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.
BA SCORE
87
very good

3,553 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,553
Reviews: 1,220
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 204
Gots: 812 | FT: 24
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
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 3,553 | Reviews: 1,220
Photo of mjaskula
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a sniffer. The Beer is a beautiful clear and dark copper red. Unfortunately there is no head to speak of, it comes across visually as more of a port than a beer.

The aroma is sweet and thick and fruity, the cherry come across well as does the alcohol content. I also get some dark fruits. The complex flavor follows the nose a bit and the belgian yeast character comes through. There's some banana flavor from the yeast and the cherry is there as well. The alcohol is well hidden.

The mouthfeel isn't overly viscous and the carbonation is higher than expected given the lack of head. Overall I like this and will look forward to it again next year.

Photo of Arenbeer
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from THECPJ into a snifter glass. Thanks a lot man!

It's the day before Christmas eve and i figure what's a better time than now for this beer!

A- Pours a nice dark golden brown with a really thin off white head that doesn't stick around at all just leaves some bubbles in the around the edge of the glass.Thin lacing but definitely there.

S- Sweet honey and a lots and lots of cherry's that smells intensely sour! Some alcohol as it warms but not bad, very inviting still.

T- Just like the smell. Creamy and insanely smooth malts with a nice sweetness from the honey. After it goes down your left with a strong cherry flavor and tartness. A good amount of alcohol as well as it warms creating a nice fullness.

M- Medium bodied with moderate carbonation and slight bitter finish but not bad.

SkÅL!

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

A - One-finger off-white foamy head that dissipates quickly, leaving a ring of big-bubble foam around the edge. Sunset golden-red in color and clear. Just sitting in the snifters on a table by the fire, this beer looks very inviting.

S - Honey, maraschino cherries, and malt all float into the nose on a pleasant pillow of subtle alcohol. As it warms in the glass, the fruit flavors grow more complex.

T - Very similar to the nose, although the cherriness is more subdued and not cloyingly sweet. Excellent slightly toasted malts dominate along with compliments of caramel and just a hint of spices for the finish.

M - Creamy at first, then very smooth as it's sipped. Just the right amount of carbonation to give it some structure.

D - A delicious winter warmer to be savored and enjoyed. The alcohol is nicely hidden behind the malts, sugars, and fruits, but there to make it drink more like a brandy than a beer. I would have opened a second bomber had I bought one.

Photo of SASN
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: beautiful red-golden color-one of the prettiest beers I've seen

S: very nice, sweet, cherry aroma but not overly sweet

T: initial sweetnss with cherry notes followed by a touch of bitterness

M: medium, nice body

D: the high alcohol limits the drinkability, also the more you drink, the more you notice the sweetness-it can become too much

Conclusion: a great seasonal, winter beer. Mad Elf= holiday time

Photo of drea0695
3.51/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: what a pretty beer! Poured into an over sized wine glass, a gorgeous cranberry color.

S: Tart cherries. Not overwhelming but just enough to make your mouth pucker up in anticipation

T: cherries, and a nice biscuity malt, almost like a tart cherry pie and as it warms just a hint of alcohol.

M: light carbonation which definitely helps break up the potential for a syrup bomb.

D: probably too drinkable for an 11%. But it's Christmas! Just don't drive.

I really think this beer is a great addition to the holiday season. It's so flavorful and complex. Pick it up you won't be disappointed!

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

2008 vintage served cellar temperature into a goblet. The sediment is kept in the bottle for now.

Mad Elf is a bright ruby red color with good clarity when held to the light. The head is short and settles quickly with no lacing.

Aroma is sweet and boozy with a lot of tart cherries. It's a little like English old ale mixed with port wine.

Flavor is strong but very smooth. The base beer is rich and malty with a nice caramel sweetness. The cherries come through very nicely, not artificial at all. A real dark cherry flavor that goes well with the Belgian dark ale foundation.

Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with almost no carbonation at all. The alcohol is fairly well-hidden, considering the strength.

