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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

3,493 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,493
Reviews: 1,203
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 194
Gots: 753 | FT: 23
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: 3,493 | Reviews: 1,203 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Overlord
2.04/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to a generous trader!

Pours a dark amber, slightly ruddy color. No head, just a thin white crust around the borders. Pretty color, worried that it has no carbonation. Then again, upon checking the ABV, it's 11%. That surprised me.

Smells like sweet malt (no honey, just really sweet). That's about it. Maybe a vague fruitiness. Cherries, perhaps, or maybe just an indistinct dark fruitiness.

Taste is a blistering assault of sugar. Whoa. A tinge of cherries, but mostly just straight up sugary malt. Lots of bread-y yeast. I can feel my teeth dying from the sugar. The sensation I get is cherry listerine or cough syrup.

Flat. Super boozy.

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

A bottle from last year. Figure it's close enough to Christmas, so why not. Plus, there's no seasons in LA, so its all the same.

A - Pours a medium amber color, almost like ice tea. A little head, but recedes pretty quickly. Not too bubbly. For a Belgian dark, seems a bit light in color.

S - Cherries and honey with some nice winter spices. Lots of malts. The one off-putting smell is a slight cherry cough syrup note, reminds me of SA CW.

T - Definitely can taste the cherry, honey, and spices. Again, a slight cherry cough syrup taste as well at the back end.

M - Despite the lack bubbles, the carbonation actually feels about right on this one.

D - Can't really tell its 11%, so definitely drinkable.

The reviews seem to be all over the board on this. I think I'm taking the middle ground, but there's much better interpretations of winter BSDA out there (Delirium Noel comes to mind, I'm sure there's others)

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

Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into my DFH glass

Pours a warm red-amber color. Looks like cherries were used somewhere in the process

S--I gather the faintest hint of cherries, almost artificial but not in a bad way. Quite pleasing to the nose

T--I gather a little of the honey, then the cherry at the end. There is a sensible amount of booziness but it's not overwhelming and I would not have guessed 11%--Especially after having a GI BCS the night before that nearly knocked me on my feet at 13%.

M--Goes down well, nice balance between the carbonation and alcohol

D--Very nice overall. This was a first for me but I found it very good. I could drink these on a semi-regular basis during the winter

Photo of ohiobrewtus
4.16/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter, served at 53F.

Appearance - Poured with a halo of off-white head. Deep ruby/crimson color, brilliantly clear.

Aroma - Dark cherries with hints off deep caramel, dark fruit (fig, dates) and honey. Slight hint of alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel - Medium to medium full body, medium carbonation. medium low alcohol warmth.

Flavor - Big sweetness up front that is a combination of honey/pils/caramel with hints off typical BDSA dark fruit.

Overall - One of the more enjoyable 'holiday' beers that I've had. This beer is proof that great holiday beers can exist without a ton of the typical, potpourri type spices.

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

Poured from 12oz bottle - no best by date visible

Poured a dark amber, one finger head that quickly dissipated no lacing to speak of, moderate carbonation .

Smell was of yeast spice and fruits

Taste was sweet with mild yeast , burnt cherries, mild spice's.

Drinkabilty was smooth, with it's 11%alc./vol, you would think this would be a hot beer, it's high abv % is hidden well with the fruit flavors and just enough spice - very drinkable if you enjoy it slowly, really lets the flavors come out as it warms up.

Photo of BigPlay1824
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bomber
Served in a Pilsner glass

A: pours a beautiful reddish amber color with one finger of foamy off white/pink head

S: has a smell reminiscent of a belgian style ale, the sweetness of the cherries is present

T: Beautiful tasting brew, quite sweetened up by the cherries and the honey, nice solid wheat notes

M: nice carbonation tingle, very smooth across the pallet, sweetness really spreads through the mouth

D: perhaps a bit too sweet to be an easy drinking brew but the taste definitly begs for the next sip

Photo of Liverpool08
4.06/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow. Yummy! Pours a ruby red with just a thin whit head. Not much aroma, a little cherry and candy. The taste is incredible. Rich sweet malt and cherry. Plus that nice spicy yeast just adds to the mix. There is also a nice honey tone that keeps the cherries from overpowering. This is the way to brew with cherries. The beer keeps the sweetness without the medicinal/cough syrup that a lot of cherry brews have. This is just a great winter brew. There is no way you would ever guess it was a 11% ABV beer. SUPER drinkible! One of my new favorites.

