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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,204 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,204
Hads: 3,639
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 223
Gots: 926 | FT: 24
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: 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: 1,204 | Hads: 3,639
Photo of blitz134
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First real cold night of the year...pulled this out of the closet for a nightcap...one wiff told me that this one might definately put me out. This is last years version, so not fresh...

Appearance is a perfectly transparent caramel (not ruby red as the website says). Thin white head on the pour which disappeared to a small ring around the edge of the glass. Not the usual head of a belgian although I'm not sure if this is really true to the belgian style to begin with.

Aroma is a bit sweet with a little acidic funk to it. Alcoholic notes swirl readily from the glass. A slight cherry aroma comes around if you are really looking for it. A strong aroma, but somewhat non descript.

Again, I think the taste doesn't have much that really stands out, except for the alcohol. Taste is mainly malty with a touch of mildly sweet fruit in the background. I don't really detect any of the honey and cherries in any particular flavor. Although you can pick out the alcohol in this it isn't overwhelming, either in taste or effects of sitting on the stomach.

Mouthfeel is a little thin in my opinion, could be a bit thicker. Drinkability is okay for the high abv. The flavor or aroma doesn't really offer anything which I find particularly intriguing which would make me really desire this in the future. Maybe the flavors don't hold up for very long, I'm not sure. I have one more bottle to sample though.

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

I got this as a single from UJ's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a pilsner glass.

Pours a brilliant amber/red with a 1/2 finger short lived head of, I swear, Pinkish white foam. The head quickly falls to scant islands and a ring, with very scant lacing on the glass.

Aroma is strong cherries, phenolic-y, Belgian-y almost, bubble gum and spices like black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and cinammon. Smells "festive".

Flavor is scrumptious cherry juice, bubblegum, spices as above. Lightly phenolic, sweet, tart, and light malt late. You can pick up faint alcohol as it warms, but the alcohol is very well hidden.Aftertaste is cherries out the ass, spices, and phenolics.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a soft carbonation. Finish is sweet and tart and rich.

This beer is hard to believe. It's so full of cherry and spice character, the alcohol is very well hidden, and the malt supports it very well. Get a case of this right now!

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Photo of hopsaplenty
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 release

The deep amber, ruby-highlighted Elf raised only a short, quickly dissipating head of tiny tan bubbles that left no lacing. The smell is of dry cherries, sweet honey, hints of clove, and touches of alcohol. It has a medium mouthfeel with a fairly light body and light carbonation. It has a sweet, dry cherry finish. There are hints of cinnamon as well, coupled with the malts. The alcohol is stealthily cloaked behind the cherries. Extremely well balanced, this is a wonderful beer. It would be easy to enjoy several in a row before noticing how potent they are.

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Photo of drumstik
4.62/5  rDev +20%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

First Elf of the Season. I love the ruby red label with the off white and green colors. Of course there is the trademark yellow Troegs cap on top that makes this bottle stand out from the rest.

Pours the a lovely red/amber. This years might even have a little bit more of a dark red hue to it.

Smells of deep rich cherries and plum with lots of malty goodness and a hint of sweetness.

Taste hits with a great malty sweetness with a hint of cherries. Just a touch of spicyness and a tiny hint of hops. As you sip it coats your mouth and throat (perhaps from the honey?) as it slides down with just the right amount of carbonation. Finishes sweet and spicy and a subtle hint of alcohol.

A fantastic beer that lives up to all the hoopla that surrounds it. A great late night sipper to send you off to dreamland. Grab it while you can or you will be regretting it later!

Last year I discovered Mad Elf and I couldn't get enough of it. This year it is wonderful yet again and has inspired me to write my first review here on BA. Hopefully many more to come!

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Photo of Fish113d
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 edition: Poured from a growler brought home from the brewery and into a Mad Elf tulip glass.

Pours a reddish copper color with a nice dense 1 1/2" beige head that slowly fizzles to a nice creamy looking surface layer of about 1/8" with some very nice cling on the sides of the glass.

Aroma is mostly of holiday cherries along with some very floral aromas. Not as spiced as the first year's release. Some maltiness comes through as well, and a tiny bit of alcohol on the nose.

Sipping, I notice sweet and a little tartness of the cherries along with a slightly floral flavor I think from the yeast. Hops are not very apparant. A bit of drying hits at the end with a twang of alcohol hitting my tongue on the finish. Not as complex as previous years, but a wonderfully tasting brew. I've waited 12 months for this, and it's heavenly!

Lightly carbonated, full-bodied. A bit of alcohol hits at the finish, but is mild considering the 11% its marked as.

