1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

3,534 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,534
Reviews: 1,215
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 204
Gots: 794 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,534 | Reviews: 1,215 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of eggplantwiz
2.47/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an ommegang goblet.

A: No real lacing, no / minimal carbonation. Flat-ish amber appearance.

S: Overwhelmingly sweet, honey and cherries come out. This is the strongest point for this beer.

T: A little bit unexciting really. Sure, I taste the honey and cherries, but it's almost cloyingly sweet with negligible complexity. I'm not sure why this beer gets such good reviews.

M: Smooth enough mouthfeel, medium to light bodied.

D: Surprisingly drinkable for 11% -- the alcohol is well hidden here, no booziness at all, really. Very smooth, but still not exciting.

Overall, a below average beer, but pleasant enough. I don't think I'd seek this out again.

Photo of plfahey
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a wine glass.

Appearance-Amber to copper hue, with a slight reddish tint. Quite clear. Moderate beige head with fair retention and some lacing.

Aroma-Tart cherries, light biscuit and caramel malt, and low to no hop aroma. Some floral honey aromas present. Perfumy, rosewater, and peppery alcohols are present in the background.

Flavor-Brown sugar, molasses, licorice, and dark candi sugar. Light sour cherries, hint of vanilla. Hop bitterness is low, but the sweet flavors are somewhat dried out by moderate floral alcohols. That said, it has some definite residual sugar, and the brown/dark sugar lingers on well into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel-Moderately feel mouthfeel, moderate carbonation. Some decent alcohol warmth. Quite smooth.

Very tasty, but I'm satisfied with one bottle-I wouldn't want to drink a ton of this. Haven't had very much from Troegs, but I'm glad I got a chance to try this while I was out on the east coast.

Photo of DDCMember
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

-12 oz. bottle poured into mug.

A: Nice ruby color, thin head that faded fast.

S: Cherries & Honey

T: Just like the smell but almost has a whiskey warming after-taste. It is 11% ABV so that makes sense. No bitterness or bite at the end at all.

M: Medium to thick body. Very little carbonation at all.

D: Great beer! Good beer for a nice cold night. 1 or 2 of these will have you feeling good & warm. The most I've ever had at one sitting was 4 and my stomach was paying for it the next day. Glad it's only Seasonal or I would need an annual liver transplant.

Photo of ratedz
2.54/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours a hazy dark amber with minimal off-white head. The little head that it did have was gone in the matter of seconds and didn't leave any lacing on the glass.

The nose is full of cherries along with a bit of sweetness, which I would assume is from the honey. There is some definite spiciness going on in there too, which gives it a familiar Belgian aroma.

To me, this one tastes like a Belgian ale (a tripel, maybe?) with a splash of cherry syrup. Some sweetness on the back end before the tart cherries and spicy Belgian yest come back in the aftertaste, which lingers for quite some time.

Mouth feel is fairly thick and creamy, which was a bit of a surprise. Very little carbonation combined with the thick body made this feel like cough syrup going down because it coats the inside of your mouth and throat. The lack of carbonation seemed way off from other Belgian ales that I've had.

Drinkability was below average because all I could think about was cough syrup. I'd heard a lot about this one and was looking forward to trying it for the first time, but it certainly didn't live up to the hype. Definitely a disappointment in my book.

Photo of KAdams
3.4/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - Warm reddish amber with a thick white head that leaves nice lacing.

Smell - Sweet cherries and honey, just like the bottle says. Some spiciness.

Taste - Sort of like the the smell but not as sweet as I expected, which is a good thing here. Sweet, rich honey followed by clean fruit: ripe cherries, apples. Malt flavors.

Mouthfeel - Medium body with good carbonation.

Drinkability - A good holiday beer that is a nice change from the strong, bitter malts found in a lot of dark wintertime lagers. Overall a pretty good beer especially considering the high alcohol content.

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

A - wrapping paper red mixed with amber

S - like a holiday fruit cake

T - candied cherries and red apples doused in dark honey with a huge hit of alcohol

M - its like a christmas in my mouth

D - Very drinkable...esp at that awkward christmas party I was dragged to. That high alcohol catches us to you wayyy too easily

Overall - my favorite holiday ale. definitely worth the hype

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Mad Elf ontap

Pours a nice reddish brown with a solid, crackling head and some lace. In the nose, caramel malts, cherries and brown sugar sweetness. In the taste, belgian yeast, honey, and soft cherry. Almost tastes like a quad with more fruit notes. Medium bodied, easy and fun to drink. Still one of my favorite seasonals.

