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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.
BA SCORE
87
very good

2,964 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,964
Reviews: 1,149
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 15.54%
Wants: 147
Gots: 433 | FT: 20
Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Hop Bitterness (IBU's) : 15
Color (SRM) : Ruby Red
Availability: Seasonal, 12 oz. & 3L bottles, 1/2 and 1/6 kegs (contact your local retailer to pre-order)
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Yeast: Spicy Yeast
Pennsylvania Honey West Coast Cherries

(Beer added by: WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,964 | Reviews: 1,149 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Zraly
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%

Pours a deep pink with orange tints. Little to no head. Smells of cherries and bread dough. Pleasant.

The flavor is tremendous. Rich, sweet malts accompanied by the flavors of cherries and bread. A complimentary flavor of clovey spice and fruit rounds of the yeasty presence. You can taste the alcohol...period. But it gives this ale a wonderful complexity in terms of the taste department.

This is an interesting brew but not entirely approachable. It seems a bit "raw" in some way. Once you get past that quality, you find an eccentric character lurking about as a strong ale.

A nice night cap.

Zraly, Dec 08, 2004
Photo of ChrisBowers
2.33/5  rDev -39.6%

Maybe this thing needs to be cellared for awhile but I am not a fan. It reminds me of Robotussin. In the words of Chris Rock "Out of Tussin? Put water in the bottle and shake it up, More tussin!" It definitely has a lot of stuff going on, I'll give it that. Tons of alcohol in this one with a big malty sweetness. The cherry aftertaste though is horrid. Truely horrid. A very unbalanced beer, the alcohol is very evident and makes it an unpleasent, if warming, drinking experience. Lots of people seem to like this so maybe my tastebuds are tweaked the wrong way but this stuff tastes like cough medicine to me.

ChrisBowers, Dec 07, 2004
Photo of clvand0
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%

Thanks to meathookjones for the bottle of this. I've been waiting to try it. Pours an amber/red color with a very small head. The aroma is excellent. Aromas of cherries, honey, spices. Very nice. The flavor is odd in a very good way. The honey and cherries meld together for a great flavor. There is a spice there to ... possibly from a belgian yeast. Very drinkable. This is one that could easily sneak up on you. Dangerous.

clvand0, Dec 07, 2004
Photo of kmpitz2
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%

This one pours a nice deep amber color with just a coating of head over top of the beer. The nose is very belgian in character, some spiceyness from the yeast and lots of sweetness, hints of cherries. Smells good. It tastes of goodness. The first thing I get is a nice peppery spice, followed by sweet malt and finished with a nice honey sweetness that goes over the front of my tongue. Wow. Not a hint of the alcohol in there. The feel is nice and thick, leaving a coating of beer in my mouth after swallowing. Drinkability is nice on this one as well. For a big ass beer, its easy drinking and smooth. I like it. Thanks to clvand0 for sharing this with me.

kmpitz2, Dec 07, 2004
Photo of Suds
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%

I’d been wanting to try this beer for some time. I’d read about it, and even heard about it on a tour of the brewery. This was my first chance. It pours a red, slightly hazy color with a thin head. The head is slight, and disappears quickly. The aroma is intense, and predominately of sour cherries. Underneath, there is a malt-like sweetness and alcohol. The taste is fruity, malty, and fairly complex. Medium to heavy body, with low carbonation. An alcohol warming sets in as you drink this one…but the effect on taste well hidden for an 11% ABV. This is excellent!

Suds, Nov 29, 2004
Photo of asabreed
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%

I'd heard about this beer from the site, and lately I've been into buying and saving in the cellar, so I picked up a case a few days ago for about $45. Expensive, I know, but at 11% ABV and the qualities I hope to see happen over the next few years in the cellar, I think it's worth it.

Appearance - Pours a gorgeous amber color. A white head forms and dissipates quickly.

Smell - Extremely complex. The smell of alcohol is certainly there but not overpowering. The complexity comes from the war with the malt, honey, and cherries. Certainly a sweet smell more than anything, but warming and interesting for sure.

