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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

3,496 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,496
Reviews: 1,205
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 194
Gots: 754 | 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: 3,496 | Reviews: 1,205 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tjd112
4.82/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation - Poured into Southampton pint glass

Appearance - Vermillion copper body, white half-finger head, spotty lacing

Smell - bananas, plums, cherries, and ever a bit of honey for good measure

Taste - A very chocolate and bananas taste up front and mid-palate, with a slightly warm, boozy aftertaste

Mouthfeel - Medium body with a sweet alcoholic finish

Drinkability - Goes down really well

Overall - A masterpiece from Troegs, I'll drink the Doppelbock 11 months out of the year, but this is my new fave from them.

Photo of donniecuffs
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured reddish amber into an American pint glass, with a very small head and spotty lacing. Sour cherry, mandarin orange, brown sugar, and malt in the nose. Medium-bodied, bittersweet, and good hop/malt balance throughout, with the alcohol presence surfacing in the form of a warm finish, and warm afterfeel. Would love to try some aged bottles of this to see how much it smoothens.

Photo of augustgarage
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Obtained in trade from ShogoKawada (thanks!). Poured from a 12oz bottle poured vigorously into the center of my Trappistes Rochefort goblet.

Kaleidoscopic body ranging from scarlet to vermilion with shifting highlights of flame, copper, and portland red. Fairly clear. Cosmic latte, small soapy head that disperses to a thin collar and root system extending across the center of the glass. Thin lacing and legs.

Aromatics are potent, with an excellent mixture of fruit-infused honey, clean barley malt, and slightly doughy Belgian yeast. The esters and alcohol come together almost as a liqueur.

Sweet and strong fruit on the palate, oranges, plums, raisins, cloves, ginger and of course, cherry. Alcohol is hefty - in some ways this brings to mind a maltier version of a Swedish glögg. Just a touch of clean hop bitterness to counteract the sweetness.

Surprisingly thin, though still a touch syrupy and lacking all effervesence. ABV, while sneaky, is suitably warming.

Not overly sweet, nor medicinal, this is a well crafted little winter warmer - perfect for a cold (well, for Los Angeles) evening.

Photo of ltjska04
4.01/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into my snifter this beer is a beautiful clear ruby with a head that quickly disappears into nothing. A steady stream of small bubbles rises from the bottom of the glass. On the nose I get some sour cherries and sweetness like candy. The flavor started with some cherries but as it warms I'm getting more of the honey and a wheat-like character with the tart cherries taking more of a back seat. The mouthfeel is pretty good and I get a bit of tingling from the bubbles on the back of my tongue from the carbonation. As I sit here drinking this and listening to some relaxing Christmas music I feel like I could drink a whole lot of it. I don't detect any of the 11% abv in the taste, making this one dangerous elf. I can definitely see this beer becoming a Christmas tradition.

Photo of GoalieRon33
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Medium brown with a reddish hue. Clearish, until it warms then becomes a little cloudy.

S- decently malty, somewhat sweet. Definate honey tones

T- Deep, spicy taste. Cherries, Honey, and other great sweetness propel this beer to the next level. Slight alcohol burn towards the end.

M- Not too heavy, but just right. A ittle thickness towards the end of a bottle. I don't reccomend more than 2 of these.

D- Great beer that is so easy to drink. Being 11%, it is a real wallop of alcohol, but it is barely detectable until the post drinking warming feeling.

Photo of FickleBeast
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a delerium tremens snifter

A - when poured, there is a very thin ring of soapy foam that dissipates instantly. Color is a cross between cranberry juice and a traditional amber beer color. Carbonation seem almost nonexistent.

S - predominantly smell spicy yeast, some boozy aroma

T - Flavor is dominated by the yeast, but you can certainly taste the cherry flavor in this brew as well. As it warms, the mead-like qualities poke through. This is a very complex and nuanced beer - but ultimately the spicy yeast wins out. As you hold it in your mouth, the boozy alcohol flavors come out and waft up your nose.

M - very thin bodied, almost zero carbonation

D - doesn't not taste like a 11% ABV beer at all - this is dangerously drinkable. Perhaps because there isn't much residual sweetness.

