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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

1,203 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,203
Hads: 3,635
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 221
Gots: 920 | 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: 1,203 | Hads: 3,635
Photo of Truh
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deliberately messed up some toys for the good girls and boys with this one on 3/8/2005. 12-oz. bottle very graciously offered to me by JayT poured in a shaker glass; closer to 11-oz. in order to keep the sediment in check.

Some initial frothiness with a piling of big bubbles in the middle which all just settles to a wash. Light orange hue with just a touch of red and haze, likely from sediment, and very little slow action. Cherry sweetness on nose, raspberry pulp and a bit of light heat. Candy cane sweetness with cherry pie thrown in, but quite light; malt presence is refined with a woody oak character that lightly touches. Very pleasant offering that I wish I had access to on a regular, or at least seasonal, basis.

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Photo of kmo1030
4.39/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pinkish coppery color with very thin head that a lighter version of the same color. sweet ripe cherry aroma, with honey, a subtle spiciness, and light caramel maltiness. a good amount of alcohol is also present along with some subtle typical belgian aromas of banana, clove. cinnamon as it warmsthe taste is very much like it smells, with the cherries and malts more pronounced. there is a nice warming alcohol quality at the finish. reasonably full bodied with delicate carbonation. very drinkable, but definitely one to let warm up to near room temperature. i'm glad i had a chance to pick this up, i wish it was available a little closer to home.

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Photo of oelergud
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Mildly hazed red copper body, tan head without much retention or lace and moderate carbonation.
Malt and cherry scents up front mingled with a clear hints of alcohol.
Cherries and spiced honey very apparent. Aftertaste is surprisingly mild and holds notes of alcohol. After warming up a little the cherries fade somewhat in the background and the honey flavors become much more apparent.
Chewable maltiness and thick coating left behind by this brew.
Flavorwise very drinkable but ABV is too high for indulgence.
Beware of the Elf, it'll make you mad!


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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is actually a bottle from last year's batch that I've had in the DBF.

Lovely clear ruby in color with a respectable layer of tan-colored head that died off to a lasting "edge of the glass" ring. Surprising quantities of lace on the glass. Nose initially was mostly cherries, but as it warmed, other smells were noted: honey, sweetness from the malt, some medicinal alcohol, and spices. Flavor was delicious...and this coming from an avid hater of cherries. Melded nicely into the overall fabric of the beer, the cherry notes were not overbearing or anything. The spices and honey become more apparent as it warmed. The alcohol content makes itself known towards the end and the finish is quite clean. Mouthfeel, overall, is good and given the masked ABV, insanely drinkable. Thank goodness I can seek out the Elf here in Richmond every winter!

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Photo of stingo
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brilliant near ruby red, with a thick head of bright white foam. The foam reduces quickly, enabling the cherry and honey flavors of the nose to stand out as well as the noticeable but not unagreeable scent of alcohol. These notes are borne out in the taste as well. Eminently drinkable, though with a slightly thinner mouthfeel than I would have expected from this style. This is a quibble however as the Mad Elf is one fine winter brew.

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Photo of sublimesipping
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

There are many good things about living in the city of Brotherly Love. Finding Mad Elf on tap unexpectedly would be one of them. This may be my favorite holiday beer. I love the color, ruby red. Elegant, sophisticated, like the taste. Beer tastes more like a cordial, essence of berry, a warm brandy like effect. Excellent balance and mouthfeel make this beer dangerously drinkable, even for some of my non-beer friends. The big suprise being that is has a decidedly strong kick to it(11% can defintiely sneak up on you..)A wonderful, happy glass of holiday cheer, a way to keep the holday spirit alive through cold winter nights. If you can find it on tap, it is worth it! Drink it with someone you love.

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Photo of shapudding
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

No dating on the bottle, but this is 2004 batch. Georgeous pouring with such a show! Everything is just shooting all over the place like fireworks! When that is done I am looking at a glass of clear amber topped with a think whitish, creamy, frothy layer. Scents of marachino cherries, so candy sweet! Bit of clove spiciness coming up from the glass. Can feel the carbination, even hear it when you swirl the glass a bit. But it is very well done IMHO, not too much at all, just a good amount without whacking you with froth. God this is just good stuff. The cherry flavor is not too strong at all, I mean, it is there, trust me. But it is not like you have a lambic in front of you. Bit of the honey sweetness left on your tongue after each sip. Very ripe bing cherries, more like dried bings actually, or dried cranberries, where you get that candied sweetnes from the fruit. Some port in the aftertaste. The sweetnes is not cloying, just very nice. The alcohol is very well hidden, can't taste the percentage in this, it is so nicely drinkable. Just another lovely one from the brothers.
Fun one in the case splitting extravaganza with Stingo, BrewAngel, and The BlitheringIdiot.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been hanging onto this one and can't wait to try it. Departs the bottle a wonderful golden red with hints of pink even along with a nice off white head. Sweet cherry Lifesaver aroma wafts up into my nose along with some earthy yeasty notes. Mmmm...lovely aroma.

