Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

1,233 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,233
Hads: 3,766
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 225
Gots: 1,011 | FT: 21
Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States | website

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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,233 | Hads: 3,766
Photo of bigdeuce
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Leaves some decent lacing but not as much as a real belgian..but other than that, this is a world class beer. Pours an amber/red color with a fast disapating head. Tastes of fruity plums, honey, and cherries. Finishes dry with a rummy note at the end. Is light and crisp and very hard to detect it's strength. Glad I got a case of this one.

 340 characters

Photo of pavandal
4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beer poured into my tulip glass from a growler purchased today. It poured a nice honey - red color with a 1 inch head. Honestly, the most inviting beer I've ever had. lacing left a nice bubbly coating on the glass as I drank.

Smell began with some bready smells, but as the head disolved, it turned to honey and cherries, with alchohol behind it.

As the beer hits your tongue, the first flavor you taste is a bitey sweetness. this is probably due to the cherries involved in the brew. I also taste a lot of bready notes. The high ABV can't be tasted, as far as I can tell. This is a very great tasting brew.

I can see this beer getting dangerous to those that aren't familiar with it. This beer feels great in the mouth, light enough to make you want more, but it has some weight behind it to make you know you're drinking something.

I really, really dig this ale. if the ABV wasn't so high, this would be a constant (as much as it could be, given it's limited run) for me. I don't know why people have said that this tastes like cough syrup, because I sure can't taste it.

 1,088 characters

Photo of hoppymeal
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 vintage. Pours copper and clear with a small loose cream head that quickly recedes to a ring. Aroma shows some cherry, some tartness and behind this a deeper light sweetness. The alcohol is present in the aroma as a fairly rich booziness. There is a dry white wine character in the aroma as well. There is a mix of tartness and a light sweetness and cherries up front in the taste, followed by a nice breadiness and finishing with a slightly dry small alcohol bite. Body is fairly light and thin. The alcohol although present is fairly well balanced for its strength and its light body. Not something I'd drink a few of back to back, but I look forward to aging some and seeing how it develops. Nice festive beer, I enjoyed the tartness which mixed well with the slight dryness and alcohol in the finish.

 809 characters

Photo of weasbri
3.84/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep amber color with a short bubble head that didn't last or lace. Now that I'm over my cold, I can pick up a whiff of cherry and some alcohol. The taste does have a bit of honey to it (as the label suggests), and that same cherry that was in the smell. The alcohol is pleasantly not overpowering, even at the advertised 11%, leading to a drinkable brew. It adds a touch of bitterness to go with the tart cherry and sweetish honey. Still, the aroma is a big part of this beer, so I'm glad I waited to review it at a time I could savor it.

 539 characters

Photo of mjc410
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The pour into my La Moneuse glass raises a a lovely cream-tan one finger head that quickly falls to surface bubbles and a glass ring. It leaves some sparse and slick lacing when the glass is tilted. The beer's body is a slightly transparent cherry red, tinted gold just a bit. The nose is very forward with cherry and estery fruit notes, as well as strong yeastiness. There's a note of spiciness, which I know must come largely from the alcohol, but seems to indicate hops as well. The aroma doesn't exactly leap from the glass, though. The taste is at first very sweet and cherry flavored, but it quickly moves into a characteristic flavor of Belgian yeast. It then exhibits a distinct breadiness. It lingers in the mouth with an acidic bread note. Alcohol is well hidden, so long as you don't sip too much or too often. Considering this beer's heft, the mouthfeel is somewhat light, which makes it an easy drinker. Carbonation is slight, too.

 944 characters

Photo of FightingEntropy
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very beautiful dark cherry color beer with a lot of alcohol (not surprising at 11%) in the nose along with dark fruits, cherry, fig. Very nice spicy character in the nose as well. Could not conjure up an head at all and no lace down the side. Very sweet oily character with cherry, and very sweet. Since I like sweet, no worries, but some would probably describe it as cloying. Strong yeast character as well. Hops is listed on the website as only 15 IBUs, which seems true with no hop character, so the yeast is the main component for the spicy notes. Very cool, fun beer with lots of character and punch. Not overly complex, but a very good beer overall.

 656 characters

Photo of IntriqKen
3.89/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was fun. I'm not used to Belgium's being made with additional fruits or spices. Silly Americans. hahaha
Sort of a tea color in the tulip with a smallish head that disappeared completely.
Aromas of apples and cherries.
Taste of sweet malt followed immediately with cherries that melt to a honey smoothness killing the sour cherry before it has a chance to take over. A nice evolution of flavors and exactly as advertised...something very rare.
Aftertaste is mostly honey but not sticky or cloying.
The 11% ABV is totally lost and hidden in here.

