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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

3,409 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,409
Reviews: 1,189
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.5%
Wants: 196
Gots: 675 | FT: 21
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: 3,409 | Reviews: 1,189 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Axic10
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into a snifter. 2010 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours a dark ruby red with a small ring of foam around the outside of the glass.

Smell: Sweet candied fruit - apples, pears and cherries, some honey sweetness, sugary sweetness, Belgian yeast, and slight alcohol burn.

Taste: Candied fruit, honey, malt, sugar, not that much of a boozy taste despite the alcohol content.

Mouthfeel: Felt a little thin, but was very smooth and the alcohol is hidden nicely. Previous years' the it felt a lot thicker.

Drinkability: This is my new winter tradition after moving from Cleveland two years ago (although I still miss endless amounts of Christmas Ale). I get this on draft whenever I see it around and usually pick up quite a few bottles. I really enjoy this beer.

Photo of wvsabbath
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark tan brown, some red haze, not much head

Smell - Lots of fruits, cherries, apples. Some yeast and floral is present. Can pickup some alcohol even.

Taste - Pretty much what to expect. Strong honey and cherry taste. Big alcohol kick mixed with floral, really simiular to a tripel. The spices and sugars are strong also.

Mouthfeel - Man its quite the treat. Huge cherry and honey tickles your tounge. The alcohol does give it a burn. Surprized it doesnt totally ruin mouth, i wouldnt go drink a pilsner after this but...

Drinkabilty - Its too sweet and strong for much more then 1-2. A nice treat for anytime. Not sure if id get drunk or sick of the sweet kick first. Cant wait, i got a case, going to age a few of these

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into an oversized wine goblet. Pours a honey-amber, with a thin soapy head that quickly disapates.

Has a sweet, fruity aroma, like apple juice or fresh pears. Honey and mild malt can also be detected.

Smooth, sweet, and slightly malty, this beer hides its alcohol well. It also holds its age well, as this ia a 2009 vintage that I'm having tonight. Definite honey, candied cherry (think almost maraschino), green apple, nectarine, and sweet malt, with a whisper of mild tartness to end it. Mild yeast is also present. Well balanced even after a year.

Mouthfeel is thin to medium, and belies its heavy alcohol content.

All in all, one of my favorite holiday beers to quaff. Why not have a little Christmas in October?

Photo of geryeb624
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into my DFH signature glass. Been wanting to try this one for a while, so here goes...

A- Pours a ruby red with hints of a paler orange color when held to the light. Not a whole lot of head, which is to be expected with the ABV, but a nice slick of foam settles on top.

S- Not much cherry or honey in the nose, but mostly a Belgian yeast aroma with requisite spiciness.

T- Well that's not what I expected. The Belgian yeast dominates the taste as well, with some residual fruitiness from the cherries. Wouldn't have known they were there if I didn't know going in. Not bad, just not what I was expecting.

M/D- Smooth mouthfeel with very well-hidden ABV makes this one really drinkable for the ABV.

Well, I admit this is not even close to what I expected. Which isn't to say this isn't good, it is quite tasty, just be careful if your expecting lots of fruity cherry flavors, as you may be disappointed.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours reddish brown with a nice off white head with moderate staying power, although it does not leave a terrible amount of lace behind. The nose brings some dark fruits, Belgian yeast, and light cherry notes. A bit of booze and some spice. The taste is dark fruits and cherries with a bit of sweet bread. The feel is nice and medium with good carbonation and a nice alcohol warmth. Pretty good fresh, but this definitely takes on a new character with some age; looking forward to reviewing it in that manner.

Photo of chefhatt
4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured it into a snifter, i had a nice redidish color with a nice thin whitehead that disaptes to a nice thin lace around the edge of glass. The aroma is sweet of cherries and honey. The taste is sweet but strong of fruit and cherries and a hint of honey. I think it is has a nice mouth feel to it and is very drinkable for a cold day.

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

From Blind Bomber BIF (Thanks to Hophead101!):

A: Pours very transluscent, strongly red in color... almost the color of cranberry juice when held up to light. Very little head, even with a more aggressive pour.

S: Slight booziness. Fairly sweet with definite dark fruit overtones. Some breadiness.

T: Honestly, the whole taste is fairly muted, even as the beer nears room temperature. Similar to the nose, the booze is fairly present, but doesn't have many strong flavors to back it. Malt profile is bread and biscuits, primarily, all with a generous sweetness. Very little hop profile, only some faint dark fruits as the flavor fades. Pleasant, but not impressive.

