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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

1,206 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,206
Hads: 3,642
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 223
Gots: 927 | 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: 1,206 | Hads: 3,642
Photo of teromous
2.89/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark transparent ruby brown ale with an eggshell white head that fades to a creamy layer on top of the beer. Some lacing. The red color of the beer gives it a nice holiday accent.

Aroma: Alcohol esters right off the bat, then there is a fig note. A slight scent of bananas at the end. It doesn't have much Belgian Yeast character on the nose.

Taste: Mellow flavor of banana chips and figs with a hint of caramel at the end. I should note that although the label states that this an "ale brewed with honey and cherries," neither of these characteristics are present. I don't get a honey flavor, and it doesn't give me that fermented honey "mead-like" flavor either. The ale itself tastes pretty average for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but don't expect cherry flavor from this.

Feel: Smooth, creamy mouthfeel with light carbonation. The alcohol is present enough that it is noticeable as a slight warming sensation at the back of the mouth, but the smoothness of the beer keeps it from burning. It is full bodied but not quite as thick as I would like from a BSDA.

Overall: It's pretty average stuff for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. It has a slightly lighter mouthfeel than what is experienced traditionally, so if you find standard BSDA's to be too thick this might be right up your alley. For me it is a bit too light. It has a decent amount of flavor to keep me interested and enjoying the beer. I am disappointed in the distinct lack of honey and cherry flavor. For a BSDA it's a good beer but for a spiced holiday ale it lacks what people crave in a holiday beer. Drinking this early (at the end of October) with no presence of the advertised flavors, I can only imagine how it will taste in two months...

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Photo of Gaisgeil
2.9/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Obtained through Secret Santa '05, thanks ManekiNeko!

Not really sure what to make of this one, a bit funky, a bit disjointed, interesting but not particularly appealing either somehow. Pours a medium intensly clear amber in color with no head to speak of. Nose is powerful, lots going on, sort of nutty and spicy, but a lot of cherry character going on here as well, almost lambic-like in a certain respect. Flavor is slightly malty, lots of tart cherry and spice, a little bit of cinnamon noticable. The flavors don't blend particularly well though, and I don't know how one can call this a Belgian Strong Dark, this is unlike anything in that category I've ever had. Mouthfeel is slick and oily, sticks to the palate like syrup. Drinkability is so-so, decent enough, hides the alcohol well, but in the end I didn't crave another.


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Photo of deapokid
2.9/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Vintage '08 bottle purchased from Capone's. Label on bottle notes a date of 2006.

Pours a thin cherry red that's translucent when held to light. Sort of looks like a very filtered and clean cherry lambic. Carbonation is rather high, but head and lacing are nearly non-existent.

Cherry aroma is not of the tart variety. It has more of a creamy/milky smell and age has removed all booziness from the nose. It also lacks any acidity, which I had expected to come through due to the cherries.

The booze present in fresh models is all but gone from the taste, leaving behind a sort of thin, cherry popsicle flavor, which plays second fiddle to the big belgian yeast at the end. This combination doesn't necessarily work and, outside of the creamed cherry and dry yeast, there really isn't much else going on here. Strikingly one-dimensional.

Mouth feel is very smooth and it just so happens to be one aspect that has benefitted from age. The lack of booze seems to have eliminated some of the dryness.

This is a beer that I like less and less with each passing year. I figured an older model would develop some flavor, but it just seems like a fresh model without the boozy kick. Frankly, this is a huge disappointment.

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Photo of Andrew61923
2.92/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 oz bottle into Portsmouth Brewery tulip. Sat out of fridge for ten minutes before opening. Picked this up a few months ago and figured it was time to drink it, even though the holidays have passed.

A: Pours a deep ruby with a quickly dissipating off-white head, which forms a thin halo. Lots of floaties in the glass, which I was not expecting. Not terrible, but I would have liked this to be more filtered.

