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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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very good

3,344 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,344
Reviews: 1,174
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.5%
Wants: 191
Gots: 631 | 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: 3,344 | Reviews: 1,174 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ElGordo
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my tulip glass a dark amber hue with ruby highlights, topped by an inch of bright white head that decides only to make a brief appearance. Inviting aroma of Belgian yeast, biscuit, cherry, a touch of piney hops, and a good deal of alcohol. Palate is wonderfully complex - sweet malt with honey, some dark cherries, light spicy hops, Belgian yeast, and a bit of astringency. The alcohol makes itself known, providing a nice warming finish. The body is fully and slightly creamy, about perfect for the style. This is only the second beer I've been able to acquire from Troegs, and I have to say they do pretty well with their Belgian styles. Wish I'd gotten more than one bottle.

Photo of McNealc31
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first this that stands out with Troegs Mad Elf is the brilliant ruby color. The nose is full of interesting flavors, too, including sour cherry, black pepper, and a hint of vinegar.

Everything seems to come together quite nicely. The sour cherries aren’t too sour. The vinegar isn’t very aggressive, the hops add a nice dryness and bitterness at the end, and the huge 11% ABV is nothing more than a pleasant warmth. The sweetness from the malt and honey provide a nice counter point to everything else going on.

A different take on the style than most winter warmers and this relies on the cherries and yeast for flavor, rather than familiar warm spices. It would have been easy to go overboard with this one, but there is no hint of medicine or bad candy, something I was afraid of with the cherries. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of tempest
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not sure what to expect at first, but this sure smells belgian. Lots of spicey aroma up front. I'm used to this being in the paler belgians, but I guess this one might be in the middle. More spice (corriander? in the flavor mixed with the honey and cherries and a little earthy bitterness that blends with the fruit. This is certainly different. It kicks outs at the end with a cherry tang and a hint, albeit an unsubtle one, at the alcohol. Definately not my favorite, but I recommend giving it try. It's worth it.

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

Served in a Christmas tulip!


This Elf is a lovely deep copper red color. It's more translucent than expected. The head was about a one finger khaki color, and disappated in a hurry. None of it remained. Looks like a lovely brew! I feel like the cherries were added to give it a good amount of color, but not so much on the flavor (more on that later).


There is some definite big Belgian character coming through. Surprisingly, alcohol isn't that present. There is a lovely honey aroma, but not a lot of the cherries. There's a good bit of raisin bread character, and the Belgian spiciness is met with some dark fruitiness. Smells amazing.


Yum - this is a big bad ass beer. There's a lot of chewy breadiness, and some wonderful dark fruit character. The sweetness is definitely high, but not cloying. The honey comes through at the back of the tongue and hangs around for a little while after the swallow. The cherry flavor is present, but it's not very noticeable. The Belgian spiciness is a nice addition to to overall flavor, but isn't the focus of the beer. Alcohol? Schmalcohol, this beer doesn't appear to have the stuff.


This Elf starts off big and chewy, and feels slightly syrupy (the good kind of syrupy). At the end, there's a bit of dryness that ups the drinkability. It's nice and warming after each sip, and even though you can't taste the alchol, you can feel it! There isn't much carbonation. The beer is pretty drinkable, but demands to be savored.


This beer is excellent. This is definitely not a beer to drink every night, but is great for winter nights. It doesn't have as much spice character as other Holiday beers, but is a MUST for this time of the year. I don't know what made the Elf Mad, but this beer makes me very happy. Plus, I love the fact that they sell it in a variety of ways - 22 Oz Bombers, 12 oz. Singles, and even six-packs instead of four-packs! It gives you the opportunity to buy a sixer, drink a few, then age the rest.


Photo of mendonjoebeer
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz.bottle into tulip style glass.

Took somewhat aggressive pour to get one finger short lasting head. Clear ruby/amber color.

Wonderful aroma of Belgian yeast,spices,some cherry- can't pick up the honey myself

A very good tasting beer- tastes like it smells. The alcohol is there but not overpowering. Not at all too sweet for me- nice balance.

Nice feel- not too much of anything

For such a strong beer, it is very drinkable. A great holiday beer to share with friends or consume by yourself. I have had this on the shelf for a bit and will be sure to buy more this season before it is gone.

Photo of JMWEB2
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 keg on tap at the growler station @ Joe Canals... thank you

A: Pours a muddy crimson brownish color head completely dissipated, some minor lacing left behind.

S: Alcohol is there, but there is a fruit flavor... cherry-like. Interesting.

T: Alright this must have mellowed significantly, the booze flavor is not present and there is a nice tartness of cherries. Clove is also present, very enjoyable, and I'm not a big fan of the style.

