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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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very good

3,362 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,362
Reviews: 1,177
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.5%
Wants: 192
Gots: 644 | 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: 3,362 | Reviews: 1,177 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UDbeernut
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My 100th review, on tap poured into a pint glass, not the correct glass wear

a: nice dark amber color, translucent with slight carbonation. When it arrived at my table, there was no head but lots of sticky lacing.

s: alchohol and cheery

t: cherry sweatness dominates flavor. Also taste alchohol. I think I taste a bit of honey too.

m&d: full bodied beer, very nice beer but i would not drink more than one during a session.


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

Thanks to BA caminiti for picking up the sixer at Halftime. Nearly 20 bucks?!?!? I think he's skimming some off the top. Let's see if it's worth it. . . .

A: Poured into a Chimay chalice. Body is clear reddish-amber with a small white head and some slow-rising bubbles. Absent those bubbles it looks a bit like cherry cough medicine.

S: Cherries evident right away, along with alcohol.

T: Candied fruit and sugar. Cherry sweetness on the front of the tongue -- and the back too. Heat is evident on the back end of the sip and in the belly. Slightly medicinal overall taste.

M: Good spritzy-ness makes it feel lighter than expected. Call it medium in weight.

D: OK. Too sweet and too hot to want a lot of this, but on the other hand, the 12 oz portion went down pretty quickly for a beer of this strength.

**** Edit, about 1 yr later (12-3-09) ***

Beer has lost that dominant cherry taste. Still hot, however, and still a nice fizzy feel. I'd probably give it all 4's a year out. . . .

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

Poured a copper red color into a Sierra Nevada hop tulip glass. Head was about a finger-width and slightly off-white and settled to a thin cap which was thicker towards the wall of the glass. Aroma is malty with sweet dark fruit, banana, raisins, dark caramel hints. Mouthfeel was full and slick, with great carbonation which balanced the heavy feel perfectly. Taste was very complex with dark fruit, figs, raisin, malty sweetness, some banana, and an alcohol warmth and an almost port-like smoothness to the finish. Drinkability was moderate, due to the high ABV which was balanced well in the drink but definitely had a presence in the taste. Shouldn't drink one of these too fast, as my father-in-law unwittingly found out tonight. Overall this is a great beer, and the experience was made more enjoyable by the fact that I tried it with family on Christmas Eve. This could become a holiday staple.

Photo of gford217
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What better time to drink this one than on Christmas Eve? Bottles courtesy of lackenhauser and ClockworkOrange, poured into a snifter.

Pours a very clear copper with a small off-white head that dissipates pretty quickly leaving a tiny ring and no lacing.

The aroma is extremely sweet and dominated by the Belgian yeast and honey. There are hints of chocolate in the background.

The taste is sweet as well, but a little more well-balanced than the aroma. It's got the yeast and honey sweetness throughout and I can actually get some cherries in the taste that I couldn't find in the aroma. The alcohol definitely plays a part in the finish with a strong burn.

The mouthfeel is fairly full and definitely sticky sweet with low carbonation. Almost chewy.

This is certainly a unique offering from Troegs and I really enjoyed it. A tasty holiday sipper to enjoy this Christmas eve.

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

12 oz bottle purchased for me by a friend of mine at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati, OH poured into a goblet.

A: Pours a beautiful ruby tinted brown color. It loses points for the minimal head it had being gone before I put the bottle down.

S: Cherries, alcohol, and some sort of spicing mix together to form a very inviting aroma.

T: The cherries and honey mix together to form the base taste of the beer. The ABV is pretty well hidden, but it would probably benefit from being laid down for a while to mellow a bit more. The spicing and slight tartness help to balance the overall sweet taste profile of the beer.

M: It has a medium body. I would like a bit of in mouth carbonation, but the spicing tries to help play the part. However, the beer is a bit more astringent with the lack of carbonation when it would be better to me if it were a bit creamier.

D: I really like this brew, but its a bit of a sipper for me. The lack of carbonation, strong spicing, and high ABV make me go a bit slow.

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


A: Ruby red with a small head that disappears quickly. Still, the color of the beers looks very appealing.

