Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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BA SCORE
87
very good

3,570 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,570
Reviews: 1,223
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 209
Gots: 854 | FT: 21
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: 3,570 | Reviews: 1,223
Photo of sideshowrob
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great brew for watching the snow fall on a day that work has been canceled...

Poured a wonderfuly unique red/amber color. Little head. Nice carbonation obvious. Smell is pure Xmas, with cherry and honey flavors domminating. No nutmeg or cardimom in this brew. Taste is pleasing - a thin syrup is a apt descriptor. very sweet, with just enough hop backbone to keep things balanced (a bit). This is absolutely a sipping beer, not due to the ABV, which is well hidden, but due to the complexity of the flavors - This brew is approaching a fine liquor.

The Elf only appears once a year, though this year the supply seems better (Bastage employees at the local beer store didn't buy it all this go-round!). Well worth a six pack.

Photo of Gavage
4.34/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal clear reddish amber color. Starts off with a nice 1" head, but it disappears rather quickly, and I mean nothing, not even a surface foam.The aroma is sweet and lightly tart, as cherries, malt, cinammon and alcohol are easily detectable.

The flavor is complex. Thick malt is matched with cherry, apple, yeast, alcohol, honey, cinammon, nutmeg, and some other spices. What makes this interesting is that the flavors come at different times during the taste, like cherry and malt up front and honey and alcohol at the end. As it warms the flavors became more intense.

Mouthfeel was thick and syrupy at the start and finish. The malt seemed to stick to the tongue, and an alcohol kick came just after swallowing. This is a super brew, but for sippin' and relaxing on a cold evening only.

Photo of poundboy
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Obtained this bottle in a trade with GCBrewingCO. Thanks much for the opertunity.

Appearance: Red, not amber like a red ale, but red like toasted cherries. Minimal head as is common in high alcohol brews. Just the sort of ruby treasure you can imagine finding in a Mad Elf's cellar.

Nose: Indentifiable fruit scents, Alcohol undertones, A mild floral hoppiness and hints of sweet malt.

Taste: Begins with a sweet maltiness combined with the fruity spicy character I associate with trappist ales. True to its name, one sip begins to warm you right up. Finishes with the slighest hint of spice. Neither my finace or I could taste cherries.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, pleasant carbonation, creamy despite not being all that thick.

Drinkability: I could pound these back until I could no longer stand up, which would proabably be after say 2.5.

Overall a damn good brew. Perhaps not a classic but certainly one to seek out.

Photo of HappyHourHero
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Stored in the closet for about 8 months. Doughy fruity (cherry) aroma with a hint of alcohol. Opaque, ruby chestnut colored beer. Small, froathy dark cream colored head fades to a broken film. Small, scattered patches of lace cling to the glass. Mellow, creamy vanilla up front with a pinch of cherry, a bit of alcohol takes it into the finish. Nice solid beer, but not very sticky, easy to drink. Damn tasty, I wish I had a case.

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

Light reddish brown, I expected it to be pinkish red! No head. Cinnamon, nutmeg, apples, rhubarb, grapes and pomegranate sweet fruity vinous aroma. Earthy and caramel undertones. Mild vodka is noticeable in mouth. Caramelic sweettarts, apples, vinous grapes, cinnamon and tart fruits on the tongue. Rather thin bodied unfortunately, low carbonation. A beer that is hard to interpret well, this could be a spicy cooler for all I know, but it’s not without pleasure to sip. Fun to brew I guess, but a bit expensive for what it is. I wouldn’t try more than once anyway. Thanks you Mr Weizen.

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

12oz bottle obtained via trade with Pisskynights. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 3/4" of beige head, which laced nicely, over the reddish copper brew. Aroma is of cherries and malts. Taste is not the tartness one might expect from the cherry aroma, but malts upfront, combined with a deep sweet cherry flavor, which is not overdone, as could easily be a problem, but just right. Alcohol kind of creeps in at the end, in a nice kind of way. Mouthfeel excellent, just like a Belgian dark that you would expect, and the drinkability is excellent, in that even if you aren't interested in another straightaway, the character of the brew will make you return at another time. Excellent holiday brew.