Overall a good holiday beer but not a great version of a Belgian strong dark ale. Taken at face value though, I enjoy it as a nice slow sipper.

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

Appearance: A maroon to slightly amber beer. A bit of carbonation. Some cream-colored head that fades very fast with little or no lacing.

Smell: Reminders of brandy to the nose. The cherries are there but are not overwhelming. A bit of alcohol.

Taste: Let it warm up. About 55F. Now the flavor is coming out! Lots of fruit, alcohol, nice rounded malt. Just a bit of tartness at the end, but not sour.

Mouthfeel: Has a bit of a lager feel. Tastes like an ale, but has a clean finish for a mouthfeel.

Drinkability: This is a delicious ale. The cherries add a festive quality and the sweetness blends with the alcohol nicely.

This is my Christmas beer for the year. I will be enjoying this beer in my snifter by the fire while watching the snow fly.

Photo of Pellinore1
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to CaptinRedBeard for sending this bottle.

Pours deep amber into a tuilp, producing about half a finger of light tan head.

Smells of malts, Belgian yeast, honey, and perhaps a bit of fruit.

This beer begins with flavors of malts and bread, and finishes with Belgian yeast, spices, a hint of banana, and just a little alcohol warmth.

Mad Elf is medium-bodied and smooth, with minimal carbonation. Even at 11%, the alcohol is just barely noticeable, making for a nicely drinkable beer.

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

Got from TroyG. Thanks for this nice Troeg holiday treat!

A- Pours a dark amber but clear. Very thin head that leaves quickly.

S- Not expecting that sharp of a nose. Spicy yeasty aroma. Cherry notes come out pretty strong as well.

T- Wow, like the nose, cherries up front, almost like cherry cough syrup. Spices hinted throughout. A little sweetness from the honey, but overtaken by the higher ABV. Big malt background to this beers as well.

M- Medium body with little carbonation. Syrupy and coats the mouth. Some bitterness there too.

D- Wasn't sure what to expect with this beer. Not bad for something different. Could have done with less cherry flavor, but still a pretty easy to drink beer. Still love trying beers that are different.

Photo of mendonjoebeer
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz.bottle into tulip style glass.

Took somewhat aggressive pour to get one finger short lasting head. Clear ruby/amber color.

Wonderful aroma of Belgian yeast,spices,some cherry- can't pick up the honey myself

A very good tasting beer- tastes like it smells. The alcohol is there but not overpowering. Not at all too sweet for me- nice balance.

Nice feel- not too much of anything

For such a strong beer, it is very drinkable. A great holiday beer to share with friends or consume by yourself. I have had this on the shelf for a bit and will be sure to buy more this season before it is gone.

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.37/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Got accepted to med school today, so time to celebrate!

3.5 A: Nearly clear ruby red color. A half finger of fizzy/frothy head that falls quickly and leaves no lacing.

4.0 S: Cherries are very pronounced. Yeast components comes through offering black pepper, clove, and yeasty spiciness. Candied fruits, sugar plums, sweet caramel and honey. Finishes with a slight touch of the "Troegs character."

4.5 T: Tastes like the nose, but is even better. Cherry and honey come through well. Pepper, clove, and a surprising amount of banana. Caramel, fig, prune, currants. Lots of fruitiness. The 11% is barely noticeable. Really good.

5.0 M: Mouthfeel is pretty much perfect. Medium body, but quite creamy. Aggressive, but not overly so, spritzy carbonation. Super smooth. A touch of warming on finish.

4.5 D: Damn tasty beer. Troegs seems like they can do no wrong. Every beer they put out (well, almost every beer) is about as good as it gets. Way too easy going down for an 11% beer.

