Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

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Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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very good

3,391 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,391
Reviews: 1,185
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.5%
Wants: 196
Gots: 663 | 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:
Hop Bitterness (IBU's) : 15
Color (SRM) : Ruby Red
Availability: Seasonal, 12 oz. & 3L bottles, 1/2 and 1/6 kegs (contact your local retailer to pre-order)
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Yeast: Spicy Yeast
Pennsylvania Honey West Coast Cherries

(Beer added by: WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,391 | Reviews: 1,185 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of denmah
4.58/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On-tap brought to me in a goblet, cold, having mad elf before poured out of a bottle, i let it warm up a bit and sweat, thats when the smell and flavor really wake up.

Appearance: Deep Ruby Red, with a very small head, that totally disappears.

Smell: an almost overwhelming smell coming out of the glass, honey,spicey, cinnimon, nut, very strong.

Taste: very complex, all of the incredibly strong flavors blend together well.

Mouthfeel: medium feel in mouth, once you have a sip, you experience about 3 different tastes, first you taste the cherry and honey right away, then you get a bit of a malty carmel taste in the mouth, followed by a slightly bitter hoppy aftertaste.

Drinkability: amazing if you let it warm up to almost room temp, and keep sipping lightly, if i try to drink it too fast i start to dislike it. nice sipping with the strong alcohol going with it is excellent, you have to remind yourself its 11% abv

Photo of drtth
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lightly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically. This bottle is from the fall 08 bottling and so has 9 or 10 months of bottle age.

Appearance: The beer pours out a deep clear dark red with a 1/4" off-white creamy head that recedes rapidly to a ring of foam with thin surface coverage. Initially sipping leaves a ring that turns into leggy lacing as some slides down the side of the glass. Later on sipping leaves only a faint ring and light speckled lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell: The aroma is a complex mix of cherry, spice (clove) and honey. The alcohol is well hidden here.

Taste: The flavor is a delightful mix of the cherry, the spice, and the honey, backed up by hints of chocolate from the malt. Any alcohol is in the sweetness and despite the 11% ABV there is no alcohol heat to this one. The flavor is complex enough that it is hard to say that any one part of the flavor is dominant.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium bodied and soft with very modest carbonation, only a faint prickle by the end of the beer. The finish is medium long and mostly sweet, trailing off into a light yeast character and almost some dry bitterness.

Drinkability: This is a dangerously drinkable beer. However it's a beer for sipping. At this ABV it would be easy to drink too much, and with this level of cherry/sweetness it begins to cloy if sipped to quickly. I definitely enjoy this beer and will return to it again. Indeed if history is a judge I'll have a case laid in when it is released this year and most of it won't see the New Year.

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

A- Poured into a snifter... Ruby colored beer... very little head or lacing. Very little activity

S- So sweet smelling. Malty aroma with very distinct cherry smell

T- Tastes alot like it smells. Very sweet malty taste, hint of chocolate with cherry overtones... more of a sour cherry than sweet cherry. Light alcohol flavor

M- Medium bodied, light carbonation, and a very little alcohol bite

D- Dangerously easy to drink. Would definately drink more, unfortunately that was my last bottle until the next release


Photo of mikey711
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A nice reddish color with a white head on top. Very good lacing.

S: Very fruity and estery. The cherries come through very well and there is lots of bubble gum notes too.

T: Very sweet with the tiniest bit of funk. The cherries. Pretty big on the bubblegum and fruitiness. Very mellow tasting. A bit of holiday spicing is present too. A little bit of soapiness too.

M: This certainly has mellowed out alot since the winter. There is still a bit of heat but it is not intense at all.

D: Pretty easy to put down, but not the best

Photo of DIM
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: This was a bright, clear, cherry amber color. It poured with a large, but relatively short lived, off-white head.

s: Yeasty phenols with some banana notes. Sweet candied candied sugar and plenty of heat that is flowery and a bit solventy. As it warms, I did find a little cherry.

t: Dry, yeasty, phenolic bananas up front, sweet sugary cherries come next. The finish is dry, tart, flowey cherries. This doesn't taste as hot as it smells.

m: Thick but not syrupy with surprisingly gentle carbonation.

d: This was one of the first craft beers i tried many years ago. It was almost my last because I thought it was terrible. I like it a lot more today, but it isn't something I would crave often.

