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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

1,208 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,208
Hads: 3,648
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 224
Gots: 930 | 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: 1,208 | Hads: 3,648
Photo of steorn
4.08/5  rDev +6%
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.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.85/5  rDev 0%
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!

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Photo of Hefe
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of Jason
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
4.08/5  rDev +6%
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.

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Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev +3.9%
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!

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Photo of Boto
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of marburg
4.55/5  rDev +18.2%
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.

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Photo of HiroProtagonist
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
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.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.62/5  rDev +20%
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!!

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Photo of nomad
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A deep red color, glowing, but showing nothing else. Smells of dark honey with wonderful natural tones to it, like the floral scents of a fresh and natural honey. Bare black cherry scents behind, as the smell of wonderful sweetness is never cloying or noxious.

Tastes of sweet honey, barely some cherry, and a caramel flavor like crystal malt. In fact feels like there is a big malt base to this beer. A large and largely creamy finish, it becomes oily near the end, wiping out the quick first flavors. Thinnish mouthfeel.

A decent holiday beer.

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Photo of AragornUnplugged
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interestingly dark orange/ruby pour. I have found it is necessary to get aggressive to produce a head, but doing so nicely mellows the first sip. The label proclaims that Mad Elf is brewed with honey and cherries and there is no doubt upon drinking that they mean it. You can smell both, along with some spice, and they are layered in the taste. I would like this beer to have a bit more body, as that would firm up an otherwise great and unique product. Carbonation is light, alcohol is noticably present but quite drinkable. Strangely enough, this is the beer that rescued my sister from the grasp of a heavily imported green bottled macro, causing her to liberate my stash. Good thing I have a source. I need more.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.73/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reddish copper, emphasis on the red, and as clear as a pealing Christmas bell. The head is beige in color, fluffy in consistency and starts to recede even as I'm pouring. It does leave a little bit of nice lace, but only a fingernail-thin film on top of the beer.

Alcohol is appreciated in the nose, which isn't surprising given the lofty ABV. I'm trying to convince myself that there are cherries in the nose, but I can't quite manage it. I started drinking at an estimated 55 degrees and got quite a bit of alcohol in my first sip. Bear with me while I let it warm a little more...

There's some fruity sweetness, but again, I'm not certain that I can pick out the cherries. The beer is definitely malty and isn't hoppy in the least. Even with warming, alcohol plays too big a role. 'Medicinal', as a previous reviewer stated, gets it about right.

I drink scotch and bourbon (90-100 proof, neat), but I don't appreciate tasting alcohol, at least to this extent, in my beer. In Mad Elf's case, it overpowers the flavor of cherries and honey, which should be quite nice. An even higher ABV can be almost completely hidden in a fuller, richer beer, but this one isn't either of those. The mouthfeel is merely decent.

I really thought I'd like Mad Elf and was looking forward to the entire sixer. That is, until I drank the first one. If I want a good Christmas brew, I'll reach for a Great Lakes Christmas Ale or a Corsendonk Christmas.

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Photo of bditty187
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Many fellow BAs have advised serving this beer warmer than normal, while I don’t like babying beers to make them adequate I’m not going to spite my palate and serve it cooler. I let it warm-up for a good 30+ minutes after it left the DBF. I hope that was enough coddling… ;-)

