1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

2,746 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2746
Reviews: 1146
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 15.54%


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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,746 | Reviews: 1,146 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Andrew61923
Andrew61923

California

2.88/5  rDev -25.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2013 02:14:16 | More by Andrew61923
Photo of Gaisgeil
Gaisgeil

Michigan

2.9/5  rDev -24.9%
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.

Slàinte!

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2006 05:19:42 | More by Gaisgeil
Photo of Frozensoul327
Frozensoul327

Michigan

2.93/5  rDev -24.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2006 20:35:23 | More by Frozensoul327
Photo of OakedCanuck
OakedCanuck

Washington

2.93/5  rDev -24.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2011 02:20:00 | More by OakedCanuck
Photo of kegerator
kegerator

Maryland

2.95/5  rDev -23.6%
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

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2005 16:18:39 | More by kegerator
Photo of tr4nc3d
tr4nc3d

Kansas

2.95/5  rDev -23.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2009 02:17:31 | More by tr4nc3d
Photo of BitterPachyderm
BitterPachyderm

Indiana

2.95/5  rDev -23.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2009 14:06:03 | More by BitterPachyderm
Photo of BeerAndBourbon
BeerAndBourbon

Ohio

2.98/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2011 02:11:11 | More by BeerAndBourbon
Photo of scottyg354
scottyg354

Pennsylvania

2.98/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2011 15:13:05 | More by scottyg354
Photo of zeledonia
zeledonia

Minnesota

2.98/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2011 08:14:48 | More by zeledonia
Photo of PatandDavid
PatandDavid

Massachusetts

3/5  rDev -22.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2005 23:40:00 | More by PatandDavid
Photo of Beerbuddha
Beerbuddha

Louisiana

3/5  rDev -22.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2007 16:23:21 | More by Beerbuddha
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
LilBeerDoctor

New York

3/5  rDev -22.3%
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
3.1/5

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2008 22:49:46 | More by LilBeerDoctor
Photo of mtnbikerpa
mtnbikerpa

Pennsylvania

3/5  rDev -22.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2010 11:15:47 | More by mtnbikerpa
Photo of Brez07
Brez07

Maine

3/5  rDev -22.3%
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

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2010 02:13:44 | More by Brez07
Photo of PhillyDrinker1
PhillyDrinker1

Pennsylvania

3/5  rDev -22.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2011 01:21:14 | More by PhillyDrinker1
Photo of hustlesworth
hustlesworth

Ohio

3.03/5  rDev -21.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2008 07:27:48 | More by hustlesworth
Photo of mzwolinski
mzwolinski

California

3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Hazy red in color, with a thin uneven top.

The aroma is sweet and malty. Cherries and honey are understated at first, but give signs of a bit too much sweetness down the road.

The flavor is not bad right out of the fridge. A bit sweet with hints of cherry and very little in the way of hops. Alcohol almost completely undetectable. Nothing terribly stand-out about it, but certainly drinkable

As it warms, the malt and alcohol combine to give the beer a cinnamon-bread character. This is one of the more pleasant aspects of the beer.

As it continues to warm, however, the beer becomes a bit cough-syrupy … too sweet and sticky in the throat. And the warmer it gets, the worse it gets. Even at 55 degrees, it's pretty awful.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2006 16:19:34 | More by mzwolinski
Photo of grego
grego

Maryland

3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer was from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Poured very red with not much head that didn't last long. the smell is malty with some spicyness to it - hard to describe for me. The taste is the same sweet, cherries, cinnamon. Mouthfeel is very dry. I like Troeg's beers a lot but this one is not a style I prefer. If you like a stronger holiday style beer then I imagine this would be great, just not my thing.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2006 23:53:08 | More by grego
Photo of nasty15108
nasty15108

New York

3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass.

A - Poured a clear amber/orange color with slightly off white head that quickly dissappeared.

S - Slight aroma of chocolate covered cherries with lots of alcohol.

T - More of the same. Lots of alcholic heat and a bitter/tart finish.

MF&D - I think it would be little tough to drink this all night.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2008 05:33:13 | More by nasty15108
Photo of barknee
barknee

New York

3.05/5  rDev -21%
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!