Photo of TheBrewo
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a glowing, golden-red color. It has a meager, half finger head of white bubbles that disappear quickly. The glass is otherwise almost translucent, with little carbonation to speak of. The aroma is a bag of sugary sweets and fruit. More specifically, the honey and cherry boasted from the bottle, candied apples, and Christmas spice. Malts are also present, with a faint smattering of citrus for the balance. As we sip, the front of the taste is malty, with a bit of wheatiness. This is then joined by the tangy fruitness of the cherries through the middle. The flavors here are clean and sweet. The alcohol finally rears its head on the finish, which also includes hollow echoes of fruit and tinny yeast. The aftertaste breaths a bit spicy, with black pepper and a soothing alcoholic flame. The body is medium, and the beer is undercarbonated. As the beer sips it is almost syrupy, which helps to leave the mouth coated. There is a slight drying characteristic, and a light burn from the alcohol. The large abv and sweetness to certain parts of the beer make this a sipper.

Overall, the best thing about this brew was the aroma. While it was quite sweet smelling, the contributory components remained complex. There was also a nice and rich maltiness that helped to smooth the drink along. In the end, this mad elf certainly brings happy holidays!!

Photo of pburland23
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into my Great Divide Brussels glass.

Mad Elf pours a bright, ruby red color with about two fingers of off white head that quickly receded and left some moderate lacing. It's a good looking pour.

A traditional Belgian yeast aroma leads the nose followed by sweet cherries and a touch of honey.

The taste also features a Belgian yeasty flavor that overwhelms the other flavors that are present including a slightly tart cherry taste and a touch of sweetness from the honey. None of the major taste components are overwhelming. As a result, Mad Elf is well-rounded and very balanced.

The mouthfeel is very smooth. You wouldn't guess that there's 11% of alcohol behind this brew. The carbonation is also sufficient...not overpowering.

Drinkability is good. Given the 11%, you probably don't want to drink more than one in a sitting, but what a pleasant sitting it will be. A well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable holiday beer.

Photo of PearlJam1221
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this in a snifter at Good Dog bar in Philadelphia.

I ordered this knowing nothing about the beer (I know, that's unacceptable for a BA from Philly, but please bear with me). Fantastic smell, slight cherry, malt, and hops come through in the end. Head was minimal and disappeared quickly. I was surprised by the taste, cherries came through rather strongly, then some alcohol,
Mouthfeel was a little thicker than I prefer or expected, but good for the style. I appreciated that it wasn't sticky and very little alcohol burn. I couldn't believe that the beer was 11% when I checked BA on my phone as I finished the beer. I could easily see ordering a 2nd, but I hadn't eaten yet!

Photo of SkunkWorks
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured into a chalice. I know this is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but I'm taking into account that its clearly meant to be a Christmas beer as well in my review and you're just going to have to deal with it!

Look: clear, ruby red with a very few carbonation bubbles visible in the body. The head is a bit on the thin side at about one finger and looks white with a hint of reddishness. It doesn't retain very well and doesn't leave lacing behind, which is fine since its 11% alcohol by volume.

Smell: honey, maltiness, some Belgian inspired spices and a bit of cherry. A little alcohol is there but not as much as I'd think.

Taste: One of the things I was apprehensive about this beer is that the cherries would be overdone, since I don't particularly like cherries. Luckily, they take a back seat to the other flavors. There's honey sweet maltiness, some cherry, Belgian inspired spices, and a bit of booziness. There's some spiciness from the hops but its quite subdued.

Feel: medium bodied, especially at the alcohol content, not much carbonation, and a bit of booziness. Not much in the way of hop bitterness, which is to be expected given the low IBU.

Drink: very drinkable for such a strong beer. I could drink this all night if I wanted to but would probably die in the attempt.

Overall, a very, very good beer to drink around Christmas. Its a solid Belgian Dark Strong but really stands out as a Christmas beer. I think the B+ rating this has is a bit on the underrated side. This is easily my favorite beer I've had from the Troegs Brothers. Try and get this one if you can! Cheers!

Photo of deapokid
2.9/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Vintage '08 bottle purchased from Capone's. Label on bottle notes a date of 2006.

Pours a thin cherry red that's translucent when held to light. Sort of looks like a very filtered and clean cherry lambic. Carbonation is rather high, but head and lacing are nearly non-existent.