Taste - Like the smell, the alcohol is evident, but more welcoming than overbearing. This is a holiday ale, after all. So the warming that happens is certainly good for a cold night. Since the batch is from this year, I can imagine that good things will start to happen when it sits as I said, so in the interest of keeping true to the flavor I'm drinking this one currently at cellar temperature. One of the things I absolutely love about this beer is the masking of the sweetness. Too much alcohol can certainly be ruined by imbalance and too much sweetness. However, the malts are at war with each other in the best possible way and provide complex and intriguing flavors. Also, the honey and cherries are evident but not overbearing. They add subtlety and intrigue into the mix.

Mouthfeel - Not too thin. The carbonation seems perfect to me. Great overall.

Drinkability - Clearly, this beer will kick your ass if you're not careful. Since it's NOT a stout and be consumed pretty easily (especially since the alcohol is balanced so well with the taste), watch out. And even if you could make a session out of this, why would you really want to? Have one at a time so it can be fully enjoyed.

asabreed, Nov 29, 2004
Photo of JackTheRipper
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%

A: Pours a clear copper-reddish color. Head was initially quite nice, but soon dissipated to leave only a trace of foam. No real lacing to be seen.
S: Cold: smells aren't that great. After warming a bit: Malty, sweet. Some bready smells are there, and a nicely subdued fruitiness.
T: Initially, the honey sweetness dominates, but that quickly gives way to a oh so subdued fruity taste with a nice hit of malt.
M: A bit more than medium in body, this one is pretty full and creamy feeling. Carbonation is spot on. Alcohol is wonderfully warming, but at 11%, what do you expect?
D&N: Nicely complex, pretty punchy, this one has me feeling just fine about life, if ya know what I mean. A very nice holiday offering from two killer brewmeisters. Check it out.

JackTheRipper, Nov 27, 2004
Photo of tenant
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%

Sweet cherry and yeasty banana play well against eachother in the nose. The color is a reddish amber topped off with a ring of white around the edge of the glass. Tight, almost abrasive carbonation gives the tongue a heads up while a rush of tastes enliven the palette. Noble hop aromas, carmelized cherries, subtle malt sweetness, along with a complex, spicy dimension typical of Belgian strong ales combine to express qualities of licorice and bubblegum. The high alcohol content is gracefully hidden in the taste, revealing itself with a warming sensation in the chest. This is a big beer that most certainly must be consumed in moderation. I am more than impressed with the Elf, however Mad he may be. This years version easily lives up to all the hype.

tenant, Nov 25, 2004
Photo of merlin48
4.75/5  rDev +23.1%

The Elf pours a clear and bright reddish copper body with lots of active carbonation to be seen, as hundreds of microbubbles rush to the surface. Head is offwhite in color, minimal in size, quickly falling into a persistent collar. Very little lacing, but none was really expected given the stated abv.
Aroma is heavenly. Cherries, clover honey, a hint of sweet chocolate malt, and an unusual yeast presence of fresh forest mushrooms(morels) that I've picked up only in a couple of other Belgian yeast strains.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation and none of the expected alcohol.
The taste is an adventure. Sweet and sour cherries hit the palate first, followed by a sweet malt smoothness. Yeast presence is noted, and evokes the fresh mushrooms of the aroma. Lovely! Herbal hops add a welcome bitterness and seem to be of the noble variety. A hint of clover honey and a dash of nutmeg add to the delight. I keep waiting for the fusel alcohol to hit home but it never does. Quite amazing that such a high volume of alcohol can be so cleverly disguised. Very well balanced and a real pleasure to sip.
This is a perfect winter seasonal that I could enjoy any time of the year. Drinkability is dangerous, given the hidden alcohol claimed by the label. Exceptional brew from an excellent brewery. A huge thank you to mtnlover for bringing this nectar my way.

merlin48, Nov 23, 2004
Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%

Brown 12 oz bottle. Bottled on date was hard to find -- it's on the bottle, just under the neck label -- but it was 11/1/2004.

This beer poured a brilliant reddish brown with a thin head that quickly disappears. Lots of bubbles rising through the beer but no head. Very clear. A nice looking beer.

Strong fruit -- cherries, mostly -- along with sweet malt. Some alcohol aroma comes through, too. After sitting for 10 minutes or so, the intensity of the fruit fades a little and more of a malt aroma takes over.

Flavor is dominated by the alcohol...with some complex combination of fruit (cherries and raisins), honey and malt. Alcoholic warmth is evident.

Aftertaste is mainly malt, some back-of-th-tongue bitterness, and alcohol....not too pleasant.

