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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

1,193 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,193
Hads: 3,597
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 215
Gots: 882 | 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: 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: 1,193 | Hads: 3,597
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 woodske1
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Great logo on the bottle and a great name. I am not impressed with the taste though. They went too over the top with spices in my opinion.

What it does do is offer a wonderful aroma. It smells like christmas inside that bottle. The taste however makes it not very high on drinkability.

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3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber to a pint glass.

A: A beautiful red/coppery brown brew with ruby highlights. Very clear. The head was average, off-white, with big & small bubbles but very short retention. The bubbles cleared from the center to the edge of the glass efficiently and with purpose, like in a video game how a bomb would clear an empty field. Minimal lacing.

S & T: Huge aroma and very enticing but quickly went from excellent to overwhelming. Halfway through I was already looking forward to an IPA to reset my palette. Big caramel malts, average pine hops with a hint of lemon rind. Definite yeast presence. So many (read too many) unmistakable aromas and flavors: cherry, over-ripe banana/bubblegum, honey, apple, peach, peppery spices & champagne vinegar. Almost masked, the 11% ABV could not quite be suppressed. This brew is way too sweet.

M: Again, started out great, nice and lively carbonation. Slick texture. What seemed at first a medium body, was really thinned it out by the high alcohol. Ended up as a cloyingly sweet and syruppy hot mess.

D: Not very drinkable, but definitely not a drain pour. Order one, get your buzz on, then move on.

It's interesting how I rated the first half of my pour compared to the second. I did a lot of crossing out on my review sheet as my opinion continued to change for the worse. Each criteria except appearance was docked at least one entire point by the end of my review. OVERWHELMING. The flavor and aromatics were relentless.

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Photo of cro250klr
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tried this one on the advise of a friend who likes yet another Troegs brew, Trogenator. I've had the Trogenator before and I though it was a bit heavy and on the syrupy side. Not at all what I'd call a session beer.
Now, while I absolutley love high abv Belgian Darks, I have to admit that I was a bit let down here. The Elf is dark, the appearance looks wonderful and the smell hints of spices of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Albiet faintly, but they are there. From that alone I was thinking that this was going to be a treat. Alas, the mouthfeel was clean , but the taste seemed to be missing the spices. The alcholol wasn't that pronounced, which was good, but something was lacking overall. From the nose I'd be thinking of something Belgian. However, the aftertaste assures me that this is an imitation. All of that combined made me glad that I had crossed paths with this one at a local pub. I had almost purchased a case, ( Archaic Pa. LCB Law), prior to finding this one bottle. For the abv content the case cost was rather low. I should have known something was up. While the Elf is a far cry from being the worst, it's an even a further cry from being the best. A nice try by the Harrisburg brewers but, I wouldn't stick my neck out for this one.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
3.19/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured it into a Sam Adams Perfect pint glass and this is one of the best looking beers I've ever seen. Pours a reddish amber color with excellent clarity. The foamy head was decent in size and was an orange cream color that produced very generous amounts of lacing. It really looks more like a nice hearty lager than anything else in my opinion, but I found this beer to be pretty average from here on out. I'm not overly experienced in tasting Belgian style ales, but it tasted pretty average to the style in my opinion. It said that it was brewed with honey and cherries, but I really couldn't smell either of them. Belgian yeast seems to dominate the nose in opinion, followed by some roasted malts. I was impressed that there was no smell in the alcohol until it got to room temperature, and it still wasn't that strong then either. Very surprising for a reasonably high ABV. The taste was pretty good, it gets sweeter here. If you try you can taste the honey a little bit, and there is almost a cherry aftertaste. Other than that it's pretty average. The mouthfeel is ok, a little bitter, still no alcohol bite that is pretty impressive, reasonably well carbonated. I really didn't find this beer to be all that drinkable.

I had heard this was a red/amber ale, so I was surprised to find out it's actual style. I actually ended up getting a 22oz, which wound up being a little too much. All in all it was ok, I wouldn't go out of my way to try it again.

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Photo of ProLiquorMan
3.19/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: What a beautiful color! I'm going to call this color red amber. Very little head. But this could be because I don't know how to properly pour beer.

Smell: The only thing I'm getting is some citrus smell. Think about a grapefruit without the sourness and bitterness.

Taste: The taste is very similar to the smell. Again, all I got was some citrus/grapefruit taste. Was expecting more flavors.

Mouthfeel: It was a very "clean" beer.

I was disappointed with this one. There is nothing wrong with it, but it certainly wasn't worth the $16 for 6 bottles. The bottle claims to have some cherry and honey notes. I didn't get any of those. It really lacks flavor.