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

Shared at a tasting with ratebeerians Ernest amd Aubrey.

Ruby.

Aroma of sweet malts, grapes, cherries, alcohol and honey.

Dark fruits, honey, cherries, toasted malts and subtle chocolate. I like how the cherries do not play a large role but instead, are in the backround letting you know that they are there but not screaming obscenities at your mother.

Anyway, this was a good one.

Photo of far333
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a brandy snifter. Pours caramel colored with pomegranate highlights. A low head rises up to greet me, and settles out quickly.

Smell is fruity, very sweet, with some malt, raspberry and cherry, plus some yeasty funkiness.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin, somewhat watery, leading to flavors of cherry and honey, and some light brown sugar, and some clove in the finish. Also a bit of a metallic notes underneath, perhaps from the alcohol, but no other indications of the ABV strength. Average drinkability due to the rich and yeasty flavors and the alcohol strength.

Photo of UnionMade
4.58/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a bright, sunset red. Hazy, but the color is luminous. Very impressive. A thick, creamy froth of ivory head pillows up with a vigorous pour, dropping as quickly as it came. The head settles into a scattered, striated mist, bordered by a thick collar. Upon close inspection, the bubbles in the collar are miniscule, almost microscopic. Sheets of lace cling to the glass, a collar of head begrudgingly holding on throughout.
The aroma is very complex, the honey and cherry immediately apparent. Rich, luscious malt cradles a very sweet maraschino cherry scent. Loads of caramel and toasty sweetness, with shovelfuls of candi sugar. Plenty of fruitiness, of course tons of cherry, with lighter, more subtle notes of raisin, plum, date and red grape. A bit of sneaky alcohol flits through the shadows.
The flavor starts with a very sweet, caramel drizzled toastiness. Sticky gobs of honey enter in immediately, lending a softness to the overall feel. Maraschino cherry creeps in early, ushering in a rich, full fruitiness. A bushel of raisin, date, plum and red apple is dumped on the palate, some sourish red grape and raspberry easing the way into the finish. A pleasant, barely balancing fruity sourness tames the malt somewhat, vague hints of earthy, herbal hops assisting. Great spiciness from the yeast. Soft clove and medicinal astringency, doing it's best to bury the alcohol content in the end. Interestingly, a distinct cherry cough syrup taste creeps in with warmth. A faint sting of booze sits on the tip of the tongue after every sip, beating back the sugary horde. The aftertaste is very sweet, with a pronounced honey-dipped cherry. Very mild, yet active carbonation supports a full, syrupy mouthfeel, vesseled in a very full body.
Really awesome stuff. I'm usually not a fan of stuff being added to beer, especially adding two sweet things to an already sweet style. These folks at Troeg's really pulled it off, though. The malt is easily tempered by the sour spiciness in the finish. I really liked the carbonation, how it gently carried the beer with just enough to get the job done, yet still retain that bouyant belgian feel. Please bottle this again.
Thanks to Sulldaddy for the bottle!!

Photo of jahred
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 11/3, tasted 5/19/04. Many thanks to beerluvr and BIF 6.0 for this bottle!

Pours a bright orange-brown color with a nicely sized tan head. There's some lace on the glass as I drink, but not an overwhelming amount.

The scent is sweet - there's going to be plenty of of malt, lemon and alcohol in this beer.

The first taste I get is vanilla, with an orange/fruity malty flavor following, and a biting, trailing alcohol aftertaste. As the beer wars, the sweetness continues to come out. Also a bit of spice - is it nutmeg? Clove? Or just something coming from the hops? I can't tell ...

I couldn't quite place that fruity taste, so as I finished up this beer, I looked through previous reviews. Yes - that was it... Cherry, most definitely!

Oddly enough, the Mad Elf had the unfortunate combination of being a little too thin for my taste, along with having too much of an alcohol flavor, with the 11% being very poorly hidden. Though still quite tasty and interesting, I have a feeling this needed to sit for another year to settle down a bit.

Photo of mtbikeguru
3.48/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Gotta love the nice red label that depicts a tipsy elf hanging on the Troëgs name. The 11% ABV would make anyone tipsy if they had enough of these guys.

