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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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very good

3,342 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,342
Reviews: 1,174
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.5%
Wants: 191
Gots: 630 | 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: 3,342 | Reviews: 1,174 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JohnGalt1
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Edit: Please read this entire review before making any decisions about the worth of Mad Elf.


Tonight is a big night for me thanks to Hophead101 ... I was lucky enough to win the Mad Elf LIF that contained a solid 4 year vertical of the much sought after Mad Elf. I am too big a pussy to try all 4 years side by side... soooo.. tonight I am gonna do an '08 and an '05 together. The '08 is in my trusty New Belgium snifter.. the older brother is in a nearly as trusty Chimay goblet.

The pour on both were identical... the sediment stuck alot better on the '05... both had a very short lasting 3/4" head.. both have very clear deep amber red brew (sediment was left in the bottle).. no appreciable difference in appearance. (3.5)

The '08:

Nose: clean belgian ale with fruitiness that may be identified as cherries... but I'm having a time.. lite pale malts and slight but definitely there spicy EtOH... actually really very mild. (3.5)

Palate: Really pretty standard BSDA flavors with a sorta punch of cherry essence mid palate with I guess what could be described as a honey sweetness that has a fairly mild fruity finish.. interesting but not what I would say is something that I would really hunt down.. a little too phenolic toward the end... as it warms.. the cherries show up quite a bit more.. and the honey notes really meld better.. but it still leaves something to be desired. (3.5)

Body: lite side for a brew this big.. belgian or not.. carbonation is surprisingly lite with a more smooth small bubble envelope... (3.5)

Drinkability: Honesty.. I could easily drink "one" or two of these relatively easily.. but again, I wouldn't go out of my way.. easy drinking for a beer of this magnitude.. but it would smack me in the brain fairly quickly. (3.5)

The '05:

Nose: Bready and estery.. slightly oxidized in a good way.. sorta like a fruity tawny port.. toasty.. (4)

Palate: The flavor is much more complex.. MUCH. and amazingly the cherry is much more pronounced.. sorta like a refined Maraschino essence.. like a tablespoon of kirsch in a nice goblet of a good BSDA.. very nice.. the phenolic aspect of the '08 is nearly gone.. the alcohol component is also pretty much completely melded into a much more complex brew.. the finish is more dry with a nice lingering cherry smack (4.5)

Body: The body even feels more refined.. pretty much the same viscosity with a delicate bubbliness (word?) .. (4)

Drinkability: The drinkability actually takes a hit (in theory) with some age.. only because I wanna savor it more.. very nice.. much much more of a sippin beer.. (3.5)


Wow.. this was a lesson in beer aging.. Huge thanks Greg.. this seriously made me think.. had I thrown in the '06 and '07, I think the differences would have gotten lost in translation.. this is one of the most generous LIF's that I've seen.. again.. thanks.

I don't know how to review this one.. I have to do the fresh review, but if I had this locally.. I would buy 6 or 12 every year and have a few and probably cellar the rest and not touch them for at least a couple of years.. remarkable what some time can do.

Had I reviewed the '05 here is the standing at 2:00 am MST on 1/28/09

A- / 4.05
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | drink: 3.5
rDev: +3.2%

Photo of prsguitarsr4me
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting beer. Got this as an extra in a trade - thanks jophish17! Nice dark amber color, not much head, and no retention. Aroma is a little sour to me - maybe a bit too much sweet fruit - almost like bananas. Taste is similar but definitely better - smooth and sweet - a little spicy, which I definitely like. I can't believe that the alcohol is 11%. It tastes like 5-6%. I would've liked a little more alcohol presence in the taste and aroma. Feel is smooth - goes down nicely and I could drink several if I had them. Definitely an interesting take on a Belgian strong ale - the alcohol is a little too hidden for my tastes.

Photo of Bierguy5
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, 11% ABV. Pours a very clear ruby color. White foamy head disappears immediately.

Sour cherries in the nose. A bit yeasty. Some earthy notes, and a good whiff of alcohol.

Tart at the beginning, smoothed over with some honey-like sweetness. Nice subtle cherry flavor, with just a bit of a yeasty characteristic. Some earthy bitterness keeps thing in reasonable balance.

Medium body, with lower fine carbonation. A bit of warming from the alcohol. Very interesting and enjoyable.