Overall, very drinkable at 11%!!! It's a wonder that people can drink a 6-pack of it, get sick, and pass out by the halftime of the Super Bowl (inside joke)!

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Photo of froggyfrog
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Love the Elf.

I've been waiting for this beer to come out for months and it has been worth the wait.

This particular serving is from a bottle purchased three days ago on the day '05 ME was released.

The View:

An exciting warm red and amber marble. Very "Belgian-looking" if that makes sense to anyone but me.

The Scent:

Lots of estery components to be had. Olfactoraly reminiscent of a mead. The cherries read like a Luden's wild cherry cough drop.

The Flavor and the Tactile Experience:

Nice and smooth. This brew is rich in flavour but light on the tongue. The taste of prickly honey dances through the mouth as the liquid passes. An effervescent burning sensation is there and gone so quickly that it never really existed. Or did it? The fruit flavours add to the complexity of the Elf but are so wonderfully muted that this beer could never be mislabeled as "fruit beer".

The alcohol is well hidden. The main tastes are of dry honey and fruity Belgian esters.


Actually it is hard not to suck these down in rapid succession because they taste so damn good. Add to that a hidden 11% ABV in a super-smooth liquid bullet train and you have a potential recipe for disaster.

Final Notes:

I highly recommend this beer. I feel that it is very approachable and quite tasty. If you happen not to like it, um, good, more for me!

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Photo of stephendedalus
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Ahhh...Autumn and winter brews--some of my favorites, and Mad Elf is no exception. While this is not the best example of a Belgian Strong or a holiday ale, it is remarkably smooth, packs a festive punch (11% ABV), and is available for a limited time only. So...

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle decorated with our friend the mad elf. Color is a nice amber-red with gentle carbonation evident. A decent head at first--nice and white, but faded quickly. That said, the Mad Elf does lace better than some other high ABV ales.

Spicy aroma. Alcohol is definitely present, as is a malty sweetness--and yes, you can detect some fruitiness, although it is sortof difficult to pin the aroma as "cherry" regardless of what the bottle says. The cherries do come through a little more in the taste, however, as does a well-balanced malt bill (mostly light, but just enough roasted or chocolate...to be interesting enough. Some spiciness-pepper due to the alcohol. All in all, however, very drinkable.

A bit thin in mouthfeel, but this is easily overlooked. Due to the decently masked ABV, accessable flavor profile, and of course, the picture of the mad elf himself, this is a nice beer to be enjoyed with friends around the holidays--or as an introductory beer for someone who may not ordinarily give beer a fair shake. Happy glugging!

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Photo of Px2GrafX
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

presentation: 12 oz. bottle with an overly holiday red label. tan oval in the center of the label with a "troegs" banner across the middle. "the mad elf" on the top of the oval with "holiday ale, ale brewed with honey & cherries" on the bottom. there's this crazy lookin' elf spillin' a goblet of troegs' holiday ale over the bannner in the center. cherries are all over the rest of the label. "hand crafted by two brothers". 11%abv displayed, but no freshness date.

appearance: pours a beautiful clear scarlet red with bright kool-aid red highlights in a tulip glass. head was a half inch off white, but dropped to a ring around the glass fairly quickly. lotsa bubbles. color is beautiful.

smell: aroma is sweet with malted grains and a hint of fruit. you can detect cherries, but only if you read the label. alcohol aromas as well.

taste: mild in the flavor department. malty sweet with a wash of cherry. grainy with some spiciness and a touch of ambrosia. hop character is mild at best with almost no bitterness. only real bitterness is from yeast in the finish. alcohol is evident and warming but not overwhelming. finishes sweet with alcohol spiciness.

mouthfeel: very little carbonation. light-medium body that rolls around and swallows well. a little disappointing, though.

drinkability: very drinkable. there's not much to stop you here. alcohol is there but well masked at first. mouthfeel makes this is drinkable as the kool-aid it looks like. after a while the alcohol kicks in and is intoxicating and warming, so be careful.

overall: hmmm...this is just an average belgian strong dark. mildly flavorful with cherry and alcohol flavors taking center stage. dangerously drinkable, but the mouthfeel is lacking. if you want an easy to drink, intoxicating, belgian with just a hint of belgian spices and phenols and splashes of cherry, then oddly, this is your brew. otherwise, just average.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to cmaruschak for the chance to sample this brew.

Appearance: Pours a deep cloudy brick red with a sudsy white head. The head quickly fades to veins of soapy film on top of the beer.

Smell: Enjoyable blend of honey, pineapple, pear, flowery citrus notes, and a touch of tart fruits. Smells more like a sweet wine than beer.