This bier has a very nice glowing ruby red color and a substantial bone-colored head during the pour, which is surprising considering the ABV, but the head did subsided quickly. Very, very fine carbonation

One would think that the alcohol would be very prominent on smelling this brew but it is very balanced with the cherry, pale malt, subtle spiciness, and some other fruity kind of banana esters to come to the front.

Very drinkable bier so be careful because this mad elf will smack you around if you drink to many of his buddies.

Photo of ZAP
4.68/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Fantastic brew....pours a cherrywood color...nose is spicy..body is medium...carbonation seems low....very few hints of the high ABV...extremely drinkable....some spicy alcohol notes on the flavor... Taste is very interesting...kind of an experimental Belgian Dubbel with soft sweet cherry notes...the cherry is not overdone which would have wrecked the beer....instead it adds a subtle elegance to the final product...also hints of oak, and brown sugar in the flavor...

This is outstanding....this is what all breweries should put out for their winter beers....On my dream tap list this would occupy one of the season lines during the winter months....a must try...lived up to its considerable hype ..

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

12 oz bottles acquired via trade.
Shiny dark red color, nearly brown depending on the light. Hints of ruby along the edges. Pink tinged beige head.
Smell with full of sweet juicy cherries, and lots of high alcohol presence. Taste was tart to start, striking flavors full of cherries, but also had dull underlying breadiness. Malty, as the beer warmed the flavors improved. The cherry tartness softened, while the dull bread was balanced out. All the time a slightly medicinal alcohol heat and flavor. Delicate carbonation, light to moderate bodied, but never watery. Held together remarkably. Got a little sticky sweet to finish. I thought this would be classified as a Fruit/Vegetable beer, but definitly can see it's Belgian dark strong ale classification as well. Doesn't have the earthyness of a belgian, but the heat, and complexity are there. Sampled after nearly 4 months in the fridge, might even be better had I left them sit longer.

Photo of Dantes
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Package: 12oz. brown, longneck, crowned bottle. Great holiday red label depicts a tipsy elf hanging on the Troëgs name. Blurb describes beer as an”ale brewed with honey & cherries.” 11% ABV. No information about bottling date or specific year, but I know it to be from Holiday 2003.

Cost: $2.25 per single at Gary’s

Presentation: Snifter at ~60º

Appearance: An absolutely beautiful glowing ruby red that formed a substantial bone-colored head during the pour, which subsided quickly. Obvious gunsmoke on opening. Interestingly, the beer poured brown, but was definitely red in the snifter. The carbonation was so fine, requiring close examination under a halogen desk lamp to detect it.

Smell: I was pleasantly surprised by the multi-dimensional aspect of the aroma. No cough syrup cherry here! Alcohol is very restrained, allowing sweet cherry, pale malt, subtle spiciness, and some other fruity esters to come to the fore.

Taste: Obviously the cherries and honey are the stars here, but this beer isn’t overly sweet. Impressively, the cherries don’t impart the sweetness of maraschinos, but more of a dark, morello cherry depth. A little more dark malt toastiness might have been a nice counterpart. Some phenolic “burn” and yeastiness also cuts the sweetness nicely. Very warming, but with a relatively light finish for such a big beer.

Mouthfeel: Deserves special mention here. I just don’t know how they did it. This is a heavy, warming beer, that manages to be light on the tongue and palate. As mentioned above, the carbonation is spectacular: ultra-tiny bubbles run through this beer, helping cut the sweetness and alcohol, while providing a creamy texture. The carbonation is definite and long-lasting, while being very subtle. Much like a ballet dancer, it combines grace and delicacy with the strength of an all-pro linebacker. Unique in my experience amongst barley wines and other high ABV brews.

Drinkability: So drinkable, it probably ought to be illegal to sell this! The alcohol is subtle and the flavors full but not overwhelming. Dangerous!