Photo of ElGallo
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a goblet. Thanks to chowdahead for snagging me a bottle down Taxachusetts way.

Beautiful ruby color with little head on the pour. Not the vision I expected, but the smell has some nice cherry and spice subtleties.

This one tastes like a cross between a mild kriek and an abbey ale, though perhaps heavier on the kriek side. Spice notes are warming but subtle, and overall the mouthfeel was pleasant. This was a great after-dinner beer for a winter night.

This is a very unique and enjoyable brew, though I would recommend only one bottle per sitting, as the sweetness may become a bit much when downing mutiple bottles.

Photo of LiquidBread219
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A= It's got a nice Red color head fades fast.

S= The nose is really good you really get the cherries in this one, I also smell some malt, spices, it smells a little sweet very nice nose.

T= Really don't get the alcohol taste like many say, Really get cherries and spice nice malt backbone very nice beer.

M= Right amount of carbonation, and I would say medium in body.

D= Very good beer but it sneaks up on you with a 11% ABV I probably wouldn't want to drink more than a double deuce.

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

My last 2010 bottle (that isn't going in the cellar), and since I've some how avoided reviewing it, this sounds like a good time.

Poured into my Duvel tulip aggressively, has a kind of ruby-amber body to it with 2 fingers of white head that quickly fade away. Predominantly cherries and some sweet characteristics (honey / caramel), maybe even some yeast scents. A nice cherry kick upfront, also some bananas / clove / yeast flavors...a hint of alcohol, but faint considering the ABV. Medium bodied and lighter on the carbonation - really drinkable given the alcohol in this beer.

Its not my favorite beer, or even my favorite Troegs offering, but I really look forward to this in the winter months and during the holiday season. I do prefer this with about 12 months on it, and always lay down a sixer and a few bombers each year, so perhaps ill add some notes when I drink something with some age on it.

Photo of haazer
4.04/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served at 55 degrees in a chalice.

A- Faintest amount of egg shell head forms on top and dissapates quickly. Brew is an interesting red, strawberry color with maroon and violet undertones.

S- The smell is the strong point of this beer for me. Upfront is wheat beer characteristics with banana and clove. Next is juicy ripe cherries, which plenty have been thrown in to the making of this beer. The biggest scent though is the spicy yeast strain, deffinitely belgian and phenolic in character. A sweet honey drip rounds out the nose.

T- Similar with the nose, however slightly rearranaged. The banana is upfront, then the strong spicy yeast kicks in and warms. I think the cherries really help the flavor profile of this beer as the yeast is not the best of the BSDA variety. Last flavor to come through is the clove. Honey is only present in the form of a sweet aftertaste.

M- Mouthfeel is between light and medium. A sweet tooth certainly helps enjoy this one, but this is not cloying. Somewhat acidic but doesn't hinder much. Warming in the throat.

D- One thing I've always said about Mad Elf and what it should be known for is how well the 11% is masked. For something that high you'd think this is 5 or 6%, no exaggeration. This beer is kind of special to me because this was actually the first craft beer case I ever bought to myself a little over a year ago. Back then I thought it was the best beer ever, and now of course my palatte has changed tremendously. Still I'll always look forward to Mad Elf releases. Another good seasonal release from Troegs.

Photo of Spider889
2.55/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Had on tap at winking Lizard last month, review from notes.

To be honest, this one did not live up to the hype in the slightest. There seems to be a really strong following of this one, but I found it to be lackluster and undesirable for future sessions.

Appearance is a cloudy pinkish red color. Not much in the way of head or lace.

Smelled faintly like a triple - it has that slightly sweet yeasty Belgian character. Other scents: a sour cidery quality, clove, and ginger.

The taste was fairly one dimensional and stunted imo. Tart cherries and an apparent sweetness dominate. Not much in the way of other spices, but ginger once more makes a brief appearance.