Taste: Like a tripel. Honey, figs, some clove, some of that Belgian yeast funk, and maybe a hint of under ripe bananas. Very fruity with just a touch of an estery finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, carbonated, and a warming finish that is left on the palate.

Drinkability: The alcohol is hidden well. Kind of sneaks up on you in the finish. The yeasty funk is something that keeps me from over doing it with these styles but it's blended well with the fruit presence. Really enjoyable. I don't know if it seems like a "holiday" beer to me but it's worth trying.

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Photo of johnshuster
1.82/5  rDev -52.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

So, having finished those tasty draughts at the pub I went out the next day to pick up a case of the Mad Elf at the local distributor. That nicked me for almost 50 bucks-you pay for the ABV in there, to say the least.

To my dismay, the Mad Elf is a shadow of its tap greatness when coming from a bottle...at least that's my take.

The bottle itself looks cool-brown glass with a little elf that apparently has a nice buzz going himself. For me, the bottle is the best part of this beer.

The smell is much more concentrated and pungent from the bottle. Note that I drank out of the bottle, not a glass. This may affect what I experienced. Gone were the pleasantly sweet and cherry-like scents. Think more along the lines of cherry robotussin.

The taste was much worse from the bottle than the tap. The beer was far thicker, and the alcohol pervaded the taste throughout drinking, whereas when I had this ontap you only got a slight sensation of the ABV in the aftertaste. This stuff for me was just way too thick and sweet out of the bottle.

Mouthfeel wasn't great either-very heavy and not much carbonation. I am not a big heavy beer drinker, so anything that is thick is not my cup of tea. This stuff's pretty thick, but maybe that's your thing.

Drinkability-Getting one of these down takes a while. There was no possibility of chugging or gulping this stuff-slow sipper only baby, unless youhave powers far greater than mine.

I want to like this beer due to its high ABV and local relevance (went to school near where it's made) but I just can't get the stuff down from the bottle. On tap though, ooo yeah that's the stuff.

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Photo of jamesdr1968
1.72/5  rDev -55.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This beer poured a beautiful dark ruby red color with a nice, creamy head. The taste was a smorgasbord of cherries, vanilla and honey --- an extremely sweet beer, but unfortunately it reminded me too much of cough syrup. I would like to try this on tap to see if there is much of a difference. Great appearance, but the taste was too overwhelming.

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Photo of weeare138
3.99/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the '03 version of the Elf that's been aging.
Appears a hazy reddish amber with a small white head that lasts for a minute and fades into a small collar.
Smell is of honey, cherries, rich candy sugar, along with a hint of cocoa powder with that trademark Troegs yeast.
Taste is of a viscous, syrup mix of the above mentioned aromas.
Mouthfeel is thich and viscous with some mellow corn syrupy sweetness that's raw but smooth.
Drinkability - This is a sipper by all means. It reminds me of cherry lip balm in a weird way. A little hard to swallow, even after aging for over 1.5 years. Delicious but still a one and done for me.

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Photo of Dithyramb
2.82/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Served on tap per this year's XMas in July at Max's in Baltimore. Poured into a large tulip cup, it was a pale rose colored brew with absolutely no carbonation going on in the brew, no real head. There may have been a slight ring around the edge when it was first served. No lacing.
Smell of cherries soaked in honey
Sorry, but couldn't help but think this was light cherry cough syrup. It even had the same sticky mouthfeel going down. Slight tanin like hop finish. Not fond of this one on tap after it had been sitting a few months. Plus, I'm not overly sure if this is a Belgian strong...

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Photo of Beervis
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from the 12oz bottle a very attractive dark ruby red with a very quickly disappearing, crackling white head. The head disappears completely, leaving nothing but a slight lace.

Smell is very sweet, with cherries, honey, and spicy alcohol.

Taste is malty and fruity with the cherry flavor really showing itself, then a smooth mouthfilling honey sweetness takes over. Alcohol is evident, but in a good way, adding plenty of spiciness at the back end. The medium mouthfeel is very juicy, and very little, if any, hop bitterness to be found here.

This is a very drinkable warm weather brew, but not one that I could drink constantly. The sweetness makes it a great dessert beer. It is very different from the regular winter brews that I am used to, but it's definitely one that I'll come back to.

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Photo of WesWes
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a hazy amber color with a 1/4" offwhite head that fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with a slight honey sweetness and a mild cherry aroma. The taste is good. It has a smooth malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes warm and full of cherries. It has a residual honey sweetness. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn good beer. I've heard about it for a while, but never could get it. I love the use of cherries. This is a good drinker.