S: Clove, bubble gum, and cherries. True to the style, but not things I usually want in my beer. It doesn't smell bad by any means, but I can tell this isn't going to be my favorite.

T: Sweet with the same notes of bubble gum and cherries. Again, not my thing.

M: The ABV is high and you can tell. There is a pretty substantial burn at the end of each sip down my throat. I had thought about sitting on this for a year and, while I doubt I would like the flavor that much more, this would have probably improved. As is, however, I'm not a fan.

O: In hindsight, I'm not sure why I bought this beer. I'm not a huge fan of the style and I tried as much as possible to enjoy it, but it's just not growing on me as I drink it more. At least I know to pass on buying it next year and I'm thankful I only got one.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
2.92/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into tulip

A - pours a reddish amber, clear. White to off white head that left almost immediately, minor lacing

S - Dark fruits, cherries and a sugar sweetness (caramel) that is very strong, makes me nervous

T - Dang sweet! Very caramelly/toffee sweet malt. Dominates this beer. The cherries, plum and honey seem to be in there as an after thought

M - Medium body, very sticky, medium alcohol burn

D - It is an okay beer, just the sweetness and alcohol dominate the palate too much.

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Photo of wiseguy142
2.93/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Wtf this is a weird one. Had at the Tap and Mallet in Rochester. It's sort of a mix of a hefeweizen, belgian, and american amber. Really big banana and clove notes.. almost sickening, with a good amount of unfermentables underneath providing it with some sweetness. Nice orange color with good lacing. I had to give half the beer away because I couldn't finish it.. it was just too wacky. I'm not a Belgian expert, but I've had Chimay before and know what I look for in the flavor from the yeast and this just went way overboard IMO. It's probably not a bad beer, but it's just not for me.

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Photo of BitterPachyderm
2.95/5  rDev -23.4%
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.

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Photo of kegerator
2.96/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

hmm. nothign special about this one in my opinion.
pours out a deep copper/bron color with hints of ruby. a small head develops and sticks around for a decent amount of time and leaves a little lacing behind.
smell was yeasty spiciness with hints of cherries.
taste was sweet, with hints of cherry and some slight spice from the yeast.
mouthfeel was very very weak. for a so called 11% abv belgian strong it was quite watery and did not coat the tongue at all.
all the aromas and flavor were fairly weak but detectable. as it warmed the flavor became a bit more pronounced but barely.
overall not bad but definitely nothing to write home about

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Photo of BeerAndBourbon
2.96/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A. Looks pretty good. Orange with a red tinge with a white foam cap.

S. Cinnamon with yeasty malt. Banana eaters come out as it warms.

T. Sweet malt with honey and spiciness. Some cherry
, but it might just be the label influencing me.

M. Medium mouthfeel with creamy carbonation.

D. I'm not a big fan of spiced ales and this is no exception.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
2.98/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Damn, this brew isn't playin' around. Pours out to a oil like flat presentation with a small foam head. Low levels of carbonation. Very orange in color. No lace. Aromas are strong, lots of dark fruits and some fermented malt. Touches of spice and herbs round out the smell. Taste is full and powerful; acidic alcohol, spice, thin malts, some citrus fruit. Wow. Quite a bit going on. Mouthfeel is thick and uninspiring, could've used more carbonation. Drinkability is average. Once a season is probably enough for me. Not my idea of the typical Belgian dark ale. Special thanks to MaltyGoodness for the sample.

THE BLOODHOUND FACTOR: The hounds sniffed this, and maybe it was the alcohol, but they ran. No way they were gonna try this one.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
2.98/5  rDev -22.6%
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.

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Photo of VirginiaBeerMan
3/5  rDev -22.1%

I think you either love this, or not. For me, it's not really what I think of when I think of beer. It's certainly nice in appearance and a swirl of fruit and spice and perfumy scents. The taste is more of the same, but with a significant alcohol punch, making it more of a sipping beer. At first, I didn't think I was going to finish my draft, but it slowly grew on me. Again, not my preference, but I can see why people might enjoy this. I kept thinking this might be good warmed. It's worth trying, but split it with someone just in case.