Photo of AndyAvalanche
3.19/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured it into a Sam Adams Perfect pint glass and this is one of the best looking beers I've ever seen. Pours a reddish amber color with excellent clarity. The foamy head was decent in size and was an orange cream color that produced very generous amounts of lacing. It really looks more like a nice hearty lager than anything else in my opinion, but I found this beer to be pretty average from here on out. I'm not overly experienced in tasting Belgian style ales, but it tasted pretty average to the style in my opinion. It said that it was brewed with honey and cherries, but I really couldn't smell either of them. Belgian yeast seems to dominate the nose in opinion, followed by some roasted malts. I was impressed that there was no smell in the alcohol until it got to room temperature, and it still wasn't that strong then either. Very surprising for a reasonably high ABV. The taste was pretty good, it gets sweeter here. If you try you can taste the honey a little bit, and there is almost a cherry aftertaste. Other than that it's pretty average. The mouthfeel is ok, a little bitter, still no alcohol bite that is pretty impressive, reasonably well carbonated. I really didn't find this beer to be all that drinkable.

I had heard this was a red/amber ale, so I was surprised to find out it's actual style. I actually ended up getting a 22oz, which wound up being a little too much. All in all it was ok, I wouldn't go out of my way to try it again.

Photo of obywan59
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear reddish color against a dark background. More orange-red with a light background. I can see the cherry in it. An easy pour into my Old Guardian glass resulted in a half finger head while my second bottle poured hard gave 2 1/2 fingers. Off white and quickly dissipating. Zero lacing from the first bottle at near recommended serving temp., but light lacing from the second which was chilled hard in the freezer. When the beer gets low in the glass, it kinda reminds me of brandy.

Fruity cherry sweetness in the nose.

Hints of cherry.Sweet from the malt and the honey, but not as sweet as the last 2 beers I tried. (Lindeman's Framboise and DH World Wide Stout) There's some bitterness to it also, but not so much of a hoppy taste if at all. Holding the beer in the mouth gives quite a prickly sensation from the alcohol which warms on the way down as well.

Medium to medium-light mouthfeel.

I was questioning the drinkability after the first swallow, but it quickly mellowed out and became quite pleasant.

Overall, not my favorite 11% ABV (Old Guardian), but it's very good. I could see it becoming a Christmas tradition. The buzz appears before the first glass is finished, and nearing the end of the second, I realized I was about finished.

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

A- Clear amber/gold with a thin white head.

S- Sweet with notes of dark fruits (cherries stand out) and spices.

T- Nice blend of fruity and developed sugars mixing with cherries and spices. There is a noticeable alcohol presence as well.

M- Smooth and silky feel with a medium carbonation.

D- Not the best Belgian strong dark I've had, but an interesting take on the style worth trying.

Photo of deruiz10
3.61/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Quite a beautiful amber, slightly reddish with hints of honey-color. Eggshell head is minimal and quickly dissipates, leaves no lacing.

S - Very fruity (mostly cherry) and bright, slight hints of alcohol.

T - Pretty mild up front, body is light but cherry flavors pop out after a moment, mixing with the fruityspicy taste of the typical Belgian dark. The finish is also characterized by a slightly spicy, but subdued taste of hops which serves to mask the relatively high alcohol content well, with cherry flavors also lingering.

M - Fairly light and refreshing, good amount of carbonation.

D - A little too sweet to have more than one in an evening, plus that alcohol content will really sneak up on you. However, it's probably one of the better fruity holiday beers out there in terms of balancing refreshment value with a seasonal holiday flavor without becoming too syrupy or overwhelming.

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

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a tulip glass. 2009 release.

A-Bright marachino cherry red with a 1/2 inch eggshell head. Filtered clarity. Pretty beer but it could stand a bit of a head.

S-Cherrys and sweet malts, a whif of alcohol.

T-Very sweet honey glazed cherries to start. Alcohol is definately present, almost in a barleywine like way. Mild hops on the back end, but clearly this is one to get your sweet fix on. I like it, but I also really like sweet beers. I can see how some may find this cloying. Almost a belgian dark fruit thing going on as well.

M-Slightly light on the carbonation, but it does not detract from the experience. Medium full mouthfeel, slightly sticky but overall very well done.

D-Very drinkable. 11 ABV? The alcohol is there, but hard to tell it is that high until you have to get out of your chair.

I've seen quite a few comments on the boards that this is not what it used to be. Never tried it before, so I have no comparision, but if you like a sweet cherry strong ale, belly up and give it a whirl.

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

Picked up a sixer of this on my latest beer run. Never having been let down by Tröegs.... I was confident that this one would not dissappoint.

Poured into a pint glass to form a 1" head. The head was beige in color and had great retention. Color was deep carmel amber.