First sip is a mix of honey/cherry sweet malty goodness along with a nice helping of barnyard/earthy yeast tones. There's a nice spiciness that's running through here too..maybe some nutmeg...I can't pick it out. A damn tasty belgian style winter brew!

Nice creamy, full mouthfeel with good carbonation. No complaints from me. Drinkability is good, as this is a tasty brew I could have a few of. Many thanks to blitheringidiot and merlin48 for hooking me up with some bottles of this!

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Photo of aracauna
3.82/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Now this had the character that Old Fezziwig was missing. Beautiful red color that catches the light nicely with a smallish white head. A good bit of bubblegum in the aroma, a touch of clove (yeast or spice?), coriander, peppery alcohol and a touch of malt. The flavor carries on with a little less complexity than the aroma, but with just a touch of cherries. 11%? I couldn’t tell. Fun beer.

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Photo of GnomeKing
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer on what turned out to be the coldest day in a long time, with wind chills dipping below 0. The bar was very small, and my seat was near the entrance. Every time the door swung open, the whole bar iced over. Drinking Mad Elf made me welcome the cold breeze that night, warming me like a brandy by a fire. It's the best holiday beer I had this season, and I tried many. The Elf is spicy with just the right amount of sweetness. The beer's taste doesn't mask its might -- a winter-worthy 11-percent -- but the ale is nonetheless pretty drinkable. The Elf has melted this Gnome's heart.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12/28/04- Received via trade with Santoslhalper.

Presentation- 12 oz bottle with a freaky lookin' elf on it. No expiration date. Poured into my Westmalle chalice.

Appearance- Nice head at first, but rapidly disentigrates. Very little if and lace. Nice deep ruby red color.

Smell- Ultra sweet malt. Sweet fruityness, (cherries)? Plus there is definite alcohol fumes.

Taste- Taste like a really malted and liquored up Kriek. Heavy sweet malts and cherries. Plus a large alcohol kick towards the end of your swallow. Maybe a bourbon taste? Whatever it is, it's pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel- I was expecting a thicker and more full mouthfeel on this one due to the high ABV. Low carbonation. Still goes down smooth with that little alcohol warming sensation going down.

Drinkability- I'm already feeling it after half this beer. I have another one left that I am going to age and maybe try next winter and see if it thickens up a bit. Thanks very much to by BA bud Santoslhalper who has sent me several brews I have yet to try. This one scores pretty well though. Quite tasty, even if I did have it with Boston Market take out. Probably would have been paired better with something else.

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Photo of AlexJ
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We shared a 12 oz bottle between a few people at a Xmas party. Hazy, amber/orange colored with a dense white head. Spicy-sweet malt aromas complimented by a fruity, definately-Belgian yeasty, biscuity note. Taste is surprisingly less sweet than anticipated. Triple-like in character with a pleasantly subdued cherry/berry flavor balanced out by a spicy malt and hop profile. Big mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Extremely enjoyable. I was expecting an overly sweet, cherry flavor, but this is very nice. PS-I have a feeling that this bottle is a year or two old, althought the host of the party doesn't remember.

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Photo of brentk56
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear red/amber color with a small head that quickly dissipates and leaves just a little bit of lacing

Smell: Clove, bananas and honey predominate in the nose; malts and cherry in the background

Taste: Quite complex; starts out with a blast of alcohol which then reveals a variety of fruit flavors; more candied fruit with bananas than cherry at the outset; in the middle, the tongue starts to tingle from the carbonation and then it winds up finishing with clove, cherry and honey flavors - very subtle

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a bit of carbonation; warmth in the gullet from the ABV

Drinkability: A nice sipper to drink once it has warmed and opens up

Thanks, Shaggy9356, for the chance to re-visit

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Photo of Bierman9
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a glowing ruby red/chestnut color...quite intriguing. Carbonation is slow and steady within the clear liquid. Head is a thin layer of fine, tan beads, with a smidge of lacework sticking to the glass. Nose is potent, laced with alcohol and cinnamon-like aspects, with some malty sweetness and cherry notes. Body is a solid medium, and carbonation as it applies to the mouthfeel is low, allowing for a smooth passage over the tongue. Pleasantly sweet flavor abounds, with just a hint of the cherry noted on the label. I get more notes of sweetness from the honey, plus a fine melding of spices, dark fruit and alcohol warmth. A fine bier to warm-up with in the midst of the cold-weather season. Thnx to BierReise for the sample!

Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4
appearance: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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Photo of Zraly
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep pink with orange tints. Little to no head. Smells of cherries and bread dough. Pleasant.

The flavor is tremendous. Rich, sweet malts accompanied by the flavors of cherries and bread. A complimentary flavor of clovey spice and fruit rounds of the yeasty presence. You can taste the alcohol...period. But it gives this ale a wonderful complexity in terms of the taste department.

This is an interesting brew but not entirely approachable. It seems a bit "raw" in some way. Once you get past that quality, you find an eccentric character lurking about as a strong ale.

A nice night cap.

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Photo of ChrisBowers
2.4/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Maybe this thing needs to be cellared for awhile but I am not a fan. It reminds me of Robotussin. In the words of Chris Rock "Out of Tussin? Put water in the bottle and shake it up, More tussin!" It definitely has a lot of stuff going on, I'll give it that. Tons of alcohol in this one with a big malty sweetness. The cherry aftertaste though is horrid. Truely horrid. A very unbalanced beer, the alcohol is very evident and makes it an unpleasent, if warming, drinking experience. Lots of people seem to like this so maybe my tastebuds are tweaked the wrong way but this stuff tastes like cough medicine to me.

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Photo of clvand0
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to meathookjones for the bottle of this. I've been waiting to try it. Pours an amber/red color with a very small head. The aroma is excellent. Aromas of cherries, honey, spices. Very nice. The flavor is odd in a very good way. The honey and cherries meld together for a great flavor. There is a spice there to ... possibly from a belgian yeast. Very drinkable. This is one that could easily sneak up on you. Dangerous.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one pours a nice deep amber color with just a coating of head over top of the beer. The nose is very belgian in character, some spiceyness from the yeast and lots of sweetness, hints of cherries. Smells good. It tastes of goodness. The first thing I get is a nice peppery spice, followed by sweet malt and finished with a nice honey sweetness that goes over the front of my tongue. Wow. Not a hint of the alcohol in there. The feel is nice and thick, leaving a coating of beer in my mouth after swallowing. Drinkability is nice on this one as well. For a big ass beer, its easy drinking and smooth. I like it. Thanks to clvand0 for sharing this with me.

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Photo of Suds
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I’d been wanting to try this beer for some time. I’d read about it, and even heard about it on a tour of the brewery. This was my first chance. It pours a red, slightly hazy color with a thin head. The head is slight, and disappears quickly. The aroma is intense, and predominately of sour cherries. Underneath, there is a malt-like sweetness and alcohol. The taste is fruity, malty, and fairly complex. Medium to heavy body, with low carbonation. An alcohol warming sets in as you drink this one…but the effect on taste well hidden for an 11% ABV. This is excellent!

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Photo of asabreed
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'd heard about this beer from the site, and lately I've been into buying and saving in the cellar, so I picked up a case a few days ago for about $45. Expensive, I know, but at 11% ABV and the qualities I hope to see happen over the next few years in the cellar, I think it's worth it.

Appearance - Pours a gorgeous amber color. A white head forms and dissipates quickly.

Smell - Extremely complex. The smell of alcohol is certainly there but not overpowering. The complexity comes from the war with the malt, honey, and cherries. Certainly a sweet smell more than anything, but warming and interesting for sure.

Taste - Like the smell, the alcohol is evident, but more welcoming than overbearing. This is a holiday ale, after all. So the warming that happens is certainly good for a cold night. Since the batch is from this year, I can imagine that good things will start to happen when it sits as I said, so in the interest of keeping true to the flavor I'm drinking this one currently at cellar temperature. One of the things I absolutely love about this beer is the masking of the sweetness. Too much alcohol can certainly be ruined by imbalance and too much sweetness. However, the malts are at war with each other in the best possible way and provide complex and intriguing flavors. Also, the honey and cherries are evident but not overbearing. They add subtlety and intrigue into the mix.