Overall an interesting holiday beer. I think I'll age my others for at least another month, then try another. This one hasn't been in the bottle but two weeks.

ncbrewerbun, Nov 19, 2004
Photo of necoadam
4.4/5  rDev +14%

Poured out a darker shade of amber with a nice head that settled down eventually.

Smell consisted of lots of fruit (cherries mostly) with some light sweet malts. Not overpowering by any strech and quite welcoming actually. Some yeast and brown sugar can also be detected.

Taste was wonderful. Cherries, honey, soft malts, some sugar but not overpowering with sweetness. Towards the middle and the end. No trace of hops to be found in this brew. This is downright excellent.

11% is a little to laugh at, this was more like a 7-9% with all the flavors hitting the palate. Loved every drop of this brew.

Big thanks to Pisskynights for this brew, thanks a bunch!

necoadam, Nov 18, 2004
Photo of mntlover
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%

Beer pours a clear ruby amber color I don't know why but I like beers that look red for some unknown reason, caps with a tan head ever so briefly no lace but at 11% no suprise. Aroma is sweet fruity cherry but also apples on top of honey and malt with light hints of chocolate malt but very light. Smells very good some alcohol is also present but it compliments the fruity aroma and is not a distraction. Taste is sweet fruity cherries dipped in honey that linger until light choclate picks up and adds some to the sweetness followed by lingering alcohol enhanced very light bitterness thats slightly sour like green apples maybe more so then any hops. A light spice tingle is also felt thru out the experience but very light and for me undefinable. Alcohol is evident thru out but always in the background and complimenting the experience it warms the body and the soul hard to believe it is 11% taste more like 8%. Mouthfeel is suprisingly medium was expecting something little heavier but that makes it that much more dangerous. Drinkability is great this is one hell of a seasonal beer very well done.

mntlover, Nov 18, 2004
Photo of meathookjones
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%

I originally had this when I was first getting into craft brew and thought it was quite interesting but not my cup of tea at the time. Seeing as it came out the same did I was picking up some other beers I decided to give it a try again. This pours out a cherry juice red with a decent beige head that eventually falls to a coating of bubbles. Decent lacing was left around the glass as this was consumed. Aroma was a bit sweet with a bit of cherries and a bit of spiciness. Alcohol was evident but it mixed well and added positively to the smell. The taste starts off with a sweet maltiness that had notes of cherries and other fruits with a touch of honey. There was a good amount of spice as well. Aftertaste was a lingering sweetness. Mouthfeel was about medium with a slick and warming feel to it. Pretty damn good drinkability here with the large alcohol being hidden really well. It did warm me up quite a bit as I drank it. Overall this is a very interesting and tasty beer that I would recommend if you haven’t had it already. Oh and Venom’s suggestion to have it warm was spot on.

meathookjones, Nov 17, 2004
Photo of santoslhalper
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%

Pours a deep, glowing dark red with a thin head. A tiny bit of carbonation bubbles up. Chocolates and cherries burst through the smell of this beer. A nice warming scent of alchohol as well. This is a suprisingly malty tasting brew. Very sweet and fruity with a small but pleseant amount of hops coming through in the back. A beautiful holiday beer. This is going to be one of my "12 beers of christmas" this year. The best offering from Troeg's I've had. This is one of those beers that you won't forget for a long time. Highly, highly recommended.

santoslhalper, Nov 15, 2004
Photo of hockeydude
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear reddish brown color with a slight bit of effervescence which continues for minutes after the pour. Most upsetting is that the head is light and disappears right after the pour.

Smell: The aromas this fine ale exhibits are sweet from the honey and cherries as the label says.

Taste: On the front the cherry aromas are followed by the taste of cherries. midway through the honey becomes prevalent and finishes the palate with the nice sweetness of this ale.

Drinkability: Although not a fan of a beer with any type of fruit or other flavors exhibited, found the mad elf to be amazingly delightful. Even with the high alcohol content (11%), it is difficult to discern the alcohol in the taste. definitely a great bed time beer to relax, unwind and make your christmas list.

Cudos, this is a great beer. Grab one before there all gone.

hockeydude, Nov 13, 2004
Photo of 99bottles
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%

Appearance: This beer pours a stunningly clear ruby red color into a tulip glass as an 1" of white fizzy head rises and then settles to a thin and sporadic lace. Below average retention.