Cherry aroma is not of the tart variety. It has more of a creamy/milky smell and age has removed all booziness from the nose. It also lacks any acidity, which I had expected to come through due to the cherries.

The booze present in fresh models is all but gone from the taste, leaving behind a sort of thin, cherry popsicle flavor, which plays second fiddle to the big belgian yeast at the end. This combination doesn't necessarily work and, outside of the creamed cherry and dry yeast, there really isn't much else going on here. Strikingly one-dimensional.

Mouth feel is very smooth and it just so happens to be one aspect that has benefitted from age. The lack of booze seems to have eliminated some of the dryness.

This is a beer that I like less and less with each passing year. I figured an older model would develop some flavor, but it just seems like a fresh model without the boozy kick. Frankly, this is a huge disappointment.

Photo of lovindahops
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

absolutely love Troegs. Everyone should get a chance to have their brews.

A- an exuberant dark cherry red with a big time head that crackles away to the thinest white head on the top. Mad elf is really a different look and it's impressive

S- that Troegs yeasty scent (that I love in dream weaver) is just as present as the cherries and sweetness from the honey. While it's not over powering it's a great profile

T- what a brew! The malt flavor is a combo of flavor. It's warming with the sweet cherries and honey flaovrs. There is a sting from the alcohol but it's almost not even evident because of all the flavor. The end has spice that ties the whole brew together and makes it incredible

M- fantastic flavors dance around the mouth. Real good flavors

D- this is the winter brew to go to. Troegs really crafted a christmas brew that will impress everyone who has an open mind to craft beer. You really can drink this because the flavor hides the 11%. What a brew!

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

On-tap at Molly's Pub in Lancaster.
Suprisingly (and probably unlawfully) served in a 16oz pint glass. Looks yummy. Has a larger head than expected for an 11% brew. Crystal clear and crimson in color. Smells absolutely potent and delicious. Dark fruit, cherries, and honey. Palate is very raw and powerful. The tart cherries stand out without feeling like a ''fruit beer''. The alcohol is very strong and warming, which is perfect for a snowy afternoon in the pub. A bit spicy but not over-spiced. Very unique and delicious. Obviously, this is not a beer meant to chug but is plenty drinkable. Probably the best holiday beer I've come across.
12/17/11 Side note: Had a side-by-side tasting with a fresh bottle and one aged a year in my cellar. Wow. What a difference a year makes. The booziness is all but gone and the cherry flavor really stands out. Great beer fresh and even better with some age on it.

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

pours a deep ruby red with a shallow white head, looks like the holidays
smells sweet and fruity
deliciously sweet mouthfeel to this, nice carbonation level here as well
a nice sour note comes from the cherries, blends well with the sweetness from the honey creating a wonderful tartness
dangerously drinkable for an 11% (aka great for the holidays)

Photo of jbone78
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this from a friend swveral months ago. There is a code on the bottle, but I couldn't find where to use the code on their website.I'm guessing it is an '09. But I bet that's fine.

Pours slightly hazy and amber in color. Nearly no head, which I would've thought odd because it's labeled a Belgian Strong. Smells a tad malty, but not much there. Tastes is complex to me. It starts with a spice and the sweet cherry flavor follows, but the sweetness (I'm sure) is from the honey. I don't pick up a distinct Honey flavor, jus the sweetness.

Carbonation is low to medium and at 11% this one drinks easy. It's not very syrupy, I like. I could easily drink more than one.

-Bye

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

I was quite tempted to purchase this after reading the two sugar donors (cherry and honey), and finally gave in...but $16 is an expensive evening! Either way, I've paid more for beer and what better way to spend it.

Appearance:
A cranberry copper with little head formation, but a fair amount of carbonation anyways. I wouldn't expect an 11%abv ale to have much of a head anyways, that is a rarity outside of the bottle conditioning world. The head that did form was initially about a 1/2 inch and white. I poured the beer into my Belgian tulip and found the choice appropriate. Unfortunately, the beer is filtered, and that means there was no bottle conditioning...which I feel is essential for a good Belgian style ale.