I don’t know how I haven’t reviewed this yet. According to my records, I bought 4 of these. I drank one almost right away, and pulled this one yesterday. That means that there should be 2 more in my cellar. I think I must have drunk the first one too cold as I don’t remember its making this kind of impression. Heeding VENOM’s warning, I served this one warm (but not quite room temperature as I expected it to warm further). Great advice, but next time I will probably start drinking this a touch colder, as it warms quickly and the sweetness begins to dominate. This is an impressive achievement, combining complexity, depth of flavor, warming alcohol, and an impressive texture in one great beer. A bargain considering the product. I’m only sorry I didn’t get more. Next year, I’ll be buying much more if I can get it.

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

Pours a nice red color. Fruity nose. Cherries. Pours with a thick red head. interesting. I have 5 bottles aging. I can't wait to see what they will taste like in a year. This beer was so fresh. Really enjoyable. Interesting flavors. Lots of fruit. I enjoyed this beer. Had this at Andy's too.

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

The mad elf enters the glass.A beautiful pour,red-hued,lovely. With an off white head full of active little bubbles.The scent of yeast, malt, and a restrained cherry sweetnes.I think I should taste it.A nice honey seetness encased in alcohol.Awonderful creamy mouthfeel.The cherry arrives ,gently though still accompanied by alcohol.The finish is nice ,slightly sour, fading gently away.This is nice.
Although eleven percent the Elf is amazingly drinkable.I had expected something more intense but instead have a rounded entertaining holiday ale in the glass( now more than half empty):)
Kudos to the one and only Feloniousmonk for introducing me to my new mad friend.

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

Clearish glowing coppery red color, small ivory head that diminishes quickly leaving no lacing. Aroma has a fresh rose semi sweet malty tingle with light phenol and cleaning alcohol notes. Taste has a mild malty start with some slight fruityness that builds into the middle where the fruityness of cherry becomes evident mixed with light raisin and fig, finishing with a slight spicy burn of alcohol which unleashes some more sweet fruityness with nice dry molasses and a slight touch of phenolic yeast and spice notes. Simple in taste but effective in its layering keeping a certain level of complexity. Feel is close to full but falls off quickly, some light chewy and sticky smoothness and malty sweetness throughout with a nice mix of light cake-like drying aspects and even lighter spices and phenols. A nice warmer-upper and actually pretty drinkable even with its 11% due to its smoothness and milder tone.
Thanks to feloniousmonk for saving me a bottle!

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

Tasted from bottle on 2/14/04

Appearance: Beautiful copper/red colour with a thin light tan head that quickly fades to a ring around the glass.

Smell: Malty and sprightly, with an estery fruitiness and an underlying ripe cherry tone.

Taste: Malty with a cherry fruit finish. Not much else?

Mouthfeel: Carbonation a little too aggressive.

Drinkability: I wanted much more from this brew, I can't help but thinking that this would benefit from a wee bit o time in the bottle.

Photo of Jason
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle with a bottled on date printed on the neck.

Appearance: Quick to give two fingers of foam but the crackling leads to a ring of lace and very little head. Brilliantly red in colour, dark red at that.

Smell: Sweet malt, touch of bitter phenols and a hint of cherries in the back. Faded whiff of alcohol throwing some rosy esters.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Alcohol is evident in the full bodied and malty brew. Lots of sweetness on the palate of malt and a kiss of juicy cherries. Spicy phenols help to balance a bit … very little hop character to be had. Suggestions of brown bread and toasted husk middle to end, nice juicy burst of fruit in the middle as well. Finish with a sweet, alcoholic and spicy kick.

Notes: Perhaps one of the most interesting beers I have run into for a long time. Highly complex yet this bottle seems a touch green … you have to wonder what a year or two in the cellar would yield.

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

served cellar/room temperature per suggestions on this site, and boy did it make a difference. pours an amber/ruby colour with a thin, slightly tan head that has a moderate stickiness to it. the smell is loaded with cherry, but because of this it had a bit too much of a cherry medicine smell at times. i thought the cherry was going to have to be toned down a bit, especially before sipping this one, but at a warmer temperature, their taste within the beer is just right. much more subdued than in the the smell. ther eis also a mild alcohol flavouring throughout which provides a nice warming effect. as the beer itself warms the taste gets that much better. the finish is slighty dry and this is just tasty all around. a ver yeasy to drink brew for 11% abv. it's a bit too sweet to drink more than one or two per sitting, but i'd definitely sample it again in the future.