 554 characters

Photo of
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle.

Clear gold, with a definate crimson tint. Medium sized light tan head, which faded, but was easily stirred up again.

Aroma had lots of cherries and honey - big surprise. Almost Belgian like - yeast and spices, coriander? Hops were floral. Alcohol was there, but pretty faint. Honey aroma really picked up as the beer warmed.

First impression is that it is very sweet - mainly honey like. Then the hops kick in, and you have a pretty nice balance of bitter. The cherries help with this as well, in that they lend a nice tart character. Balance shifts towards more sweet than tart as it warms. Alcohol is there, but not to the degree you would expect from an 11% ABV. Pepper and spice in finish.

Thick, full bodied, chewy. Carbonation is medium +, which is needed with body. Quite drying, despite sweetness. Alcohol delivers full body warming.

Overall, very enjoyable. Kinda like a barleywine. A sipper for sure.

 939 characters

Photo of Wren
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got my growler filled at the brewery Wed 11-15

Pours a nice ruby red with a little bit of brown showing throught
Ample creamy dense head that takes on a little of the ruby/brown hue, loads of carbonation in this one

Aroma was first of black peppery then sweet cherry honey, alcohol finish with tart fruit - smells like Holiday Cheer

Taste - This is my third year trying the elf, and this years batch had a stronger black pepper/spice note up front which moved into tart cherries and sweet malt, finished off with warm alchohol starting in the back of my mouth and slowing warming all the way down, very pleaseant - not at all harsh
The extra pepper kick I got upfront balanced the sweetness of the beer, I thought last years elf was a little on the overly sweet side

Mouthfeel on this one is great - fluffy head, heavy carbonation, thcik sweet beer and alcholol thiness all combine in great balance

Tough to down multiple glasses of this with the 11% ABV, but I'd never pass up a pint

 1,001 characters

Photo of grego
3.06/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer was from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Poured very red with not much head that didn't last long. the smell is malty with some spicyness to it - hard to describe for me. The taste is the same sweet, cherries, cinnamon. Mouthfeel is very dry. I like Troeg's beers a lot but this one is not a style I prefer. If you like a stronger holiday style beer then I imagine this would be great, just not my thing.

 415 characters

Photo of drinknewbelgium
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

pours deep red to mahagony forms little head at the top smells of spices cinnamon, nutmeg and hints of cherries tastes of holiday spices cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and a subtle hint of cherries with alcohol present filles thinner in my mouth than i would expect and i dont know i believe one of these would do it for me very strong beer but very spiced if you liked holiday spiced beer this one here is the right beer for you

 423 characters

Photo of Walsar
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A nice effort by the Troeg brothers -- the Mad Elf Ale is a definite winter warmer at 11% abv.

Tasty - cherry - not too sweet -- drink at 50 or 55 degrees out of a big ole wine glass and you will enjoy the experience.

I would recommend this ale - but watch out as they pack a wallop

 288 characters

Photo of nriech
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours with a light head and a brilliant red color, minor tan head, quickly dissapating.

Smell: Grainy and of fruits and some alcohol. The cherry aromas are somewhat muted.

Taste: Flavor is strong in the spices. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and a bitt of pepper. Sweet up front. Full, full body. Alcohol is not very apparent.

Mouthfeel: This had a smooth feel to it and was medium to medium-full in body. It was a touch syrupy. A slight warming effect was noticed.

Drinkability: Easy to drink as the alcohol doesnt seem apparent but keep in mind that it is more so than others. Super clean finish and you get a pretty drinkable beer.

 653 characters

Photo of Alkey
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle a ruby red with a small amount of head and scents of sweet fruit and alcohol taste has a bit of sweet cherries and honey with a backing of some belly warming alcohol. A winter warmer indeed but not an all night beer just a couple and I'm good. A great night cap.

 289 characters

Photo of phisig137
4.4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2006 bottle pours a brilliantly clear orange/copper color, with red highlights. Thin 1/2 finger head rises and falls quickly, leaving nothing behind. Not surprising considering the ABV.

Aroma is sweet. A lot of grain aromas are present, as well as the honey. Very little else is present on the nose beside the alcohol. Very solvent like.