Photo of rlparker3
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

9-Jan-2009 Home

Pours a reddish brown with a slight beige head which quickly fades to nothing. Aroma of Cherries and possible milk chocolate. The taste is a slightly sour cherry which quickly becomes strong cherries then a pleasant malt and spice finish. The beer leaves a thin syrupy (but pleasant) residue. This is a fine beer but I never crave more than one.

Photo of schroederm
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

In a snifter:

What a color! Very, very ruby, extremely attractive even in the dim lighting I saw it in. Basically no head, but I'm not sure if the beer or the bartender is to blame on that. Tons of banana bread in both the smell and the taste, which really worked quite well. Some honey, a lot of cherry, a little oak. The beer was honestly a little too sweet, the cherry just a bit overwhelming. Carbonation was a little higher than I would have liked, but Mad Elf is full bodied and velvety.

Overall: An interesting take on Belgian Strong and a Winter Seasonal. Worth a try just for the banana bread.

Photo of casemw
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer in a 12 oz bottle.

A-Pours a rich amber color with 1/4" head that fades pretty quick.
S-Smells of Cherry and Honey, very little alcohol considering its abv%.
T-Alcohol is fairly subtle; cherries and honey dominate. Tastes like a strong amber ale.
M-Mouthfeel has decent carbonation, sweetness lingers.
D-Suprisingly drinkable at 11%abv. Could drink a couple of these brews without much problem at all.

Photo of craytonic
3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Small head, little lace. Brilliant blood red, like rudolph's nose.

Smell: Sweet malt, cherry and hint of roses. Alcohol is a bit too prevalent.

Taste: Sweet with a tart cherry twang. The honey is very mild. A bit medicinal.

Mouthfeel: Thin, carbonation is off.

Drinkability: I didn't smell or taste the high ABV, which I usually find very noticeable. Dangerously drinkable. Couldn't finish it fast enough. I really wish I had another right now.

Photo of d0ggnate
3.13/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 1/10/09. Poured from bottle to goblet.

A: Poured copper/amber/orange color with no lacing and head layer fading to nothing quickly.
S: Strong citrus, sweet floral and honey aromas, notable candied sugars.
T: Very sugary. Slight citrus continued. A bit sour, vinegar-like, probably cherries. Later noted some caramel and banana flavors.
M: Slick. Watery. A bit oily. Almost no carbonation.
D: The taste was a bit off, to me. I was expecting more, but wasn't impressed overall. The carbonation was lacking and the beer was way too sweet for my taste.

Photo of Roy3268
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

S- many different things detected from the smell of this beer. Had a mild cherry scent with honey which created a bubble gum like aroma.

T- not ovely hoppy like many of the Troge brew. like the smell had a bubble gum taste to it.

M- had a bit of a syrupy mouth sensation to it, but not enough to gag you. perfect sipping beer

D- highly recommended..Rather pricey (52.00 for a case) one of those beers that you buy around the winter holidays too heavy for a summer drink

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

2007 bottle

Ruby colored with a stout white head. no retention on the head. smell is malty with a tart note of cherries. taste is all malt with little hop backbone. somewhat tart, but those cherries really shine through. deceptively easy drinking for 11%. mouthfeel is really smooth, with enough carbonation to carry that heavy booze away.

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

A: A deep red like brewed iced tea. Not much of a head at all, though I noticed some lacing around the edges of the glass.
S: Smells sweet like cherries and the alcohol smell is strong.
T: This tastes more like a brandy or wine than beer. But the taste is very enjoyable. Kind of a sweet and sour thing going on here. A mix of sweet and tart all happening at the same time. The nice flavor lingers nicely on the tongue with a pleasing aftertaste.
M: Kind of slick feeling. Not very carbonated.

D: A great seasonal beer. It warms you up inside and makes you feel all warm and cozy inside. Perfect for cold winter nights. I couldn't drink more than one of these at a time, but I definitely want to pick up at least one more of these for when a winter storm rolls through. I think it would be great to sip this while watching the snow fall outside. A perfect beer for the season! I poured the bottle into a pint glass, but I think a snifter or tulip would serve as a better glass for this type of beer. The warmth and complexity of the beer really shine through when the beer warms up a bit.

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

A: muted reddish brown, no head
S: a little cherry scent, and some raisins, honey.
T: wow. Unexpected. Just a little hint of cherries. Sweetness. I can definitely taste the honey. A bready finish.
M: slippery
D: great beer, but I'd stick with one for tonight.

Photo of stewart124
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby red in color with a white head that leaves a little lacing.

Aroma is of cherries, spices and a slight hint of raisins.

