Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

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Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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BA SCORE
87
very good

1,191 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,191
Hads: 3,581
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 12.95%
Wants: 213
Gots: 860 | 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
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Reviews: 1,191 | Hads: 3,581
Photo of nasty15108
3.06/5  rDev -20.7%
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. (346 characters)

Photo of grego
3.06/5  rDev -20.7%
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. (415 characters)

Photo of mzwolinski
3.07/5  rDev -20.5%
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. (736 characters)

Photo of brewsclues
3.07/5  rDev -20.5%
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. (1,027 characters)

Photo of kiddynamite920
3.07/5  rDev -20.5%
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. (929 characters)

Photo of psuKinger
3.08/5  rDev -20.2%
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. (1,960 characters)

Photo of WillieBeamen
3.08/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Tastes a bit too much like fermented cherry juice topped off with vodka for my taste but an interesting beer that some people love for its uniqueness and holiday festivity (171 characters)

Photo of andrewinski1
3.08/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into my Mad Elf tulip. Thanks Ben! Pours a clear dark amber almost pomegranate. Just a very little bit of head.

Nice sweet aroma. The cherry flavor reminds me of a cough drop. Not too bad, especially for the unique concoction.

The taste starts and finishes sweet. The only bitterness is in the aftertaste. I do get a hint of yeast spiciness similar to that of a tripel. The point is, this is sweet through and through.

Mouthfeel is average. This is an okay sipper. Very unique, but nothing I'd go out of my way to have again. (535 characters)

Photo of lunarbrew
3.11/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Ahh, the thin line between a drain pour and a creative beer. This toes it close.

Beer pours red with little head and thin lacing. Smells like very little. Highly generic nose. Some faint cherries and sugary malt. A general "beer" scent. It's a little like cracking a coors. Tastes like fake cherries and brown sugar. Very sweet. Not too pleasing, but I'm trying to get through it. Consistency is slick, syrupy, and sticky. Pretty flat. This didn't quite work, imo. It's interesting, but ultimately a flop in my eyes. (518 characters)

Photo of stercomm
3.12/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bomber into a big tulip glass

A - Coppery orange in color, extremely big and thick 3 finger tan head that receded slowly

S - Very bold and strong can smell it from far away. Get honey and biscuits, some spice.

T - Honey, alcohol and cherries, definitely taste the alcohol

M - medium bodied and medium carbonation

O - A bit too heavy for me, strong profile (374 characters)

Photo of cannabanaceae
3.13/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Look was ruby red, small ring of head around rim stayed almost the whole way through.

Smell was belgium yeast, sweetness from the malt, red wine,big red bubble gum, and a bannana clove hefe smell.

Taste started like a triple, yeast was milder than expected from the nose, honey played a mellow roll in smoothing out the yeast. Alcohol is well hidden. The cherries turn up in the end, finishing like a flat cola. Medium body, with a tart mouthfeel.

A mellow sipper, pretty good, not in your face. Still with that said, I think a couple years in the cellar would improve the overall flavor. (591 characters)

Photo of mdvatab
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Received as an extra in a recent trade.
Poured from 12oz bottle into a large red wine glass.

A: Sweet bubble gum, freshly-sliced apple, some banana, and a clovey yeasty spiciness. Not a bad.

A: Copper with a tinge of ruby. Excellent clarity. The one-finger off-white head, however, does not hang around for long, and leaves a thin ring of fine bubbles around the inside of the glass.

F: Apple, banana, cherry, clove, light cinnamon, and caramel. A bit cloying and one-dimensional. I got tired of it after a few sips.

M: Medium-low carbonation, and medium-low body. Light heat (actually less than anticipated, though).

O: Not horrible, but again, not too much to it. No head retention, and a bit cloying. I have one more bottle, which I'll probably drink at some point, but I wouldn't buy this one if it were available here. (828 characters)

Photo of thekanna
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: pours the color of rust, with a thin white head that dissipates quickly
S: some holiday spices and a light sweetness and nuttiness
T/M: sweet and spicy on the uptake. Flavors of honey and alcohol overwhelm the palate and drown out anything else. Medium carbonated with heavy body, almost syrupy. Too strong and phenolic for my tastes. (337 characters)

Photo of ts183
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Out of a bottle, pours a dark amber hue with minimal head that dwindled to nothing. No lacing.