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

This beer poured a copper color with a thin white head which disappears quickly and leaves minimal lacing. The smell was a bit lacking. It had a very dominate sweet smell. The taste was of honey and not much else. I really expected cherries but in this particular bottle I had none. It wasn't bad but when I see cherries I expect cherries. The really good thing was the 11% ABV wasn't dominant. The mouthfeel was medium body with medium carbonation. Overall drinkability was fair. It would have been great had I tasted cherries. I'll have to try another bottle.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours dark dark amber with an abundant 2 finger head. Lots of carbonation. The first scents were of candied cherries and booze. One sip and it hits my tongue, the sharp unnatural candy cherry taste along with strong alcohol, not hidden at all. Some minor flavors of malts, nothing outstanding. All and all this brew might be great for a fast buzz if you can stomach it. I hope it mellows with age.

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

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

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Photo of Brez07
3/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2010 vintage. 12oz bottle poured into a Chimay glass

A: Pours relatively flat, leaving just a hint of head. Ruby red color, very translucent

S: Maraschino cherry, candied sugar. Very sweet smelling beer. Some alcohol making it's way through

T: Dark cherry with some chocolate. Reminds me of those Cellas cherries. This is brief though. After that it's just tons of cherry juice with some hoppy characteristics. Almost like a cough drop. Finishes with an alcohol presence

M: Medium bodied. Fairly weak carbonation. Slightly dry, crisp finish

D: Just a sweet boozy brew right now. I'm not a fan of this fresh. I've heard it ages well so glad to have a few in the cellar

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Photo of PhillyDrinker1
3/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had a bottle of this at a restaurant recently. It arrived in a bottle and was poured into a goblet. The appearance was very dark and there was a little head when it poured. The smell was strong of spices and smoke. The taste was spicy and sweet, without a strong btter aftertaste. The mouthfeel was thick but smooth. Overall drinkability, not bad for a seasonal dark ale.

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

Bottle. Pours a clear amber with no head. Aroma of honey, melon, and sweet malt. Flavor of sweet fruits, honey, yeast, and melon with sweet cherry in the finish kind of like a cherry slushie. A little sweet but drinkable.
Appearance: 3/5
Aroma: 6/10
Palate: 3/5
Flavor: 6/10
Overall: 13/20

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Photo of rjs246
3/5  rDev -22.1%

Based on the nose alone, which was super heavy in both cherries and honey, I wouldn't have even finished the bottle. But the flavor was actually pretty nice. Honestly couldn't even detect the cherries. Not my thing but certainly drinkable.

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Photo of hustlesworth
3.02/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- fizzy and vigorous buff colored head shrinks down quickly to a nare-nutta not much at all. similar to cola actually. no lace on a very clean tulip. body however is striking ruby red and rusty burnt sienna but due to its mega abv looks flat and disappointing.

S- smells very belgian, hints of chocolate, dark fruits like raisins, prunes, figs, dates, mineral water, spicy clove and banana yeast, pepper, blackberry, some wet dog, sweet honey, floral alcohol, but mostly yeasty and pale pilsener aromas with a fruity background.

T- more mineral water and a fresh grainy cereal flavor that is very appealing. there's a continual underlying fruity sweetness but i can't quite say that cherries or honey stand out. sweetness is not distinguishable from the rock candy syrup (or any other high sucrose simple syrup) that i typically associate with run of the mill belgian knock offs. more notes of milk chocolate and a clean floral hop bitterness but the most exciting part of this one for me is the taste of fresh lightly toasted grain and flavorful, albeit generic, yeast spiciness. finishes sweet with a little bit of residual dired cherry-sherry-wine tannin flavors and my beloved graininess lingers along with it. i will say however that the whopping 11% abv is very well hidden by fruity notes, sugar, and yeast esters.

