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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

3,489 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,489
Reviews: 1,201
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 193
Gots: 750 | 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: 3,489 | Reviews: 1,201 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Candied fruits woven in soft, caramelized grains is a breif descriptor. Alcohol strength providing the power to fuel the malts and esters. This beer shares a lot of similarities to Ommegang's Three Philosophers with it's candied cherry additions, higher alcohols, all leading into a fruit cake meets cough syrup taste; just tempered into a malty flavor that lures beer lovers like moths to flames. This beer begins with a bright copper color, low head formation and retention, with lacing substitued by legging. A real Barleywine appearance. Aromas are chocked full of esters and alcohol sweetness. Cherries make a definate impact along with notes of rum, roses, and delicate nectar sweetness. All that trancends nicely into taste with malt sweetness becomming the forefront elements- soft, bready, caramelly, and flavorful. Alcoholic heat makes the transition from flavor to body an easy one. Malty and sweet, this beer again takes on Barleywine proportions. The low hop character screams English Barleywine even though the maltiness is subtle and delicate. What a lovely beer that displays a lot of character from sweet to spicy; floral to alcoholic; fruity to bready;... the complexity descriptors can go on and on.

Thanks ShadesOfGray!

Photo of runningjoke
4.84/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into tulip glass with a nice amber color and a thick foamy head.
Smelled delicious with honey upfront followed with the spicy hops.
Tastes of tart cherries, honey, and spice. It fills the whole mouth with flavors. Sweetness on the tip of the tongue with tart, mouthwatering element in back. Alcohol fills the sinuses as the beer goes down (one of my favorite qualities).
It feels light in the mouth and goes down smooth.
This beer could be dangerous,as I could drink this all night, and I probably will.
Can't wait for next years release...it gives me something to look forward to.

Photo of crhensel
4.52/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

(Bottle into tulip) This beer came very highly recommended over the past 2 holiday seasons, but I had a hack of a time finding it until this year, and I frankly have been saving this one in anticipation. I was NOT disappointed!! Poured a nice red color but with little to no head that was gone in a heartbeat. The nose was heavy with the honey and cherry as advertised, as well as a background of the alcohol. Lively carbonation on the tongue and the drink itself is very smooth. The taste was very surprising, however, as I was expecting more sweetness based on the aromas. There was some sweet there, but also a nice spicy bite (nutmeg?) that lingered, giving that warm holiday feeling and a fine finish. I will definitely be on the lookout for more next year!!

Photo of COBeerBuff
3.43/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received via SS '09 from Petroos...

Appearance: Very vigorous pour yields a half-finger of white head crowning a reddish-amber liquid. Definitely has a decent carbonation as you can hear the bubbles from a few feet away. Head dissipates quickly leaving a light ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: The nose is all cherry sweetness. I expected a more subtle cherry aroma, but what I'm getting is straight away cherry. It smells almost like SA Cherry Wheat. There also are some spices hidden in the background, but the cherry overpowers my nose enough that I can't pick them out.

Taste: This is a very sweet beer, almost cloyingly so. The tartness of the cherries is the first thing to hit the palate, and it almost dominates everything else. A little of the spiciness of the yeast is there along with some toastiness in the malts makes its way through.

Mouthfeel: This has a medium mouthfeel. The sweetness makes for some stickiness, but overall, this is a much lighter beer than I had imagined.

Drinkability: This beer drinks very smoothly, which is frightening considering the present nature of the alcohol in this beer. Definitely meant to be a winter sipper. I will enjoy this beer as the snow continues to fall here in Kansas.

Photo of righthereisay
3.62/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at a Christmas party. I noticed the 11% so I took it easy on the drink.

Dark amber, not much head at all, plenty of lacing.

Lots of fruity notes. Maybe lemon and cherry? I've read maybe some honey. I don't know. Not really like a beer. Kind of like a mixed drink. Not really my thang.

In reality, you shouldn't have more than 2 of these. It would hit you too quick. At Christmas time, with all the parties, you need to be able to drink all night. Not going to happen with this.

Sure, it is smooth, but the 11% kills it. Have 1 if you are going out to a bar and need to save some cash.