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Photo of yankeeheel
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served at cellar temp, which here in Maine is a wee bit cold. Poured a cough syrup red with a reddish head that was gone in 20 seconds. Smells very medicinal.

The taste is somewhat akin to cough syrup with a lot of xtra alcohol. Really sweet up front with a thin middle and alcohol/medicine burn at the end. Not really all that incredible. Just kind of big with alcohol and thin on flavor. I have anoher bottle that I'm going to let cellar for a while and I'll re-visit it.

Thanks to PisskyNights for the hook-up.

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Photo of pbrian
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cellar temp to start. Deep reddish brown, I missed the color of the head it dissappeared so quick. Had to splash the beer around to get an aroma. Oh, there it is- cherries. Anything else? I don't know, I got sick of having to work for it. Taste was sickly sweet up front, cherry juice with minimal spicy hints. Quite thin for such a high abv beer. Lots of candi sugars? Finish was a bit drier with hot alcohol hits. Overall, just an average attempt IMO, yes, even warm.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Split with Goblinmunkey7

Consumed 3/25/14

Appearance: Clear, ruby red - pours with a medium-sized, off-white head - fades to a wispy cap, leaves a few streaks of lacing

Smell: Dark malts and a ton of cherries - cherries to the max, kind of like a cross between cherry preserves and cherry-flavored cough syrup - some honey, but it's more of a straight-up sugar - some Belgian yeast, with some spices, clove, banana, and bubblegum - very sweet and very boozy overall

Taste: Sweet, boozy, spicy - apparently this is a winter warmer of sorts that was meant to be slowly sipped over the course of a multi-day snowstorm - a borderline absurd amount of cherry, with a side of cherry cough syrup - lots of honey flavor - like with the cherry, there's a bit too much honey - Belgian yeast, with some serious clove, banana, bubblegum, and a big dose of phenols - some dark caramel malts, with more sugar - the sweet malts, cherry flavor, and phenolic yeast create something that definitely tastes reminiscent of some kind of medicine

Mouthfeel: More or less a full body, with some syrupy stickiness, finishes with booze

Overall: Elf medicine, engineered to cure sobriety (may cause diabetes)

Cherries, honey, and Belgian yeast are all good things. But in excess, I can't say I'd recommend it. I'm glad I didn't have to drink the whole bomber.

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Photo of BillDon
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

22 oz bomber bottle.

2013 vintage

Can't figure this one out. Can tell its 11% abv beer in smell and taste. There is hint of cherries and sweetness from the honey. There is a definite burn up front and afterwards.

Would like to have a few to put in the cellar to see how it ages but not worth the money.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip. Thanks Andy for sharing your Christmas gift from me! Poured into a tulip. The beer pours a dark cranberry color with about an inch of white head that vanishes almost immediately. The body is clear and transparent. The aroma is full of dark cherries and malt. It kind of has a medicinal aroma to it also. Again, cherry flavor right up front. It kind of rounds out with vanilla and oak. Again though, it's kind of medicinal; like a cherry cough drop. The feel is fair. It's kind of dry. It seems to have tannins like a red wine. It's drinks fair, I'm glad I've tried it, but I probably won't grab this unique beer again.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.22/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Amber-chestnut color with a low tan ring for a head, low-no carbonation, and no lace... :-(. Light spicy cherry aroma with some maltiness. Sweet malty cherry-ish flavors ... a bit cloying with some honey-ish character. Medium bodied and flat with a light spicy sweet malt finish.

Not sure what all the hype is about since this is the second time in a few years I've tried this and I've not been impressed at all either time.

Per label: "Ale brewed with honey and cherries"

Per TBC website:
15 IBU's
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Pennsylvania Honey
West Coast Cherries

Bottled: 10/27/?? ('03' emb on bottom)
Tasted: 12/24/06

($1.79 / 12 oz.)

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Photo of danedelman
3.22/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

poured a 12 oz bottle into a Weyerbacher Tulip glass.

A-Very little to no head with 0 retention. Orange/red copper color with very low carbonation.

S-smells like a belgian red with faint cherries.

T-This is a new bottle so with that being said, the alcohol really hits you first. You then get a tiny bit of the belgian yeast and some malt followed by a microscopic amount of cherries. Really not much going on and I don't really enjoy this one.

M-A bit syrupy but alcohol helps with the poor carbonation. Still feels like it is carbonated due to the alcohol burn.

I bought a case of this so I plan on sitting on this for at least a year.