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

Appearance – Clear and bright orangish-red in color with a very shallow head, probably from the high ABV.

Smell – Big mix of cherry and orange juice, mostly cherry, with a dash of cranberry and yeast. There’s a noticeable but very easy whiff of alcohol as well.

Taste – The yeast comes out more at the taste and mixes well with the cherry juice and booze. This is a sipping ale in every sense. Some spices come out at the finish, making this one a very complex and interesting ale.

Mouthfeel – This one is light for a BSDA but with a strong alcohol sting, probably too much for most. It is smooth as glass though, so watch out!

Drinkability – I enjoyed this one, as did many of my BA Bros, but I wouldn’t offer this to a friend unless they can appreciate the style interpretation. This is for the serious-minded only, but if you’re up for it it’s one hell of an experience.

Comments – OldFrothingSlosh sent this one to me out of the blue, and boy was I ever glad that he did. A big THANX for getting this one out to me – BeerAdvocates rule!

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

This was interesting. The beer came out clear with a very red tint. A big head fizzed up right away, and then went quickly down to nothing. The aroma is mainly cherries, but I get some cranberries also. It smells both sweet and sour at the same time. The taste is different: cherry with a hint of sourness. Very little carbonation. The alcohol is evident, but blends in nicely. Unique and very good.

Photo of marburg
4.55/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Prismatic body, shifting browns and reds. Interestingly small-ish but tight head. Bits and pieces of honey-slathered white toast float around in the aroma. The more I work at it, the more I pick out something cherry-ish, but it's nothing more than a faint hint of a cherry product, not cherries themselves.

Very spritzy up front and fruitier, sweeter at the finish. Manages to avoid tasting sugary despite this odd dynamic. Mild cherry flavor with spacklings of sugar-free strawberry candies -- those hard ones. Naturally, the cherries express themselves a great deal more as it warms. Feels a bit like a warm jello mold -- squishy beer.

The alcohol here is mild but clearly present. Gives it a distinctly classy feeling and that Belgian-esque complexity. Fruit flavors linger for a few moments after its gone. Sampled this evening thanks to Putnam's generosity.

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

Poured into a Duvel tulip from a 12 oz bottle, with a low off-white head forming and quickly residing. Color was a gorgeous ruby-amber, radiant and crystal clear. The most noticeable aroma was candied cherry, with qualities of dry cherry Jell-O mix...very nice and wonderfully lush despite the reference to Jell-O. Joining the cherry was a subtle and sweetish malt aroma, and just the slightest hint of alcohol, as it warmed. Tasting the beer revealed a satisfying cherry-malt sweetness, retaining the complexities of fresh cherries. Brandy-like cherry flavors washed over my palate, hitting all of my taste senses with a pleasant warmness. An appropriate level of bitterness rounds out the finish, with some cherry and subtler honey aromatics lingering. Sweetness does not remain in the finish, to its credit. Mouthfeel was full and smooth, although the carbonation level was a tad low. This could have been caused by mishandling/freezing temps on its journey to my fridge. Alcohol was very well hidden in the nose and taste, and was only noticeable by its warming qualities. I found this to be a delightful and rich winter warmer, to be enjoyed by the fire. It opened up and improved dramatically as it warmed. Big thanks to PintOfAle and Beergeek279...whom together made it possible for me to enjoy another after this review.

Photo of beergeek279
4.62/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is a very reddish-amber, with a wispy white head. The smell is of cherries and honey. The taste is dominated by the tart cherry, though a nice honey comes through, and somehow the beer is balanced and not cloying; alcohol is not at all apparent in the beer. Mouthfeel is very thick. As for drinkability, I'd definitely have these as long as I could.

Probably my favorite Christmas beer from last year. A rich mix of honey and cherries that's perfect for a cold December night. Simply delicious, and this is certainly a beer I'll be getting plenty of next Christmastime!!

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,570 ratings.