Photo of projectflam86
3.25/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours a ruby red color with a thin white foam head. Not much lace left behind.

S- Plenty of cherries in the nose with lots of sweetness and dark fruits. A tiny bit of Belgian 'funk' aroma as well.

T- Lots of sweet malt flavor initially with some honey and caramel. The cherry flavor is a bit medicinal and the high alcohol creates a brash finish. I expected a bit more out of this one in terms of flavor.

M- Medium bodied with ok carbonation. Boozy and harsh with an astringent feel.

D- Not a bad beer necessarily, but I had much higher hopes for this one.

Photo of larryi86
4.27/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- Red with hints of copper and a one finger off-white head that disappears quickly.

S- Yeast and spices almost like a Saison, honey, alcohol, cherries. Really nice smell for the winter time, just not what you would expect from a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

T- Awesome and complex. Close to the smell with a great malt backbone that brings all the different flavors together. The yeast, honey, and cherry flavors really come together. 11% ABV is very well hidden!

M- Full body, thick, smooth.

D- Wow, I been told by a few people that I should give this a try and they were right. This is very easy to enjoy and does not fell like it is 11% ABV. This is a great winter beer that I will definitely be buy more of soon.

Photo of Naugros
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No dating on the bottle, but this is the 2010 edition of this holiday brew.

Poured into a wheat glass it rose a two-finger head that stayed for a little bit and then reduced down to a film and crown that left very little lace. A deep copper with a ruddy tint, the beer's clear enough to see carbonation through it.

Barnyard-like Belgian yeast funk assails your nose and you want it to be followed by sourness, but it's backed up by maltiness and honey sweetness instead. The cherries are definitely not Morellos and come across as meaty, but not all that sour.

The taste follows the smell with dark fruits and funky yeast esters, but sourness is stopped short by a bitter bite. The esters thrown off by the yeast dominate the mouthfeel and it lingers. As that hits, the alcohol tries to take center stage and makes it feel more medicinal. This beer is sort of all over the place. The flavors come at you in waves and are not well-integrated. Is it sour or bitter? The two sensations fight it out and you're left wondering what it should be. It does improve a little when it warms up and it's possible that laying this down for a year might balance it out and make it more drinkable than it is right now. Still, this won't be on my yearly "look for" list.

Photo of aval89
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark copper almost ruby color. Half finger worth of head that didn't settle for long.

S: spicy yeast esters, sugar candies, dark fruits. Sweetness comes through with an almost pear/apricot aroma. Subtle cherry notes & small booze detection.

T: dark fruits upfront, spicy yeast notes, more of that pear/apricot flavor.. You then get the subtle but present cherry flavors, slightly medicinal.. booze is pretty well hidden @11%!

Mf: nice full body with a syrupy feel. Good carbonation all the way through..

D: its very hard to tell that this is over 10%, making it real easy to put down.. Had to remind myself to sip..

Photo of silentjay
3.67/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

ruby red indeed with a small pink-hued tan head that quickly recedes and barely leaves a film, yet laces okay.

cherries and dark honey jump out at you in the aroma. a touch tart, but mostly sweet with a bit of spiciness and some sweet and dark malts.

sweet cherries, a bit of milk chocolate, some syrupy sugar sweetness and plenty of honey that soothes the throat, though a bit of alcohol heat comes after the swallow to counteract that.

very syrupy and sticky with minimal carbonation and tons of oil left behind on the tongue.

a lot going on turns this one into a sipper as does the alcohol heat and sweetness. it doesn't quite come together seamlessly, though it is tasty. alcohol is there though not quite as harsh as 11% could be. reminds me a bit too much of cough syrup as it warms. very good, not great.

