1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

2,879 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,879
Reviews: 1,148
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 15.54%
Wants: 135
Gots: 400 | FT: 20
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,879 | Reviews: 1,148 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cro250klr
cro250klr

Pennsylvania

3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tried this one on the advise of a friend who likes yet another Troegs brew, Trogenator. I've had the Trogenator before and I though it was a bit heavy and on the syrupy side. Not at all what I'd call a session beer.
Now, while I absolutley love high abv Belgian Darks, I have to admit that I was a bit let down here. The Elf is dark, the appearance looks wonderful and the smell hints of spices of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Albiet faintly, but they are there. From that alone I was thinking that this was going to be a treat. Alas, the mouthfeel was clean , but the taste seemed to be missing the spices. The alcholol wasn't that pronounced, which was good, but something was lacking overall. From the nose I'd be thinking of something Belgian. However, the aftertaste assures me that this is an imitation. All of that combined made me glad that I had crossed paths with this one at a local pub. I had almost purchased a case, ( Archaic Pa. LCB Law), prior to finding this one bottle. For the abv content the case cost was rather low. I should have known something was up. While the Elf is a far cry from being the worst, it's an even a further cry from being the best. A nice try by the Harrisburg brewers but, I wouldn't stick my neck out for this one.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2006 01:58:18 | More by cro250klr
Photo of Billolick
Billolick

New York

4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, without freshness dating. Poured just below room temp in a Belgian style chalice, pours, medium mahogony, with a slight reddish hue, minor tan head, quickly dissapating, medium sized bubbles and leaving some, not too impressive lacing. Nose is just slightly picked up, grainy and of fruits and some alcohol. This is a smooth, easy drinking Belgian stlye ale. 11% hidden well, but with a nice fruity, cherry warming feel. Notes of, malt, light candi sugars, vanilla, honey, mild hot sauce and sherry soaked cherries. Fine and flavorful sipper.

Thanks to my friend "Grassy" for a sixer of this hard to find nectar...

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2006 22:17:41 | More by Billolick
Photo of JayQue
JayQue

Virginia

4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear, reddish tint. Half inch head that fades away quickly. Leaves some lacing on the glass. Smell of cloves and cherries. Rick taste- cherries, hints of some other fruit and a very mild astringent taste. Very rich, like a plum pudding run through a blender. Rich mouthfeel as well, very pleasant, no hint of the 11% abv until you reach the end. May have got a hint of alcohol taste by then. This is not a session beer. It goes down incredibly smooth but a second one, away from home, would not be a good idea for me. A great winter drink and a great nightcap.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2006 19:42:25 | More by JayQue
Photo of MuddyFeet
MuddyFeet

North Carolina

3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a rich and vibrant brown. Slight red hue. Thin white head that receded to an even thinner film. Some lace. Nose is sweet and spicy with molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Flavor is strong in the spices. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and a shot of pepper for good measure. Slightly malty sweet at first but then quickly followed by the spice. Bits of molasses and honey. Lots of heat from the alcohol. Enough to make this a nice slow sipping drink, like a scotch. Lighter mouthfeel than I was expecting but I think that was from the alcohol. A nice beer to drink one bottle of but more than one bottle is asking for a rough morning.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2006 01:28:50 | More by MuddyFeet
Photo of Jredner
Jredner

Florida

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is strong with cherries, malt and hints of nuts. Pour is amber/red with just a hint of a head. Flavor is nutty and malty with hints of fruit and sweetbread. Have no idea where they are hiding 11% alcohol. Tastes like 6% if that. Finish is the most cherry laden. A very interesting beer. Quite pleased with it.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2006 18:56:05 | More by Jredner
Photo of mentor
mentor

Colorado

3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from detailed notes. A gift of Higravity ala SS'05. Thanks so much for the opportunity! Poured a one-finger light tan head over a crystal clear light orange rusty liquid. Smelled of cloves, orange peel, coriander, and a phenolic edge. Tasted clovey phenolic. Syrupy sweet. Sharp belgian funk. Overall, clovey menthol. Md-light body that's somewhat syrupy. A decent winter warmer.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2006 05:27:07 | More by mentor
Photo of akajimmyd
akajimmyd

District of Columbia

3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Not much head or lacing. Reddish hue.

Smell – Sweet malts and spice, subtle hints of fruit.

Taste – I get prunes or dark fruit up front followed by spice and a little bite of alcohol.

Mouthfeel- Sweet up front. Full, full body. Finishes with a little too much astringent alcohol.

