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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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

3,349 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,349
Reviews: 1,175
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.5%
Wants: 191
Gots: 640 | 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
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Ratings: 3,349 | Reviews: 1,175 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of EkimGram
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Almost looks like wine. Rose-coloured, very bright but opaque. Very thin head, lots of carbonation. Can hear the bubbles at it sits.

Smell: Very fruity aroma with hints of alcohol. Some cherries as well.

Taste: Lots of bready, yeasty flavourrs. The alcohol is not very prominent in the taste, cherries are mild but there as well.

Mouthfeel: Thick, almost syrupy. Very full bodied, not overwhelming. Leaves a bit of residue not in the mouth but on the lips. Has a little bit of a kick to it when sipped quickly.

Drinkability: At 11% ABV this is definitely a nice treat. Great for sipping and warming up with some spice and fruit. One of the better winter seasonals out there in my opinion.

Photo of HopNuggets
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Thanks to jlindros for meeting up a few months ago at KJ Baarons in Worcester and bringing the unstocked Mad Elf to me.

A - Pours nicely with minimal head that dissipates to nearly nothing to leave barely any lacing. Color is brick red where you can't see your hand through the glass. As you tip the glass it lightens up to a clear bourbon caramel color.

S - Honey and cherries definately stand out in the aroma with a slight scent of booze.

T - Definite alcohol taste in this 11% brew with cherries up front and slight bitterness as the aftertaste almost like sour cherries or the bite of cherry.

M - Feels light with quite a lot of carbonation for a beer with no head.

D - For the Belgian Strong Dark Ale it doesn't drink like one. It's just not as smooth as I expected it to be, but at 11% it does go down pretty easily.

Photo of chiefgtx
4.65/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I love this one. everything you should expect in a seasonal winter beer. All the fruity spicy hearty flavor. A glass of this is a meal. I am thinking about buying the last 6 pack up the street just to have it for myself! I can't really think of any reason it's not a 5 all around actually. Of the 162 I have tasted in the last 6 weeks...it is in my top ten! If you see it ...give it a chance! Delicious.

Photo of aubuc1
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured in to a goblet.

Smell is clovey, banana, cherries and a belgian yeasty finnish.

Taste is a sweet, cherryish banana with a nice malty finish.

Mouthfeel is good, and the booze does not overpower to affect the drinkability.

A very good beer that is different than most belgian style beers because of the banana flavors.

Photo of morimech
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A little late for the holidays but I am sure that will not make this any less enjoyable. Poured from a bomber.

Pours a clear, dark red color with a small white head that did not last long. The head settles to a thin skim of suds. Minimal spotty lacing is left on the glass.

Interesting that I find the honey much more noticeable than the cherries in the aroma. After the honey and cherries, I smell some yeasty phenols and a touch of alcohol.

Although the cherries are noticealbe in the flavor, it does not dominate. The cherries and honey give a solid base, complimented by spice from the yeast. Although the alcohol is noticeable, it did not seem to overpower the flavor as others have noted.

Has a peculiar mouthfeel that honey infused beers seem to possess. Sort of sticky and cloying. Otherwise the body is substantial and nicely carbonated.

An interesting beer, a good beer for a cold winter day. Quite a bit of alcohol to consume so that limits drinkability.

Photo of dogfishandi
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle at about cellar temp. pours a clear red/orange copper color with a quickly dissapaiting head that left just a ring. small amount of lacing. definately not your typical hazy looking big fluffy headed belgian appearence.

however, the belgian aroma is there for sure (as well as the belgian taste). sweet malts, flouride like yeast, solvent alcohol, cherries, phenols, spiciness, bubblegum. smells authentic.

wonderful complex taste as well. sweet malts, tart cherries, a nice spicy, phenolic yeast. not much in the way of honey flavors as suggested, but a wonderful tasting belgian non the less.

nice crisp carbonation that settles to a minimum carb towards the end. medium to heavy mouthfeel. easy drinking for 11%, hardly noticable, wouldve guessed 7-8%. nice beer, other than the appearence, this is a very good example of a belgian, close to the real thing. warms you up on those cold winter nights, i highly suggest you seek this out.

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

Second review of mad elf for the year, this time on tap.

Pours a very clear orange color with a bit of redness about it and a minimal amount of white head that is quick to dissapear. Nose is your typical belgian including phenols, clove, spice, fruity sweetness and a warming kick of alcohol astringency in the end. Where this beer deters from the normal belgian is in the sweetness of the aroma. It is quite reminescent more of honey and cherry. Taste includes just about everything you would expect from the aroma: a bit of clove and spice, sweetness exaggerated by cherry/honey and a quite warming finish. Feel of this beer is light and moderately carbed. Overall it is a nice sipper and I enjoy this beer while looking forward to it again each holiday.