Smell: This nose is full of sweet syrupy sugar (honey) and the smell of cherries. Not tart cherries as in a lambic, but cherries from the center of a chocolated covered cherry. Decadent and yet, not really nice. Whew, thick and very remiscent of honey.

Taste: This beer hits the mouth with such alcohol that initally, it's difficult to realize the subtle flavors and complexities. There's a ton of malt, obviously, to get this puppy up to 11% abv. But it leaves less in the aftertaste, instead you get a remnant of the honey and other sweet carmel flavors. This combines wonderfully with the cherry flavor which is much more sour in the actual taste than in the scent. Finally, the alcohol and the malt washes over once more leaving a dry finish and an aftertaste that's sure to land you a DUI if a cop catches a whiff. This is a nice holiday beer, different than many of the others, and nice to sip slowly.

Mouthfeel: Not overly carbonated, very slick and alcoholic, not immensely cloying, medium to heavy body.

Drinkability: I liked it well enough, but I don't think I could ever force myself to drink this quickly. One is probably more than enough as an after dinner drink, or apertif. Whew! Potent stuff.

99bottles, Nov 09, 2004
Photo of sideshowrob
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%

Great brew for watching the snow fall on a day that work has been canceled...

Poured a wonderfuly unique red/amber color. Little head. Nice carbonation obvious. Smell is pure Xmas, with cherry and honey flavors domminating. No nutmeg or cardimom in this brew. Taste is pleasing - a thin syrup is a apt descriptor. very sweet, with just enough hop backbone to keep things balanced (a bit). This is absolutely a sipping beer, not due to the ABV, which is well hidden, but due to the complexity of the flavors - This brew is approaching a fine liquor.

The Elf only appears once a year, though this year the supply seems better (Bastage employees at the local beer store didn't buy it all this go-round!). Well worth a six pack.

sideshowrob, Nov 06, 2004
Photo of Gavage
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%

Pours a crystal clear reddish amber color. Starts off with a nice 1" head, but it disappears rather quickly, and I mean nothing, not even a surface foam.The aroma is sweet and lightly tart, as cherries, malt, cinammon and alcohol are easily detectable.

The flavor is complex. Thick malt is matched with cherry, apple, yeast, alcohol, honey, cinammon, nutmeg, and some other spices. What makes this interesting is that the flavors come at different times during the taste, like cherry and malt up front and honey and alcohol at the end. As it warms the flavors became more intense.

Mouthfeel was thick and syrupy at the start and finish. The malt seemed to stick to the tongue, and an alcohol kick came just after swallowing. This is a super brew, but for sippin' and relaxing on a cold evening only.

Gavage, Nov 05, 2004
Photo of poundboy
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%

Obtained this bottle in a trade with GCBrewingCO. Thanks much for the opertunity.

Appearance: Red, not amber like a red ale, but red like toasted cherries. Minimal head as is common in high alcohol brews. Just the sort of ruby treasure you can imagine finding in a Mad Elf's cellar.

Nose: Indentifiable fruit scents, Alcohol undertones, A mild floral hoppiness and hints of sweet malt.

Taste: Begins with a sweet maltiness combined with the fruity spicy character I associate with trappist ales. True to its name, one sip begins to warm you right up. Finishes with the slighest hint of spice. Neither my finace or I could taste cherries.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, pleasant carbonation, creamy despite not being all that thick.

Drinkability: I could pound these back until I could no longer stand up, which would proabably be after say 2.5.

Overall a damn good brew. Perhaps not a classic but certainly one to seek out.

poundboy, Sep 20, 2004
Photo of HappyHourHero
4.43/5  rDev +14.8%

Stored in the closet for about 8 months. Doughy fruity (cherry) aroma with a hint of alcohol. Opaque, ruby chestnut colored beer. Small, froathy dark cream colored head fades to a broken film. Small, scattered patches of lace cling to the glass. Mellow, creamy vanilla up front with a pinch of cherry, a bit of alcohol takes it into the finish. Nice solid beer, but not very sticky, easy to drink. Damn tasty, I wish I had a case.

