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Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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

2,746 Ratings
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
Ratings: 2,746 | Reviews: 1,146 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of padan7


3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This review is for the on-tap product. I have had the bottle twice and find it too sweet to be enjoyable. And would give the bottle a c+ rating.

This is a beautiful looking beer. The redish color make it quite appealing.

The smell is also quite pleasing with hints of the cherries & honey.

Taste is sweet but not as much as the bottle. I found the honey seemed cloying in the bottle.

This is something that I can enjoy when in the mood for a sweet holiday beer.

Mouthful is good but I would have preferred more carbonation.

The drink hides the alcohol well.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2008 12:58:50 | More by padan7
Photo of Klunco


3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap last night

A- Pours a nice ruby color with white head that immediately disappears

S-Smell is of cherries, and weak dark malts

T-Similar to smell, cherries initially dominate the palate then the malts come in. Cherry taste is natural tasting which is a plus, but the overall taste is very restrained. Alcohol is well hidden.

M- This is one area where the beer flopped. Thin, watery; carbonation is way too low. It doesn't have the full bodied mouthfeel I expect from a belgian dark ale.

D- Troegs did a great job of covering up the alcohol and making this beer not too heavy so I could drink a lot of this, however, the taste is too muted for the style and left me feeling unsatisfied.

Serving type: on-tap

12-10-2008 18:26:12 | More by Klunco
Photo of beerorRIP

New Jersey

3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap @ The office

poured into a smaller-than-a-pint-glass glass (highball maybe, not sure). A small light tan head that didn't bother to stick 'round too long. A nice deep amber color with only a few small bubbles floating to the top.

smells like sweet malts, and some fruits... not sure which ones really. a bit of a boozy smell was around too. or was that someone next to me?

taste of sweet malts is right up front, with the fruits showing up as a ripe cherry taste. it's thick in taste. not much bitterness at all in this one. a slight flash of hot alcohol was also there... but just barely. the warming in my gut the real alcohol 'flash'. the bitterness finally showed a bit in the finish to dry things out a bit.

somewhat of a thick mouthfeel but given all that is put in, this is to be expected. the carbonation is there, but limited as you might expect.

this is a beer i only enjoy once a year really. not something i can drink so often even though i do have a liking for beers with the sweet malt characteristic.

the bottle version of this is also slightly different, although i would need to have a taste of it, as i haven't had the bottled version in about 2 years...

Serving type: on-tap

12-06-2008 02:57:50 | More by beerorRIP
Photo of beerbutcher


3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours deep gold/amber with little white head.

aromas are of cherries and honey. also slight traces of belg, yeast influence, warming esters, and scarcely malty.

on the palate the beer is quite full. theres a little honey character, though it's rinsed out by the cherry flavor. there's a nice light lift of fruity acidity which keeps this big beer refreshing. dangerous. tasting nothing like 11 %

mouthfeel is rich and intense but dry enough. the fruit keeps this beer together.

overall, dangerously drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

08-31-2008 01:51:13 | More by beerbutcher
Photo of Kegatron


4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at the New Cumberland Elephant & Castle Pub during their annual Troegs Christmas in July event.

Pours a dark, clear ruby red color with a 1/4 finger of creamy eggshell colored head. A soft ring of retention and thin wisps that skim the top leave behind some thin strands of lacing. The aroma is a big time cherry blast of tartness but there is just enough honeyed sweetness to balance things out. There is also a bit of alcohol beef in the bouquet that reminds you that your about play with fire.

The taste is just the same as the aroma and still has a surprisingly fresh feel to it. Cherries dominate the profile but are extremely well balanced with sweetness from the honey notes and maybe some darker feeling malts. The mouthfeel had a medium to full body with not a lot of carbonation but still maintains a slick and smooth feel on the palette. There is also a good bit of heat in the overall feel but the flavors and body more than help cover up any stinging effects from it.

I love this beer because of it's simplicity. Cherries + Honey + Alcohol. It's as simple as that and it's a credit to the well balanced nature of this, that it doesn't come out tasting like cough syrup. It's all so smooth and easy on the palette, that the ABV of this can creep up on you very unexpectedly. Packed with festive flavors and toasty feel, this is a perfect for the holidays or anytime your looking for a warm and flavorful pick-me-up from a beer.

Serving type: on-tap

07-29-2008 17:02:57 | More by Kegatron
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Belgian spicy aroma. Creamy mouthfeel. Fruity with a sour finish. Yeasty and sour. Lacey. Tinged colour. Winter in June.Sweet and sour and in need of food to separate out the taste directions. An extreme and a different from this brewer.Alcohol warming but no warning it was this high. RFD.