S: Cherries, Honey, Sweet malts, Spices.

T: Honey, Cherries, Belgian yeast, Spices (Cinnamon and something more...).

M: A bit of sourness hits me before the sweetness of the malt comes into place and makes everything delicously sweet. Low carbonation. ABV is hidden extremely well for a brew this strong.

Not the most christmas-like beer i've ever tried but a damn good beer nevertheless. Feels a bit like a barleywine with added spices. Why didn't i bring a few more bottles home with me...

Photo of cvfish
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Rated the #1 christmas beer in Don Russell's book

A - Poured a cloudy red color that produced a fluffy white head that retained well and left a nice lacing around the glass

S - Strong scents of cherries and sweet honey with some spicy backgrounds, possibly cinnamon

T - A sweet cherry and honey flavor that mix well with the spicy flavors of cinnamon and malty goodness

M - Medium bodied with fair amount of carbonation

D - Very good Christmas beer, well earned reputation

Photo of jwinkleblech
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recently sampled a 10oz of the 2008 Mad Elf....must say that this could be my favorite winter beer yet this year (or perhaps I'm only partial to the good folks from central Pennsylvania). Deep red coloration with a wonderful, complex taste (love the chocolate malts) that delivers a real kick. Would drink more if I did not need to drive home!!

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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Would have used a tulip or something if I didn't think this was a typical Christmas Ale. Oh well.

Appears a very nice and clear shade of orange-red with a half inch off-white head that sinks to a skim rather quickly. Leaves minimal lacing.

Aroma is dominated by the cherries in it, with a bit of clovey spiciness coming through, all encased in a sweet sugary backdrop. Perhaps a hint of some figs as well.

The taste is initially sweet and sugary with the cherry flavor coming in quick, but it is actually quite subtle. The spiciness comes in midway through and lasts into the finish where it is met with more cherry flavor that is rather sweet.

Mouthfeel is medium in body, pretty chewy as well, carbonation level might be better if it was higher. Drinkability isn't hurt by the high ABV, but after a while the sweetness starts to get a bit old.

Overall, this is a pretty solid beer. It probably won't make you blow your load but it's tasty and worth picking up if you can get it.

Photo of Reagan1984
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I do this every now and again. I get a six pack of a new beer and then forget if I've actually reviewed the beer. If I get a six, I prefer not to review the beer on the first go round. This way, I get to fully experience the beer casually and worry about an official review later. Well, I just realized with only a couple to go that I've never officially provided my review. Having already enjoyed several Mad Elves, I already know, I love this beer.

It pours with a minimal head that does fade quickly and provides no lacing. No matter, the beer itself is a geourgous ruby red amber color. The clarity could not be any more pronounced and there is virtually no visible carbonation. Despite not having the head/lacing combo, I've always thought this was a beautiful beer.

The aroma is of Belgian Yeast, and, of course, dark fruits, certainly including cherries

The flavor is just wonderful. I love the nature that honey adds to beers. I think it manifests itself as much in mouth feel as it does in taste, but it's certainly there. There is an initial sour fruit/cherry flavor that really marries the fruit with the Belgian yeast flavors. I 'm not sure where one begins and the other ends. Then you get another burst of a sweet fruit (cherry) before it slowly fades through some nice moments of malty happiness.

Towards the end, the honey comes in and provides a nice sweetness, but more importantly a full satisfying mouth feel. It's a full bodied beer that I LOVE to savor.

To me, this is a perfect marriage of honey, a dark fruit and a Belgian Yeast.

Troeg's knows what they are doing!!!

Still have a couple more, thank God!

Photo of hustlesworth
3.03/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- fizzy and vigorous buff colored head shrinks down quickly to a nare-nutta not much at all. similar to cola actually. no lace on a very clean tulip. body however is striking ruby red and rusty burnt sienna but due to its mega abv looks flat and disappointing.

S- smells very belgian, hints of chocolate, dark fruits like raisins, prunes, figs, dates, mineral water, spicy clove and banana yeast, pepper, blackberry, some wet dog, sweet honey, floral alcohol, but mostly yeasty and pale pilsener aromas with a fruity background.