Smell is sweet and malty with a hint of fruitiness and booze.

Taste is more of the same. The cherries take on more of a dark fruity taste that's very faint, which is a good thing. As it goes down the alcohol makes a strong presence.

Interesting but not a beer I would grab again. (377 characters)

Photo of tayner
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle with date on neck of bottle

pretty amber colored brew with fast rising white head that all but disappears quickly leaving no lacing behind and no ring.. nothing.

bready smell with a hint of fruit, cherries. not very strong

taste is bready yeast up front followed by some semisweet cherry flavor which to me is almost medicinal in quality. then the finish is a warm alcohol flavor. for 11% it is not bad though.

Seems a little under carbonated for me, makes it hard to drink.

I think this might be a better brew, for me, without the cherries. I am not fond of the medincinal quality the fruit lended in this particular brew, i dont think the cherries did the belgian yeast any favors. just my opinion. (721 characters)

Photo of doppelmeup
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light reddish pour into a chalice with a half inch head that faded quickly to a ring of lace. Very clear brew.

Tart pie cherries lead the way, just as advertised, with a slight cough syrup feel. Reminds me of Three Philosophers.

Kind of odd flavor. Slightly tart cherries prevail, pretty much drowning out any other flavors. Very one dimensional.

Dry, sticky mouthfeel. High ABV well hidden. Fizzy.

Overall, IMO this is a mediocre beer, kind of gimmicky. Lots of marketing but little substance. Not recommended. (523 characters)

Photo of mcallister
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Fiery earthy orange/ruby/scarlet pour. No head except for some minimal traces around the edges of a tan formation.

Very belgain spice driven aromas and something in there I'm just not crazy about but also I'm not sure what it is. Bing cherry, orange marmalade, belgian yeast, herbal suggestions as well. Fruits and lively aromas.

Lots of evaporating alcohol on the tongue and the chest. Medium bodied to slightly thin especially for the style. Some cherry, spicey, herbal, earthy belgian yeasty aspects. Nothing says "stand out" about this beer. Just seems like an everyday run of the mill American brewed belgian style beer. However it is not a bad beer by any means. (674 characters)

Photo of Redwood21
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is one of the few that I've tried that has a prominent aroma. It smells sweet, and of fruit, which since its made with cherries and honey makes sense. I wouldnt say its a smell that really reminds me of beer, but i do like it. It has this nice amber color with very little head. It has an almost sugary sweet taste, which is a little too sweet for my taste. It's worth a try. (385 characters)

Photo of BrewerB
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks goes out to TwinsDaddy for trading this beer my way. Cheers!

Poured into a globe glass, this beer showcases lots of carbonation but head formation/retention seems poor. Hazy and dark amber in color with a thin off-white head that dissipated quickly. Spices and cherries mix with bready malts in the nose. Cherries carry through into the taste but tend to lie beneath the richer, bready malts. Lacking in complexity I'd expect from this style. Bitterness is moderate though the tart cherries help carry balance. Medium/medium-full bodied with a moderate-high level of carbonation. Overall, not that impressed with the execution on this beer. Perhaps I'm drinking an old bottle but I'd certainly not order a second. (722 characters)

Photo of greenmonstah
3.15/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into Allagash chalice

A - Very aggressive pour eked out a one finger head, tan in color. Red-amber in color with plenty of bubbles pouring up from the bottom.

S - Sweet cherry. Belgian yeast producing some banana esters. A bit of cinnamon spices the beer. Not picking up much honey.

T - Cripplingly sweet, even overly so. Booze is powerful, but covered largely by the sweetness. Tons of cherry. Sweet sweet cherry, not dark. Cherry cough syrup. Way too medicinal for my tastes.

M - Medium to full in body, with a slight dryness in the back of the mouth at the finish. Wet and sticky otherwise.

O - Overall I just don't love to drink it. It tastes far too medicinal. The alcohol and the cherry juice drown everything else out and keep me from really enjoying this one. (792 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
3.16/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz 2008 bottle poured into a troegs pint glass. Picked up a single of this on a whim.

A- Mad Elf pours out a copper reddish color almost ruby like in appearance. A decent frothy white/beige head pops up to an 1/2 inch leaving some very spotty lace. This minimal lace eventually fell down into the liquid.