Photo of Augustiner719
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had on tap at THE OFFICE in Summit, NJ.

Appearance: Crystal clear, mahogony, ruby red brown color. Very small 1 finger head dwindled down to nothing quickly. Zero lacing.

Smell: Smells like a bit of ludents cough drops, slight alcohol aroma and some deep malty, light chocolatly aromas.

Taste: Tastes very smooth for the 11% abv. Very little alcohol burn. Cherry juice, slightly medicinal and malty backbone.

Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated. Not overly cloyingly sweet. Good viscoscity. Nice and round on the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Great winter style beer. I wouldnt have more than 1, maybe 2 of these because this is a very strong high abv beer. Nice though.

Photo of keifffff
3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

No frills yet not bad either. Lots of cherry flavor and holiday cheer. Good seasonal brew to look forward to. No head what so ever though. No pun intended. Will look forward to this delivery each season, but not one of the best from Troegs though. Do not let that discourage you from trying it. It is still a good ale.

Photo of srandycarter
3.69/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Rich amber clear, not much head nor lace.

S- Big malty smell, almost cloying in nature. Interesting, though.

T - Big malt beer. Not so much of the Belgian attributes that I am used to, but nice.

M - Medium, good carb, ok balance.

D - Did not really touch me.

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

This beer seems a clear tribute to Ridgeway's Elf beers (Bad Elf, Criminally Bad Elf, Insanely Bad Elf, etc.)...let's see what mischief the Troegs brothers have up their sleeves this holiday season...

Pours an orange-leaning rust color, with slow-moving bubbles reaching a non-head at the top. Well, there is a dirty white head at first, but it settles down in less than a minute to a soapy crown. Expected, at 11%...

Cherries and yeast are at the forefront of the aroma. Certainly a Belgian character to the yeast, with the fruitiness being thankfully natural in character and well-behaved in strength.

Flavor is a mad ball of tart cherry, spicy yeast, and alcohol. Core beer components, malt and hops, seem to take a back seat to these other elements. A little honey creeps in as well, but basically this is the Spice/Cherry/Yeast/Booze Show. Alcohol lingers into the finish, where an aggressively carbonated texture attacks the taste buds in a not entirely unpleasant way. A fairly syrupy body helps offset that crazy tingle. Ultimately the booze-flavored cherry candy vibe of the beer detracts from its drinkability.

First time I had this was about a week ago, on tap at the Blue Tusk in Syracuse, NY. My palate might have been wrecked by that point in the evening, but it seemed like a strong/spiced English ale then...aroma-wise, it definitely has more Belgian character than anything, but I still feel like the medicinal, unsubtle vibe of Mad Elf is reminiscent of big spiced English holiday ales, and evidence beyond just name and label that this is indeed a tribute to Ridgeway's Bad Elf stuff. Glad to have tried it twice now, but not super-anxious to return.

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

finally decide to crack this one open on new years eve.

poured from the 22 0z bottle into a wine glass.
apperance the lacing quickly goes away its color is amber in color.
smell a blend of cherries and bread malt flavor with a hint of coriander with honey notes.
some what syrupy in taste but not to bad thought .
for my first try into this style i feel a little overwhelmed but i do like it and wish to try other beers from this style.

Photo of sisuspeed
3.47/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a crisp, clear, amber color with a big fizzy head that quickly disappears.

Lots of cherry and funky booze on the nose. Some swirling brings out a sweet honey smell and a bit of spice. Smells like many other beers in this style with a large addition of cherries. Kind of like cough syrup.

Booze and sweet, bready malts hit the mouth on the first sip. The finish brings out a nice cherry flavor. Coriander and a bit of orange peel are noticeable as well. Honey comes in and out. Overall, very sweet, boozy and fruity.

The mouthfeel is smooth with light carbonation, but seems to be lacking the body that usually accompanies an 11% ABV beer. The body that is there is somewhat syrupy.

Drinkability is above average, but not by much. The high ABV and sweetness make this a one bottle beer, tops.

Overall, this is a good holiday beer. It goes along with the festive atmosphere, but the excessive sweetness and cherries are a bit too much for me.