Photo of paulozanello
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I was waiting for this one! Got me a six-pack for 13.99 here in DC.

A- Mad Elf Ale pours a ruby brown hazy color and forms a one finger beige head that dissipates quickly leaving just a ring of foam around the glass. Lacing is below what is expected for the style.

S- Right of the bat I get a lot of red fruits, specially the cherries. You can definitely smell the chocolate malts and the spicy belgian yeast caracter later.

T- Starts very sweet with a caramel malt, honey and chocolate. Then the sweet/sour cherries kick in (not overpowering at all) to round out and complement the malt/honey sweetness. It ends with yeast esters, typically belgian, and reminds me of Rochefort 8 and Chimay Blue.

M/D- Medium body and dangerously pleasant mouthfeel. Alcohol is well-hidden behind the many flavors of this beer. But much like every other BSDA this is a complex beer that you can just drink too fast, so the drinkability is not that high. Carbonation is quite high according to style.

Overall another great beer from Troegs and it gets better as it gets warmer. Go and get it while it lasts.

Photo of beer1018
2.56/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Picked this up because of a recomendation by a friend. 6 pack of bottles poured into a tulip glass.

Small head that keeps a small layer on top for awhile. I would say it is close to ruby red but has allot of brown in it as well.

Smell is all spicy bitter phenols with a touch of cherries and malt.

The first thing i taste is the spicy phenols and some sour cherry. I am not a fan of how spicy this is though. I wish they would have used a diffrent yeast strain for this beer. I also get a unplesent sour taste as well.

Mouthfeel is good as the carbonation isnt to strong.

Drink is low just because i am not a fan of the flavor at this point and dont want to drink more then one.
I am going to celler the rest of my pack and re visit them thorughout the year. Also at over $17 a 6 pack here in Ohio i wishi would have got a single instead.

Photo of BB1313
4.48/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Pours a beautiful transparent ruby red on the darker side. Nice white head w/ decent lacing. The smell is superior w/ the cherries coming through harmoniously w/ the malts and grains. There is a slight hint of chocolate I think I'm getting, I could be wrong.. the main focus is on the cherries. The taste matches w/ the full flavor of the cherries meshing w/ the sweet honey; not spicy. The flavors are very clean and refreshing. Although it's full-bodied, it seems pretty thin. Carbonation is right on; nothing offensive at all. The alcohol is well hidden, making the drinkability exceptional! Dangerously drinkable, so definitely respect the Mad Elf.

This beer is a pure winner. I look forward to this one every year and I could definitely drink it every day. This is Troegs best beer, IMHO.

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

2010 Vintage: Enjoyed fresh

A: No head or lacing. Beautiful clear dark red in color. 4

S: Malty with cherries. Bit of alcohol definitely coming through. The honey provides a much needed sweetness to balance. 3.5

T: Thank god this has significantly less of a cherry taste than Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. Delicious maltiness up front with the cherries on the back end. No hops at all here, finish is full of alcohol.4

MF: Very light. Bit of a tang from the carbonation on the palate. 3.5

D/O: Drink all Christmas long. I look forward to this one always. A PA staple, it'll warm you up, get you drunk, and you'll enjoy it the whole time. 4.5

2011 Vintage: Enjoyed March 2013

A: Clear red pour with a thin white head. Not a lot of bubbles active in the beer, but it looks pristine. 4

S: The cherries come out in a big way, sweet, but not medicinal. The malts also play a large role are integrate nicely with the booze this beer is known for. 4

T: The taste is very sweet, but the booze provides the balance. The cherries play a larger part than I remember them fresh. The maltiness makes itself known the most at the very backend, and the booze is the base throughout. The beer has mellowed, but the cherries are stronger which I did not expect. The booze calming down has definitely improved the taste. 4

MF: Light body without a lot of carbonation. The beer is very drinkable for how high the ABV is, especially given a year and a half to mellow. 4.5

O: This beer definitely improved with age. Glad I put down 4 or 5 from the last few years! Can't wait to see what happens next. 4.5

Photo of soze47
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drinking a 2010 edition from a 22 oz. bomber. Looking forward to trying this one since a buddy told me how much he loved it this past July.