T- more mineral water and a fresh grainy cereal flavor that is very appealing. there's a continual underlying fruity sweetness but i can't quite say that cherries or honey stand out. sweetness is not distinguishable from the rock candy syrup (or any other high sucrose simple syrup) that i typically associate with run of the mill belgian knock offs. more notes of milk chocolate and a clean floral hop bitterness but the most exciting part of this one for me is the taste of fresh lightly toasted grain and flavorful, albeit generic, yeast spiciness. finishes sweet with a little bit of residual dired cherry-sherry-wine tannin flavors and my beloved graininess lingers along with it. i will say however that the whopping 11% abv is very well hidden by fruity notes, sugar, and yeast esters.

MF- sugary acidic honey feeling, in this aspect the honey really reveals itself. more grain feeling as well. medium-low carbonation and an almost full slightly syrupy body. alcohol finally becomes evident as i burp and get a flash of heartburn, as well as a sugared dryness as finishing flavors diminish.

D- without being a dick, i'm glad i didn't save this elf til christmas eve. more than subtle, the special ingredients were totally subdued and could have been achieved merely with the magic of yeast, malt and hops, and a lil bit of rock candy. im treating it more like a generic wine than a really good belgian.

Photo of paco1029384756
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle thanks to ericwo.

Pours a great ruby orange color with very little head and a nice ring of lacing.

Scent of candi sugar, cherries and yeast. Sweet and pungent with well hidden alcohol, I like it.

Taste is a bit more subdued, candi sugar, yeast, grain, cherries, and honey. Finishes malty with hints of sugars. Alcohol is hidden superbly, I would never guess this beer is 11% without being told.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, but a bit flat.

Drinkability is high considering the strength.

Photo of sonicdescent
4.53/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Oh double dear, this is too damn drinkable for the amount of alcohol in it. Pours a nice gold with scents of honey and sweet malt. Taste is dangerously good and smooth with a
Medium body that coats the Mouth with it's honey goodness. I could drink this all night and that's why this beer scares the he'll out of me.

Photo of johnnnniee
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 bottling Enjoyed 12/19/2008

Pours a clear red brown with a smallish off white head that disappears quickly. Smells of Cherries, plums, dried fruit, malt, spicy yeast. Tastes of cherry and sweet malt, a bit of alcohol, some yeast funk. I'm not picking up much at all in the way of hop aroma or taste. This bottle is over a year old, so I think what little hop it had has long gone. Body is medium to thick, Mouthfeel is syrupy sweet, carbonation is low. The 11% is well hidden with only a trace of alcohol in the taste. I found it to be a sweet Belgian dark and had to sip this one most of the way down. Not bad, but a bit sweet for my taste, maybe a bit more hops could have helped this one out. I hope to try one fresh someday.

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

Look was ruby red, small ring of head around rim stayed almost the whole way through.

Smell was belgium yeast, sweetness from the malt, red wine,big red bubble gum, and a bannana clove hefe smell.

Taste started like a triple, yeast was milder than expected from the nose, honey played a mellow roll in smoothing out the yeast. Alcohol is well hidden. The cherries turn up in the end, finishing like a flat cola. Medium body, with a tart mouthfeel.

A mellow sipper, pretty good, not in your face. Still with that said, I think a couple years in the cellar would improve the overall flavor.

Photo of PretzelCity
2.53/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This was my third and final attempt at trying to figure out why people seem to enjoy this beer. That being said it poured a nice copper red into my glass with a one finger white head. The smell was mostly alcohol with a hint of cherry. The taste, for me, was lacking. It says right on the bottle "ale brewed with honey and cherries". Not typically a phrase that leads me to purchase a beer but I've had some great brews that were made with cherries. This is not one of them. The cherry flavor is weak and seems artificial, like Ludens Cough Drops. I know this is not a sour but I'm still underwhelmed. Mouthfeel and drinkability are low due to the medicine/alcohol traits. Overall,the third time wasn't a charm. Although it did get a little better each time it never turned into a good beer. Being from Pennsylvania I did want to like this beer but it seems to me it's all hype.

Photo of TheMistler
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A sharp nose, tinged with cherry. An almost oak barrel aroma, with some sherry hints. Solid malts, I think caramel.