M: Light mouthfeel with a fair amount of carbonation. If this is some sort of barleywine/old ale, it's lighter than pretty much anything I've had before. Not my favorite; I think a thicker mouthfeel with a bit less carbonation would fit the boozier overtones of the beer better.

D: The alcohol doesn't feel particularly well hidden. That, in combination with as sweet as the beer is, would make me reluctant to work through another bottle. However, more than happy to be drinking through one.

All in all, I enjoyed this beer, but it definitely wasn't anything mindblowing. That being said, I drank it with expectations of an American style that may have created different expectations that made me reflect differently on the beer again. I would definitely drink this again to review it to style. Thanks, Greg!

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

Blind bomber #9

Served in a snifter.

Looks like apple cider. A slight coudiness in a deep reddish brown color. A very slight head became a ring of bubbles. Some spotty lacing. Looks a bit undercarbonated... A little dull.

Smells of spices and apples... And cherries. Some alcohol is noted as well.

Tastes sweet up front-- perhaps some cocoa? Dark fruits too, maybe? The booziness of the finish blocks a lot of other flavors... And the cherry notes are cloying and sticky... There are some spices in this beer, or least a spice imparted by the yeast. Hard to really pick out more than that. I'm certainly thinking this is a Belgian styled ale-- but the 22 oz format and its contents lead me to think this is an American version. This is almost like a lesser version of Three Philosophers... Just not as thick or delicious.

The body feels a little thin and the bubbles feel tiny.

This is certainly a beer for a day like today-- mid to low 60s, cloudy, and very windy. The beer seems to work as a night cap on a chilly day, but would be awful on a hot one. I'm really thinking this is a weak quad or a spiced dubbel.

Rips open envelope-- Troegs Mad Elf
Hmmmm... A 2008 vintage.
This beer is one I haven't had yet, but I have a 12 oz bottle of the 2009 in my cellar right now. The beer is a "Belgian strong dark ale," so I cannot compare it to quads-- which will help the score (if compared to quads, this would be VERY low scoring).
It isn't unpleasant-- it just is a bit boozy and isn't very complex.

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

Notes from Growler Tasting -12/12/09

Growler purchased at brewery, Harrisburg, PA

Wow. Lots to talk about with this beer.

Smell - Honey and malts

Flavor - Honey, malts, cherry, some candy. Sweet notes covering the higher alcohol finish. It's a bit like fruit cake, but one you actually want.

Very drinkable, but don't drink much. It's a heavy hitter. Unless the Christmas party is that bad, lol.

Photo of mtnbikerpa
3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours dark dark amber with an abundant 2 finger head. Lots of carbonation. The first scents were of candied cherries and booze. One sip and it hits my tongue, the sharp unnatural candy cherry taste along with strong alcohol, not hidden at all. Some minor flavors of malts, nothing outstanding. All and all this brew might be great for a fast buzz if you can stomach it. I hope it mellows with age.

Photo of SamuelJackson45
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer about over 6 months span from my first time in season to 2 weeks ago when 6 month age. And this beer mature very well. The sourness of the cherries die down and just so sweet the beer is like liquid candy with some kick. The age made it sweeter but also stronger which is good to my liking. I do enjoy this beer and wish this was a year round beer. The Troegs brothers got this making beer down and just impressing me and more.

Photo of beergod1
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It smells like Black Cherries. I also pick up some caramel in the aroma. A clear copper color with a moderate white head. The flavor is very acidic and a little sour. I definitely pick up the sour cherries as well as honey and some citrus. Spicy aftertaste. Its very belgian-esque. Not for everybody, but I will buy this along with my other winter brews.

Photo of cdizinno
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep orangeish red with a small head, minimal lacing

S: Cfruits on the front, notes of cherries and grapes, some honey in there along with banana. Smells quite nice

T: Sweet with fruit flavors, cherries and grapes, this gives way to a bitterness in the middle which seems out of balance with the delicate sweet flavors on the front. The finish has some spicy notes and a long finish

MF: very light for the ABV, alcohol is well masked. Carbonation is nice.

Great brew!

Photo of JamnesCameron
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a New Holland Pint glass.