Appearance: Very amber with an almost purple glow. No head, no lacing. The color is very striking, but nothing else is.

Aroma: Honey and cherries are there (the bottle touts this additions on the label). Some doughy tanginess too. Definitely some spicy and herbal qualities presents after it warms up a bit.

Taste: Hot and tangy right off the bat, but a quick, honey, rich sweetness rushes in. As the flavor develops, the cherries and dark fruits come out. This one opens up quite a bit as it warms to reveal a real hop-driven spiciness that goes well with the other flavors.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: This is thick in body, but much like a good Belgian strong ale, it isn't so much cloying. It is heavy on the palette and your mouth is going to be busy while drinking this one. This one bomber lasted me all evening, so not one to get in a time pinch or to fill a pint glass with. It's 11% is very real.

Overall: This one really grew on me as I drank it. It definitely benefits from warming up a bit. Drinks heavy, almost like a port or rich wine. All the flavors (cherries, honey, malt, hops, heat) create a simultaneously tangy, spicy, sweet, and slightly sour beer. I'm going to go out to get one of these for the cellar. I could see why this one could get better with a little more melding of these flavors.

33 Beers Flavor Chart (5 high to 1 low):
Alcohol/Solvent: 4
Dark Fruits: 4
Citrus Fruits: 2
Hoppy (pine): 1
Floral: 1.5
Spicy: 3
Herbal: 2
Malty: 3.5
Toffee: 2
Burnt: 1.5
Sweet: 3.5
Sour: 2
Bitter: 2.5
Astringent: 1
Body: 3.5
Linger: 4

Photo of jdense
3.52/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle enjoyed with local beer buddy in The Big, thanks Peter.

Minimal carbonation, very little if any head, no lacing. Clear reddish brown body, no visible carbonation. Nose is mostly cherries, some sweet notes re honey subsumed by the fruit, a wee bit of floral hops. Taste mirrors the nose, very sweet, not sure this fits into BSDA style tastewise. I got a hit of effervescence my first taste then it was flat as a pancake, medium-light mouthfeel, not sticky. ABV very well hidden for this alcohol bomb, but IMHO this needs significant cellaring. Will be stashing a bottle or two for next Christmas. To be honest, quite underwhelming.

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

Great holiday beer. Ordered a Great Lakes Christmas Ale and instead was given this and asked if it was okay, glad I said yes!

A: Red Red Amber look, small amount of head

S: Cherries!

T: hints of honey and cherry, had a great overall taste

M: wasn't overly strong for the amount of alcohol

D: could drink this all night.... if they weren't such a high abv

Photo of nhindian
3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a Delirium Tulip.

Just had this released in my local stores last week and jumped on the opportunity to pick up a 6-pack. At $15, it's a bit more than I'm used to from Troegs, but for such a high ABV seasonal release, I don't see it out of the ordinary.

A - Straight out of the gate I was a bit surprised by this beer. I'm not sure if Troegs used artificial coloring or what to achieve the beautiful, deep blood red, ruby color for the body, but it really is fantastic looking and unique. Crystal clear and numerous bubbles rise to replenish the 1-finger head, but ultimately lose the fight as the head crumbles only minutes later to be reduced to a thin ring around the edges. Absolutely no lacing to be had.

S - Smell is also different than I would've assumed based both on the style of this beer and this color. Essentially I'm getting strong vapors of what I would normally attribute to a Belgian Strong Pale such as grape bubblegum, lighter fruits, strong Belgian yeast, and spices. Most notable is the appearance of honey and tart cherries in the nose, which certainly aren't Belgian Pale qualities, but definitely adds to the complexity of this beer and gives it another delicious layer. Finally, rounding out the bouquet is some moderate alcohol heat character that gives it a bit of depth and foreboding.