The noticable differnces from this beer on tap verse the bottle is that the mouthfeel is significantly lighter but that is probably mostly in part due to the higher level of carb than the bottle version.

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

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a duvel tulip. Pours a deep amber with very litte head or lacing to speak of, but the head is reddish tan and fades quickly. The aroma is sour cherries and the spices. A very good representation of a BSDA here even if the color is a little light for the style. The sour cherries and spicy yeast really come through. No honey flavor to speak of except maybe in the slightly sweet finish. The 11% abv is very well hidden here, very smooth drinking. Another great beer from Troegs. I would love to try this beer with a bit of age on it and i just may.

Photo of mrandypandy
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of a co-worker. Thanks Miles!

A- Pours a crystal clear ruby red. Miniscule white head quickly disappears to nothing. Looks kind of like cranberry juice.
S- Struggling to get much of anything. A vigorous swirl yields a faint belgian fruitness/yeast. Not much else.
T- Strong belgian yeast dominates with sweet fruits (cherries) at the end. Tasty. You get a bit of the alcohol as the beer warms.
D- The more I drink this beer, the more I like it. The hint of cherry sweetness is a nice touch and makes me come back for more.

Overall - A sipper, but a good brew nonetheless. A good take on a Belgian Strong Ale and I can see this being good fresh and with some age on it.

Photo of Stimack
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brew poured to a copper color with some reddish highlights. Small light tan head that breaks down quickly. The aroma is a mix of berries, cherries, slight spice and alcohol - simply a lovely aroma. Flavors of cherries which give a slight tart feel, nice malt character, no real hop presence noticed. Alcohol flavor is there and leaves a nice hot feel in the back of the mouth. Though the alcohol is there is does not stand out, and I think that is due to a sweet finish. Though there was not much of a head the carbonation was good, went well with the beer. This brew is a surprise as it weighs in art 11 ABV, does not have that feel as the alcohol is hidden quite well. Though this is a sipper it goes down remarkably smoothly.

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

A very pleasant and festive beer. A bit more spice than usually found in a Belgian dark, but, as a holiday beer, certainly appropriate. Nice yeast flavors with good depth and complexity. Malt was not overly sweet and well balanced. Thanks to Blake for bringing this to the Bowling Green KY BA holiday beer gathering.

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

Poured some of a bomber into a pint glass. A nice deep copper color, with a fast rising and faster sinking tan head. No lacing to speak of here.

Aroma of tart fruit, some yeasty esters, and a touch of warm alcohol. Nothing noticeable from hops here, and not getting any direct malt notes either. The taste is does have some sweet maltiness to it upfront, quickly drying out though (thank you honey) with cherry and alcohol taking over in the middle and pretty much riding it out to the end. Again, no hops are detected at all. Cherry can take over a beer, but this one does so is a more subtle wine like way. I like the taste of this, but having trouble grading it as Belgian Strong Dark ale.

Not a huge body, which adds to my style confusion. Works well here though and again makes me think of wine. A nice smooth feel, with only mild carbonation more detectable in the back of the mouth than visually.

No doubt this is a very good and interesting beer. I have been wanting to review it for a while and glad to finally get the chance!

Photo of Aenema
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12/8 on draft

Appearance - Pours a clear, bright amber without much head or lacing.
Smell - Cherries, honey, alcohol.
Taste - Full burst of cherry, honey, fair amount of booze but not bothersome.
Mouthfeel - Medium-light, moderate to fast scrubbing carbonation.
Drinkability - Very drinkable, especially given the 11% alcohol factor (although it is recognizable, it doesn't detract from the beer). Definitely on the sweet end.

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

22oz bottle in Duvel tulip (no date)

A: A light reddish color, sort of like a couple drops of red food coloring in something like Duvel. It poured with a medium off-white head that disappeared very quickly leaving no lace.
S: As it pours, there is a wave of sweet fruit. Up close, you can smell the spicy yeast notes as well as more fruit.
T: Very much Belgian yeast characteristics, along with some fruit, there is a hint of graininess that seems out of place. The more I drink, the more it seems like there was fruit (maybe cherry) juice added to the bottle that was not fermented away, doesn't taste sweet, but there it fruit there. No hint of alcohol at all.
M: Needs a little more attenuation, a little to "creamy", lots of carbonation helps the mouthfeel.
D: A very good and different beer. I like it, but don't love it. I can't decide what style this is supposed to be. It feels like it is on the border of a strong pale and a strong dark, but doesn't fit in either. Regardless, this is definitely a beer worth trying if you are a belgian fan. Recommended.

