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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

1,193 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,193
Hads: 3,597
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 215
Gots: 881 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
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Reviews: 1,193 | Hads: 3,597
Photo of drink_like_a_wahoo
4.49/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Mad Elf from bottle served in a snifter.

Look - Golden red
Smell - Dark cherries with hints of honey
Taste - Black cherry sweetness up front that fades into a smooth, less sweet belgian yeast finish
Feel - Smooth and light in the mouth

I have had this beer from multiple years at various ages. My absolute favorite was the 2014 at 14 months, but really everything after 8 months has been delightful. Aging really smooths it out and rings in the up front sweetness that younger bottles carry. One of my favorites

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Photo of emyers
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Great Lakes snifter.

Appearance: Pours clear ruby-red with a thin white head. Not much lacing. Looks very nice.

Smell: Honey and medicinal cherry up front with a floral component and distinct alcohol presence. The combination of artificial cherry aroma and the sweetness imparted from the honey gives it a definite medicinal character which I'm not wild about.

Taste: While the underlying components are similar to the aroma, flavor-wise it is much more polished. Cherry is once again notable up front but does not come off nearly as artificial here and is overall more balanced with the rest of the profile. Bready malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey are all present. Finish is still fairly sweet, but not nearly as sweet as the nose would suggest. Actually quite mellow and drinkable given the abv.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, medium body. Quite smooth.

Overall: This one is somewhat tough to review - it's very unique and the flavor is quite nice. If only the nose was as good...unfortunately it detracts a bit from the overall experience.

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Photo of I_imbibe
4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bought this December 2012. Aged in a dark cellar. Over a few years your Elf will mellow and impart deeper cherry and mahogany flavor. It is delicious fresh, of course, but save a sixer for around 3 years! Drink it in the summer, too. Why the hell not?

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Photo of madelfonatree
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Look - Unfiltered red body. Head is gone quickly but light tan. No lacing.

Smell - Strong cherry. Faint honey. Slight dank hop.

Taste - Wheat beer with Christmas spice. Cherry. Honey. Stronger than desired alcohol taste, but drinkable.

Feel - Chewy. Heavy. Carbonation comes through where it doesn't in the look.

Overall - Part of my namesake. One of the first beers that moved me to high ABV. I always get a few of these each Christmas (and same some for the Summer).

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Photo of EKahler17
4.76/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

First off the appearance catches your eye with the golden red color. Then you smell the sweetness of the honey and hing of cherries. Once you you taste it the cherries really come out and have a clean smooth finish especially for 11%!!

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Photo of rorykanderson
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Amazing that 11% ABV can be so subtle. High marks for the beer's ability to subdue any hints of burn with a great balance of flavors from cherries to cinnamon to bready malt. A seasonal treat that could be enjoyed all year.

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Photo of Trombone69
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Beautiful Reddish amber. Small head in my pint glass. No Lacing to speak of.
This is the 3rd time of had it. This time I taste the cherry - big, right up front. I love cherries, but this is a bit much. Strong and full flavored. Syrupy sweet, and alcoholic. A bit overpowering, and a challenge to drink. I'm not looking for a beer to challenge me very often. I don't think I'll look for again. Not terrible, I don't hate it.

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Photo of IPAlmighty
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Great on tap, but if you buy it bottled it needs to be aged. Get a six and cellar it for a year or two. Solid for a cold winter night, a sipper of the first order.

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Photo of Beerwolf666
4.71/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

What a Fantastic Brew! this is one of those Beers, that as soon as you pop that top and smell it,your heart starts racing,and you just know it is going to be something very special ~and Indeed it is,the nose is sweet,with Honey and a hint of Cherries and malts,~the taste pretty much follows the nose,sweet[but not cloying] you pick up the Honey and though you do get a nice Cherry note, it is more in the background then in your face,and does not have that "Cough Drop" Medicinal taste you get with a beer like "Sam Adams Cherry Wheat"~taste more like fresh cherries,and it IS Tasty as Hell,also would never know this Beer is 11% A.B.V.,Because I do not ever get that alcohol burn or boozy tatse,but perhaps that is Because I drink a lot of High A.B.V. Strong Beer's and Ales~this is not a Beer you knock back with your buddies while watching the Game or playing Poker,this is a Top Notch [IMHO] World Class Brew,it is a Beer you Savor and take your time to enjoy it's Amazing Flavors and the brewer's Art,what a BEER! Cheers 2 All;]

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Photo of Bebum
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Clear medium amber, no lace. Medium body, moderate flavor, high heat, avg length, fruity finish.
Sweet but enough bitterrness to keep it from being cloying.
Barley candy flavor, coca-cola.
Rich, enjoyable.