Serving type: on-tap

07-03-2008 12:32:12 | More by Sammy
Photo of tdrshayden


4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ruby in color with an aroma that speaks of cherries.
Flavor was full-bodied with notes of cherries, sweet malt backing with little to no hop presence, the finish was very robust with a spicy, alcohol kick. The alcohol is pretty much in your face throughout the beer.

Serving type: on-tap

06-16-2008 19:24:46 | More by tdrshayden
Photo of jayrod20


4.53/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle a ruby red with a small amount of head and scents of sweet fruit and alcohol taste has a bit of sweet cherries and honey with a backing of some belly warming alcohol. A winter warmer indeed but not an all night beer just a couple and I'm good. A great night cap.

An addictive beverage that you want in succession.

Serving type: on-tap

04-29-2008 23:53:32 | More by jayrod20
Photo of jjboesen


3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had the Mad Elf at a recent tasting (4 ounce pour). Initial thoughts: quickly diminishing head that leaves loose lacing then settles into copper colore clarity.

I did detect a few notes of black cherry but given the underwhelming nose in general, it certainly did not linger long. As for the taste, I found it mildly sweet with some clove background. Little hops or malt was noted. I found the mouthfeel adequate, which was rather dissapointing given the brewer - I did not discover what they were trying to achieve here.

This is not one of their best beers; average, yes, but not worth going out of the way for. Personally, I thought the elf more disinterested than mad. Sorry guys.

Serving type: on-tap

03-03-2008 00:09:51 | More by jjboesen
Photo of AltBock


4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got this Troegs beer at Teresa's Next Door on 2/16/2008. They served it to me in a Tulip glass.

This beer was a beautiful dark crimson red with a nice 3/4 to 1 inch head of white foam. I thought the retention was OK because it only left behind some foamy white rings along the edge and a few spots of white lace. It had a pleasent aroma that contained some of the sweetest juicy fruits I've encounter in a beer so far. Behind these fruits was a splash of banana, a touch of yeast, and some subtle toasted malts toward the back. The taste was mostly fruity with juicy fruits. Once I got passed the juicy fruits, I discovered some bitter citrus hops, a splash of banana, a touch of yeast, and a small pinch of toasted malts in the background. The juicy fruits conquered all that were in its path! The mouthfeel was slick! There was no way I could tell that I was drinking a 11% ABV beer. There was no indication that there was that much alcohol in here. It did have an aftertaste, but it was short lived with dry citrus hops and lightly toasted malts. Yet another great beer from the Tröegs brothers! Just be careful with this one, it will sneak up on you!

Serving type: on-tap

02-22-2008 19:23:29 | More by AltBock
Photo of jockstrappy


4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy cider color with a fluffy white head. Nose is sweet malt, clove, and maybe some brown sugar with alcohol also present. Taste is a subdued belgian spice, with notes of caramel malt, honey, and fruit on the backend. Alcohol warmth at the finish is perfect for a January in Pennsylvania. Very smooth on the palate, and quite enjoyable overall. This is not really my style, but this brew is an exception. A little pricey for a case, but on-tap, it definately warrants a try.

Serving type: on-tap

01-20-2008 19:21:11 | More by jockstrappy
Photo of letsgopens


3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on-tap at a little place in the old city area of Philly called Brownie's English Pub. It was an enjoyable place except for the fact that it was somewhat of a Flyers bar, and thats never good for a Pens fan. In any case this BSDA pours a nice deep bronze with an off-white head that holds well and leaves a decent amount of lace.

Sweet and fruity in the nose with lots of caramel malt, orange, cherry, and some toffee. A bit of yeasty Belgian character but pretty sharp throughout. Unfortunately the place was pretty smoky so it was a bit tough to take everything in.

Sweet, tangy fruit flavor with some starchy and dim caramel maltiness. Some spice and faint booze are also present. Some more of the yeasty Belgian flavor can be detected along with some light and dark fruits alike. Somewhat reminiscent of a barleywine but creative and different.

Medium bodied with a bright crispness due to good carbonation. A bit of a matted lingering finish but not dry. Not much warmth at all despite the high abv (11%).

Serving type: on-tap

01-01-2008 01:22:10 | More by letsgopens
Photo of gkatsoris

3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice and dark brown, w/ a reddish amber hue.

S: A little alcoholy, cherries, nice hops, spices; made my mouth water (lol).

T: Delicious. I was told it would taste like cough syrup so I held off from trying it; big mistake. Delicious. The cherries were there but not over powering. The spices and cherries are mixed really really well, very balanced.

M: Goes down like warm butter.

D: I only wish I had 2 growlers.