A brightly colored, deeply colored but clear orange / brown with nice ruby highlights. White, delayed-bubble head that displayed champagne-like quick dissipation. Whisps stuck around on top, and there was a slight ring, not much lacing at all.

Cherry tartness and flavor build and stick to the palate, offset a little by some honey sweetness. Grassy hops. A sharp and mouth puckering brew, with an alcohol presence that seamed to leach the saliva from my mouth. Some warming.

Medium-heavy body. A pretty creamy feel, but with a carbonated fruit flavored beverage spritziness disrupting things (in a good way).

The ABV is well hidden, but this is a bit much to be that drinkable. To me it gets cloying and a bit too fruity if not sipped. Good fun, though. A cheerful beer.

Photo of padan7
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This review is for the on-tap product. I have had the bottle twice and find it too sweet to be enjoyable. And would give the bottle a c+ rating.

This is a beautiful looking beer. The redish color make it quite appealing.

The smell is also quite pleasing with hints of the cherries & honey.

Taste is sweet but not as much as the bottle. I found the honey seemed cloying in the bottle.

This is something that I can enjoy when in the mood for a sweet holiday beer.

Mouthful is good but I would have preferred more carbonation.

The drink hides the alcohol well.

Photo of HopHead84
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark ruby red with a 1.5 finger head. The head lasts under a minute and there is no lacing. The aroma is of alcohol, sweet malt, and light fruits, mainly cherry. There is some sugary sweetness in the aroma which I attribute to the honey. Flavor is sweet honey initially and the alcohol is noticeable. There is a medicinal quality that I can't quite put my finger on. I like the cherry flavor. It's not overdone and adds a nice and subtle fruitiness to this already sweet beer. Medium - full bodied with okay carbonation. Definitely a holiday beer.

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

Ap - The beer pours a deep reddish-brown, that's clear with few bubbles in the glass. It has an off-white head that's 1 finger thick from a very vigorous pour, but it quickly dissipated to leave just a little head on the brew.

Ar - is pleasant and fills the area quickly. From a distance, the smell is sweet and dominated by cherry. Closer in there's a malty grain smell that's maybe a little on the grassy side. I also noted hints of alcohol that reveals some of the 11% ABV. The sweet smell of honey is also present.

T - is sweet especially at first, I definitely noticed malt & honey. Not getting any bitterness really, just a light warm sensation on the tongue. The cherry is muted at first, but comes through a little more as it sits in the mouth. It's really more of a cherry liquor flavor, you can taste some of the alcohol in this one. I think I'm also getting just a touch of vanilla in the aftertaste, although I don't know why. This beer is actually reminiscent to me of the bottle of mead I purchased a while back. Probably mostly from the honey that is used in the brewing of Mad Elf. Unfortunately the honey lends a somewhat medicinal taste to the beer as well, but not so much that I would turn down a glass. I'm also a little reminded of Chimay Blue when I drink it, but I'm not sure why. The flavors also come out a bit as I go through the glass. The cherry got a little more tart and stronger.

M - of this beer is just great. It's got a medium body with a nice balance of carbonation for just the right amount of tingle. It coats the mouth lightly, leaving just a trace of smoothness on the teeth. It's warming, not too wet or dry going down, but a little more on the dry side. A little more rounded feel than crisp.

D - of this beer is not the highest. The taste is a little bit on the sweet side, so one at a time is enough. Still, it is good and even better as the glass progresses, and it's putting me in a festive mood.

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

Served from a bottle exactly like the one pictured above into my clean, clear Cooperstown Beverage Trail pint glass. Possibly has a freshness date but the one on my bottle has been rubbed out. Bought at Heinen's in Mentor, Ohio for $12.99 for a six pack.

From the web site: The Mad Elf Holiday Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 11% alcohol by volume
Hop Bitterness (IBU's) : 15
Color (SRM) : Ruby Red
Availability: Seasonal, 12 oz. 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

The Mad Elf, a cheerful creation to warm your heart and enlighten your tongue. The combination of Cherries, Honey, and Chocolate Malts delivers gentle fruits and subtle spices. Fermented and aged with a unique yeast, this ruby red beer has significant warming strength that underlies the pleasant character of this intriguing yet delicious Ale. The Mad Elf, a jolly and delicious beer for the Holidays

A Pours a great looking golden brown with a briefly generous off white head that dissapeared in about one minute down to trace bubbles.