T - The taste is incredibly faithful to the nose. Initial flavors are almost all bubblegum, banana, Belgian spicy characteristics. The next wave brings the sweet honey and just the slightest hint of cherries. The only complaint I have with this beer is the back-end balance. The transition between the fruits and sweet honey is tremendous, but after being held back for so long, the alcohol strikes with vengeance and kind of muddles the end of the sip and the aftertaste. Supposedly a few months aging does wonders to mellow this out, and I can only imagine how great this will be then.

M - Mouthfeel is relatively heavy and mildly carbonated. Not getting much activity on the palate as it rests, but some alcohol warming is definitely present after swallowing.

D - Drinkability is moderate. I didn't find myself drinking this really quickly, but that is mostly as a result of the relatively hot finish. Assuming all is right and some age can reduce this, I could find this being a great drinking beer a few months down the road. As of now, however, this is a pretty decent sipper that packs quite a punch.

Photo of smcolw
3.25/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Minor head to start that quickly settles to rim bubbles only. No lasting lace whatsoever. The color is deep amber, almost brown. Crystal clear.

Smells of Belgian yeast. Sweet aroma of honey. Some spice that reminds me of oregano. Complex and interesting. Light alcohol warmth.

Cloyingly sweet. Very, very rich body. The carbonation seems quite low. Strong alcohol presence in the swallow and the brief aftertaste--the potency of this beer is very evident. The yeast flavor is more muted than the smell would suggest.

Although the smell might indicate complexity, the taste does not follow through.

Photo of Viciousknishs
3.89/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep garnet ruby red with little to no head. The little that was there in the initial pour quickly dissipates in to thin air. Mad elf doesn't hide much and one can see the gateway to yule tide insanity through its translucent body.

S- A bouquet of sweet malt and caramel are predominately present initially. That blends nicely into some spice and cherry aroma with a grand finale of pleasant warming alcohol.

T- Starts of like biting into a caramel covered cherry. The sweetness is balanced nicely by the spice and 11% abv but I would never guest that it was that high. A little bit of cocoa powder and fruitiness on the back end with some warm spiced bread.

M- Mad Elf has a light body and is a little prickly and warming from the alcohol content.

D- Although this not a low abv beer Troegs does a wonderful job disguising it without burying it beneath the sweet and spiciness making Mad elf superbly drinkable. Wish it a little bit fuller body but other than that I really enjoyed this ale.

Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.37/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle. Nice dark red/brown color, with a strong fruity aroma (cherries predominant) and a hint of spice. No visible head, medium carbonation. Taste of cherries is overpowering; smooth silky finish leaves you wanting more. Very good drinkability. Even though it has 11% ABV, you don't feel it until you are more than halfway into the beer. Another solid beer from Troegs. They definitely have some winners.

Photo of muttyd
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep ruby/amber red with a thin head that fizzes into nothing. Pretty much looks like still red tap water. Although this beer leaves no head, the aroma is not masked at all. Big cherry, clove, Belgian yeast, and caramel malt aroma dominates the nose. Flavor follows the nose - sweet malt backbone with a nice yeasty spice. Cherry/fruity flavors also present, but take a back seat to the typical Belgian strong ale profile. For a beer with no head, this beer is actually pretty well carbonated. Bubbly on the tongue that leaves a sugary sweet coating behind. Very drinkable, I do not want to put this one down.

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

Poured from bottle into Chimay chalice.

A - pours a deep translucent ruby with a small white head.

S - cherries are the predominant aroma, with some honey, candied orange, and spicy notes.

T - honey and cherries up front with some other fruit notes - apricots, currants, and raisins, with some good spiciness from the hops and the yeast. The yeast certainly tastes like a Belgian. A mild chocolate taste is present as well. Finish is a mild cherry taste. The sweetness is at a good level - not too much or too little. I didn't really detect much booziness, which I like.

M - carbonation is fine. Medium body. Feel is just a bit syrupy but the finish is dry.

D - hides its eleven percent ABV quite well. That sneaky elf!

This is a solid, interesting seasonal from Troeg's that is worth trying at least once. It seems to be a bit polarizing but I enjoy what they've done. The flavors are balanced and nothing feels out of place.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,493 ratings.