M: Smooth very little carb.

O: I'm glad I went with the 2010 because they had 2011 as well, very nicely done again Troegs.

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Mad Elf ontap

Pours a nice reddish brown with a solid, crackling head and some lace. In the nose, caramel malts, cherries and brown sugar sweetness. In the taste, belgian yeast, honey, and soft cherry. Almost tastes like a quad with more fruit notes. Medium bodied, easy and fun to drink. Still one of my favorite seasonals.

Photo of haazer
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served at 55 degrees in a chalice.

A- Faintest amount of egg shell head forms on top and dissapates quickly. Brew is an interesting red, strawberry color with maroon and violet undertones.

S- The smell is the strong point of this beer for me. Upfront is wheat beer characteristics with banana and clove. Next is juicy ripe cherries, which plenty have been thrown in to the making of this beer. The biggest scent though is the spicy yeast strain, deffinitely belgian and phenolic in character. A sweet honey drip rounds out the nose.

T- Similar with the nose, however slightly rearranaged. The banana is upfront, then the strong spicy yeast kicks in and warms. I think the cherries really help the flavor profile of this beer as the yeast is not the best of the BSDA variety. Last flavor to come through is the clove. Honey is only present in the form of a sweet aftertaste.

M- Mouthfeel is between light and medium. A sweet tooth certainly helps enjoy this one, but this is not cloying. Somewhat acidic but doesn't hinder much. Warming in the throat.

D- One thing I've always said about Mad Elf and what it should be known for is how well the 11% is masked. For something that high you'd think this is 5 or 6%, no exaggeration. This beer is kind of special to me because this was actually the first craft beer case I ever bought to myself a little over a year ago. Back then I thought it was the best beer ever, and now of course my palatte has changed tremendously. Still I'll always look forward to Mad Elf releases. Another good seasonal release from Troegs.

Photo of stakem
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Second review of mad elf for the year, this time on tap.

Pours a very clear orange color with a bit of redness about it and a minimal amount of white head that is quick to dissapear. Nose is your typical belgian including phenols, clove, spice, fruity sweetness and a warming kick of alcohol astringency in the end. Where this beer deters from the normal belgian is in the sweetness of the aroma. It is quite reminescent more of honey and cherry. Taste includes just about everything you would expect from the aroma: a bit of clove and spice, sweetness exaggerated by cherry/honey and a quite warming finish. Feel of this beer is light and moderately carbed. Overall it is a nice sipper and I enjoy this beer while looking forward to it again each holiday.

The noticable differnces from this beer on tap verse the bottle is that the mouthfeel is significantly lighter but that is probably mostly in part due to the higher level of carb than the bottle version.

Photo of IronLover
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I haven't seen a beer with a color quite like this. It's lika a dark, hazy rose wine color. After a very aggressive pour, the white foam quickly dissipates leaving no cap or lacings. Aromas are amazing, particularly if you let this warm a bit. A solid sweet malt and belgian yeast backbone with tart cherries and hints of spice and booze. Smooth and syrupy feel with light carbonation. Sweet malt and sugar flavors from beginning to end with tart cherry flavors through the middle that transition to spice and then boozy heat at the finish. Finishes semi-dry at first but very dry over the long haul . Most definitely a sipper. The aggressive pour is a must if sampling from a bottle. Plus, don't drink this too cold. All aspects of this beer improve if you allow it to warm up a bit.

Photo of BigRizz62
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of pburland23
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into my Great Divide Brussels glass.

Mad Elf pours a bright, ruby red color with about two fingers of off white head that quickly receded and left some moderate lacing. It's a good looking pour.

A traditional Belgian yeast aroma leads the nose followed by sweet cherries and a touch of honey.

The taste also features a Belgian yeasty flavor that overwhelms the other flavors that are present including a slightly tart cherry taste and a touch of sweetness from the honey. None of the major taste components are overwhelming. As a result, Mad Elf is well-rounded and very balanced.

The mouthfeel is very smooth. You wouldn't guess that there's 11% of alcohol behind this brew. The carbonation is also sufficient...not overpowering.

Drinkability is good. Given the 11%, you probably don't want to drink more than one in a sitting, but what a pleasant sitting it will be. A well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable holiday beer.

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 chugalug06
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009

A - Slightly oxidized ruby red. Very little white soapy head pours from the bottle... However when swirled, it builds medium soft bubbles. No lacing to speak of.

S - Cinnamon stands out, cherries and light hops remain in the back... Not a sugar bomb or overly sugary.

T/M - Dry! Super smooth. Nice champagne like carbonation and dryness. Very smooth cherry. Just like a fruited brew should be. Not quite sure the flavor fits a Belgian Dark, but still awesome nonetheless.