Serving type: growler

12-24-2007 12:45:17 | More by gkatsoris
Photo of johnmichaelsen


3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Max's during their X-mas in July last night. This was the first beer of the evening for me, which was a good thing, as I never would have been able to appreciate it after a couple of imperial stouts and barlywine.

The beer pours an interesting red mahogany color, but without a great deal of head retention and only adequate lacing. I don't really get a lot on the nose, just some cherry medicine and some noticeable alcohol. On the palate this is pure cherry cough drop, but with some navel orange and grapefruit on the finish. The beer is sweet, but not overly so, and it really doesn't come across as a big beer (despite the abv.). Still, the alcohol is certainly noticeable, and the beer seems to lose something in the finish. I'm almost wondering if the beer has lost something with age, as it really seems a bit lighter then what I recall from previous samples. As the beer sits in the glass the sweetness turns a bit cloying, with more honey and cherry flavor. The drinkability is still pretty impressive for such a big beer, but I have to say I'm not as impressed with this beer as I thought I would be.

A good beer, but not a great one.

Serving type: on-tap

07-18-2007 15:42:43 | More by johnmichaelsen
Photo of stereosforgeeks


4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A nice rube red color filled my pint glass. Nice head but there was little retention to speak of.

Smell: Well as advertised there are the cherries and honey, but there are also hints of some spices, mild floral hops, and maybe some plums.

Taste: Where is the alcohol? You certainly cant taste it. The honey sweetness comes through first but soon following are the cherries and spices. The spice lingers on the tongue after each sip.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied beer that manages to be sweet without cloying to your mouth with thickness. Mild carbonation is present.

Drinkability: I enjoy these on nice cold winter nights. Warms you up while still managing to be sweet and drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

02-19-2007 23:36:13 | More by stereosforgeeks
Photo of akorsak


3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 10oz serving as part of the Belgian dinner at Iron Hill's Belgium Comes to West Chester. Appearance and smell are copied from an earlier growler review.

A: The ale is a copper color with some distinct orange highlights. The head is big on pour but does not retain very well.

S: The aroma is cherries and honey with a bit of medicinal tartness.

T: The ale, served fresh, has a stronger alcohol character. That warmth assists the cherry flavors in coming out. As the ale continues to warm, the cherry character becomes more sour, losing a sweeter character that is present when the ale is cold.

M: The alcohol and cherry pair nicely together and were a nice compliment to the salmon carpaccio that it was served with. The sweet cherry and honey in the beer were a nice fit with the honey-topped salmon and pepper.

D: Well made, the cherry is a nice component that adds strong character. I never imagined that this would pair well with a seafood dish, but it does and is worth a look.

Serving type: on-tap

01-28-2007 01:59:31 | More by akorsak
Photo of psinderson


4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in official glassware at the Sharp Edge Creekhouse.

Appearance: Beautiful deep amber red color with a thick, foamy white head. The color of this beer is a perfect compliment for the holidays.

Smell: Fruity and malty. I detect a bit of honey and maple, maybe also cherries. Smells yummy.

Taste: Extremely well blended and smooth. A great combination of cherry, honey and caramel. There seems to be a bit of citrus in there too.

Mouthfeel: Nice body and carbonation...great going down!

Drinkability: Anything with this much alcohol needs to go down slowly, but Mad Elf hides its strength well.

Serving type: on-tap

12-31-2006 16:08:44 | More by psinderson
Photo of wesblount


4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nice reddish/amber color with about an eighth inch head that dissipates somewhat quickly

S: Has a nice fruity smell

T: Smooth, fruity (cherry) taste combined with a typical ale taste. Dominate alcohol aftertaste with hints of cherry.

M: Crisp, clean and refreshing

D: This is one of my favorite beers. Highly recommended!

Serving type: on-tap

12-05-2006 06:19:01 | More by wesblount
Photo of pavandal


4.53/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beer poured into my tulip glass from a growler purchased today. It poured a nice honey - red color with a 1 inch head. Honestly, the most inviting beer I've ever had. lacing left a nice bubbly coating on the glass as I drank.

Smell began with some bready smells, but as the head disolved, it turned to honey and cherries, with alchohol behind it.

As the beer hits your tongue, the first flavor you taste is a bitey sweetness. this is probably due to the cherries involved in the brew. I also taste a lot of bready notes. The high ABV can't be tasted, as far as I can tell. This is a very great tasting brew.

I can see this beer getting dangerous to those that aren't familiar with it. This beer feels great in the mouth, light enough to make you want more, but it has some weight behind it to make you know you're drinking something.