S- Even though this is billed as brewed with cherries and honey, the cherries are very faint in the nose. The honey comes through a tad bit more but nothing impressive enough to make it a dominate smell. I do get a ton of alcohol in the nose which does not bode well with me. A lot of malts wih some hops and some spicy yeast.

T- Alcohol is the main factor here which is a shame as it detracts from the taste, at least for me. Some sweetness coming from the cherries but not even half of what i was expecting. The honey used increases the sweet taste of this and actually saves this beer. The three different malt varieties are noted and work well while any bitterness from the hops is minimal at 15 IBU's. Some yeast notes in the finish.

M- The malts would make this a smooth sipper but the alcohol completely drown out any other flavors making it a task to drink. It is both smooth and cloying from the alcohol if that makes sense. Mad Elf has a medium build with some carbonation nothing exciting. The mouthfeel does not remind me of a christmas ale even though this is billed as a BSDA.

D- Not that high for me. I've tried this occasionally through the years trying to find something new but this beer never wowed me. It's a decent BSDA but if your looking for a christmas style brew with a nice spice factor look elsewhere. The alcohol completely gets in the way of the cherry and honey additions. I'm not sure if aging this would do any good either. (1,767 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
3.17/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Ruby red into the glass with next to nothing head with no retention and no lacing.

S - Smells like a pretty fruity belgian triple. Cherries and yeast hit the nose early and give way to a wider variety of dark fruits.

T - Sweet, not enough sour or tart from me, although not that it is what you would expect from tha style anyway. Yeast is slightly subdued. Get a nice taste of alcohol, nothing real special here, overly sweet for my liking.

M - Flat and syrupy, not unpleasant but definately not memorable.

D - Not horribly hard to drink at 11%, but this wasn't a beer I enjoy enough to drink a lot of it. (614 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
3.17/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle from winter 2007. It's time to start killing the cellar, and this is some low-hanging fruit.

Decanted, this is a clear, copper-colored beer with a thin, tan head that rapidly recedes to a ring. Not much lacing is present, which is disappointing for the style. The nose is pretty decent. Dark honey and cherries are noticeable on the nose, but there's also a moderate malt character, with caramel and a surprising chocolate/cocoa character that makes me think of cherry cordials. Alcohol is well hidden, making this less medicinal than fresh samples. Moderately spicy as well, with the alcohol and yeast playing off each other. Despite its age, this still smells pretty vibrant.

The palate, OTOH, isn't as impressive. Like a mellower cough syrup, there's just something about the cherry character here that makes it medicinal. Moderately sweet with honey and fruit cake. Some cherry skin tannins are present to balance the sweetness. The spices seem a little more muted on the palate, and the mid-palate feels a little watery at times. Sweet on the finish with alcohol, some honey and cherry tartness, there's a lingering yeastiness as well. Carbonation is moderate, making this beer, to my palate and given the style, average at best and not one I'd seek to revisit in a hurry. (1,286 characters)

Photo of mrfrancis
3.17/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a clear, ruby-tinted amber with virtually no head (there is a creamy white mousse that disappears within a minute). The lack of head retention underwhelms me, and I begin to immediately question the quality of this batch.

S: Pronounced aromas of sweet cherries, honey, caramel, and gingerbread are immediately evident. Surprisingly, I am not picking up a boozy, alcoholic scent.

T: Opens spicy and bready with notes of red apple, caramel, gingerbread, honey, sweet cherries, and cognac. The finish is delicate, warming, and long with bread, honey, and cherry notes. I was expecting greater complexity and a more assertive flavor profile.

M: Slick, oily, and full-bodied. Feels thinner than it is. Goes down smoothly. Par for the course for this style.

O: I don't think that I would recommend this ale. It is ridiculously overhyped and overpriced. There are far better and far more authentic Belgian strong dark ales on the market. (943 characters)

Photo of d0ggnate
3.17/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 1/10/09. Poured from bottle to goblet.

A: Poured copper/amber/orange color with no lacing and head layer fading to nothing quickly.
S: Strong citrus, sweet floral and honey aromas, notable candied sugars.
T: Very sugary. Slight citrus continued. A bit sour, vinegar-like, probably cherries. Later noted some caramel and banana flavors.
M: Slick. Watery. A bit oily. Almost no carbonation.
D: The taste was a bit off, to me. I was expecting more, but wasn't impressed overall. The carbonation was lacking and the beer was way too sweet for my taste. (558 characters)

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,191 ratings.