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Photo of LeRose
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle to snifter.

Aroma seems to lack any cherry. Smells boozy, hint of honey like sweetness.

Pours dark honey brown with reddish hues. No appreciable head, but plenty of bubbles. Attractive looking.

Initial taste get the alcohol burn, not getting the cherry. Dry finish, sweetness and honey notes. Still not finding the cherry taste at all despite some medicinal hints. Surprisingly bitter. The honey and sweetness seemed to build, then a bit of sourness after a few minutes. Coats a bit with lingering sweetness.

Overall, a little disappointed but this is quite warming and it is pretty cold here today. Will keep sippin on it, but nothing I would rush out to buy again.

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Photo of Jesstyr
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Was excited to try this beer, and enjoyed it in a Palm tulip and some great cheese.

Overall very disappointing. Looks great, ruby red with a thin bubbly head that remains throughout the drink. Nose definitely shows off the honey and cherry, but its not particularly full or well rounded.

Which leads to a similar flavor - it essentially comes off as a flavored beer, without the depth of Three Philosophers, which is the closest comparison I can think of. The body is too thin for the style and there seems to the raisin/chocolate sweetness you like to see in a strong dark. Overall this is a decent dessert beer, but not much else.

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bomber poured into little tasting glasses- split this year's edition with a few friends...

Deep ruby red with a quickly dissipating head. Left surprisingly good lacing.

Aroma of toasted malt, slightly sweet, fruitiness (cherries, dates) but mostly just alcohol. Saying that it is very present is an understatement. I recently got an 05 as an extra in a trade and am very excited to see how it has mellowed.

One friend said the words "Cherry cough syrup" and once I heard that, I couldn't stop thinking it. Had a nice, creamy, full bodied mouthfeel but the alcohol was very present. Somewhat yeasty/spicy throughout. Interesting to try, but certainly a sipper for the cold months.

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Photo of Trombone69
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Beautiful Reddish amber. Small head in my pint glass. No Lacing to speak of.
This is the 3rd time of had it. This time I taste the cherry - big, right up front. I love cherries, but this is a bit much. Strong and full flavored. Syrupy sweet, and alcoholic. A bit overpowering, and a challenge to drink. I'm not looking for a beer to challenge me very often. I don't think I'll look for again. Not terrible, I don't hate it.

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Photo of Duff27
3.24/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear amber body on a collerish white head.

Fruity nose.

Cherries. Dry finish. Boozy, but what do you expect from an 11% Belgian?

Carbonated, thin-medium mouthfeel. Little disappointing.

Ah it was alright, disappointing. Everything but the nose was less than I was hoping for. Thanks TATURBO.

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Photo of lnashsig
3.25/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to mjtiernan for sending me this one. He is an honorable man indeed, we had a bet over the Texans vs Cincy playoffs (Abyss vs Parabola) and in addition to the agreed upon Parabola, he threw this and Goose Island Black Out Stout in the package. I'll certainly be trading with Matt in the near future. Now to get to the review. Poured from bottle into Victory tulip glass. Pours a crystal clear amber color. No head at all to speak of and tons of alcohol legs. Smell- booze! raisins, prunes, cherries, brown sugar, burnt creme brule. Taste- BOOZY! raisins, dark cherries, very strong alcohol phenols. Some bitter notes on the end, but this one is a dark fruit boozy bomb. Just really not much else there. Mouthfeel- very little carbonation at all. The booze dominates.

Glad to have tried this, but it is just a little bit too boozy for my liking and lacks complexity.

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Photo of BWH3
3.25/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Mad Elf Troeg Brewery
12 oz bottle in Goblet at 50 degrees F

Belgian Strong Dark Ale brewed with honey and cherries.

Appearance: Clear copper brew with above average and steady stream of carbonation. Head pours bubbly light beige but dissipates rapidly to leave stable ring around glass. Simply head is weak for Belgian ale. Color is on lighter side for style and gas is perfect. (3.0)

Smell: Dark fruit, honey sweetness, and spiciness dominate the nose. Fragrant banana like esters are just beneath the surface buoying the other scents into the air. Some malt sweetness similar to Munich also is detectable. Some warm alcohol notes as well. The aroma is pleasant and well done but not insanely complex or bizarre. I’m not impressed by the cherries contribution to the aroma. (3.0)

Taste: A fair dark fruit and malt sweetness initially with additional sweetness of honey. The cherry flavor or tartness is undetectable. The alcohol warmth is perfect for a cold fall day, but the taste is not that gentle on the palate. The spiciness from phenols produced by the Belgian yeast could be more expressive but is present. Lastly the finishing hops clear the tongue nicely. Overall, average for style in general, but very good for an American interpretation. (3.0)