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

Poured into a tulip glass, revealing ruby-toned clear body with an airy yellowed head that dies fast. Lightly bubbling body reminds me a lot of champagne. Smells like fruity hops and cherry cough syrup with hints of farmhouse funk. Intriguing.

Tastes sweet... very like a Belgian in character, with some funk and some blossoming floral flavor that dies into a fruity cherry (like cough syrup, I swear) light malty aftertaste. Alcohol makes its presence known and overall texture is smooth and a little dry, but I don't know if I would describe it as strong. Medium-bodied. Drinks like a water. Carbonation nucleates very small and slightly tingly on the tongue, dying quickly so as not to add much to the overall body. The aftertaste seriously reminds me of how my mouth feels after cough syrup. So, I'm not sure what this makes me, but it's quite drinkable. Don't know if I'd want more than one glass, though.

A yummy one-off strong dark. I'd get one next Christmas.

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

12 oz bottle recieved in Mahar's advent. Not my first time sampling this beer as I've had multiple bottles and tap pours this holiday season. This is in regards to this bottle though. Poured into a Portsmouth tulip.

A: Clear golden with a reddish hue. Minimal head on the pour.

S: Sweet cherries and honey. Fruity overall and certainly sweet smelling.

T: Very sweet but seemes balanced. I get sweet cherries, but not a natural cherry flavor, more of a syrupy or candy cherry flavor.

M: bubbly and medium bodied. Clean.

D: A little sweet for me. I'm not a huge cherry flavor fan. I like to eat cherries but would never drink cherry syrup in something. This reminds me of cherry syrup. Not bad though as I have had it a bunch of time so I will certianly drink it.

Photo of strictly4DK
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a Weyerbacher tulip glass.

A - Pours a translucent amber, head amounts to a thin film and recedes to nothing. No lacing.

S - Just as advertised, scent is primarily sweet honey, spicy, slightly tart cherries. Phenolic but not medicinal.

T - Up front is sweet honey, candied sugar, cherries, and possibly some raisins. Mid-palate it makes a big shift. Cloves and belgian spice bridges the gap to dry, tannic finish. Hints of fusel alcohol but not too hot.

M - Light bodied and slightly thin. Astringent due to the tannic finish but honey and some spice also remain on the palate.

D - This is a decent holiday seasonal but not sure it holds up to many other beers of the Belgian Strong Dark style. Tannins nicely balance how sweet this is upfront. Probably won't pick up another unless it's got some age.

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

The beer would rapidly fizz up with tiny cream coloured bubbles that would disappear just as soon, each crackling loudly as they faded. I couldn't believe the colour at first - one of the most clear and vibrant and bright colours I've ever seen in any beer. Quickly turned flat and bright ruby in colour, it closely resembled a glass of cranberry juice.

(I later couldn't resist but pour in all the sludge from the bottom of the bottle, greatly polluting the clarity, sullying the appearance, which then more closely resembled tomato juice. But the original, unsullied appearance was beautiful, like a Christmas stocking.)

I absolutely love this aroma, and there is no shortage of reasons why. For one, the honey reminds me of quality Polish mead. It has a waxy, earthy, polleny, buckwheat-infused balm that should be evident to even those with a poor sense of smell. Secondly, the cherries are appreciated and blend well with the notes of pear, apple and peach that are byproducts of the yeast. Lastly, malty hints of toffee and figgy pudding accentuate gracefully.

Although this relatively fresh sample should rightly be considered zippy, I've had older bottles which clearly illustrated how high alcohol and low carbonation can combine to make a syrupy mouthfeel. This example veers clear of being syrupy although I do feel slightly let down by the lack of texture and lingering...

For a beer made with sweet and sour cherries, dark malts, bitter hops, sweet honey and spicy yeast you'd think there would be just a tad more texture. Flavours, on the contrary, are ripe and plentiful. The honey is appreciated most, lending plenty of noticeable flavor. The fruity spiciness of the yeast is next, followed by a light tartness from the cherries. The malts, though thinnish, manage to contribute figs, dates and butterscotch.