My wife who likes beer, but is not a beer geek (i.e. hates stouts, barley wines, most porters, IPAs,...) thought this was a very good beer and would not complain if I poured her another one tomorrow night.

Photo of mtyrrell
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle

A- A nice amber red with a small head that quickly recedes, no lacing

S- Spicy, fruity, alcohol, fruit maltiness

T- Fruity cherry taste, spicy yeast, strong alcohol taste for a beer

M - Medium body, very smooth

D- Got a nice buzz from this 22oz bottle, 11% ABV. A pretty good brew, just not my cup of tea

Photo of CHickman
4.31/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours amber orange/blood red color with a 2 finger off white/tan head that faded slowly, leaving good spotty lacing.

Smells of sweet malt, cherry, honey, brown sugar, yeast, mild booze and spices, all subtle yet evident and enjoyable. It is sweet and fruity with the cherry and dark fruit standing out. The nose was an indication of the good things to come.

Tastes sweet with a burst of spices up front, then is followed up by the sweetness and mix of malt, cherry, honey, caramel, yeast, brown sugar, cinnamon, faint hops, followed by the slight alcohol essence that brings the eclectic mix of tastes together. Well balanced with medium carbonation and a creamy feel that has a trailing sweet malty and spicy taste. It has a nice warming feel that does not reveal the alcohol level and ends with a sweet cherry finish.

I gambled since the cherry and honey combo on the label made me think this beer will either be horrible or wonderful. It was a great gamble, as I picked up a 6 pack of this for Christmas dinner and my brother and I enjoyed it so much that it only lasted about an hour. It was hard to put these down! This is by no means a fruit beer, so don't let the cherry and honey deter you from trying this gem. This Belgian style strong ale is on the mark.

A great winter ale that is very enjoyable and one of the best winter beers I've ever tasted...the taste was wonderful and the overall beer had a great feel, and yet it did some damage from the high ABV in a sneaky way because it goes down smooth. This beer can make any winter evening enjoyable. I highly recommend this beer.

Photo of WorldWideStout
4.78/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Its body is the color of burnished copper. No head to speak of. A few small trails of bubbles come up to the surface.

S: Lots of honey, some fruit in there too, including but not limited to cherry, which is faintly tart. Maybe it's because I'm thinking toast spreads, but I'm getting some marmalade. A bit of spice and alcoholic esters.

T: Lots of honey, but it's a better honey taste than I've had in any other beer. After the rush of honey, the marmalade and cherry flavors come in the middle, along with some spice, and then become equals with the honey at the end. There's a bit of alcohol taste in the middle if you really concentrate, but again it's not unpleasant. The more I drink this, the more I notice the cherry flavors, though it's been at room temperature the whole time. Perhaps all beers could be improved upon, but for what I think this beer set out to do, it's wonderful, so I'm giving taste a 5.

M: It's nothing special, but I think it works well with the flavors. Carbonation levels are appropriate, and I wouldn't want it to be much thicker; the taste of the honey is big enough already, I don't think having a similar viscosity would be a positive.

D: As someone who usually likes honey in beer, this is very drinkable for me. Alcohol isn't noticeable, despite strong flavors it's well-balanced, and the mouthfeel isn't too thick to slow you down much either.

This is one of my absolute favorite beers. If you like honey and/or cherries in your beers, you absolutely must try this. If you're not as big a fan of them, you should probably try it anyways.

Photo of woosterbill
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap into a 23oz pilsner glass.

A: Clear ruby-amber body with a miniscule, quickly evaporating head. No lace. Looks undercarbonated in the extreme.

S: Belgian candi sugar and fruity yeast. Spice on the tail end. Nice.

T: Follows the nose, but with more pronounced spiciness from the yeast and a big, fruity boozy finish. Intense and enjoyable, powerful without being over the top.

M: Slighy syrupy medium body with a surprising amount of prickly carbonation (relative to the flat appearance, that is).

D: A little to sweet and cloying on the finish for my tastes, but still an enjoyable sipper. I'm enjoying all 23 ounces in this ridiculously inappropriate pilsner glass.

Notes: Very tasty beer, and an amazing find at the Philly airport during a long layover. Huge pour, and the same price as my wife's Blue Moon!


Photo of xenolithic
3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 1pint 6oz bottle into a wine glass for scent and effect. The color itself is ruby, and looks much closer to a wine than a beer. No head, a fine lacing around the rim of the glass.