Photo of dmamiano
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pulled this out of the cellar.
Deep brassy color, slightly ruby in appearance with a reddish tint. Virtually no head, which seemed a bit odd.Swirling the glass though revealed this was a beer with legs.
Nose brought cherries, banannas and a Belgian yestiness. Spices also present.
Taste was very full on the palate. Fruits exposed in the form of cherries. Swet and malty with virtually no hops noticed, but surely there.

Photo of Vengeance526
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky dark ruby amber color with only a very small head that dissipates almost immediately and doesn't leave any lacing.

Light aroma of fruit and yeast. Not a bad smell but there's just not much there. Just a slight berry scent and maybe a touch of spice in the back.

The taste does this one more justice than the smell, with notes of cherries, sweet malt, a hint of spices and brown sugar and even a light bit of honey in the finish.

Medium bodied and pretty smooth. The alcohol really sneaks up on you with this one as the 11% really can't be detected too well in the taste. Once I got used to this one, I could have drank quite a few. Appearance aside, the taste was great and very inviting despite the high abv.

Photo of sully42
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I decided to go to the 6pack shop on Broadway in Bethlehem. Wow what an interesting 6 pack shop. I was talking to the guy working, and I asked if they had any Mad Elf still. He two bottles tucked away on a shelf. It is rare to find this beer in the middle of July. So I took both of them.
After opening the bottle and pouring it into a glass, i was amazed by the dark ruby red color. Almost a full finger of head it.
The smell was a moderately strong cherry blossom smell, just delightful reminded me of the smell of spring time.
Lifting the glass to my lips and taking the first sip blew me away, so many flavors blending together all at once. A sweet chocolate and cherry taste with a hint of sourness to it. A nice lite carbonation was perfect for the flavors.
It is very drinkable for being 11%.
I cant wait until Mad Elf comes out again.

Photo of goblue3509
4.63/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an reddish ruby color with a one finger head. The beer gives way to little or no lacing. The smell is of roasted malts, with some fruit tones to it. The taste is fantastic, it taste of malt with cherry overtones and a honey note to smooth out the flavor. This beer is full bodied and moderately carbonated. The overall drinkability on this beer is very high, even with the high alcohol content the taste isn't overly alcohol and it is very very smooth, overall an a+ all around.

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I had this at the Hulmeville Inn. Poured into a snifter. Pours an amber color with a white heading. Globs of lacing a present throughout the tasting.

Smell is very sweet,biscuity as well with the slightest fruit aroma on the backend.

Taste again is very sweet,a chocolate taste as well. A type of souriness kind of kicks in the middle and a cherry taste kicks you in the mouth in the end.

Mouth is full bodied great carbonation.Leaves a nice spicy tingle on the tongue.

Drink is excellent very drinkable 11%ABV this shocked me the most. Easy to go down and a few more but not too many or you will be down and out. Rather quickly.

Photo of Deuane
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mad review---WTF! On tap at Grey Lodge Pub during the Christmas in July celebration. I wonder how many pints of this I have drank over the years?

A-Brilliant, almost glowing ruby red with a thin white head that reduces to a thin ring and leaves zero lace.

S-Sweet biscuit and caramel malts with a splash of cherries and some dark roasted notes.

T-Sweet, luscious smoothness...if you can taste smoothness! Cherries come into the background with a tart little bite. Ends with a touch of spicy bitterness and honey smooth sweetness....again!

M-Medium-light bodied honey, silky smooth and viscous.

D-This is 11%--really? I know it is sweet but...I cant help myself. I find this to be one of my indulgent treats each and every holiday season (and out of season when available!) Honey goodness with a light cherry pop...and then the ABV kicks you in the head after your third pint!

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

Pours with a slightly red clear tint. Small head , no lacing.

Aroma of sharp and sweet cherries.

Taste of sweet malts , a sharp cherry and alcohol finish.

Mouthfeel is thick , good carbonation.

Overall a different tasting Belgian style that's pretty tasty.