Clear, lively reddish hue with a slight coppery highlight, modest animation, the slightly off-white head reached a very modest fourth of a finger, it faded to a soapy collar quickly. No lace was produced as I sipped, that is not too surprising. The aroma has vague cherry influences above a dash of raw honey and spice that are blended with an aloof fruitiness and ordinary maltiness. The potency is modest in strength, it is a little disjointed and kind of hollow. As a whole it is interesting and it provoked me to sip it. The palate is much more complex than the nose indicated, brandy heat upfront, raisins, clove, bread, cherries, a kiss of apples, wavering chocolate hints, slight toastiness, sugar, honey, and more alcohol heat. This is very well constructed and the unvarying alcoholic cherry taste is heavenly! The throat feels the alcohol punch, as does the tummy and mind. I’m impressed that this very sweet beer isn’t cloying and it still has a somewhat dry finish. I wish the body was fuller, this is medium at best and too thin for the punch it packs, if it was fuller this would truly be a marvelous beer that could only be sipped at a leisurely pace. The carbonation is appropriately low and the mouthfeel is smooth albeit kind of slick. A bigger malt backbone would really propel this beer, oh well. While the alcohol is detectable it doesn’t seem to be near 11%, impressive. Even with the multiple layers of flavor this is a very drinkable beverage. Simply lovely. Mad Elf is a beer that needs to be sought out; it is very unique and worthy of a quaff by everyone. Thank you beerluvr (and the Holiday Beer Exchange 2003) and thank you francisweizen for the bottles of this tasty nectar! It is very much recommended!

It was well worth letting this bad boy warm up!

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served at 58°F. Pours an amber copper color with a tan head that quickly dissipates. It has an alcoholic fruity nose with a hint of cherry. A soft subtle beer, with a hint of cherry in it. There is quite a bit of sweetness (though not overly so), and it has quite the alcoholic kick in the finish (though not in a bad way, it is in no way a harsh kick). There is a mellow fruitiness that pervades this beer throughout. It is quite light bodied, especially for an 11%'er. The honey probably helps to dry it out. An interesting interpretation of the holiday ale class of brew. Quite tasty, me thinks.

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Photo of canoehornpoint
4.06/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The only beer my wife really likes and it's nearly impossible to find, even in season. This pours a deep amber with a nice rich head that lasts longer than most. The aroma is a fruitiness that is not really discernable but pleasant. If you didn't know it was cherry, you would just think "fruity". Nothing is overpowering in this beer. the cherries, malt and hops blend together for a fruity wine taste that is pleasant, even for a guy who doesn't want fruit in beer. this hits the lips light and finishes full. I was pleasantly surprised and will try to homebrew something close.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep cherry red with virtually no head and quite still. Smell is of sweet malt, apples, cherries and spice.

Taste is very sweet and malty, overpoweringly so. Lots of fruit flavors in here. Apples, cherries, some citrus and just pure honey creeps up as well. Caramel flavors are evident. Hints of underlying spice and just sweet, sweet, sweet. Almost too sweet but not quite. Mouthfeel in sticky and syrupy. Wish there was a bit more taste in the finish and/or aftertaste. I was shocked to see that this brew is 11% ABV (didn't notice that on the bottle). Incredibly smooth and drinkable for that strength! A very good winter warmer but not at the top of my wish list.

Thanks to PintofAle for the sample.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep ruby red color with one finger of head. There is minimal lacing left on the glass. The smell is very sweet with overripe cherries, honey, and a hint of alcohol. The taste starts tart with a zing of alcohol up front. The cherries are very present in the middle of the taste, with a slightly hoppy finish. There is a bit of toffee and honey on the finish as well. The mouthfeel is super thick and smooth. The drinkability is fantastic for an 11% brew. A great holiday ale!

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

Time to compare the on-tap to the bottled experience. Pours bright, glowing ruby red. No head, just a ring of lace around the edge of the glass; decent viscous, liqueurish alcohol cling but no bubbles. Aroma is of sweet... very sweet cherries and a mellow yeast-based spiciness. Slightly medicinal and herby, again I believe I detect juniper with an alcohol spiciness at the back of the nose. Flavor is of big sweet cherries (again) and a bit of bready yeast, with the honeyish flavors showing up much better from the bottle than from on tap (for whatever reason). Seems much sweeter than my previous tastings--almost a cola note--verging on cloying IMO. Mouthfeel is still respectably smooth with more alcohol tingle; I would almost say a slightly thick, yogurty (?) finish is left behind. Drinkability is a bit better than fair. Sorry folks, I've been trying; I still find this good but it is just not mindblowing.