Smell:
This beer smells terrific! Belgian yeasts mixing with a distinct sweetness unlike many Belgians I've had. I typically fall deeply in love with a Belgian when I first smell it, this is definitely the case. The beer exudes a bready yeast funk, but within reason. The keytone and alcohol fragrances are modest and you might not suspect that it was 11% by smell alone. I get deep rose and banana bread.

Taste:
Wow. I am relieved that my purchase was well worth the premium. There is strength and balance. I am aware of the fruit present in the beer, and I am not certain about pre-knowledge bias, but I can actually sense cherries and honey. The beer is rich in flavor and sweet like the season. I am impressed once again by this local gemstone of a brewery. I will vouch that this Belgian-style is of considerable authenticity, which for some breweries is easer to say than do.

Mouthfeel:
Smooth and sweet. The only issue I have with the beer is the sweet aftertaste it leaves. However, there are enough other good things going on with this beer to overshadow this minor complaint. The beer went well with dinner and made an even better desert. I do not note a tremendous funk from the yeast, most was only present in the smell.

Drinkability:
Highly drinkable. I have gone through 3 tonight and 2 just writing this review. Very well received from all who tried the beer this evening, even those that don't like Belgians refer to it as drinkable. Very smooth and a very worthy addition to my staggering review list. I would purchase again, however, not this season because the best things come after a long wait.

Cheers.

Photo of mjw2808
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very beautiful golden mahogany that leaves a little less that a 1 inch white head. Doesnt leave much lacing. All i get in the nose is a lot of alcohol and some berry fruity sweetness. The taste however, is more strong of berry than alcohol, although both of which are very noticeable. There is also a small presence of malt sweetness. Good mouthfeel. average mouthfeel. Very good drinkablilty for an 11% alcohol beer. Probably gonna buy this again, and if your wondering if you should buy it, you definitely should give it a shot.

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

A-pours a clear red amber with a small amount of head that leaves a ring of lace around the top

S-sweet, a little tart cherry, and booze

T-very sweet, cherry, with huge warming alcohol. There is some malt in there though so its not cloyingly sweet

M-medium body, syrupy thick, low carbonation

D-the high abv and sweetness cut down on the drinkability, but its still a good one to try

Photo of mountsnow1010
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2009 Mad Elf - aged in pretty reasonable temps but transported around quite a bit. Poured into a chimay goblet.

Funnily enough I didn't intend to age this - I found it in March having purchased it last November - and figured what the heck, and let it sit until now.

A - Hazy brown with a pretty much nonexistent head/lacing. Almost looks like a dark apple cider.
S - Belgian yeast funk smell, bananas, cloves, cherries (nearly as much as a fresh mad elf IMO), a bit of an acetone like odor/sort of general ketone-y, a bit spicy as well
T - Starts quite sweet with a fruity taste, a bit of a sour kick at the end with dryness and mustiness, quite alcoholic. Spices again. I don't know what the year of age did- I think it brought the cherry down a lot - I can't really taste it.
MF - Starts off fairly creamy, and then ends with drying sensation. Pretty thick too, feels like it coats the lips.
D - I find the alcohol to be pretty apparent here. This is definitely a sipper, even with a year of age on it. Just one would be enough for me.

Photo of Spica66
1.96/5  rDev -49.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Got this as an extra from gumppette. Thank you, Christine!

Poured into a tulip and shared with gwuilliums after bottling and racking.

A: Medium red color with decent head formation and retention.

S: Funky fruitiness. Musty like a sweaty horse blanket. I look at the bottle and realize that this probably uses Belgian yeast.

T: I should not have opened this beer. I do not like the funky flavors that Belgian yeast gives. Sour cherry cough syrup. gwuilliums would not take more than one drink.

M: Medium body and very good level of carbonation.

D: Too funky in the nose and on the tongue.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,553 ratings.