Mouthfeel - Not too thin. The carbonation seems perfect to me. Great overall.

Drinkability - Clearly, this beer will kick your ass if you're not careful. Since it's NOT a stout and be consumed pretty easily (especially since the alcohol is balanced so well with the taste), watch out. And even if you could make a session out of this, why would you really want to? Have one at a time so it can be fully enjoyed.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear copper-reddish color. Head was initially quite nice, but soon dissipated to leave only a trace of foam. No real lacing to be seen.
S: Cold: smells aren't that great. After warming a bit: Malty, sweet. Some bready smells are there, and a nicely subdued fruitiness.
T: Initially, the honey sweetness dominates, but that quickly gives way to a oh so subdued fruity taste with a nice hit of malt.
M: A bit more than medium in body, this one is pretty full and creamy feeling. Carbonation is spot on. Alcohol is wonderfully warming, but at 11%, what do you expect?
D&N: Nicely complex, pretty punchy, this one has me feeling just fine about life, if ya know what I mean. A very nice holiday offering from two killer brewmeisters. Check it out.

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Photo of tenant
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sweet cherry and yeasty banana play well against eachother in the nose. The color is a reddish amber topped off with a ring of white around the edge of the glass. Tight, almost abrasive carbonation gives the tongue a heads up while a rush of tastes enliven the palette. Noble hop aromas, carmelized cherries, subtle malt sweetness, along with a complex, spicy dimension typical of Belgian strong ales combine to express qualities of licorice and bubblegum. The high alcohol content is gracefully hidden in the taste, revealing itself with a warming sensation in the chest. This is a big beer that most certainly must be consumed in moderation. I am more than impressed with the Elf, however Mad he may be. This years version easily lives up to all the hype.

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Photo of merlin48
4.72/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The Elf pours a clear and bright reddish copper body with lots of active carbonation to be seen, as hundreds of microbubbles rush to the surface. Head is offwhite in color, minimal in size, quickly falling into a persistent collar. Very little lacing, but none was really expected given the stated abv.
Aroma is heavenly. Cherries, clover honey, a hint of sweet chocolate malt, and an unusual yeast presence of fresh forest mushrooms(morels) that I've picked up only in a couple of other Belgian yeast strains.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation and none of the expected alcohol.
The taste is an adventure. Sweet and sour cherries hit the palate first, followed by a sweet malt smoothness. Yeast presence is noted, and evokes the fresh mushrooms of the aroma. Lovely! Herbal hops add a welcome bitterness and seem to be of the noble variety. A hint of clover honey and a dash of nutmeg add to the delight. I keep waiting for the fusel alcohol to hit home but it never does. Quite amazing that such a high volume of alcohol can be so cleverly disguised. Very well balanced and a real pleasure to sip.
This is a perfect winter seasonal that I could enjoy any time of the year. Drinkability is dangerous, given the hidden alcohol claimed by the label. Exceptional brew from an excellent brewery. A huge thank you to mtnlover for bringing this nectar my way.

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Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brown 12 oz bottle. Bottled on date was hard to find -- it's on the bottle, just under the neck label -- but it was 11/1/2004.

This beer poured a brilliant reddish brown with a thin head that quickly disappears. Lots of bubbles rising through the beer but no head. Very clear. A nice looking beer.

Strong fruit -- cherries, mostly -- along with sweet malt. Some alcohol aroma comes through, too. After sitting for 10 minutes or so, the intensity of the fruit fades a little and more of a malt aroma takes over.

Flavor is dominated by the alcohol...with some complex combination of fruit (cherries and raisins), honey and malt. Alcoholic warmth is evident.

Aftertaste is mainly malt, some back-of-th-tongue bitterness, and alcohol....not too pleasant.

Overall an interesting holiday beer. I think I'll age my others for at least another month, then try another. This one hasn't been in the bottle but two weeks.

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Photo of necoadam
4.4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out a darker shade of amber with a nice head that settled down eventually.

Smell consisted of lots of fruit (cherries mostly) with some light sweet malts. Not overpowering by any strech and quite welcoming actually. Some yeast and brown sugar can also be detected.

Taste was wonderful. Cherries, honey, soft malts, some sugar but not overpowering with sweetness. Towards the middle and the end. No trace of hops to be found in this brew. This is downright excellent.

11% is a little to laugh at, this was more like a 7-9% with all the flavors hitting the palate. Loved every drop of this brew.

Big thanks to Pisskynights for this brew, thanks a bunch!

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,203 ratings.