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Photo of LuckySevens82
2.63/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle courtesy of Dithyramb
Pours a pale, slightly hazy rose color with a small, but well formed white head. Retention is a bit lacking, but the lacing and collar are nice.
Smell is cherries, slight honey, some hops, a bit of caramel, definitely wine like in character, with just a hint of cough syrup.
Taste is a bit bitter up front, with some residual sweetness. Cherry cough drops come to mind. Bitter hops finish this one out. It seriously tastes like Vicks Cherry cough drops. Which I like, but not in my beer. I was hoping that this would be a lot sweeter than it actually is.
Mouthfeel is okay, carbonation is nice, and it's not particularly hard to drink.
Overall, wow, I was really hoping that this would be better. Nevertheless, I'm not very fond of it and I probably won't have much more of it.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained via massive hand trade with most accommodating of BAs, merlin48. Thanks buddy.

Appearance - pours a festive reddish amber. Fizzy short-lived head lasts but a few seconds. Great start, a little lacking overall though.

Aroma - spicy nose of cinnamon and allspice, abates after a minute or two, revealing some bready malt and potent alcohol.

Taste - malt and booze, vaguely similar to Beelzebub but softer on the palate. The spices fight to get through and have only limited success. The spices linger on the swallow as the alcohol fades. The finish is sweet, tasty, and warm. A lighter alcohol level would allow more spice development and would improve the profile.

Mouthfeel - smooth, fairly heavy and coating, average carbonation, all working well together.

Drinkability - a good beer that improves as it warms but could use more holiday spice flavor sooner. Still, if I had access to this it could be an annual tradition.

 946 characters

Photo of walleye
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

from the bottle. poured a nice amber, with no head. aroma, at 1st I got a sourness when it was 1st poured thanafter it sat for a couple of minutes the sourness went away, got honey, malts, cherries, chocolate, yeast, alcohol. flavor, tart cherries, fruits, orange, choclate, and a nice touch of alcohol not tobad of a beer.

 323 characters

Photo of rajendra82
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the cellar meat package by pentathlete, the Mad Elf came out deep amber red with a smallish head. The beer looked slippery, and the dissipating head left little lacing. The aroma was filled with holiday spices like nutmeg, ginger, and I could also smell orange peel. The taste was sweet and spicy with a cheerfully light body that was backed by rum like alcohol warmth. Although clearly a strong concoction, the 11% alcohol was well poised. The mouthfeel was airy and inviting. The aftertaste was a citric and sweet tang and a faint note of hop bitterness. Warmth of alcohol lingered long after the beer was gone.

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

This poured to a nice and surprisingly light amber with hints of yellow and red. The head quickly reduced to a ring and left minimal lace.

Flavors are of light malt up front and quickly switch to a bit of cherry with just a hint of honey. The smell is decent enough but the taste is quite good, especially as it warms. It's alarmingly easy to drink for the alcohol content.

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Photo of tgbljb
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Christmas in April, whay not? 2004 edition. Poured a delightful clear cherry color with slight head that left minimal ring. Smell is of cinnamon and spice and all things nice.Alcohol well hidden. Taste is superb with a hint of dryness in the back of the throat. Left a nice fruity taste in the mouth. at 11% very drinkable. Next taste will be Christmas in July.

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Photo of PatandDavid
3/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cloudy copperiness. Somewhat tan head. I get candied yeastiness, but sadly some soapiness in the aroma. Taste is a bit muddied, malty, yeasty, spicey, and some soapiness in there as well. Ends a bit citrusy. Mouthfeel is medium, carbonation is somewhat low.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to pezoids for this sample as a part of secret santa '04.
Aroma presents with a high phenol quality. Sweet. Fruity. Clove. Alcohol. Nice and bold. (cherry).
Rich red amber. Clear. Fast and quick head.
Phenols supported with a strong malt base. Fruity qualitites are persistent. Touch of alcohol. Nicely complex. In time finishes dry.
Fully carbonated. Leaves an oily coating on tongue. Medium feel to a little less.
This pretty good. It loses it's punch in time. But I like the initial presentation a lot. I like the spicey sour aspects of the flavor.

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Photo of whartontallboy
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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

Poured into a big ol wine glass, this unique ale appears brilliantly red with a small frothy white head. The aroma is spicy with phenols. First flavors to come across are the fruity cherries with the floral sweetness of honey. The sweetness is balanced by a nice of spicy esters and refreshing bitterness with a slightly hot alcohol finish. The mouthfeel of this beer is relatively light for the ABV due to the use of honey to thin it out, which makes this brew very drinkable.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,204 ratings.