Mouthfeel: Lighter in body than I anticipated. I think this is appropriate for a Belgian Ales which typically have a discrepancy between the alcohol content and the body of the beer thanks to adjuncts like honey and candi. Carbonation is great for style. The carbonation even has that gentle carbonation common to Belgian styles which doesn’t cause one to belch too much. (4.5)

Drinkability: Fairly quaffable at 11% ABV. Not heavy or overly sweat. In fact, not too filling despite above average gas content. My only complaint is that the beer does not exceed my expectations of a superb Belgian Strong Dark Ale or some of the ratings on Beer Advocate (3.5)

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Photo of Reaper16
3.25/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

*thanks to stephenjmoore for the extra!*
12.oz bottle -- 2011 vintage -- served into a tulip glass

Pours a sort of burnt copper color. Not at all "ruby red" like the label claims. Lots of clarity to the body. There was about a finger of buttermilk colored head at first, but it quickly dissipates to a tiny ring. Not really any lacing.

This is a strange beer because the severity of my smells gives me a different profile. If I lightly take in air through my nose, then Mad Elf gives off notes of cherry pie, flower petals, and sugarplum (Seriously. Though they aren't dancing in my head or anything). But a full-on deep sniff is way more earthy and yeasty: lots of botanical notes and lots of clove. There's a bit of an oxidized character to the nose too. I wish the two dynamics would come together more seamlessly.

The flavor is very fruity upfront. There's dark cherry for sure, along with the more figs-and-dates dark fruits that you expect from a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Lots of sweetness. The yeast gives off lots of clove and, like, a flavor that reminds me of the aftertaste of a dish that uses allspice. The yeast helps to balance the sweetness. The finish is the most surprising aspect of this beer. It quickly goes from being fruity and yeasty to a more dry, amber malt-based flavor. This is an amber malt flavor that I want to say I've tasted in other Troegs beers before, but I might only be thinking of Nugget Nectar. But yeah, the finish on Mad Elf is very much like an Amber Ale to me. In fact, this beer is in some respects like an Imperial Amber or something, just with a Belgian yeast strain.

The mouthfeel is pretty light for all of the fruitiness. I realize that the yeast is contributing to the relatively dry finish, so the mouthfeel is accomplishing some positive things. Overall, this is a different take on the style. I appreciate it, but it's not really my thing.

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Photo of smcolw
3.25/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Minor head to start that quickly settles to rim bubbles only. No lasting lace whatsoever. The color is deep amber, almost brown. Crystal clear.

Smells of Belgian yeast. Sweet aroma of honey. Some spice that reminds me of oregano. Complex and interesting. Light alcohol warmth.

Cloyingly sweet. Very, very rich body. The carbonation seems quite low. Strong alcohol presence in the swallow and the brief aftertaste--the potency of this beer is very evident. The yeast flavor is more muted than the smell would suggest.

Although the smell might indicate complexity, the taste does not follow through.

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Photo of projectflam86
3.25/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours a ruby red color with a thin white foam head. Not much lace left behind.

S- Plenty of cherries in the nose with lots of sweetness and dark fruits. A tiny bit of Belgian 'funk' aroma as well.

T- Lots of sweet malt flavor initially with some honey and caramel. The cherry flavor is a bit medicinal and the high alcohol creates a brash finish. I expected a bit more out of this one in terms of flavor.

M- Medium bodied with ok carbonation. Boozy and harsh with an astringent feel.

D- Not a bad beer necessarily, but I had much higher hopes for this one.

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Photo of Brewsky29
3.25/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a transparent red with quarter inch of fizzy head that dissipated quickly.

Smells of cherries,honey and spicy yeast.

The taste is very sweet honey fruity with alcohol warmth and a slightly fruity aftertaste.

Feels very fizzy, highly carbonated, warm. Almost wine like.

Overall its a nice change of pace. It is a little sweet for my taste, and I'm not sure if I would pick this one up again. Maybe just a single.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.25/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A brown body with ruby highlights and a tan head that leaves just a little bit of lacing.

Smells of ripe fruits and honey with some peppery belgian yeastiness.

Taste is definitely dominated by honey and cherries. A little too sweet for me. Some nice belgian malt and yeastiness though. Hides the 11% ABV pretty well though. Mouthfeel is medium.

Too sweet to be really drinkable to me.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,193 ratings.