Too low on carbonation. In fact, on further retrospection the carbonation was way too low considering that this is a Belgian style ale.

Again, I won't be paying for this again. There's been an increasingly large influx of new Christmas beers every year, and that coupled with the old staples that always wow will ensure that I always have many better options for my seasonal fix. The one bump I do give to drinkability is that the 11% abv was very well hidden considering.

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

Clear reddish amber color. Not much head and very little lacing.

Aroma is quite boozy with just a tad of underlying cherry fruitiness.

Flavor carries some nice spicy elements with more tart cherry coming through and warmth from the alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth, but the bite from the alcohol takes a little getting used to, and the drinnkability suffers because of this.

Still, a tasty beer - just maybe a bit too boozy - I would try it again though.

Photo of Ty1erC
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

*12 oz bottle poured into a snifter glass.*

a: it's a reddish-amber color, with a touch of orange. the head dies away quickly, and there is an ever-so-slight amount of lacing.

s: the beer smells of honey, cherries, alcohol, unripe bananas, citrus, and spice.

t: tastes of sweet malt, honey, and cherries... there's a lot going on here.

m: it's somewhat syrupy, with low-moderate carbonation.

d: drinks pretty smoothly for strong ale. i'll seek it out again next winter.

Photo of claspada
2.44/5  rDev -37%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Aromas of layers of sweet cherries and some sublter Belgian yeast funk smell, with lesser bananas and clove esters.

The taste is a complete flop for me. Simply put it tastes like a cherry cough syrup which was fermented with Belgian yeast. Way too sweet as well from the honey I presume. This isn't beer in my opinion but a mead/lambic hybrid mess.

The only saving grace is that the mouthfeel isn't totally syrupy and cloying; medium bodied and very good level of carbonation.

Overall this is a miss for me, too alcoholic, unpleasant and even ended up being a drainpour. Will not revisit ever again, even for free.

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

A - Orangish-Purple in color. No real head to report
S - Fruit and perhaps some clove and other spices
T - Apricot, citrus fruit, cherries up front with the spices coming late in the taste.
M - A little heavy for a winter warmer but I like that. Thick on the tongue with low carbonation.
D - I usually don't like Winter Warmers. It's just not my favorite style but I think this is pretty drinkable.

Photo of mbusster88
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz 2010 bottle.

A: Dark red color with small white head. No carbonation noticeable in the body. Very thick on the side of the glass, definitely a syrup like consistency in terms of stickiness.

S: Get cherry notes right away on the nose. Then get some like booze notes. Lastly get big sweet characters and some yeast notes as well.

T/M: Right away yeast and cherry flavor. Very sweet. Little alcohol notes but not very much. Very good mouth feel and not much by way of thickness. However, this is very syrup like with the stickiness.

D: Very drinkable for 11% and tastes great. Good winter beer and might do well with some age. However, this one is great right away so I would pick some up if you can.

Photo of vfgccp
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Medium grade maple syrup

S - Bright but not overpowering. Raspberry, citrus hops, clove.

T - A fun beer. The flavors are interesting and meld into each other surprisingly well. There isn't any one flavor that stands up and smacks you in the face. Primary flavors are clove, allspice, and brown breads. Touch of bitter melon and bananas deep in the profile.

M - Light body but not overly so. Smooth mouth feel. Finishes sweet with a touch of warm alcohol.

D - Very drinkable. Spice profile isn't overwhelming and there's enough flavor to keep you coming back.

Photo of david131
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A deep, dark crystal clear orange liquid with some red highlights. The bone white head is very thin and splotchy.

S- Bananas, clove, bubble gum, caramel, cherries, apples, and pears. A malty, fruity, Belgian bomb.

T- Bananas, clove, cherries, bubble gum, fruit, and caramel. Sweet but not overly rich.

M- A bit sticky and syrupy with some smooth carbonation. the alcohol only provides some warmth and is very well hidden.

D- A bit of a sipper, but it is very enjoyable and the alcohol is well hidden. Worthy of its legendary reputation.

Photo of Chincino
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this beer a couple of times during a recent trip to Philadelphia. I first had it at the Troegs brewery in Harrisburg as part of a beer sampler of the beers that were on tap that day (8). I also had this beer from a bottle at the Standard Tap in Philly.