Drinkability – A winter warmer through and through. Many characteristics that remind me of a barleywine. Tremendous and serious brew. Be careful, quite drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

02-02-2006 01:45:39 | More by akajimmyd
Photo of rodrot
rodrot

North Carolina

3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a cloudy amber color with little or no head. I'm guessing the 11.0% abv reduces the head and head retention. Aroma is sweet and reminds me of malt, sugar and spices. The taste is quite sweet also, with notes of candi sugar, malt, caramel and a very faint taste of cherries. The label on the bottle states that this beer was brewed with honey and cherries, but I can barely detect these ingredients. This beer reminds me of an English barleywine/old ale because of the overall sweetness and the light hop flavor. BA lists this as a Belgian Strong dark ale, but I wouldn't know in a blind tasting. This is an OK beer, but I probably would not buy it again.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2006 15:05:39 | More by rodrot
Photo of mzwolinski
mzwolinski

California

3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Hazy red in color, with a thin uneven top.

The aroma is sweet and malty. Cherries and honey are understated at first, but give signs of a bit too much sweetness down the road.

The flavor is not bad right out of the fridge. A bit sweet with hints of cherry and very little in the way of hops. Alcohol almost completely undetectable. Nothing terribly stand-out about it, but certainly drinkable

As it warms, the malt and alcohol combine to give the beer a cinnamon-bread character. This is one of the more pleasant aspects of the beer.

As it continues to warm, however, the beer becomes a bit cough-syrupy … too sweet and sticky in the throat. And the warmer it gets, the worse it gets. Even at 55 degrees, it's pretty awful.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2006 16:19:34 | More by mzwolinski
Photo of arguemaniac
arguemaniac

Virginia

4.43/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a deep, reddish copper color with a fairly robust head and generous lace (especially for 11% ABV). Fruity and alcoholic aromas in the nose. The very malty flavor features a multi-layered estery, fruity character (primarily cherry), a pleasantly sour tartness, and well-masked alcohol bite. Mostly grain with a distinct touch of fruitiness in the finish. A creamy mouthfeel with mildly active carbonation.

For an 11% ABV brew this one is very drinkable; you would never guess how alcoholic it really is. Add that to really tasty sweet and tart flavor with a somewhat silky mouthfeel and it’s clear that Mad Elf is one of those beers that can get you into a bit of trouble. Highly recommended, but imbibe carefully….

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2006 06:38:44 | More by arguemaniac
Photo of Higravity
Higravity

Michigan

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I popped my one to enjoy after meeting with a damn wedding photographer. Red kool-aid color and a hint of a head in my duvel tulip. Smells of a mild fruityness and alcohol. The taste is not what I was expecting, not nearly enough of the cherry flavor and I wonder now about the color. The alcohol is prevelent and there is a background fruityness and some malt flavor with a tannic bitterness. I had a decent mouthfeel and was very clean finish and a good drinker even at 11%, but not really my bag.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2006 20:49:18 | More by Higravity
Photo of nvsblman
nvsblman

Arizona

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color with tinges of ruby red. No head to speak of. Honey and cloves in the aroma, with a trace of sour cherries. The honey really stands out in the flavor with a subtle cherry in the background. Also a little spice and cloves. Full bodied and well carbonated.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2006 03:05:54 | More by nvsblman
Photo of HugoGrim
HugoGrim

Pennsylvania

4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was lucky enough to find this on tap at a local bar. Body is a coppery color with a white head.

Excellent full smell of fruit, mostly cherries. High alcohol content is evident in the scent, though definitely not overpowering.

Flavor holds on to the sweet bite of cherries throughout, but also adds some spicy elements. An excellent balance of sweetness and spices. A bit of breadyness in the finish. Had I not known I would have never guessed this as an 11% ABV.

Serving type: on-tap

01-14-2006 18:43:19 | More by HugoGrim
Photo of ski271
ski271

Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, medium reddish-copper with a very small, frothy, slightly off-white head that quickly diminishes to a thin film. Actually didn’t even know what style this beer was until I smelled it. Obvious Belgian with moderate wheat, sweet malts, cherry and some other fruit esters accompanying the light alcohol presence. Toward the end of the bottle when it really warmed up, I was picking up some light clove and a light woodsy smell. Flavor-wise, it starts out with rather typical Belgian flavors, mostly because I had served it too cold. it then opens to reveal a wonderful malt backbone and a complex array of flavors, but it’s the duo of cherries and sweet malts that steal the show. I admit at first it threw me a bit, but the second try was much better. And it kept getting better all the way to the bottom of the glass. It has a medium body, lightly oily texture and soft carbonation. This is a real holiday treat that is well done. Hard to believe this beer is 11%! Use with caution.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2006 21:18:53 | More by ski271
Photo of Schwarzbart
Schwarzbart

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep brilliant dark mahogany red with good clarity. Not much head and lacing was spotty.
Smell: Spicy, peppery, tart cherries and cidery.
Taste: The spiciness is strong and really hits you, alcohol taste is at a minimum and I would never have guessed 11%. Some pepper and also cherries, but it pulls off a nice balance.
Mouthfeel: One of the best textured beers I've ever had. Light carbonation provides just enough crispness to a very light and smooth beer.
Drinkability: A good brew and a nice surprise from one of my favorite breweries.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2006 23:50:18 | More by Schwarzbart
Photo of Gaisgeil
Gaisgeil

Michigan

2.9/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Obtained through Secret Santa '05, thanks ManekiNeko!