A - not very dark. More of an amber color. Very little head, leaves a thin wisp after about a minute. Not very close to style for a belgian dark ale, even taking liberties with the fruit and honey added.

S - Cherry pits. Sweet, honey, and malt. The cherry really dominates.

T - Cherries, cherry pits, and sweet honey. Don't taste anything particularly belgian about this or dark ale, but it is very "good" - just don't taste the underlying style.

M - mouthfeel is medium, some fruit tannins, dryness from the fruit pits, mildly astringent. Some tartness builds up after a few sips.

D - I wouldn't call this representative of any particular style, much less belgian strong dark ale. But it is very "good." Very pleasent drinkability, almost dangerous.

Photo of kbeals
3.4/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

brees6221 sent this to me a while back when he hooked me up with plenty of Troegs brews.

A- Dark, murky orange in appearance with a finger of off-white, fizzy head. Head sticks to the side of the glass leaving an array of lacing. Good head retention as well.

S- Smells of apples and sugary sweet honey. No real hint of cherries to be found in the aroma. Maybe it's been sitting for a little too long?

T- Once again, apples and honey, a touch of sweet cherries comes through as well but it is pretty muted compared to the other flavors. Also has a bit of a yeasty taste too it. A little too sweet in my opinion.

M- Medium bodied with soft, bubbly carbonation.

D- Pretty drinkable despite the sweetness. The ABV doesn't really make itself known very well. A good brew, but I probably wouldn't seek it out again.

Thanks agains brees6221!

Photo of homebrew311
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: pours a deep orangeish red with a small head, minimal lacing

S: candied fruits on the front, notes of cherries and grapes, some honey in there along with banana. Smells quite nice

T: the front is sweet with cherries and grapes, this gives way to a bitterness in the middle which seems out of balance with the delicate sweet flavors on the front. The finish has some spicy notes and a long finish

MF: very light for the ABV, carbonation seems on par

D: this is a great BSDA, the aroma promised something better than what I tasted, but overall it is not bad. The abv is very well hidden, this drinks more like a 7-8% brew.

Photo of maximum12
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to three different BAs who have sent me bottles of this brew in both big & small bottle format. Splitting this 22 ounces with my wife in our stylin' New Holland glasses.

The pour & the smell remind me, both in ways good, bad, & nostalgic, of Bartles & James Wine Cooler in the early 1990's. Smell is pure strain cherries leavened with a healthy shot of alcohol. Tinged a borderline orange/red despite the obvious addition of barrels of cherries.

This is a very sweet beer. The cherries have only a hint of tartness to them, which is quickly whacked into submission by the sweet fruit & roaring current of honey. There is a medicinal quality to the brew too, but strangely, it's attractive rather than repulsive, which it usually is for me. Candied Belgian sugars push this further into lush tooth-rotting category, & a good push of alcohol rounds out the experience. However...one glass is clearly going to be enough.

This would seem to all be too much, but somehow the whole thing, with sweet piled upon sweet & almost no balancing characteristics, works well. Perhaps it's the post-sip 11% bite that reminds me I'm not sucking off a sippy cup of Welch's Cherry juice.

Very good beer. Unique, & a little mad, but I completely understand why one would want to sip this around the Yule log. Cherries forever!

Photo of bonsreeb85
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Special thanks are in order for G311. Thanks again Vince!

The color is a ruby red with a slight haze, featuring a quickly fading minimal head.

The smell is full of dark fruits, black cherries, spice and a sort of medicinal scent.

Although it's drys out near the end, this is initially quite sweet but is balanced by a delicate spicyness and even slighter tartness. Dark fruits and typical belgian yeast flavors are in the forefront, but the honey and cherries are definately in the mix(as the bottle states)and add a nice dimension to this flavorful brew. THe alcohol peaks it's head out a bit but never really gets hot.

THe feel is medium bodied and a smooth texture and moderate level of carbonation. Good stuff. I wish I could get this here. Very drinkable for such a rich and high gravity beer.

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

Pours a dark orange-brown color, crystal clear, with a nice big white head which dissipates rather quickly. Aromas of cherries, honey and cloves. Nicely sweet, with flavors of cherries, brown sugar, honey and brown spices. Lightly carbonated and somewhat dry with a lingering, boozy finish.

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

12oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a deep mahogany with a small white head that fades leaving no lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is full of cherries, red apples, and yeasty/bready aromas.