Photo of BitterPachyderm
2.95/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this 12 oz. little gem from tprokop7. Thanks! The vintage date here, seems to elude me.

Poured into an oversized wine glass (new glassware, PLEASE!). There was almost no head at all, like a date with the girl who preaches abstinence...and what head there is, is gone within sixty seconds. It has a deep mahogany body and seemed somewhat lifeless. This isn't looking too good.

The aroma was a bit bready and phenolic. There is a dirty cherry smell here, but not overbearing. The bubblegum smell here is a bit of a turnoff. No Belgian smells noted.

You can get a tick of cherry midpalate if you really try. It reminds me of a cheap wine or maybe even a cough syrup from my childhood. The honey comes through as it warms...a stale honey. Is there some pine in here? I have to question it's Belgian categorization once again!

The mouthfeel is flat...from first sip to last sip. There is almost no body and it coats your mouth in an oily slickness.

Drinkability? Not without any body!

Overall, I'm just going to chalk this one up to being aged too long or bad storage conditions. I've heard too many good things about Troegs to be turned off by one possibly bad beer. I will revisit this beer in the winter if possible.

Photo of sgoodship
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one came to me from the great generosity of Hophead101. A holiday brew but I wanted to drink it tonight before the weather gets warm. One last look back at winter before I throw myself into the summer spirit.

A: Poured from a 12oz bottle, it didn't deliver much of a head. Dissipated almost immediately to a ring. Color is a lovely dark cherry amber.

S: I think I detect honey. Mostly, I catch a whiff of malt and a powerful mix of berry like smell. There is cherry there but it smells more of tart cranberry. Boozy smell too.

T: I was trying to pick out the flavors and there is definitely a mix of the things I smelled. The trouble was that I could help but focus on the the high alcohol manifesting itself in a sherry type taste that wasn't that appealing to me. The mix of sherry and diacetyl was just too much.

M: Light and clean body. Medium fine carbonation.

D: The finish and aftertaste is dry and makes you want to continue drinking this beer. Unfortunately, this one just wasn't for me at all. I'd like to re-visit it around holiday time but I think Great Lakes Christmas Ale is still my go-to festive brew.

Photo of angelmonster
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this beer in the Nobody wants to see a beer geek naked BIF

Pours a small one finger white head and dark amber body with dark red highlights. Head retention and lacing are above average

The smell is light alcohol and malt, not much else

Taste is of cherry with fruity yeast. Also some peppery phenols. The cherry flavor of this beer is way better than Sam adams Cherry wheat, the only other cherry beer i've had. Alot less artificial and syrup tasting. Hops and alcohol arent present much

Mouth feel is a bit over carbonated. There is a light to medium body. All in all not too great

The drink ability is great. Alcohol is hidden extremely well for a 11 percent beer. Would love to have again, too bad it is not distributed in Colorado

Update! - A year and a half later I had the opportunity to try a fresh bottle of this beer and I found it to be more rough around the edges with more alcohol. The one I reviewed was at least 5 months old and I enjoyed it much more

Photo of brewandbbq
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle at 56 degrees.

Pours burgundy red with a copper hue and sparkling clarity. A one inch head of white quickly fizzled out to a placid surface with zero lacework.

Aromatics lead off with clove-studded dried cherries, boozy fusels, and rounded honey. A hint of tangerine steps forward as well as cough syrup.

On the full side of medium bodied with a syrupy mouthfeel. A bit thin and slick in the finish.

Mild cherry notes with numbing alcohol and bubblegum start the palate. A slight medicinal note pulls through along with a mild bitterness.

Finishes with lingering fruit, boozy alcohol, and a wave of sweet honey.

Not really coming across as really big in the cherry department, but there is plenty of warming alcohol. A bit limp and flat in the end and certainly does not seem a good cellar candidate.

Photo of MurphyMacManus
3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle into snifter

A: Mahogany with a short-lived off-white head. It does stick to the sides of the glass, but I can't get it to form much of a head to start with.

S: Cherry candy, Belgian yeast, and that order.

T: Slight malty sweetness, spicy yeast -- typical Belgian dark flavors. But then there's this mix of cherry candy and medicinal alcohol that, depending on the temperature and the glassware, can be either awesome or revolting. So it either tastes like a Belgian strong dark with cherries or malty cough syrup. Snifter/cellar temperature seems to be ideal for getting it towards the "awesome" side.