Not really sure what to make of this one, a bit funky, a bit disjointed, interesting but not particularly appealing either somehow. Pours a medium intensly clear amber in color with no head to speak of. Nose is powerful, lots going on, sort of nutty and spicy, but a lot of cherry character going on here as well, almost lambic-like in a certain respect. Flavor is slightly malty, lots of tart cherry and spice, a little bit of cinnamon noticable. The flavors don't blend particularly well though, and I don't know how one can call this a Belgian Strong Dark, this is unlike anything in that category I've ever had. Mouthfeel is slick and oily, sticks to the palate like syrup. Drinkability is so-so, decent enough, hides the alcohol well, but in the end I didn't crave another.

Slàinte!

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2006 05:19:42 | More by Gaisgeil
Photo of Zorro
Zorro

California

4.28/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 Oz bottle Sampled through the efforts of Boxing Day BIF and Pentathlete.

This is a beer I have wanted to try for sometime. This is last year’s version but it is a big beer that can take a year of aging!

This pours a clear copper colored ale with a warm red glow. Carefully poured to leave the sediment behind no head forms. To be honest the careful pour probably killed the head more than the beer itself.

An intensely aromatic beer, this is another beer that can fill a room with smell from the glass. This has almost too aromatic to sniff closely. Fairly sweet scent with an intense fruity nature. Strong honey, vanilla, and cherry scents. Lesser aromas of cinnamon, caramel and black pepper. This is a beer that makes you seriously as the question if it is possible to have too much scent? I am sure that this has stunned my sense of smell, it is that intense.

Taste is not as amazingly intense as the smell. The first sip hits you with sweet malt and vanilla. Cherry and caramel are the next flavors that I can taste with a black pepper in the finish. Brown sugar and cinnamon come near the end of the glass. There are also fairly strong lemon and orange flavors to this. This is one hard ale to describe, it is very intense.

Mouthfeel is syrup thick.

The only downside of this beer is in the drinkability department. This is a very intense experience, almost too intense. This is strong enough that you could use it as syrup, just briefly bring this to a boil and you could pour it over pancakes. It is the syrup intensity of this that cuts its drinkability score significantly. This would make an amazing glaze for a ham or just pour over ice cream like hot caramel. An amazing beer that is probably too intense for 99% of most people.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2006 06:28:13 | More by Zorro
Photo of Frozensoul327
Frozensoul327

Michigan

2.93/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Damn, this brew isn't playin' around. Pours out to a oil like flat presentation with a small foam head. Low levels of carbonation. Very orange in color. No lace. Aromas are strong, lots of dark fruits and some fermented malt. Touches of spice and herbs round out the smell. Taste is full and powerful; acidic alcohol, spice, thin malts, some citrus fruit. Wow. Quite a bit going on. Mouthfeel is thick and uninspiring, could've used more carbonation. Drinkability is average. Once a season is probably enough for me. Not my idea of the typical Belgian dark ale. Special thanks to MaltyGoodness for the sample.

THE BLOODHOUND FACTOR: The hounds sniffed this, and maybe it was the alcohol, but they ran. No way they were gonna try this one.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2006 20:35:23 | More by Frozensoul327
Photo of blackie
blackie

Virginia

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour into the snifter creates a low off white head that recedes to just a collar around the glass. The beer is a burnished copper colour, with minute floaters suspended throughout.

smell: Smells good. Plenty of darker fruits (raisins, dates) and candi sugars give a complex sweet aroma. Reminds me of the aromas in the kitchen when my mom bakes the Christmas cookies. The hop aroma is about just right. Plenty of balance. Hard to believe this one is 11.00%, as I can barely smell it.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the lighter end of the high range, and the body about medium.

taste: A solid strong dark belgian, but nothing too impressive. The fruits and sugars seem less complex on the palate than they did to the nose. There is a flavor in there I really don't like, almost reminiscent of overripe orange and vegetables. A light hop bitterness give some balance in the finish.

drinkability: tasty and very, very drinkable considering the ABV.

Another sample courtesy of dirtylou's cellarfridge.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2006 03:23:43 | More by blackie
Photo of dirtylou
dirtylou

Washington

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

split 12oz with some sam adams schwillin dude, named blackie

appearance: a full amber, cranberry, bubbly white head with bubbly lacing around the rim...bright and lively

smell: very floral, belgian yeast characteristics, sweet and fruity, light cinnamon and other holiday spices

taste: pretty nice...alcohol noticeable but not offensive, bursting with sugary sweet fruit...apple, plum, grape. lightly toasted malt, light yeast, some tart cherry, a touch of chocolate, slight cinnamon, holiday spice

mouthfeel: medium bodied, well carbonated, slick, not as full as I'd like

drinkability: for the style, a little above average

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2006 03:18:53 | More by dirtylou
Photo of IceAce
IceAce

California

4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce bottle with no evident dating method

Pours deep copper body capped with a dense light tan finger of foam. Nose is Belgian yeast and ripe red cherries like those of upper Michigan variety. Clarity is outstanding.

