaste. Overall, this is a good beer, it's just missing more yeast, malt, and complexity in the taste/feel. I like the idea of it though. Cheers.

Photo of dbc5
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh 2011 bottle poured into Duvel Tulip.

Appearance: Really nice looking beer on initial, aggressive pour. Ruby red with 1.5 finger off white head. Unfortunately, the head doesn't stick around very long which is someone expected given the 11% abv.

Smell: Smells very nice. Sweet cherries, some bready malt, honey, and an underlying tart quality.

Taste: Flavor carries over the tart cherry and sweet honey. The malt comes through in the backend and keeps this from being too sweet. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden given the 11% tag, although you certainly get a nice alcohol warming as you work through the glass. This seems appropriate for a Christmas beer.

Mouthfeel: This is a bit odd for me as I simultaneously get a syrupy feel that somehow seems thinner than I expected. In no way off putting, but just average here.

Overall: This is probably my favorite Christmas seasonal around (although it seems pretty early to have this coming out in mid-October). A nice departure from the typical spiced holiday offering.

Photo of mrfrancis
3.17/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a clear, ruby-tinted amber with virtually no head (there is a creamy white mousse that disappears within a minute). The lack of head retention underwhelms me, and I begin to immediately question the quality of this batch.

S: Pronounced aromas of sweet cherries, honey, caramel, and gingerbread are immediately evident. Surprisingly, I am not picking up a boozy, alcoholic scent.

T: Opens spicy and bready with notes of red apple, caramel, gingerbread, honey, sweet cherries, and cognac. The finish is delicate, warming, and long with bread, honey, and cherry notes. I was expecting greater complexity and a more assertive flavor profile.

M: Slick, oily, and full-bodied. Feels thinner than it is. Goes down smoothly. Par for the course for this style.

O: I don't think that I would recommend this ale. It is ridiculously overhyped and overpriced. There are far better and far more authentic Belgian strong dark ales on the market.

Photo of WMEugene
4.54/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass. Current vintage.

A - Pours a deep ruby red color with minimal head which quickly dissipates into a thin ring. Minor lacing on the glass.

S - I smell the bready yeast, cherries, and malt right off the bat. A very sweet and delightful smell.

T - Very sweet and a little tart. Strong notes of cherry, honey, alcohol, and assorted fruits. In the background is the malted and yeast flavors commonly found in Belgian-style beers. Very delicious, but you better like sweet beers.

M - Full bodied, almost syrupy. Carbonation levels are ok. A little boozy.

O - The Mad Elf is a delightful seasonal take on a Belgian-style beer. It is sweet and boozy, so it's not a beer to take lightly. If you like sweet beers, give this one a try.

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

Vintage 2009

A-Pours the color of watered down cranberry juice with a thin, brilliant white head.

S-Honey, plum, cherries, rum soaked raisins, fruitcake.

T/M-Honey is the dominant component of Mad elf. Big, earthy honey sweetness with notes of cherry, plum, prune, brown sugar, fruitcake and more honey. Like a Belgian Christmas ale blended with a mead. Full bodied and rich, but never gets too sweet.

O-Brings back fond memories of Pennsylvania.

Photo of korguy123
2.59/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Review from notes 2010 Release

A- Rich copper with deep ruby highlights. A vigorous pour produces nothing but the thinnest ring around the rim of the glass. Lacing is non-existent but the alcohol holds on for dear life.

S- Right off the bat is rich, sweet honey notes followed by bready yeast. Lemon zest and slight coriander. Cherries start to strengthen as the beer warms further. Alcohol is present and gives the beer a fruit cake smell.

T- Warm alcohol and honey upfront with sweet cherries lingering in the back. Almost borderline too sweet. Lemon zest and coriander. Alcohol is a little overwhelming and overpowers most of the flavors. Tart cherry aftertaste.

M- Medium bodied, low carbonation makes it feel slick. Sticky on the lips.

O- The Alcohol is not hidden at all, it's borderline too sweet and just not my thing. Perhaps time will help mellow the alcohol but I'd have to experiment before a re-review.

Photo of daveytheformer
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz from 2010 Gift Box!
A big thanks to canjeeps for this pain in the ass to ship

Poured into a Mad Elf chalice

Appearance is a nice clear red with a thin white head that fades to some lacing. Golden hued when held up to the light.

Smells sweet and like light pumpkin spice. A not so tart cherry aroma is also detected.

Tastes fruity, sweet and spicy. Light butter tastes followed by lots more spice. A little creamy with just a very light tartness, not really sour just a very light tart flavor.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with not a whole lot of carbonation.

Overall is great! Looking forward to getting more of this and more Troegs stuff.

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours amber with just a slight head. Smells of sour cherries and sweet malt with some oak tannins on the back end. Tastes quite tannic with a lip puckering bitterness that carries through to the finish when more sour cherries kick in and help balance the tannins. Not quite what I was expecting, but unusual enough to be enjoyable and interesting.

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

Reddish tinged amber body, clear no sign of sediment. One finger soft white head sits atop momentarily. The head recedes back to a slim cap. Slight lacing left behind.

Cherry Starburst flavor pours from the glass. The cherry is very sweet and candylike. It takes a bit of work to dig beneath the fruit up front. Sweet malt can be noticed, some soft yeast characteristics. The smell is pleasant though fairly one dimensional.