The flavor is far better though. Malt sweetness (crystal malt), and honey are present in huge quantities. Subtle cherry flavor (most likely large bing cherries) in the background is a nice touch, but not overpowering. Fairly sweet from the start to the finish, but not cloying at all. For something this extreme, I'd consider it to be fairly well balanced. Mouthfeel is smooth and heavy. Drinkability is dangerously drinkable. This is one of those beers that you have to be careful with. You never notice the 11% abv, and before you know it, you've polished off a few of them. It's almost as if you bring home a six pack of this, and before the end of the night, someone is going to end up naked or arrested.... it's that drinkable.

Another solid winner from Troegs, who never disappoint. This is one that I look forward to each winter, and this year is just as good as the others. Just be warned, sip them slowly.... the mad elf can quickly smack you around if you're not paying attention.

 1,339 characters

Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle of the Fall 2006 edition to a steemed glass. The Color is a medium redish orenge with good carbonation. The Head is 2 fingers off white with big fluff bubbles. Does not devolope much lace.

The Smell is very nice, Sweet cherries socked in lots an alcohol with the aroma of freash yeast intermixed.

The taste follows yeasty bread, cherries, and soft spice notes bound by an alcohol base.

The mouthfeel is great, very full, and sensational.

The drinkability is high. Even at 11% ABV one is not enough. Prosit, MK

 548 characters

Photo of vwcraig
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 edition of Mad Elf

Poured a beautiful ruby-red color into a goblet. Head disappears into a tiny ring around the outside of the glass. Slow stream of carbonation rising from bottom of glass.

Smells of honey and unsweetened cherries. Faint alcohol smell.

Tastes just like Troegs claims it does; like honey, cherries and light spices. Also slightly detectable alcohol but well concealed at 11% abv.

Good mouthfeel with little carbonation. Kinda viscous. Actually clings to and coats inside of glass.

Never had more than one of these at a time due to high abv. Could see pushing the number higher though to trundle through the holiday season...

 660 characters

Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.7/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter at 52 degrees

A - Beautiful, clear red color with a small head; lacing stuck around until the end, though. Medium carbonation helped illuminate the wonderful red hue.

S - Cherries dominate the aroma, but they are accompanied by powerful combination of sweet alcohol. There is definitely a spice background to the scent, but it is dominated by the other flavors.

T - Wow. At first, the cherries pack a punch, but as soon as their flavor dissipates, the sweet honey-alcohol combo kicks in. As it goes down, I get almost a nutty-vanilla aftertaste; the more I drank, the more I noticed this accompaniment. By the time I was 3/4 through the bottle, the initial flavor was a perfect vanilla/cherry mix with a nutty aftertaste. It's actually hard to put this into words...a perfect result for the extremely complex - but wonderful - taste.

M - Very thick body with medium carbonation. The complex flavors actually finish extremely smoothly and mask the alcohol very well - you can definitely taste the high ABV, but it all comes together so nicely (for a lack of better words). Also, this is a very creamy brew...it's not heavy in the mouth; it's the perfect combination!

D - I wouldn't drink more than one - not because of the ABV (well, not completely..), just because I'd be afraid of ruining the experience! Everything just comes together so perfectly, I'd hate to hurt that effect by overindulging. I'm so very lucky to live 8 minutes from the Troegs Brewery...I want to enjoy this all year, but it seems more special to wait until early November to begin drinking some!

Chris & John - thank you so much for this wonderful selection!

 1,694 characters

Photo of MaltyGoodness
4.4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle - 2006 edition

Pours a clear cherry red with a small white head that vanished. A few specks of lacing here and there on the glass. Very pretty color.

Smell is bready and yeasty with a light tart cherry aroma and a mild hint of honey.

Malty taste upfront with a nice Belgian bready/yeasty flavor. This leads into some mild tart cherry flavors and just a touch of honey. Finishes rather clean and dry with only a slight hint of the big boozy backbone.

Full body, light carbonation.

Dangerously drinkable at 11% ABV. This beer has the characteristics of a monster tripel with just enough cherry and honey to add some additional complexity without becoming distracting. In my opinion, this is the best version of this beer to date.

 756 characters

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tröegs- Mad Elf

Appearance- A ruby red tinted copper brown with no head.
Smell- Strong alcohol and cherries.
Taste- First sip tastes like robatussin, but the beer quickly settles into a nice STRONG cherry Belgium. Strong hints of spice and clove.
Mouthfeel- Strong alcohol at first but it subdues. A little too sweet.

Overall- A nice sipping Winter Ale. 1 or 2 at the most will suffice. Good but not as great as all the hype!