M: The only word that came to mind when I thought about mouthfeel was "syrupy." It's not highly carbonated, and that actually helps. If this beer were to be highly carbonated, it could be easily confused with cherry soda.

D: Goes down easy when kept at proper temperature in appropriate glassware. But it's also 11% ABV, so it will knock you on your ass pretty much without warning. For that quality alone, I do not recommend this as a session beer.

Photo of beerman207
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Reddish brown with a nice white head that hangs around for a short while leading to some nice swirling on top.

S - Cherries, honey, clove, and some yeasty bread coming through the nose.

T - Cherry, honey, clove coming through in the taste and in the backend the alcohol comes through and warms my throat and stomach - nice.

M - Moderate carbonation and a real nice feel that has no drying effect on the palate - excellent mouthfeel.

D -I'm not sure that this beer is sessionable but it sure is good. Thanks goes out to CrazyNelson at Hyde Park for recommending this one to me in my most recent visit. Glad to have included this in my mix of brews.


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

Pours a three finger white head that fades quickly leaving traces of lace. Clear amber/red color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Honey nose. Flavor is sweet honey with hints of cherry. Smooth honey finish. High ABV is totally hidden, is it really 11% ABV?? $3.25 for a 12oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA.

Photo of Lothore
3.28/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a clear, crimson hue with a fizzy 2 finger head which dissipates fairly quickly.

S- Smells very sweet and yeasty, lots of clove and banana.

T- Taste is follows the nose with a huge amount of clove and mixed light fruit with a strong undercurrent of belgian yeast.

M- Thick with quite a bit of carbonation (and this bottle is over a year old!)

D- This is a very sweet beer. The alcohol is hidden well but I find the banana flavor to be a little runtesque (like the candy ...). I don't know if i could handle more than one of these in a sitting but it is a good nightcap.

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My last Mad Elf until next winter. A 12 ounce bottle of 2008 vintage Elf poured into a snifter. Appears a crystal clear pure copper color akin to cream soda with a quickly fading half inch of off white foam. The head leaves no lacing on my glass. Smells of cherries, malty, sweet and fruity. Tastes of brandy soaked cherries, sweet biscuity malts, plums, figs, alcohol, a hint of cocoa, and dark raisins. This ale is a notch or two above medium in body with ample carbonation. After only a few months in the bottle the alcohol is still quite noticeable making this a sipper/ nightcap beer.

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

Split a bottle with a friend that we found when we were cleaning out his beer fridge (over 120 loose beers left over from tastings and parties)couldn't believe the thicknessor the amazing taste. A great winter warmer type of beer,. A slow drinker and a little boozy but I really could have used this a week ago when we got random snow on opening day. Fantastic and would definitely buy now that troeggs distributes to my area and i don't have to drive to get some from PA.

Photo of ballewblake
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into my Duvel tulip.

One finger tan head that receded almost instantly. Dark amber body. Nose is honey and dark malts. Taste reminds me of a Unibroue, maybe Trois Pistoles? Great heavy body, rich malt flavors, sweet, honey comes out more for me than the cherries. Good carbonation, better as it warms, sort of typical. :)
Thanks to pebkac for the brew!

Photo of tr4nc3d
2.95/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured this into my tulip. Pours a ruby red color with an off-white two finger head that leaves a small island of foam in the middle and on the edges.

Smell is of honey, lemon drops, belgian yeast, spices.

Taste of cherries, honey, and slight spices come through. Its kinda of lacking flavors and more depth.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good amounts of carbonation. Slight cherry cough drop aftertaste is left in the mouth.

I wouldnt manage to drink another one of these. This beer didnt live up to my expectations and is nothing special to seek out.

Photo of Martin2D
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Deep burgundy red with a small whitish head

S - Alcohol and cherries

T - Alcohol on the forefront with a slight cherry aftertaste. Tartness is noted on the aftertaste.

M - Low carbonation and thin on the mouthfeel

D - Pretty strong on the alcohol, so this is to drink a lot of. One and done for me.

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,391 ratings.