The flavor is an improvement from the aroma. The cherry flavor is not as dominant and much less artificial. Sweet, dark cherry flavor melds with an earthy honey flavor. Very strong belgian style dark ale notes are displayed below. Dark fruit and chocolate flavors compliment the cherry up front. There is a decent amount of heat in this beer. It is not out of place, but it is a little more than what I would like.

Medium to full bodied beer. Moderate carbonation, appropriate for the style. Heavy sweetness coats the tongue making for a long finish.

I like this beer, very appropriate holiday beer. The flavors work well together creating an interesting interpretation of a belgian style beer. Mad Elf is a little boozey but not to the point of being off putting. I would like to drink this again, preferably when there is snow on the ground.

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

Pours a clear ruby colored red with soapy-like head that fades down to nothing. Smells of cherries with some hot alcohol burn. The alcohol notes increase as it warms. Tastes of cherries dipped in syrupy chocolate. Some brown sugar notes and a tad of spicy notes likely from the yeast. I get the honey a little bit. Tastes surprisingly light bodied. Rather even balanced in bitterness. Nice on a winter night.

Photo of warnerry
3.56/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes: Bottle 8/19/10 consumed 12/24/10

A Christmas Eve treat? We'll see...

A - Pours a beautiful clear reddish brown with one and a half fingers of off white head. The head dissipates rather quickly.

S - A sweet cherry smell predominates, with some honey also coming through. A rather faint hoppy aroma is present as well, along with a decent amount of malt.

T - Sweet cherries up front. Some faint hop presence followed by malt and more cherries. Has some of the faintly medicinal taste on the finish that often comes with cherries.

M - Nice full mouthfell, but not overly heavy.

O - the ABV and heavy cherry presence reduce drinkability a bit, but still rather easy drinking. I saw someone taking down a 6-pack of this at the MSU-PSU football game last fall, which I definitely don't recommend, but I would have this again.

Photo of litheum94
3.59/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage, courtesy of ShadesOfGrey.

Ruby body, with a brownish head that pops and snaps like a soda. It's gone in the blink of an eye.

The cherry aromas hit me as soon as I start pouring. Has an amaretto essence to it as well. Mead like, with honey sweetness. This may sound weird, but it smells a hell of a lot like a Payday to me, with aromas of salted peanuts and carmel.

Great cherry flavors, like a homemade cherry pie. Robust nut flavors. Amaretto liquer flavors. A honey sweetness coats the mouth. The finish has more cherry flavors, with a residual sweetness that is little heavy handed.

I like the flavors, but there is too much sugar on the finish. I feel like I just ate a donut or something. That really holds me back from giving this a better review.

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

First had: on tap at ? (Eulogy maybe)

I have Mad Elf more on tap these days than in bottles, and the profile is similar, though perhaps they've mellowed out a bit with the recipe so that the taste isn't completely overwhelming. Pours--typically into a stem glass--copper-brown with reddish-orange hues that become more visible in the light. Typically, as with the bottle, an off-white head that retains and laces well, and perhaps is more pronounced when being served on tap. Nose of fruitcake, cherries, honey, dark malts, raisins, and cloves. Some alcohol notable. The taste follows the smell almost to a "t," with complex flavors of dark caramel malts, honey and brown sugar, cherries and raisins, and subtle spice. Some alcohol burn. Medium bodied, full-flavored, and highly desirable. I give it points off overall, because despite the fact that I do like it, it is one of the most inconsistent beers year to year as far as flavor goes.

Photo of Stanhagen
5/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Quite simply my favorite beer on earth. I used to look forward to Santa showing up for christmas, now i look forward to the Mad Elf's arrival. Santa used to bring me chocolate covered cherries, now I get to drink a liquid form of the sweet treat with alcohol added.

Photo of dpnelson1978
3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into glass tulip.

Received in a trade.

A: Beautiful bright deep copper to red body topped with a thin tan head that quickly dissipates leaving behind only a ring of bubbles. Pretty standard for the style.

S: A Belgian yeast strain that I definitely recognize produces fruity esters that mingle with a potent cherry aroma. Very light alcohol scent and notable sweetness.

T: Sweet malt forward flavor dominated by dark red fruit compliments of a cherry infusion and some yeast play. Slightly spicing on the back end. The 11% alcohol content is well hidden.

M: Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Light carbonic bite, and distinct smoothness throughout resulting from noticeable residual sugar.

D: A bit too sweet to drink alone, but would be mighty good with a meal in moderation. Goes down smooth overall.

O: Respectable, but not great. I'd consider buying it again if the price was right.

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

A - A clear amber/red body is topped by a thin off white head. There seems to be some fine dark particulate floating around in the body of the brew, held in suspension. Nothing much for lacing, but that would be expected for a brew with this high of an ABV.

S - The aroma shows just how hot this brew is. The alcohol comes through in a rather large way, followed by some mild fruit, seems like dark cherries. Not hugely aromatic, comes across as being hot and sweet.

T & M - I almost expected this to come across much more alcoholic, just judging from the aroma. I was pleasantly surprised that the alcohol was hidden by a mild cherry flavor. I could still feel the warmth on the swallow though. There is some maltiness that adds a second dimension to this brew. Medium bodied and creamy. The body comes across as smooth and almost soft.

D - This is one of those "one and done" brews, pretty much just because of the ABV. It is quite tasty though and a great example of the style. Certainly worth a try, I would recommend it to my friends.

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.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,553 ratings.