S A great malty sweetness with honey notable and alcohol is able to be smelled.

T Tastes like a nice Belgian. Big malty sweetness with honey and alcohol tastes but it is mutlilayered with strong, sweet tastes and a nice, not overwhelming aftertaste like a great light syrup. Really interesting.

M Full for sure with big alcohol and malty sweetness.

D Good for this high of an ABV. Its big sweetness is interesting enough for me to seek this out many more times to come.

Notes: Glad that I bought the six pack. When I go back to Heinen's I will look to see if they have any more. In a blind taste taste I would readily believe that this is a true Belgian. Troegs is 2 for 2 with me so far as I had their Hop Back a few weeks ago and it was excellent.

Photo of Pauly2X
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to dashirey for this one.

A- Solid ruby red, wispy head.

S- Clean, slightly vinous hints of cherry.

T- Lightly grainy sweet malt upfront makes an almost seamless transition into a light cherry flavor that is intertwined with floral notes from the honey. Finishes clean and semi dry.

M- Medium-full bodied with balanced carbonation.

D- If it weren't for the 11% I might do more.

A very interesting take on the style. The alcohol is well hidden. This would make a great crossover beer for those who like red wine.

Photo of steelcutoats
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Mad Elf Review

I picked up a case of the elusive Mad Elf the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm now down to my last two, less the six pack I'm cellaring for next year, and figured it's time to put finger to keyboard and write a few words. I poured a 12 oz. bottle into my crystal snifter with enough force to create a nice inch thick head. It quickly dissipated, and left a nice bubbly ring around the inside of the glass. The aroma was heavenly; the bold richness of a strong Belgium dark ale with dates and figs, mixed with the tart sweetness of cherries and honey. Upon first taste there is a detection of dark fruits, such as dates, raisins, and figs. Afterwards the sweetness of the honey and the cherries tartness come through. The Mad Elf is a bit lacking when it comes down "mouthability". There is a deficiency in carbonation, which is one of the hallmarks of most strong Belgium dark ales. Overall it is still a very enjoyable beer and definitely one to keep a look out for this time of year.

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

I snatched up a single 12oz from Skibbo's last weekend. The boys over at Troegs have kept me smiling with other styles, so when a Belgian Dark Ale comes around, it's only right and proper to add it to one's pallet pedigree.

A: Poured into a pink glass to show a dark crimson red, khaki small head that fades quickly as I've learned from high ABV beers. Slight crescent rings of lace but fade fast.

S: This boy is strong up front. Very sweet with dates but actually cherries from other readers and faint hops. Not far off from Vicks or cough medicine it's that powerful.

T: Packs a punch for sure. I didn't let this breath that much. The mad elf is smiling for a reason. Mad Elf is in the true Belgian tradition of sweetness of fruits and malts over hops. You get a bit of bitterness in the last part of the tasting in the back of your throat.

M: Suprisingly thinner than I would have expected from the nose and body. Very little carbonation and stingyness at the end of the finish.

D: Excellent with a heavy meat or ice fishing for that matter. I want to try this from a bomber and let it breath to see if the flavor has more complexity beyond the cherry's and malt bombs I'm still tasting ten minutes after finishing this boy.

Photo of Klunco
3.28/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap last night

A- Pours a nice ruby color with white head that immediately disappears

S-Smell is of cherries, and weak dark malts

T-Similar to smell, cherries initially dominate the palate then the malts come in. Cherry taste is natural tasting which is a plus, but the overall taste is very restrained. Alcohol is well hidden.

M- This is one area where the beer flopped. Thin, watery; carbonation is way too low. It doesn't have the full bodied mouthfeel I expect from a belgian dark ale.

D- Troegs did a great job of covering up the alcohol and making this beer not too heavy so I could drink a lot of this, however, the taste is too muted for the style and left me feeling unsatisfied.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,362 ratings.