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Photo of oberon
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice find last night at the Spring House Drafting Room,pours a nice ruby red with a nice creamy,sticky head,aroma is spicey with a light smoky tinge to it.I got the flavors of spiced cherries with tha light smokey flavor with some alcohol note as it warms.Troegs is one of my favorite PA brewers and this offering reinforces that thought.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an absolutely gorgeous reddish amber color.Very slight head and carbonation.Slight aroma of cherries-some citrus,malt and a backround yeasty-ness.Malty sweetness dominates the flavor with a hint of cherries.The 11% ABV is very well disguised.Wonderful mouthfeel-really smooth and full bodied.What a great beer I must say.I have not been a Troegs fan in the past-just didnt think they were as good and "special" as some of the others out there.I'll take that back with this beer however.Some of this will definately be getting "laid down"-ENJOY!!!

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Photo of drewbage
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of Gusler
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The color a limpid luxurious ruby on the pour with a smallish head that is frothy in texture, light tan in color and as it disperses rather quickly the resultant lace forms a rather thin velum like sheet that just does cover the glass. The aroma of over ripe fruit, such as pineapple greets you first, hints of fusel alcohol along with the malted grains brings up the rear, bubble gum like tones also present with the start ambrosial and rich in malt with the top middling to almost full in feel. Finish is vinous, sternly acidic, the hops delectable in their spicy bite, desert dry and somewhat tart aftertaste that leaves you longing for another sip. Quite a pleasure to drink, big time tummy warmer, a great “Winter Warmer”, and one I wish was more readily available.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've had two beers in a row this Christmas Eve that feature that smiling sap Santy Claus on the label and it's about time to genuflect in honor of the unrecognized working class hero, in this case, a certain Demented Dwarf!
So, let's to it!
Appearance: a brilliant bright and shiny crimson color...gorgeous! And adorned with a fuzzy, cream-toned head that's lives too briefly.
Aroma: big on the fruit, but never too sweet, somehow, and damned interesting, feeling like it's rife with spices, and I can pick up the honey hinted at on the label, and the cherry factor is flowing over, in much abundance and joined with a brandyish character, ushering in the full effect of the alcohol content...oh, yeah, 11%, how about that, huh?
So, let's taste!
Dark, rich, fruity, utterly alcohol-drenched cherry goodness! The booze is king here, and it's sublimely delicious! Malt is in command in this beer, and I don't believe hops have a word to say, it's not their show tonight, malt and booze is all, but the sweetness never cloys somehow, and balance is acheived, but not if you account for the monstrous alcoholic component.
Sadly, the mouthfeel gets a bit thin in the middle, and I wish the body was fuller, but that rich, delicious taste seems to redeem any/everything...and then, the booze kicks in for real, and nothing has no excuse! That's how a Mad Elf is born!
My second bottle downed, and this review is done "live" while drinking it and referencing my notes, however scribbly, from the last taste. And I'm nothing short of wowed by this amazing creation! These guys got guts! I've had other Troeg's beers that were commendable and tasty, but not overwhelming and utterly incredible! I really, really, really like this beer!
Domo Arigato, Mr. ManekiNeko for getting this beer to me!

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

WOW! I finally score some of this treat. I had a case waiting for me when I got to Harrisburg area for the holidays. I split about 10 of them with some friends tonite.

I drank mine at room temp since I have heard/read that they are better that way.

The brew pours a amber/red color with a pinkish head foaming up nicely. The aroma is all cherries and alcohol. No hop presence at all.

The first sip reveals an off sweetness and cherry undertones are evident. The alcohol is only faint on the swallow with some belly warming action occurring. The body is medium thickness with some vinous characteristics, maybe a little viscous. Overall very drinkable. I actually had three of the bottles tonite over a 2 hour span and definitely feel the alcohol a little by the 3rd even if I didnt taste it. this beer is definitely worth the wait. Hopefully you have tried some and if not try to get it and good luck!

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,208 ratings.