HappyHourHero, Aug 23, 2004
Photo of Rastacouere
3.28/5  rDev -15%

Light reddish brown, I expected it to be pinkish red! No head. Cinnamon, nutmeg, apples, rhubarb, grapes and pomegranate sweet fruity vinous aroma. Earthy and caramel undertones. Mild vodka is noticeable in mouth. Caramelic sweettarts, apples, vinous grapes, cinnamon and tart fruits on the tongue. Rather thin bodied unfortunately, low carbonation. A beer that is hard to interpret well, this could be a spicy cooler for all I know, but it’s not without pleasure to sip. Fun to brew I guess, but a bit expensive for what it is. I wouldn’t try more than once anyway. Thanks you Mr Weizen.

Rastacouere, Jun 23, 2004
Photo of ppoitras
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%

12oz bottle obtained via trade with Pisskynights. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 3/4" of beige head, which laced nicely, over the reddish copper brew. Aroma is of cherries and malts. Taste is not the tartness one might expect from the cherry aroma, but malts upfront, combined with a deep sweet cherry flavor, which is not overdone, as could easily be a problem, but just right. Alcohol kind of creeps in at the end, in a nice kind of way. Mouthfeel excellent, just like a Belgian dark that you would expect, and the drinkability is excellent, in that even if you aren't interested in another straightaway, the character of the brew will make you return at another time. Excellent holiday brew.

ppoitras, Jun 10, 2004
Photo of Crosling
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%

Shared at a tasting with ratebeerians Ernest amd Aubrey.

Ruby.

Aroma of sweet malts, grapes, cherries, alcohol and honey.

Dark fruits, honey, cherries, toasted malts and subtle chocolate. I like how the cherries do not play a large role but instead, are in the backround letting you know that they are there but not screaming obscenities at your mother.

Anyway, this was a good one.

Crosling, Jun 07, 2004
Photo of far333
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%

Served in a brandy snifter. Pours caramel colored with pomegranate highlights. A low head rises up to greet me, and settles out quickly.

Smell is fruity, very sweet, with some malt, raspberry and cherry, plus some yeasty funkiness.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin, somewhat watery, leading to flavors of cherry and honey, and some light brown sugar, and some clove in the finish. Also a bit of a metallic notes underneath, perhaps from the alcohol, but no other indications of the ABV strength. Average drinkability due to the rich and yeasty flavors and the alcohol strength.

far333, Jun 01, 2004
Photo of UnionMade
4.58/5  rDev +18.7%

The beer pours a bright, sunset red. Hazy, but the color is luminous. Very impressive. A thick, creamy froth of ivory head pillows up with a vigorous pour, dropping as quickly as it came. The head settles into a scattered, striated mist, bordered by a thick collar. Upon close inspection, the bubbles in the collar are miniscule, almost microscopic. Sheets of lace cling to the glass, a collar of head begrudgingly holding on throughout.
The aroma is very complex, the honey and cherry immediately apparent. Rich, luscious malt cradles a very sweet maraschino cherry scent. Loads of caramel and toasty sweetness, with shovelfuls of candi sugar. Plenty of fruitiness, of course tons of cherry, with lighter, more subtle notes of raisin, plum, date and red grape. A bit of sneaky alcohol flits through the shadows.
The flavor starts with a very sweet, caramel drizzled toastiness. Sticky gobs of honey enter in immediately, lending a softness to the overall feel. Maraschino cherry creeps in early, ushering in a rich, full fruitiness. A bushel of raisin, date, plum and red apple is dumped on the palate, some sourish red grape and raspberry easing the way into the finish. A pleasant, barely balancing fruity sourness tames the malt somewhat, vague hints of earthy, herbal hops assisting. Great spiciness from the yeast. Soft clove and medicinal astringency, doing it's best to bury the alcohol content in the end. Interestingly, a distinct cherry cough syrup taste creeps in with warmth. A faint sting of booze sits on the tip of the tongue after every sip, beating back the sugary horde. The aftertaste is very sweet, with a pronounced honey-dipped cherry. Very mild, yet active carbonation supports a full, syrupy mouthfeel, vesseled in a very full body.
Really awesome stuff. I'm usually not a fan of stuff being added to beer, especially adding two sweet things to an already sweet style. These folks at Troeg's really pulled it off, though. The malt is easily tempered by the sour spiciness in the finish. I really liked the carbonation, how it gently carried the beer with just enough to get the job done, yet still retain that bouyant belgian feel. Please bottle this again.
Thanks to Sulldaddy for the bottle!!

UnionMade, May 26, 2004
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 2,964 ratings.