I'm not crazy about Mad Elf but I do like it a fair bit, namely because its ability to age, its Christmasy flavours of figgy pudding and cranberry, its spicy yeast and warming sensation make it an extremely apt beer for the holidays. It likely wouldn't be the first thing I'd grab when hankering for a yuletide tipple, but if I were more in the spirit for a nightcap, I might be inclined to skip the port and go straight for the Tröegs.

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

I had a pint of this on tap at Brewhouse grille in Lemoyne, PA.

A - A very clear bright crimson w/ amber highlights and a very thin white cap w/ ultra fine bead. The clarity is very transparent w/ carbonation visible as it quickly rises

S - the smell is sweet and honey-like w/ an aroma that has mild fruit notes and subtle malt aroma. The mild hint of alcohol is apparent

M - A srong vinous feel w/ smooth full and thick body w/ slight alcohol warmth and moderate carbonation w/ gentle sweetness

T - A crisp, fruit taste at first followed by a slight honey flavor and strong alcohol flavor w/ a mild creamy malt taste. There is very light cherry tinges which are dry and have a mild tannic element w/ honey-like sweetness that coats the palate after the glass is drained

D - Let's be honest this is a strong beer and the taste only hides it slightly w/ little real fruit flavor to speak of and lots of alcohol which isn't something I personally find to be all that drinkable. I admit it is pretty smooth for the abv, with honey not overpowering, but too much for more than 1 IMO.

Photo of MadElf25
4.28/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A. Served in a cognyac glass with a ruby red coloring made me think of Christmas Morning.

S. A Sweet aroma, i really smell the Cherry Flavor.

T. Sweet yet tangy with heavy tates of cherry, i gave it a 4 due to a little bit of an after taste.

M. Very smooth going down, light and airy.

D. It is Definatly a beer i could enjoy again and again

Photo of rfgetz
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice, light and clear ruby color with a very thin bubbly white ring of foam. Smell is of yeasty bread, faitn spicing plus a kiss of honey and marachino cherry. Taste kicks the scent profile up a notch with a very noticable belgian yeasty background with a good candy cherry and mildly sweet honey flavor. Some spicing and wheat flavors on the back end and a noticable boozy touch. Slightly undercarbonated, lighter side of medium bodied. A decent beer, but lacks the punch i remember it having in the past.

Photo of BeerPhan86
3.67/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I wanted to get some Delirium Noel for Christmas this year but my store didn't order it, and I noticed they had this. Wasn't about to spend $15.99 for a six pack but I got a single for $3.49.

A - I was expecting something far darker in appearance. This one pours a hazy ruby-amber with a virtually nonexistent head. Doesn't seem to be very much carbonation in this beer either...

S - Belgian yeast, raisins, and banana. Very sweet and malty smelling, with plenty of booziness. I can detect the cherries and honey that the description promises. This reminds me of Three Philosopher's.

T - Plenty of cherry flavor that stays on the lips. Very boozy and oaky. Tastes grainy and spicy. I get some hops on the dry finish, but just not enough dark flavors for my taste.

M - Medium bodied and creamy, but pretty flat. I need some carbonation, and I think that would help bring out the flavors some more.

D - The ABV is very well hidden, however I am glad I just bought the one to try and not the whole six pack.

Overall, I should have spent the holiday with Three Philosopher's or just gotten some Delirium Nocturnum. Pretty big letdown, I was expecting a far darker and more complex beer. Other people seem to like this and it isn't bad, just not worth the price at all in my opinion, and I was definitely in the mood for a Belgian strong dark ale tonight.

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

2008 Vintage

Poured into town hall chalice.

Pours hardly and khaki tan head. Fades down fast. Color is a ruby red copper.

Aroma: Cherries right away. Then I get some spice notes. I'd have to say it is ginger. A nice dose of honey with some biscuit flavored malts. This is a perfect holiday beer.

Taste: Lots of cherries and honey up front. Ginger and spice notes. Bready malts. Maybe some plums and molasses as well. This is a great treat for the holidays.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and refreshingly creamy. A very hint of heat. Medium bodied with a lower amount of carbonation, but that is fine since it is a year old. Ends pretty dry though.