Entry is...oh my...this is good! Carbonation brushes by the cheeks while the midtaste highlights a slick honey mouthfeel and sturdy malt. The finish is where this beauty really shines...a crisp hop bite followed by a lingering of holiday spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and corriander followed by the sweet taste of ripe juicy cherries.

The flavor belies the elevated alcohol content...this crazy 'ole elf will really sneak up on you! A holiday winner!

Kudos to fuzzyfrog & SwillinBrew for each flinging me a bottle of this.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2005 09:20:17 | More by IceAce
Photo of mmmbeer
mmmbeer

Massachusetts

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle with no freshness date, but sure it's this year's version - served in a big wine glass. It pours with almost no head and remains that way. It is a clear, brilliant red/orange that is fit for a gemstone, but looks lifeless with no head or beads of carbonation and, hence, no lacing. It smells Belgian, with fruits (maraschino cherries?), malts, pepper/spiciness, and alcohol near the end. The taste has this plus medicinal phenols, banana, hints of clove, and perhaps some bubblegum. The body is medium and the drinkability is about what I would have expected. Not the best from Tröegs, but we'll see what the cellar will do to it.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2005 02:15:23 | More by mmmbeer
Photo of dnrobert24
dnrobert24

Alabama

2.6/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at the Gingerbread Man in Carlisle, PA. Had to see what the hype was about, and I was not impressed. The beer had a dark red hue, with a very thin head that did not retain much aroma. Something mildly fruity was there, like watermelon. The first sip was metallic and stingy. Hot alcohol abounded. Midway through, the fruit came through more predominantly--strawberry mostly, and other juicy red fruits. It reminded me a bit of Juicy Fruit gum. I could not detect the spicy yeastiness normally associated with Belgian-style beers. The pint I had felt a little thin. It was not what I was expecting or hoping for in an American-made Christmas release of a belgian strong dark.

Serving type: on-tap

12-29-2005 17:43:35 | More by dnrobert24
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
TheLongBeachBum

California

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Funky 12 ounce bottle. A rather annoying big eared wazzack is sneaking over the bannered word “Tröegs”. Seems like the Elves have some kind of rights these days, so now they have to properly scare children and not appeal to them when on a beer label, nice. Listed as a “Holiday Ale” and a weed-whacking 11% abv.

Appearance: Dark orange with ruby pomegranate hues. Watermelon flashes have a lovely soft red sunset feel. Minimal head, little pockets of smattered white lacing and some very lazy carbonation.

Nose: Light malts licked with a faded cherry cough syrup. Creamy grainy malts are here also. Malty aromas build and dominate with a dark skinned fruity aspect. Light on the cherries but it has some tasty fusel alcohol too.

Taste: Sharp fruits, acidic grapefruit and a star-fruit entrance the beginning. Middle has some cherry but it is soaked in a pink grapefruit body. Weird brew that likens to an English Bitter soaked in a resilient Cold fighting Cherry Cough syrup. Sweet finish with yet more grain and hints of spices. Erm....weird but sort of nice.

Mouthfeel: This one has a mixture of alcohol and mixed fruit blended with a rather thick body. Feels big, I’m sure the alcohol helps out here too.

Drinkability: For a double digit brew this one is rather a monster missive but it is not that hard to drink which surprise me. Neither is it sickly sweet, in fact it is rather clean overall.

Overall: Not sure what I make of this one, it’s a strange brew indeed………OK, I thought about it, I still don’t know what I make of this one. It’s one of those beers that is hard to ascribe a style to.

Thanks to OCBrewFish for this one!

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2005 21:47:01 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of DuqTroops
DuqTroops

Texas

4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

reviewed - December 21, 2005

Appearance -- reddish in tint. You could tell this is a holiday ale through the color of the beer. Not much head to it as well. Looks enjoyable.

Aroma -- smells of cherries and malt. Not too hoppy. Wants me to take a sip of it.

Taste -- tastes a little bit of honey and malt. Very enjoyable.

Body -- not too heavy. Smooth on the way down and is definitely going to get more.

Drinkability -- not going to drink all the time. Only in the winter months where alcohol is needed.

Price - had to pay $50 for a case of beer. Not worth spending for th entire case. Should get it at brewery with a six pack rather than getting a case.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2005 00:27:35 | More by DuqTroops
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 2,879 ratings.