A friend of a friend commented that the Mad Elf was a "big beer" which was very true. This Christmas Belgian Ale was had a spicy aroma and really smelled both spicy and sweet at the same time. I wouldn't say this was one of my favorite beers, but it was a good seasonal beer and worth checking out in my book.

Photo of kenpo23
3.05/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

oh christmas beer oh christmas beer....

A: pretty flat, with no head. pretty red color that some irish red ales dont even have.

S: nice fruity smell. i can smell the cherry (and it doesnt smell like cough medicine to me) and honey.

T: wow, smooth. i can't taste the honey at all but my other half, the super taster, is amazed that i can't taste it. the alcohol taste didn't really hit me.

D: sip away. i cant imagine trying to pound one of these.

nothing extra special about this beer. its very much got a holiday flavor to it though. i bought one for christmas and i will do the same next year, but no more than one for me.

Photo of Bmoyer0301
3.29/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Poured into a standard snifter at O'Riley's pub in Harrisburg. Very Thin bright white head that is fading very quickly as I write. When I hold it up to the light appears to be crystal clear ruby red/ pinkish with absolutely no haze or yeast chunk. Very Very pretty looking. As I give a little swirl I notice the viscosity is pretty heavy but not quite syrupy.


Right off the start I am pulling out the cherries, black licorice, sugar honey like sweetness, some medicinal notes that remind of of some cough drops or children cherry cough syrup. Maybe some menthol ? There is some heat alcohol in the finish.


Bright honey sweetness, cherries and yeasty phenolic funk are the front and center stage here. Some sour apples, cloves, bananas and absolutely no hops to mention of. This is sweet but not cloyingly overdone. As I keep going cider notes are coming through and I hate to say this maybe pencil shavings?


I LOVE Troegs but this is one of those beers that never does it for me. I usually have one or two a year just to see how the batch came out and I really should try aging some. I might have better results. Good beer, just not for me for 12% it drinks dangerously smooth.

Photo of thagr81us
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to bs870621345 for this one as a part of a thanks box! Serve from bottle into a Delirium Tremens snifter. Poured a brilliant red-orange with a one finger off-white head to a half finger slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma is comprised of sweet malt, honey, cherries, bananas, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, banana, honey, slight cherries, and very subtle alcohol. It had a light feel on the palate with low-mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty excellent brew. I can't believe this thing is 11%! Excellent aroma and nice flavor that was balanced quite nicely. Definitely a nice fruit aspect going on here to mask the alcohol. This is a must try without a doubt.

Photo of Brez07
3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2010 vintage. 12oz bottle poured into a Chimay glass

A: Pours relatively flat, leaving just a hint of head. Ruby red color, very translucent

S: Maraschino cherry, candied sugar. Very sweet smelling beer. Some alcohol making it's way through

T: Dark cherry with some chocolate. Reminds me of those Cellas cherries. This is brief though. After that it's just tons of cherry juice with some hoppy characteristics. Almost like a cough drop. Finishes with an alcohol presence

M: Medium bodied. Fairly weak carbonation. Slightly dry, crisp finish

D: Just a sweet boozy brew right now. I'm not a fan of this fresh. I've heard it ages well so glad to have a few in the cellar

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22-ounce bottle into a pint glass.

A: Ruby red-amber in color with good clarity and sparse carbonation building to a two-finger head of dense, white foam which left some decent lacing.

S: Whiffs of honey, cherries, spicy yeast, fruity esters and phenol alcohol in the nose.

T: Very smooth and clean malt bill with spicy and grainy wheat and yeast flavors underlying the malty sweetness. Honey is soft and drying while the semisweet and tart cherries add a bit to the fruitiness. No alcohol really noted, which makes this brew sort of dangerous at 11% ABV. Nice, spicy, somewhat bitter, cherry Tussin finish.

M: Full-bodied clean and smooth with a very quaffable finish.

D: A nice, spiced strong Belgian ale for the holidays. Very clean, smooth and spicy flavors blend nicely with the hints of honey and cherry. The seemingly subdued alcohol also makes it a dangerous brew, as noted earlier because of the ABV. It might be a bit much to handle all day, but after dinner, it's a nice treat.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,534 ratings.