MF- sugary acidic honey feeling, in this aspect the honey really reveals itself. more grain feeling as well. medium-low carbonation and an almost full slightly syrupy body. alcohol finally becomes evident as i burp and get a flash of heartburn, as well as a sugared dryness as finishing flavors diminish.

D- without being a dick, i'm glad i didn't save this elf til christmas eve. more than subtle, the special ingredients were totally subdued and could have been achieved merely with the magic of yeast, malt and hops, and a lil bit of rock candy. im treating it more like a generic wine than a really good belgian.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.05/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip. No bottled date found. Huge thanks to mb2696 for the bottle!

(A)- Pours a clear pale ruby color that produced an off-white head that dissipated quickly.

(S)- Lots of cherries with a honey sweetness. Very much like a cherry pie with honey drizzled on it.

(T)- Tart cherries with a big honey sweetness.

(M)- A low carbonation level. Rather sweet & syrup like. A huge fruitiness. Much too syrupy & sweet for the style as well as my tastes. It gets more & more bitter the further into the bottle I went.

(D)- Tastes good, but is far too sweet & syrup-like to enjoy more than a glass in one sitting. Especially disappointing considering the style it is classified under. Seems much more like a fruit beer than a belgain strong dark.

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Photo of zeledonia
3.05/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2011-2012 vintage. Tasted 24 November 2011, reviewed from notes.

Pours a very dark brownish amber, a warm tone with slight reddish hints. About a half-finger of light yellowish-tan head, decent retention and lacing.

Smell has sweetness galore: cherry and honey. On the upside, the alcohol doesn't come through, which to me makes it much more pleasant than the taste.

Taste is similar to the smell, with a fair amount of cherry and a distinct honey sweetness. Quite sweet, and spiced with fruit and honey. I liked it up to this point, but then it turned over to a rough alcohol sharpness that I really didn't like.

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy body, quite syrupy and thick. Medium-low carbonation, with a long bitter finish.

This is almost a very tasty beer. I'd say it has most of the elements of a very tasty beer. But the alcohol brings a pronounced sharp bitterness, which I find quite unpleasant. Okay, the ABV is high, but it's not well-hidden at all. And it's not like a pleasant kick, but rather a grinding, grating scrape of the mouth. Boo.

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Photo of kenpo23
3.05/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

oh christmas beer oh christmas beer....

A: pretty flat, with no head. pretty red color that some irish red ales dont even have.

S: nice fruity smell. i can smell the cherry (and it doesnt smell like cough medicine to me) and honey.

T: wow, smooth. i can't taste the honey at all but my other half, the super taster, is amazed that i can't taste it. the alcohol taste didn't really hit me.

D: sip away. i cant imagine trying to pound one of these.

nothing extra special about this beer. its very much got a holiday flavor to it though. i bought one for christmas and i will do the same next year, but no more than one for me.

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Photo of scottyg354
3.05/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pour almost Cherry Wood in color with a short lasting head. Not much lacing with this beer. Just a nice color

S: Cherry and Maltiness with a slight spice and sweetness.

T: Cherry Cough Syrup w/ malt. Not to good at all.

M:Smooth but lacking in carbonation.

O: Not sure why so many people actually enjoy this beer. Oh well, to each there own. Much better holiday seasonals out there.

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Photo of barknee
3.05/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Mad Elf pours a medium mahogany red; just like Birch Beer. Active carbonation on the pour gives ya' a "weffer thin" head. Wow.. the nose is actually like birch beer soda or sarsaparilla, having a structured root beer element to it. But this stuff ain't for kids! Though the aromatics are in the forefront, there is no denying the absolute Belgian component to this brew. As all these flavors and aromatics are wrapped around candy sugar and Belgian like yeast strains; banana, allspice , and clove, these are indeed the Triad of Belgian nose candy.
An original and well made beer!

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,206 ratings.