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Photo of dd43
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

One of the better beers I've had in the "holiday" genre. Pleasantly spiced and sporting a serious malt bill. I would have liked the noble hop bite to be more assertive, the spice notes I detected were more Belgian yeast than saaz peppery spice. Cherries and clove/cinnamon up front, with brown sugar on the back. This will be something I look forward to every winter.

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Photo of Jeff3918
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Maybe not for everyone and tasted better out of the tap. Cherries jump out at you and grab it when you first see it as it doesn't stay on shelves too long.

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Photo of mabermud
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I'm not a Belgian guy, but this nice. This has an very attractive, deep, ruby red appearance. the head is off white and extremely thin and scattered. Mostly, this smells like overripe bananas and very sweet candy liqueur. The taste, of course follows the smell, with cloves, and brown, overripe bananas with sugar. The mouthfeel is full(er) with medium carb.

Overall, I am impressed. This is the first time I am actually drinking one of these beers. Someone sent this to me as an extra and I thought I would drink it to make room in my refrigerator. This has probably opened up a new dimension in my beer drinking realm.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 edition, 12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, cloudy, amber/mahogany color with a half of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved away into a halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass and formed a few wispy clouds that settled over the top of the beer.

Aroma: Tons of fruit and yeast. Strong notes of cherries, and figs, followed by some spices of clove, honey, brown sugar and toasted malt, imparting notes of freshly baked fruit cake. Reminds me of a very fruity Belgian dubbel.

Taste: Delicious! Exactly like a very fruity Belgian dubbel. Strong notes of stone fruit, such as cherries, plums, prunes and figs, followed by some barn-yard notes of Belgian yeast and malt, finished with some toffee and brown sugar-like sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Chewy, with just a touch of carbonation to make an appearance. With and ABV of 11%, there is a significant amount of alcohol on the palate, imparting a very pleasant warmth.

Overall: This an excellent beer! I love the fruit and malt, which is balanced beautifully with the Belgian yeast. Strong bold flavors. Great Christmas beer! Hell, great beer period!

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Photo of Lunaa
5/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love Mad Elf! when the holidays get near, I'm one of the first in line for 2 cases :)
Its even better on Tap. I personally can not get enough of it.

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Photo of theFLZA
5/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Mad Elf didn't start out as one of my favorites, but over the past 5 years I've enjoyed it more and more each year. It is now my most anticipated seasonal release of any brewer.

It is described perfectly by Troegs on the beer's own label: "brewed with honey and cherries".

It tastes like it is capable of creating life and ending wars. It's that good.

I love high ABV beers (like Mad Elf) that don't taste as strong as they really are. In addition, this beer is delicious and continually drinkable at any temperature, with no bad aftertaste whatsoever.

Troegs hit it on the head, as far as my own personal tastes go. Favorite beer of all time.

Thanks for everything!

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Photo of JamieDuncan
3.33/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Strong Dark Belgian's are my favorite style but I have avoided the Mad Elf due to my beer guru telling me this one was not very good. But got one in my stocking for Christmas so here we go. Poured a clear red with some carbonation and very little head. Some lacing but it would slide down the glass. Decent smell with the dark fruit and cherry but the alcohol overwhelms it, smelled a little like alcohol soaked cherries. Taste is similar, you pick up the cherry and malt but again it is overwhelmed by the alcohol, just kind of off. They made it strong but not very balanced. It gets easier to drink as I went along but was still not what I would call enjoyable. Some lip licking from the malt which was good. The beer is almost thin, certainly not the rich texture I enjoy in the style. Overall, average at best. Beer guru was right yet again.

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Photo of EvoRich
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Aged one year

Look: Copper/red in color. Pours with one finger head which fades quickly.

Smell: Cherry cough syrup, A slight hint of alcohol.

Taste: The honey comes through on the flavor, right up front and the cherries, half way through, with a malty finish. Again, only a small hint of alcohol.