Taste is very sweet, that could be due to the honey or possibly some belgian candy. Lots of residual sweetness and lots of caramel. This leaves a tingle in the throat and a sweet caramel/cherry taste on the tongue. Spicy and tart on the tongue.

The alcohol seems to be well hidden but I'm waiting for it to sneak up on me.

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

07 version.

Pours dark belgiany amber into stemmed glass ware with a small, fast-dying head.

Very small odors of cherries and honey zip out in between ethanol, aggressive yeast, and Belgiany malt.

Tastes good, nice and sweet and well balanced. Starts off with a surprisingly strong (yet nicely mild) honey node, blended with a malt and yeast profile that's a lot like a Belgian pale. Mild, tart cherries rush in at the end, and sweet fruit and honey linger in the aftertaste.

Very nice little treat.

Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.23/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bomber poured into little tasting glasses- split this year's edition with a few friends...

Deep ruby red with a quickly dissipating head. Left surprisingly good lacing.

Aroma of toasted malt, slightly sweet, fruitiness (cherries, dates) but mostly just alcohol. Saying that it is very present is an understatement. I recently got an 05 as an extra in a trade and am very excited to see how it has mellowed.

One friend said the words "Cherry cough syrup" and once I heard that, I couldn't stop thinking it. Had a nice, creamy, full bodied mouthfeel but the alcohol was very present. Somewhat yeasty/spicy throughout. Interesting to try, but certainly a sipper for the cold months.

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

Had on tap at Magnolias in Purcellville, VA

A - Dark red body with some brown hues in certain light. Slightly off-white 2-finger head subsides rather quickly to a nice lacing on top.

S - Sweet dark cherries with some alochol esthers. Cherry is not overwhelming and is masked some by some bready characters.

T&M - Slick mouthfeel from the alcohol. I taste dark malts with a sweet background and hint of cherries. I definitely wouldn't label this as a "cherry-flavored" beer. The cherries are there in the background but not too prominent, I like that. Bready notes at the end.

A sipper to be had all night.

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

A brilliant, clear darkish cherry red. A thin light tan head that thins quickly leaving a wispy covering. No carbonation. It would score a 3.5 but the color is so beautiful I had to give the brewer style points.

A sweet malt nose with fruits featuring banana, raisins, and light figs. A dark sugar component of toffee mixed with light fragrant cherries. Belgian yeast esters and light fusel alcohol.

Taste is malty with dark cherries and banana. A tartness that blends back into sour cherries. Finish is mild with faint fusels and floral hops being the feature with yeasty dark bread and light nuttiness that lingers in the mouth.

A medium weight with velvety smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is very good as the abv is well hidden and the beer is quite delicious.

A new favorite holiday beverage. I must get some to age for the future yuletimes.

From tasting notes 1/4/2009

Photo of talkinghatrack
4.83/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sometimes you can't forget your first.

My first Mad Elf was on a bitingly cold Sunday morning. My brother and I were in a parking lot, tailgating at an annual Eagles game and waiting for some steak to cook while huddling over our plastic cups of beer. After several Coors Lights (no shame there - great tailgate beer), my bro pulls out two Mad Elf's and tells me I have to try this stuff.

Wow. Loved it. Still do.

(2007 bottle, poured 1/5/09)

A dark reddy brew with a nice but quickly dissapating head, the sweet cherry-themed bready aroma invites you into each sip. Sure, there is a hint of alcohol in the nose and taste but we're talking about an 11% alcohol content here. After a few sips you stop noticing.

Smooth enough to drink fast but who would want to waste it? Great malty mouthfeel yet a light/medium body. A slighty high carbonation keeps pace with the other elements and dissipates quickly on the tongue. Love the tangy sweet finish in the back and sides of the tongue and the pleasant warming sensation as it travels down the throat.

If you can stand to let it age, it only gets better. I'm tempted to crack into my few remaining 2006 bottles but willpower has held out so far.

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

Mad Elf pours a medium mahogany red; just like Birch Beer. Active carbonation on the pour gives ya' a "weffer thin" head. Wow.. the nose is actually like birch beer soda or sarsaparilla, having a structured root beer element to it. But this stuff ain't for kids! Though the aromatics are in the forefront, there is no denying the absolute Belgian component to this brew. As all these flavors and aromatics are wrapped around candy sugar and Belgian like yeast strains; banana, allspice , and clove, these are indeed the Triad of Belgian nose candy.
An original and well made beer!