I really, really dig this ale. if the ABV wasn't so high, this would be a constant (as much as it could be, given it's limited run) for me. I don't know why people have said that this tastes like cough syrup, because I sure can't taste it.

Serving type: growler

11-30-2006 02:49:22 | More by pavandal
Photo of Wren


4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got my growler filled at the brewery Wed 11-15

Pours a nice ruby red with a little bit of brown showing throught
Ample creamy dense head that takes on a little of the ruby/brown hue, loads of carbonation in this one

Aroma was first of black peppery then sweet cherry honey, alcohol finish with tart fruit - smells like Holiday Cheer

Taste - This is my third year trying the elf, and this years batch had a stronger black pepper/spice note up front which moved into tart cherries and sweet malt, finished off with warm alchohol starting in the back of my mouth and slowing warming all the way down, very pleaseant - not at all harsh
The extra pepper kick I got upfront balanced the sweetness of the beer, I thought last years elf was a little on the overly sweet side

Mouthfeel on this one is great - fluffy head, heavy carbonation, thcik sweet beer and alcholol thiness all combine in great balance

Tough to down multiple glasses of this with the 11% ABV, but I'd never pass up a pint

Serving type: growler

11-16-2006 13:10:21 | More by Wren
Photo of rayjay


2.75/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

(From notes)

On tap at the Brickhouse in Harrisburg, PA 12/05. Everybody was talking about it so I had to buy a round; I mean it's the talk of the town when it comes out. Served in a pint glass (obviously a rookie barkeep).

Pours deep red with the smallest of heads. Very sweet and thick. Hints of cherries and wood. Alcohol is obvious. Served very cold, but it only got thicker and flatter as it warmed; a pint is a definate challange. The sweetness and alcohol are a little overpowering and not very balanced. I bet it would be less abrasive and more sophisticated after sitting for a few years. Overall this is nothing more than cough syrup.

Now I get it: it's all the rage because it's so high in alcohol. At $5 a pint I guess it does give you bang for the buck (edit: nevermind, I just saw how expensive the bottles were!!!). Alcohol isn't my priority when ordering beers, though.

This beer is a big mangled wreck. All over the place. Perhaps the only aspect that makes me want to try it again is that it is so over-rated.

Serving type: on-tap

09-12-2006 20:10:38 | More by rayjay
Photo of akajimmyd

District of Columbia

3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Not much head or lacing. Reddish hue.

Smell – Sweet malts and spice, subtle hints of fruit.

Taste – I get prunes or dark fruit up front followed by spice and a little bite of alcohol.

Mouthfeel- Sweet up front. Full, full body. Finishes with a little too much astringent alcohol.

Drinkability – A winter warmer through and through. Many characteristics that remind me of a barleywine. Tremendous and serious brew. Be careful, quite drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

02-02-2006 01:45:39 | More by akajimmyd
Photo of HugoGrim


4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was lucky enough to find this on tap at a local bar. Body is a coppery color with a white head.

Excellent full smell of fruit, mostly cherries. High alcohol content is evident in the scent, though definitely not overpowering.

Flavor holds on to the sweet bite of cherries throughout, but also adds some spicy elements. An excellent balance of sweetness and spices. A bit of breadyness in the finish. Had I not known I would have never guessed this as an 11% ABV.

Serving type: on-tap

01-14-2006 18:43:19 | More by HugoGrim
Photo of dnrobert24


2.6/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at the Gingerbread Man in Carlisle, PA. Had to see what the hype was about, and I was not impressed. The beer had a dark red hue, with a very thin head that did not retain much aroma. Something mildly fruity was there, like watermelon. The first sip was metallic and stingy. Hot alcohol abounded. Midway through, the fruit came through more predominantly--strawberry mostly, and other juicy red fruits. It reminded me a bit of Juicy Fruit gum. I could not detect the spicy yeastiness normally associated with Belgian-style beers. The pint I had felt a little thin. It was not what I was expecting or hoping for in an American-made Christmas release of a belgian strong dark.

Serving type: on-tap

12-29-2005 17:43:35 | More by dnrobert24
Photo of cubedbee


4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bright brick red with a small off-white head that neverthless has good retetention and leaves some moderate lacing. Nose is nice natural cherries, not syrupy, a honey sweetness, and a slight clovelike spiciness. Taste is a nice smooth cherry with some other pear/apple fruitiness, a nice bready malt, and a decent spicey and hoppy finish. Mouthfeel is medium/full with a nice smoothness. Overall this is a really nice beer, hides the alcohol well, nice to sip on a cold day.

Serving type: on-tap

12-14-2005 13:46:37 | More by cubedbee
Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 2,746 ratings.