Nose: Fruity, malty, lots going on here.

Taste: Really good... mirrors smell. Nicely complex.

MF: Not as effervescent as many belgians.... but that's OK with me.... a bit creamier... a bit heartier.

Drinkability: Could sneak up on you.... but goes down easy.

Photo of phantomwyse
3.79/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a perfectly clear polished mahogany hue with a medium corona of froth that fades to an eggshell white ring.

S: First, a whiff of cherries, just subtle and not explosive. Followed by oak, caramel, milk chocolate. Ending with a brief encounter with alcohol, most resembling sherry.

T: Port-like alcohol sweetness surrounding the cherry flavor. English toffee and nougat. Hints at allspice and cinnamon.

M: Smooth and coating, I suspect the honey plays a part in this. I had hoped this brew would be more full bodied, however it is medium to light.

D: At 11%, this beer is deceptively smooth. It has enough flavors running around to keep me intrigued but not so much as to be overwhelming.

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

From a bottle.

Pours a maple syrup brown with very minimal head, more just lacing from the start than anything else.

Smells a bit sweet like dark fruits, but mostly malty. You can pick up the alcohol in the smell a bit too.

The taste is the same, malty, a bit sweet like dark fruits, and alcohol. Its a similar taste to scotch.

Feels full, a bit chewey like syrup, and not very carbonated.

Pretty good beer, worth trying and easy to enjoy, but doesn't quite stand up to some other staples of the style. If you've had some big dark ales from Belgium, just don't set your expectations too high and you will still enjoy this one.

Photo of kiddynamite920
3.07/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Doesn't pour as red as expected, with so much emphasis of the cherry on the bottle. Poured it extra rough to generate some head, since my last bottle yielded nothing with the traditional pour. The head built, but was gone quickly. It's a golden amber color and I notice a minimal amount of streaming bubbles. I smell cherries and banana and clove. Not overly impressive. Smells of Belgian yeast. Not picking up any hops on the nose. I have a feeling this beer would taste much better with a deep chill on it. It lacks the crispness that carries important flavors, so maybe the chill of refrigeration could help. I get a breadiness at first, and on the exhale the alcohol kicks in. Some cherries are very present as well. Mouthfeel fails here for me. Carbonation would send this beer over the edge, but without it I feel like I'm drinking a malty syrup. The beer is flavorful, but after two it's time to move on to something else.

Photo of bob3701
4.53/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was not sure what to expect with this beer and considering the steep price for a 6-pack, I hesitated. I am now happy I picked it up, it was fruity and spicy and more perfect for the holiday season than I thought it would be. A very unique beer.
Head disapates quickly and not much lacing but a great aroma that hints of what is to come. You can feel the alcohol in this one but it is very drinkable. This made my mouth very happy and after two the rest of me was pretty happy too.

Photo of AgentZero
3.17/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Ruby red into the glass with next to nothing head with no retention and no lacing.

S - Smells like a pretty fruity belgian triple. Cherries and yeast hit the nose early and give way to a wider variety of dark fruits.

T - Sweet, not enough sour or tart from me, although not that it is what you would expect from tha style anyway. Yeast is slightly subdued. Get a nice taste of alcohol, nothing real special here, overly sweet for my liking.

M - Flat and syrupy, not unpleasant but definately not memorable.

D - Not horribly hard to drink at 11%, but this wasn't a beer I enjoy enough to drink a lot of it.

Photo of OneDropSoup
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a case swap with some friends, though I've had it many times before.

Poured into a tulip a deep reddish brown with bright orange & ruby highlights. Thin ring of white foam, no real head or lacing. A lot of different colors appear, & the body moves between translucent & transparent. Very fun to look at, like a Christmas tree decoration.

Strong, spicy Belgian yeast character leads the smell, like a tripel with cherries. What follows is sweet bread dough, some alcohol, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg). As it warms, a subtle mustiness/funkiness emerges here & there.

Taste has spices up front, sweetness from honey, both sweetness & tartness from the cherries, & slight sourness in a doughy kind of way. The booze becomes apparent but isn't too harsh.

Mouthfeel is full without being chewy or heavy, & active without being prickly or sharp. The booze, while not being abrasive, is definitely warming & I feel rosy-cheeked & red-eared by the end.

There's a lot of good stuff about this, but by the end of it I'm kind of worn out & ready for a nap. I guess "hard-hitting" would be a way to describe it. This doesn't have quite the complexity that a big Belgian style normally would, but what's there is really good. Part of my appreciation for this beer is the nostalgia & associations I have with it -- it's become something of a tradition & is very comforting.