T: The taste is definitely Belgian. Loads of cherries, other fruits, malt, yeast, and biscuity bread flavors. I guess I'm not getting much of the honey that this is supposedly brewed with but I'm sure it just adds to the sweetness of the brew.

M: The feel is creamy and medium bodied. The finish lasts for a while.

D: Not a bad belgian beer. The ABV is pretty high and will definitely make me think twice about grabbing another in the same night.

Not what I expect when the holidays roll around but it's a good beer. Recommended if you like big fruity belgian beers.

Photo of billab914
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. Poured a deep mahogany color with a little cherry redness coming through in the light. It had a thin spotty white lacing floating on the top of the beer for a head, with a little more concentrated around the edges.

The aroma shows a lot of the sweet honey and cherry flavor. I'm getting a little malty, caramel, dark fruit and a slight alcohol aroma as well. As it warmed I seemed to get a little more spicy, cinnamon or nutmeg aroma from it. Very nice aroma, I like the cherries in it a lot.

The taste is a lot like the nose suggests in that the cherries and honey really come through in helping to give it a moderate sweet fruity taste. The malt also helps give it a strong base and brings some caramel and dark fruit flavors of it's own. The alcohol shows a little in the finish but that I guess is expected in an 11% beer. Like the nose some spices started showing up the more it warmed.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being on the lower side. Drinkability is very good for being 11% abv. I really liked the cherry flavors in it, and I love cherries in general so this is a very drinkable beer for me. I will note that I actually liked it better when it was colder. It seemed to have more of a sweet cherry flavor when colder and it gained more of a malty, spicy almost Christmasy flavor when warmed. It wasn't bad warmer I just liked the cherry flavor when I first opened it better.

Photo of Arbitrator
2.55/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

When I first had this beer, I really hated it and I had trouble finishing the 12oz. This second review is off a bomber -- a generous extra from boatshoes -- and the experience was so different that I felt a re-review was appropriate.

A: Pours a clear reddish amber color with an inch of off-white head. After a few minutes there is almost no trace of carbonation left except for a thin head at the edges. It's not an effervescent brew, that's for sure. I expect much more life out of a BSDA...

S: A nicely pungent aroma of cherries, spicy honey, and some booze. The booze actually makes it smell a little medicinal, like cherry cough syrup.

T: The taste is not bad, though. I guess the honey is all fermented out; it's quite a dry beer, delivering only some light honey flavor but mostly cherry, dark fruit, brown sugar, and spice. A firm alcohol bite in the finish.

M: Light-bodied. It's quite dry. Low carbonation, and a booze bite.

D: Eh... It's ok. I didn't hate it this time, and unlike last time I managed to finish not only 12, but a full 22 oz. It's drinkable, but I won't go after it again.

Photo of BrewerB
3.13/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks goes out to TwinsDaddy for trading this beer my way. Cheers!

Poured into a globe glass, this beer showcases lots of carbonation but head formation/retention seems poor. Hazy and dark amber in color with a thin off-white head that dissipated quickly. Spices and cherries mix with bready malts in the nose. Cherries carry through into the taste but tend to lie beneath the richer, bready malts. Lacking in complexity I'd expect from this style. Bitterness is moderate though the tart cherries help carry balance. Medium/medium-full bodied with a moderate-high level of carbonation. Overall, not that impressed with the execution on this beer. Perhaps I'm drinking an old bottle but I'd certainly not order a second.

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

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip. No bottled date found. Huge thanks to mb2696 for the bottle!

(A)- Pours a clear pale ruby color that produced an off-white head that dissipated quickly.

(S)- Lots of cherries with a honey sweetness. Very much like a cherry pie with honey drizzled on it.

(T)- Tart cherries with a big honey sweetness.

(M)- A low carbonation level. Rather sweet & syrup like. A huge fruitiness. Much too syrupy & sweet for the style as well as my tastes. It gets more & more bitter the further into the bottle I went.

(D)- Tastes good, but is far too sweet & syrup-like to enjoy more than a glass in one sitting. Especially disappointing considering the style it is classified under. Seems much more like a fruit beer than a belgain strong dark.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to slasher007 for sharing this bottle. This is the second time I have tried the beer but the first time I have reviewed it.

The beer pours a medium red color with a white head. The aroma is honey and tart cherries. The flavor is more of the same: Heavy on the honey with some tart cherries as well. This is one of the first beers I have had that you can really smell and taste the honey in. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,409 ratings.