Overall, I was impressed with this one and very drinkable for the abv and the little hint of booze that showed. I really enjoyed this one and it is a great seasonal.

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

To Send the Holidays from ok to felony.

A: Nice translucent red color. Minimal white head with almost no lacing.

S: Nice smell of sweetness and cherries. A touch of booze in there as well. Quite a bit of sweetness.

T: The difference between this in the bottle and on tap if that it is a little bit boozier on tap which is weird. Quite a bit of cherries coming through.

M: Nice full mouthfeel. A little bit sticky.

D: I love this beer. Just a great treat during the holidays.

Photo of jbsteiny
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at One World Café in Baltimore. I was very happy to see this, as: a) I'd never tried it before; b) I love Belgian styles; c) I live in Hawaii where you don't get a good variety of interesting American craft brews; and d) it was being served by the pint and, at 11%, it was by far the most economical delicious buzz I could ask for.

Beautiful dark ruby color with a slight ring of foam. The head would rise with a swirl of the glass, but wouldn't stick around. A few short-lived specks of foam on the glass.

Smelled and tasted of thick malt, candy, brown sugar, stewed fruit, and spicy phenols. I didn't know about the cherries until I just read it here, but I guess that was some of the fruitiness I was getting -- I thought it was esters from the yeast.

Despite a big sweet presence, it dried up remarkably well, and I forgot to sip it. Downed two pints very easily. Then again, I've got a sweet tooth and my buddy didn't really care for it, preferring to stick with the Dogfish Head pale ale. But one of the better American takes on the Belgian style I've had. Looking forward to trying more from Tröegs this holiday season!

Photo of cosmicevan
3.37/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12oz bottle into tulip glass

A - Poured a syrup looking amber with a very thin head that disappaited almost immediately.

S - Very sweet smelling. Honey and maple sugar smell.

T - Very sweet and syrupy, but not bad. Fun for a one off, but not something I'd want to have more than one of in a night. Kind of like having a piece of candy and a beer all in one, very filling.

M - Very flat and syrupy feeling. Doesn't really feel like a beer, but certainly feels like a holiday drink rich in sweetness.

D - Pretty thick and filling beer for my tastes. Not bad by any means, but drinking too many of these might give you the same feeling as eating too much candy. The high ABV would also prevent you from having too many of these, but not a bad treat if you are looking to fulfill the desire for a beer while also getting your sweet tooth fix.

Photo of gromis
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a holiday favorite, as the brewery is nearby. Every year people wait for this to come out.

It pours a dark gold/amber color. Hardly any carbonation to speak of.

Smell is nothing out of the ordinary.

Taste: To me, the honey comes through. I really can't pick out the cherries that are supposed to be in this one. Very pleasant taste, bites a bit of alcohol.

Since I've been brewing my own beer, I've made the statement that commercial beers now taste like "Lite" beers to me. After having a Mad Elf, I had one of my homebrews and my homebrew tasted like a Lite beer. HEH!

Photo of sprucetip
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Though this one had virtually no head, and was only a little active, I score it pretty high because the clarity seemed extraordinary. Sort of light amber and exceptionally clear, it was very inviting and attractive.

SMELL Fruity boozy esters, mostly banana, were very strong but not very hot. It was also very sweet. The banana esters reminded me very much of the German wheat beers, and makes me wonder if they used that kind of yeast?

TASTE is malty sweet with short lived bitter cheery-like dark fruit up front. Alcohol is evident but not dominant. Balancing hops are perceptible and just a bit bitter. Pretty smooth, and growing on me...

FELL modest warming, rich full body, medium viscosity and a drying finish.

OVERALL Cloying would be too strong a description, but it's not hard to imagine some finding this way too sweet. Alcohol presence is restrained, thankfully, considering how much of it is in there. And there are some other interesting things going on in there, like the aforementioned banana smell and taste reminiscnet of German weiss beers. Definitely a sipper. Glad I tried it. Thank you BuckeyeNation for the great trade and hand delviery.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,489 ratings.