Photo of cpetrone84
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 batch aged by Fathead's in Pittsburgh and poured and consumed in the same place

A-4.5 nice lear ruby red color with a small white head

S-faint belgian yeast, citrus, banana, and clove

T-sweet taste of berries, tart cheries, some banana and cloves

M-smooth ans slick, almost an oily taste with a slightly drying effect

D-very smooth and tasty=drinkability

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

Tröegs Mad Elf
22 oz brown bottles
Served in a 20 oz tulip glass

Pours a chestnut brown with ruby highlights. Decent head at first, but that disappears leaving no sticky lacings.

Malty nose with some whiffs of spice and dark fruit.

Malty backbone with a cinnamon or allspice quality, brown sugar and honey giving this beer a nice sweetness and smoothness. Also I detect some medicinal with a band-aid type flavor.

The carbonation level is very low and the 11% ABV is very well hidden.

Photo of Ezekiel81923
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Also picked up at Capones. Want to see if its worth buying the case.

Appearance: Red/Amber in color. Crystal clear. Not much head to speak of, and what did rise up receded very quickly. Not much for lacing either.

Smell: Predominantly honey and cherries, as the bottle indicated. Big malt aroma behind that as well as a bit of spiciness underneath.

Taste: Honey and cherries are there, but there is more to this beer than that. Big malty backbone is also there. There is some additional spiciness to this one, mainly I find hints of clove, nutmeg and some bubblegum at the beginning. Finishes quite sweet, most likely the honey. Not much bitterness to speak of. The 11% shows itself though, I think this is one that definitely benefits from some age.

Mouthfeel: Medium-Full bodied with minimum carbonation. Very smooth and sweet.

Drinkability: A little to warm on the alcohol for my tastes. No problem finishing the 12oz'er, but a 2008 would probably taste amazing. I'm gonna buy a few more and drink them over the next few months to see how this develops.

Photo of bum732
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light red, decent bubbly head that dissipates quickly. Smells of fruity cherries, honey, faint earthy hops. Tastes of sweet cherry malt with a nice mellow honey undercurrent. Fairly mellow hop bitterness cuts through the sweet before more cherries and honey take over the finish. There is a subtle earthiness producing vanilal and even a touch of citrus. Finishes not too sweet, not too dry. Decent mouthfeel, alcohol present.

A very unique beer. The cherries and honey really come through, overwhelming most of everything. As the beer warms, some subtle earthy tones begin to shine. Alcohol is pretty overwhelming dropping the drinkability. A great after dinner beer, but not something one could drink a lot of. I also loved how this beer was not too sweet, attenuated perfectly. A must try.

Photo of grayburn
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a ruby-orange with a minimal head that fades quickly.

The smell and taste are both hot and boozy but the cherries and honey add enough interesting notes to the malt backbone to bring everything together. There might be a little spiciness from the hops, or it could be from the yeast, either way, it works.

The beer finishes dryer than expected with such a big body, I'm impressed, the honey really brought this together well...this also leads to scary drinkability, be careful but imbibe.

Photo of kegger22
2.64/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a clear red with modest head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma was cheap cherry Kool-Aid. The taste wasn't as bad as the aroma would lead you to expect, but it wasn't very good either. Something my mom would have poured into ice cube trays to make homemade popsicles, 40 years ago. The feel was medium bodied with reasonable carbonation. Drinkability was only decent due to high ABV and questionable taste.

This was a bad idea that went badder (if I may). While not horrible, everything about it screamed artificial, cheap and tawdry. Does Boone's Farm make a cherry?

Photo of alexhammond
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours a nice looking redish-orange color with a very thin head. smells of cherry and honey, but this is clearly noted on the label so maybe it's just because I'm looking for these scents. a bit of orange and cinnamon are also noticeable.
the taste is a little too sweet, but I really enjoy the mixture of flavors, and the extra sweetness (especially with the cherry) was kind of a nice surprise as I was expecting a much spicier/darker brew.
very light carbonation, served it at almost room temperature, and I think this is probably the best way to drink it in order to really bring out the full range of flavors. the high ABV and sweetness make this beer something I would probably only have one of at a time, or even split a bottle with someone. a sipping beverage for sure. all in all, definitely a great beer for the holiday season, as it warms the insides, and caters to being shared with good friends or family.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,496 ratings.