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2009 00:48:07 | More by barknee
Photo of kiddynamite920
kiddynamite920

Pennsylvania

3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Doesn't pour as red as expected, with so much emphasis of the cherry on the bottle. Poured it extra rough to generate some head, since my last bottle yielded nothing with the traditional pour. The head built, but was gone quickly. It's a golden amber color and I notice a minimal amount of streaming bubbles. I smell cherries and banana and clove. Not overly impressive. Smells of Belgian yeast. Not picking up any hops on the nose. I have a feeling this beer would taste much better with a deep chill on it. It lacks the crispness that carries important flavors, so maybe the chill of refrigeration could help. I get a breadiness at first, and on the exhale the alcohol kicks in. Some cherries are very present as well. Mouthfeel fails here for me. Carbonation would send this beer over the edge, but without it I feel like I'm drinking a malty syrup. The beer is flavorful, but after two it's time to move on to something else.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2009 06:16:35 | More by kiddynamite920
Photo of psuKinger
psuKinger

Pennsylvania

3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had this bottle in my fridge for a little over a year, I believe it comes from Christmas 2009, which should make it roughly ~14-15 months old. The black ink markings on the bottle say something about "TRACK #090814", which doesn't make much sense to me, as this beer couldn't have been brewed in September of 2014 unless it was sent to me from the future... I'll record that little piece of info here, as perhaps some day on down the line I will understand what that bottle stamp means/meant.

Bottle will be poured into my New Belgium globe glass. In general I enjoy cherry flavored beers, but I've never been overwhelmed by the Mad Elf (despite being a pretty big fan of the brewery as a whole). I'll try to do this review unbiased and "start from scratch".

A: Pours a ruby red, vaguely/barely clear color with a light frothy head on top. Not "thick", but not "thin" either. A nice carbonation level for a beer that's sat in my fridge for so long.

S: Spicey yeasty notes and cherry shine through, dominating the nose.

T: Taste follows the nose. Spicy yeast notes announce there presence early, a very mild layer of hops steps up to say hello for second, before the cherry takes over and dominates the finish. Knowing that they use hallertau hops makes total sense to me here, as that traditional german "pilsner bitterness" is what I get from the hops here. Alcohol bite is present, but not as potently as it could be for a beer of such magnitude. Well done by Troegs to mask this giant.

What I find odd is that this beer is classified as a "Belgian Dark", but I pick up more spiciness that I associate with Pales and Triples than I do the dark fruits that I associate with Darks and Quads.

M: Light, spicy, and zesty throughout, this beer does not drink "heavily", and it doesn't leave a lot of coating on the tongue.

D: Many of my friends love this beer, but it's just not a personal favorite of mine. I don't hate it, but I certainly don't crave it.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2011 19:50:44 | More by psuKinger
Photo of brewsclues
brewsclues

Pennsylvania

3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Deep crimson that is perfectly clear with no head or lacing at all.

Sort of a standard Belgian-style smell (nothing to complain about here) with plenty of cherry, phenols, bananas and banana bread, and some cloves. I get some chilli peppers in there, too - certainly some nice spice to it.

Some good Belgian flavors and some good spice at the back on the mouth at the finish. Big cherry flavor with it hits the tongue - not particularly subtle. Not really sure what all the fuss is about though. The alcohol taste is prominent, and smacks a little bit like cough syrup. In comparison to other strong ales, this is average at best.

A flat mouth feel to it - didn't like it compared to other strong Belgian ales. Little carbonation, and a flat, watery finish to it is below average.

I like Troegs, just not sure that the Mad Elf is all it's cracked up to be. For such a strong beer, it leaves the palette unfulfilled and tastes a bit too much like cherry cough syrup. Average at best.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2011 20:32:27 | More by brewsclues
Photo of joeboe2001
joeboe2001

Maryland

3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Is there something different--and I don't mean better--about ME2013? My wife and I eagerly ordered pints last night at our favorite watering hole. We have enjoyed ME annually since about 2002, and eagerly anticipate it's release each year. But this year--at least last night, In Chester, MD--it tasted like a different brew. Very malty, as usual, but a distinct lack of the cinnamon, cardamom, anise, and other wintry spices we thought we were used to. Still drinkable, but we did not go back for seconds!

Serving type: on-tap

12-12-2013 19:49:47 | More by joeboe2001
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 2,746 ratings.