Smells of dark fruits, particularly cherries with a hint of what you might smell from a Christmas Fruitcake. You can also smell some dark sugars as well as a mead-y honey characteristic. Not overly sweet, and not overwhelmingly cherry scented as I have heard from others in the past.

Taste includes some subtle cherry tartness with a very tiny sweetness. The alcohol is apparent when tasting the beer, and along with the tartness leaves a bit of a lingering finish. After reading the other reviews on this same beer, mine is noticeably more watery than those describing a thick or oily mouthfeel.

That said, the mouthfeel is closer to watery for this bottle.

Drinkability on this is fairly good, though I don't see this beer being for me outside the holidays. I do like fruit beers, and I like Lambics and Belgians; I would have done better to pair this beer than drink it alone.

Photo of SShelly
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to gamanley for the bottle.

Aroma has lots of cherries and sweet malt, very pleasant, not overpowering.

Flavor carries much of the same cherries and malt as the nose, some esters and a little bit of dark fruit.

An enjoyable ale, glad I had the chance to try it. Would never know the abv on this beer, it really is completely hidden.

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into two St. Bernardus goblets.

A: Pours a clear golden brown with a kiss of crimson. Eggshell colored creamy foam left no lace and suffered from short retention.

S: Aromas of spicy yeast, tangy cherry, clover honey, and mild spices.

T: Same as above...exactly.

M: Sticky yet dry. Virtually no trace of its' abv.

D: Spicy and festive. A good holiday beer.

Photo of tuckevalastin
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Redish amber with a small and quickly disappearing head

S: A fruity tone with a hint of spice

T: A strong cherry flavor with some honey taste coming through. Lots of spice on the back end. Lots of malt and very little hops. The alcohol hides alot.

M: Thick and sticky from the fruit but very smooth. Not much heat to speak of.

D: For 11% alcohol this is certainly very drinkable. A little too thick to want to drink outside of winter.

Having not read the reviews before trying this I was a bit surprised. It's a little too fruity, has a little too much spice for the fruitness, is a little too alcoholic, but has a little too little alcholic flavor showing.... yet it's a decent beer and one I'd drink again this winter.

Photo of animal69
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a- pours out of a 12oz bottle a fairly clear med. copper color w/ a thin white crown that dissipates into a meandering lace in my snifter

S- an average belgian wit-like smell, coriander and orange, floral fruits and yes cherries, that slightly sulphurish/bannana belgian yeast very prevailant in this one along w/ some bready cereal grains

T- taste is similar to smell, a fruity, mostly apple-cherry flavor w/ some sourdough bread and orange-cimmonin spice bread for it to build on, some clove/coriander spice in the mix as well that almost don't belong

M- a nice very carbonated surprisingly med. body on this one, does not feel much above med. body w/ all the co2, sweet too, not as dry as i first thought

D- a very drinkable brew for a 11% brew, just a bit on the thick side for me w/ all the spices & shit i don't care for...
oh wait, when paired w/ a mild butter brie this beer is quite improved...

Photo of argock
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. No freshness date -- probably 2009 vintage (per beer manager). Single purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $2.75.

A: Deep, dark ruby red with quickly disappearing beige head with no lacing. Not a surprise with 11% on the label.

S: Spicy yeast, cherry, which is hard to tell whether is from cherries or strong alcohol, dark fruit malts

T: Tart without being sour with solid dark fruit maltiness and delicate honey sweetness that barely weathers the alcohol barrage. Spicy yeast adds a nice counterelement to the maltiness. Cherry is most obvious in the aftertaste. A definite sipper, and a good one.

M: Not as solid of a body as you'd like in a high-ABV brew but still not bad all in all. Medium-body with slick feel with some dryness.

D: Surprisingly drinkable for the ABV and pretty enjoyable, especially for a big ABV brew like this one. The tartness and spiciness play well off of the dark maltiness and alcohol components.

Cellared 1 year: Big body but bland with a lot of the cherry tartness having faded and the chief flavor being the honey.

Photo of theghost3
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to billab914 for this.

Pours a translucent reddish with a 1-finger beige head. The smell is biscuity malts, cherries, and alcohol phenols. Flavor is subdued cherries up front with some cold weather fruit, spices, sweet caramel malts, and slight citrus malts at the end. Mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat sticky at the end.

This is a drinkable Belgian Strong Dark. I expected the cherries and honey to be a little more prevalent. Went nicely with Christmas dinner; particularly the ham and sweet potato casserole.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,349 ratings.