 435 characters

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this years version into a Mad Elf tulip glass from Christmas last year,by the way this is my 100th review.Poured a beautiful ruby red color,quite clear for a belgium style beer.A white 2' thick head,turned into a ring around the glass quicker than I would had anticipated.
Very tiney bubbles stringing together throughout the beer.A very tempting looking beer.
The aroma was very yeasty,clovey,fruity,spicey,slight bannanna,a cherry overtone throughout. An intense and complex aroma,couldn't keep the nose out of this beer.
The taste was very complex and intriging,it was clovey,yeasty,fruity,spicy,a subtle cherry presence throughout. Sweet,dry.tangy the 11% alcohol was a bit hidden in the taste.
The mouthfeel was surprisingly light and airee. A fuzzy warm feeling on the tongue.a nice sharp.dry smooth bitterness,a tartness that makes the mouth water.
A fairly drinkable beer for the style,the alcohol creeps up dangerously upon you.Every taste makes you want more,this beer really grows on you. Smoother and more drinkable than last years version.

A must try Christmas beer!

 1,094 characters

Photo of jhollick
4.59/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a murky dull red color with some copper and caramel coloring. No head, but lacing clings to the glass as I swirl.

Smell: Strong cherry aroma; also lots of honey and sweet malt. It is very thick smelling if that makes any sense. Some spice comes through as well. Awesome smelling beer.

Mouthfeel: Thick, heavy, viscous. Very little carbonation.

Taste: Ohhh mama! A year in the cellar has mellowed this to perfection. The bite and slightly green flavor is gone. No hops that I can discern, but at 15 IBU that is no surprise. That isn't what this beer is about anyway. The slick and juicy sweet flavors roll all around the mouth, with the cherries exhibiting both tarnessa nd sweetness. The malts and honey give body and additional sweetness, almost giving it the consistency of a mead. A bit of spicing rounds out the flavor and keeps things from going over the top on the sweetness scale. There is some dryness at the back, presumably because of the intense amount of alcohol.

Drinkability: What can I say? Somehow this 11.25% monster is drinkable...very drinkable. Don't drink too many, as you will be red faced and making a fool of yourself. The sweetness is very high and tart and dry are the only balancing factors, but I still can't get enough.

Overall: Given sufficient time to mature, this is one of the most drinkable, comples, and fun winter beers around. Tip of the cap to the Brothers Trogner.

 1,437 characters

Photo of rayjay
2.75/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

(From notes)

On tap at the Brickhouse in Harrisburg, PA 12/05. Everybody was talking about it so I had to buy a round; I mean it's the talk of the town when it comes out. Served in a pint glass (obviously a rookie barkeep).

Pours deep red with the smallest of heads. Very sweet and thick. Hints of cherries and wood. Alcohol is obvious. Served very cold, but it only got thicker and flatter as it warmed; a pint is a definate challange. The sweetness and alcohol are a little overpowering and not very balanced. I bet it would be less abrasive and more sophisticated after sitting for a few years. Overall this is nothing more than cough syrup.

Now I get it: it's all the rage because it's so high in alcohol. At $5 a pint I guess it does give you bang for the buck (edit: nevermind, I just saw how expensive the bottles were!!!). Alcohol isn't my priority when ordering beers, though.

This beer is a big mangled wreck. All over the place. Perhaps the only aspect that makes me want to try it again is that it is so over-rated.

 1,040 characters

Photo of hero27
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.
11% abv...yowsa.

Sheer copper color with a surprisingly fizzy head that is gone in the blink of an eye. Aroma is slight honey with some cranberry mixed in..smells fairly "Christmas-y"..
The honey flavor is perceived right from the get-go, combined with a thick, syrupy malt base. The cherries come out a lot more as it warms..when chilled, I got almost no cherry flavor at all. The 11% alcohol is quite well-pronounced, and there's no getting around the slight burning sensation on your lips and tastebuds. Quite sweet in the finish as well..

Reminded me a bit of Great Lakes' Christmas Ale. The cherry & honey flavors were very similar.

Thanks to ski271 for throwing this in as a little taste of Christmas in June.

 740 characters

Photo of wcudwight
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter a dark red(nice). with a inch head that quickly reduces to a thin ring around the crown.
Smell: I get cherry, cranberry, jucyfruit gum and alcohol.
Taste: Mmmm, taste starts with loads of malty sweetness, mixed with cherries. Kind of toasty tasting in the middle. The finish is of dry alcohol.
Mouthfeel is good. Thick and filling.
I consider it nicely drinkable for 11%. I've aged my bottle for 6 months and the alcohol is really only noticable in the finish.
A very good beer that is worth the hour and half drive across state lines to purchase. One that I will be looking forward to this coming holiday season.

 640 characters

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,233 ratings.