O - I really wish Troegs distributed in CO... This brew is very good and tasty. Thank you Andyavalance for a killer shipment, you rock and optimize a great BA'er. Thanks for sharing a awesome beer! Both Andy and the brew are highly recommended!

Photo of RummyRedbeard
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

(copied from blog - written January 12, 2013)

Appearance – Pours a transparent dark ruby red/amber.
Smell – Very sweet, like cherries dipped in honey (obviously).
Taste – You can taste the sweetness of cherries and honey upfront. Some sort of spiciness hits the tongue. Chocolate in the aftertaste.

This year was the first time I had the pleasure of enjoying Mad Elf, when I tasted it at a craft beer tasting. After that I had bought the six pack once, and since it’s so damn expensive I never cared to do it again regardless of how good it is. That was probably two months ago. Tonight however my lovely girlfriend was in the mood for it so I’m drinking it at her expense (thanks baby)! Anyway, this ale is like a mead or a sweet wine and very appropriate on bitter cold winter nights to warm the blood pleasantly. It has a gorgeous color and a wonderful aroma to be appreciated for a while before you actually indulge in to the liquid itself. Its taste is kind of like cocktail cherries with honey laced in between, and a hint of liquor. The inclusion of chocolate malts leave a chocolaty aftertaste with a spiciness on the tongue that I can’t put my finger on. This is a heavy beer with a high ABV that should be consumed slowly, and enjoyed to its fullest, perhaps even shared with a friend.

Photo of nsheehan
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle to Duvel Tulip
11% ABV
Bottled 110719 (maybe?)
Given to me in December 2011

A – Poured medium strength into a Duvel tulip. One finger of head that dissipates quickly, I think it’s my soap’s fault. A lot of yeasties floating around, giving it a hazy look, like a strange snowglobe. Color is a dark amber with a tinge of orange. It’s quite opaque, but still has a slight warmth to it; light is getting through but my hand can barely induce a shadow.

S – A nice, sweet, earthy Belgian smell with some spice and dark fruit. Also some alcohol nip. The sweet Belgian smell is apparent, and paired up with other smells that don’t shirk away. I’d like to see it play a slightly larger role. It seems equal to the alcohol, spice, and dark fruit smell (part of which may come from the yeast, but still). For being a BSDA holiday ale brewed with spices and cherries, I think it’s very well done; so many holiday ales go too far. When I gently swirl the beer, I pick up banana, slight bubble gum, cherries, and dates, in that order, with alcohol wrapped around every one.

T – The Belgian flavor plays a slightly larger role in the taste than the smell, which is to my liking. The alcohol is the second flavor, which is OK, but not ideal. The fruit is apparent on the swallow, and I pick out some dark fruits, like cherry, and also cantaloupe. Weird, but welcome. The spices are there, but hang out in the back of each taste, which is great. Comes across as a good, boozy BSDA.

M – A light medium, which is surprising but OK. Makes it easier to drink on a day like today (though I’m currently inside). The carbonation seems to have kept well for about two years (what I can tell from swirling it), but high ABV BSDAs tend to be low on the carbonation spectrum. This one is soft and a tiny bit chewy, but as mentioned, has a slightly lighter than expected body. It sticks pretty close to the tongue, and the finish is pretty wet, except for your inner cheeks, where I think the alcohol has a drying effect.

D – I am looking forward to trying this fresh sometime, but for now I am happy I saved it for 1.5-2 years. It is soft and seems to have retained flavor without oxidizing.
4, 4, 4, 4.25, 4; ~4.04

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

Ruby red tulip pour with a big frothy white head that disappears rather quickly. Smell is easy to pick up even in a smoke-filled bar. Cherries, malt, and enough alcohol that you know what you're getting into. Flavor is also heavy on the cherry notes, but I also caught some cinnamon and clove as well The alcohol is present in the flavor and gives it a bit of a peppery bite, but it's not as strong as you'd expect from an 11% ABV. A nice one to sip and savor, and I really enjoyed this one more as it warmed a little.

Photo of Crossmd
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured 55 degrees Fahrenheit into a Dalmore whisky glass. Smudged born date.

Poured a lucid tea color or light ruby red. Slight head, dissipated quickly. No lacing to speak of.

Smells of belgian yeast, bananas and a hint of cherry. Not well projected.

Taste is a just slightly tart, effervescent blend of spiced fruit and honey. The balance between honeyed sweetness and cherried tart really is perfect here, and I can't believe that the blend works as well as it does though. I can see some however, potentially finding this a little bit like cough syrup. It stops just short of synthetic for me, but more sensitive palates or supertasters may have a hard time with this one. Plenty effervescent, lot of boozy cherry in on the background, as those tertiary flavors take off into the drydown.