Feel: Fairly medium bodied with a good deal of carbonation.

Overall: I used to like the beer much more than I do now. It's a bit hyped.

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Photo of WillieBeamen
3.08/5  rDev -20%
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

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Photo of TheItalianStallion
3.69/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip

A: Pours a transparent ruby red with a 1 finger head. Foam quickly fades to a thin collar that leaves behind minimal lacing.

S: This beer isn't very fragrant, but I am getting aromas of alcohol soaked sweet cherries with a miniscule amount of honey. Some yeasty esters come out as the beer warms, but there really isn't much going on on the nose.

T: Flavor is one dimensional as all I'm really picking up is sweet cherries and a very small bit of honey on the finish. Even as the beer warms no new flavors come out.

M: Mouthfeel is lacking in my opinion. The body of this beer seems light on the palate. It is smooth but very thin, almost watery.

O: I was really looking forward to this beer and to be completely honest, I was a bit let down. The aromas and flavors are subtle, and I think this is not a good representation of what a Belgian Strong Dark Ale truly is. It seems a bit too "mild" for the style if that even makes sense. The one thing I must say is that the alcohol is masked extremely well for 11% ABV. So much so that If you told me it was 11% without me seeing proof, I wouldn't believe you. I would drink this beer again if it was free, but I most likely won't buy it again.

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Photo of barczar
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Honey dominates the aroma, followed by booze, medicinal phenols, musty yeast and a touch of cherry.

Flavor reveals a lightly tart cherry character throughout, which is complemented by pear and banana yeast esters in the aftertaste. Honey sweetness lingers. Thankfully, not as medicinal in flavor as aroma.

Alcohol doesn't hide much in this beast. Had it years ago and loved it, but I think it was aged a bit. Nope to revisit this vintage in a few years.

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Photo of therubicon
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2013 bottle.

Dark amber-cherry color. Thin head with lots of yeast floating about. Never seen a beer characterized as a Belgian strong dark ale with this light a color.

Smell dominated by sweet cherry with a little honey.

Sweet taste, nicely balanced honey and cherry. After taste of yeast.

Slightly thin feel with noticeable yeast near the bottom.

A very well balanced beer. I could get used to drinking this every Christmas. Will have to buy a current vintage bottle to compare against the 2013.

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Photo of TastyFoodAndDrink
3.91/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pouring a red-orange hue, Tröegs Mad Elf has an incredibly pungent smell of sour cherry coming from the start. After getting past the cherry, Mad Elf pounds banana, clove, bubblegum, caramel, toffee, and honey through in powerful doses. All of the smells are slightly soured, and made of what seems like pure explosiveness. There are subtle odors, but it’s mostly funk, earth, and chocolate. Even with these smells though, it’s more like picking out a subtle scent than anything actually subtle. Tröegs Mad Elf seems to made up of nothing but deep, aggressive smells.

On the palate Tröegs Mad Elf is amazingly smooth for a beer sitting at 11% alcohol. The mouthfeel is heavy, but not as thick as one might expect. The flavor of cherry is pervasive and powerful. The background notes aren’t really background notes so much as competitors, like banana, clove, bubblegum, brown sugar, molasses, and dates. The flavors are all laced with a deep amount of funk, and the body hits with a huge amount of acidity. Honey is buried somewhere in there, but this is a powerful brew, and it ends powerfully as well, adding a subtle smokiness to the cherry flavor. The funk, clove, banana, and other elements keep driving it forward, long after you finish it.

Overall though, I just find it a little too intense to keep up with. Tasty yes, but hard to have more than one of.

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Photo of b_sters
3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Overall I like the beer, but I have two complaints. The lack of a strong Belgian yeast flavor and the lack of head retention. Otherwise, its perfect for the season. I tried vertical batches from 2012-2014 and it does age well.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
3.99/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a cherry color with a small tan/off-white head that dissipates immediately

S-sweet, boozy, notes of dried fruit

T-very, very similar to the nose as the flavor is pretty sweet with dark dried fruits (cherry, plum, raisin, maybe some apple) and booze. Not overly complex but more flavorful than a dubbel.

M-somewhat thin, but not over carbonated-sticky like candy

D-very drinkable but its high abv. make it a sipper

Overall, this is a good beer and I enjoyed it.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,193 ratings.