Photo of daythree16
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a wine glass. Clear honey-amber color with a 1" head.

Very winy aromas. Sweetness with a touch of cherry, though I don't know if I would have noticed it if I hadn't read the label first. Taste is sweet and piney with a lot of alcohol heat. Just a hint of sourness from the cherries.

Mouthfeel is medium and drinkability is decent, but the noticeable alcohol kills it a bit for me.

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

Picked up a sixtel of the Elf to add to the Saison on draft in the basement bar for a NY Day Bowl party.

From the tap, this has a sizeable 3F head, which quickly lowers to a skim-film w/ very little lacing. Ruby/orange, but quite clear.

Smells of maraschino cherries, and cinnamon-bread dough.

Yes, some cherry and honey in the taste, but also picked up caramel apples, and some banana and clove (like a heavy hefe, if such a thing existed).

The mouthfeel was heavy due to the ABV and sweetness, but not nearly as thick as I expected.

This is way too drinkable, as showcased by several of my friends after dropping back 3-4 pints in the afternoon. "HAPPY" New Year!

Photo of caminiti
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

OK at best in my opinion, sweet, very sweet.
I doth blame Kendo for making me drop $20 on a six pack of candy with alcohol. Poured into a tulip glass an almost bright orange with little carbonation and little head, it packed a lot of taste into each sip, which made it tough to drink more than one at a time. It will probably age well, but I didnt have any interest in keeping it around until next year...

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

A 2007 bottle

A: pours a nice gorgeous vibrant orangish red. slightly off white head. low retention level and a light amount of lacing.

S: smells like a quad. sweet and fruity, light honey notes, with a great deal of spices.

T: some age on it but I really pull the honey the most. Followed by the cherries, they are light but they are definitely present. AS it warms the cherries really start coming through. A slight funk it present. Some spices, mostly clove are there as well.

M: medium bodied for the style. mild carbonation with the aging. a little chewy. very warming.

D: a very nice brew, especially aged. Fresh is awesome as well, but I wanted to see where it would go after a year. 11% is up there but it is a great seasonal beer for the winter as it is very warming.

Photo of dacrza1
4.88/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark ruby red, beguilingly opaque with a simmering white ring of head that holds steady when the glass is swished--intimidating... robust floral aroma with pine accents and cinnamon present as well--some fruity esthers join in... smooth--and slightly oily--light on the tongue, with little aftertaste that barely qualifies this as medium-bodied... approached bourbon in taste, sweet and malty at the throat but consistent and respectfully fruitful at its midpoint... WHERE is the 11% ABV?! this being brother Bob's gateway beer to the level above Miller Lite, Mad Elf continues to warm and wow--an instant mood uplifter without gimicky injected flavors or false advertising--as easy-drinking a winter brew as I have found, deserving of its big things in little packages moniker...

Photo of TheycallmeTim
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a chalice.

A--Miniscule white head dies almost instantly to a ring even though I left plenty of room for it in the glass and poured like an Ommegang bomber. Body is a cross between apple cider vinegar and cranberry juice--really unique and inviting.

S--Honey and yeast. Just tons and tons of yeast drenched in a rich sweetness, like you had pizza dough rising from wild yeast inside a honeycomb. Alternately peppery and honeyed, with a tang of acidic cherry juice that's almost vinegary. Some heat from the alcohol.

T--No idea what yeast strain this is, but it's a gutsy move even in a seasonal for American drinkers. Not sure the experiment paid off, though. Has a periphery of cherry tang and sour, enrobed in honey and Belgian yeast. The malt is also present in a sort of rugged whole grain character in the very back, which pairs nicely with the honey. Mostly, though, there's so much booziness here that it makes everything almost Vicks vapo-rubby, or like you're drinking a Luden's cherry cough drop. The weather is right for it, I guess, but I don't really want to be reminded of sickness and the throat lozenges in my medicine cabinet during the holiday festivities.

M&D--Mouthfeel is a bit of a train wreck: bubbly (no doubt to temper the syrupiness of the boozy cherries), chalky, and spicy both from alcohol and the yeast. A wild ride. Again, the ABV really spoils it for me by being over the top.

This seems worth cellaring for a year or two. Right now it's a decent beer, but with time and mellowing I bet it would be an orgy in your mouth. Right now it's just too hot for my taste. Still, a worthwhile contribution, even if I didn't like it as much as I wanted to, from a brewery I'm beginning to think I should regard as preeminent.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,342 ratings.