Overall, really a unique beer that stands alone next to a slew of dark, stouty winter seasonals. I started off not liking it initially, as it was just so vast different from anything that I was used to, but working my way through the bottle really had me enjoying it at the end. Overall, a fantastic offering.


Photo of ltjska04
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
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 Chaney
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good grief, this is probably the most brilliantly marketed brew produced in my local area. But is it any good?

A: Pours a beautiful bright red, Christmasy color, with a fair amount of carbonation, and a slight foamy head.

S: Belgian funkiness upfront, with cherries around the edges. I'm also getting a mild banana-like notes which add to the complexity.

T: After the Belgian character hits the palate hard, I got a sort of cherry chocolate cake-style finish which made it very refreshing indeed! The honey basically acts as a buffer between the alcohol and the fruit. I appreciate the subtlety of the spices. This could have easily become a "Christmas Ale," complex with all the holiday spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

M: Thankfully, the sweetness is subdued, the coating in minimal (the glass comes out fairly clean), and the carbonation is great for the style.

D: I've always told people that I thought this particular brew hides its ABV better than just about any that I know. However, always remember that "The Mad Elf" could easily knock you on your ass if you're not careful!

Overall: There is no other brew I can think of that divides more people than this one in my little circle of beer geeks. Some think it's gimmicky and not worth the money. As for me... I dig it and look forward to its release every holiday season!

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

A: Beautiful clear, light red color with a light pink head that fizzes up quickly and fades quickly. No lace and a thin ring of retention.

S: Sweet, sugary booze, deeply roasted malt, dark fruits, candy sugar, some citrus, and more booze at the back. Effervescent and inviting.

T: Dark fruits and honey shine when the beer is warm. Boozy, fruity, malty...delicious. This beer needed to warm up to allow the proper flavors to show themselves.

M: Sweet and smooth as it should be, properly boozy, and full of flavor. Very Belgian but plenty of American character. A pleasure to drink near room temperature.

O: Troegs pulls of a fantastic American interpretation of the style. Perfect for sipping.

Photo of drewbage
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled after a long Xmas day to celebrate my glorious victory in our Annual Bloodmatch Trivial Pursuit Game. 12 oz brown bottle provided courtesy of PisskyNights. (Thanks!)

Beer was sampled cool at first (~55F) and allowed to warm up over the course of an hour.

Beer drops into the glass with a thud and no carbonation. As it settles in the glass the drinker is presented with a deep red leather colored beer.

As the beer comes up to room temperature, the cherries and spicing becomes stronger melding with a very evident alcohol presence.

The flavor is filled with cherries and a bit of honeyed sweetness. As the beer lolls on the tongue, the combination of alcohol and cinnamon begin to sweep the thickiness of this beer form the palate.

Decent warming beer for the occasional slow sipper during the winter time.

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

A- A cross between red, orange and pink. Virtually no head, looks very interesting.

S- Cherries and honey hit up front. Notes of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and some dried fruits).

T- Very complex. Spicy notes in the front, the cherry and honey is pretty subtle compared to the smell. Tastes very similar to a fruit forward Belgian ale but a little more subtle.

M- Light carbonation and mouthfeel. Very slight alcohol burn.

O- Very interesting beer. Very drinkable for an 11% beer. The complexity is unique and I am sure would change even more with some age.

Photo of SirSketch
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Off white head that holds for about a minute. Thick, but fizzy at the same time. Very clear amber brew with some nice yellow highlights.

S - All kinds of Belgian yeast character, an intricate spiciness and huge honey or mead-like quality. Not getting much cherry, but there is a lot of fruitiness in the aroma.

T - Wow, there is a lot going on in this beer! Very spicy, with many subtle xmas spices coming out, a toasty malt flavor and no doubt some honey used in making this beer. Really sweet, almost as if it was under attenuated, but not so sweet that it ruins the beer.

M/D - The sugary sweetness makes it a little hard to drink, but that may not be a bad thing in such an alcoholic beer. Definitely worth a try!

Photo of hopfacebrew
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another hook up from Hudak :) Thanks man.

Poured from bottle to Duvel tulip the beer pours a bright red color with a thin off-white head. Edges are red in color. Not much retention or lacing to report. The aroma is sweet and powerful with a lot of honey, cherry, pepper, and belgian yeast character. The flavor is just as the nose let on with a tart cherry sweetness upfront together with honey and belgian yeast character. Hides the alcohol extremely well, not detectable. Rich in flavor and mildly bitter. Medium bodied and well carbonated. Finishes smooth with a lingering cherry tart flavor. Overall, this was a treat to try. Good stuff!

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,344 ratings.