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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

1,208 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,208
Hads: 3,648
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 224
Gots: 930 | 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: 1,208 | Hads: 3,648
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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Photo of scotorum
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 10/15/14. Two months old.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick

a; Clear copper with virtually no head or lacing. 3.25

s: Ripe dark fruit, 3.5

t: Dark ripe fruit followed by moderate hop bite. Some alcohol throat burn. 3.75

m: Medium, good body, some carbonation tingle. 3.75

o: Sweet and fruiity, as might be expected of a brew made with Belgian yeast, honey and cherries. The combination tastes more like plums but it hides most of the alcohol in this Belgian strong dark. Net effect is a tasty and powerful holiday ale.3.75

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Photo of JooJooEyeballs
1.24/5  rDev -67.8%
look: 2 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Amount of Honey used is over-the-top with the amount of Cherries being over-the-top-of-the-top. A simply ridiculous beer by the master brewer Chris Troeg!

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Photo of HopBomb515
3.76/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Ruby red with a small off white head that fades very fast and leaves no lacing. Aromas of cherries, honey, caramel, light chocolate, and medicinal. Taste opens heavy cherry and honey flavor, slight medicinal quality, burnt caramel and alcohol heat comes through. Well carbonated up front gives way to a smooth finish and full body. This is a nice change of pace, but alcohol heat and medicinal flavors keep it from being truly great.

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Photo of Mikus
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

I am not a big holiday beer guy. Pumpkin, Oktoberfest, XMAS, etc. Had to give Troegs a chance though. Found one reasonably priced (couple of bucks). This sat really nice, though. Smelled and tasted the cherries, nice Belgian yeast, and warming booziness. Taste of alcohol, however, was well-hidden for a 12% beer. Smooth mouthfeel. Might be my fave XMAS brew. Still have a couple more stragglers to try, though. Cheers!

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Photo of rjs246
3/5  rDev -22.1%

Based on the nose alone, which was super heavy in both cherries and honey, I wouldn't have even finished the bottle. But the flavor was actually pretty nice. Honestly couldn't even detect the cherries. Not my thing but certainly drinkable.

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Photo of VirginiaBeerMan
3/5  rDev -22.1%

I think you either love this, or not. For me, it's not really what I think of when I think of beer. It's certainly nice in appearance and a swirl of fruit and spice and perfumy scents. The taste is more of the same, but with a significant alcohol punch, making it more of a sipping beer. At first, I didn't think I was going to finish my draft, but it slowly grew on me. Again, not my preference, but I can see why people might enjoy this. I kept thinking this might be good warmed. It's worth trying, but split it with someone just in case.

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Photo of Doctor_Bogenbroom
3.89/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Now, be good little boys and girls, and take your medicine! I was told I'd be knocked off my seat once I tried Mad Elf. Well, that didn't happen, and Mad Elf was a lot milder than I expected, but I will tell you, it definitely tastes like medicine. The cherry and the alcohol both hit your tongue right away. Even the dark cherry color reminds me of something medicinal. There is a definite cough-syrupy finish that I wouldn't say I hate, but it didn't do me any favors either. Overall, this is an acceptable brew in small quantities. I wouldn't want to drink too much of it, and I definitely wouldn't want it all the time.

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Photo of TheBeerMaster1
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

At first taste it honestly tasted like a flavored steely. Boozy and totally not what I expected. Also, I was initiating my taste buds for cherries and honey. You can get hints of the cherry after a few more sips. For 11%, the more I drank the more I realized it was pretty smooth. Definitely a different beer but glad I got it. $14.99 for a 6-pack at a retail store.

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a nice amber body with a 1 inch head that reduces to a layer of foam.

Aromas of raisins, vanilla, dark fruit, caramel and some spices. Smells like a dubbel or tripel.. quite tantalizing.

On the tongue is bananas, wheat, dark fruit, honey/caramel, some cherry on the finish.

Not too noticeable alcohol for the high abv, relatively easy to drink. Medium body

Overall a nice change of pace. Wish there was a little more cherry but nice nonetheless.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%

Bottle, no obvious date:
Pours a quite clear rose colored beer. Head gathers at end of pour, but reduces to edges fairly quickly. Lacing is spotty, but head returns quickly with agitation. Nose is obviously Belgian: in this case banana pervades the rest of the scents. I do get some cherry tartness, as well as a soda-like scent (maybe cherry 7-Up??).

The taste is similar to the nose, with the Belgian notes grabbing hold first. Banana bread and cherry soda come through from the nose, but the honey sweetness comes through much better in the taste. The carbonation is a bit prickly, but the body is seemingly light with a decent depth if flavor.

I've gone back and forth in this beer, almost from bottle to bottle. It seems to me to be a beer I have to be in the mood for, but I'm never sure what that mood is. Will likely grab a pour of this and/or a six pack each year.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a bright, vibrant, ruby coloring, with a slow flow of carbonation and a sparse, filmy, off-white surface coating of head. Aromas of very rich, sugary fruit notes of cherry, fig, date, as well as notes of bubble gum, cotton candy, a blend of nutmeg and cinnamon spice, rich honey, tangy caramel, and woody notes. There's an overall roast character dancing around in there, too. Flavors are rich and sweet forward, with an undertone of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Sweet flavors are caramel, an old-world fruit blend, cherry tart and sweet, rich honey, and earthy notes. There is a subtle booze warmth that builds as you drink. Solid. The beer is slick and light in mouth, despite all the heavy palate notes. There is a tangy fruit sweetness in the aftertaste, with some of the booze lingering around. The finish is slick, slightly oily, with a decent fruit and booze linger. Good beer.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, poured into a tulip glass at approximately 45 degrees F.

A: Pours a clear red-amber, that reminds me of a good Vienna lager. Forms a nice three-finger head of foam that quickly collapses to a cap and thick ring, which leaves decent lacing. Appears to be highly carbonated.

S: Sweet cherries over caramel malt open the aroma, with other yeasty undertones appearing, such as banana and plum.

T: The sweetness from the nose is present, alongside a wallop of tartness. Fruit flavors abound through this beer, with the cherries being front and center, surrounded by some fig and plum along the sides through the middle, and a distinct hint of banana at the finish. There's an alcohol heat that appears in spots as well, and a touch of spice flavor - clovey, not the usual winter beer suspects.

M: Sharp and prickly carbonation, this beer tries to bite back. Aside from that, it is a thin and light brew.

O: Not bad. I was honestly expecting a winter warmer when I picked this up, as opposed to a Belgian ale. I don't know if I'll repeat this one when it's on shelves next to Trois Pistoles for a comparable price point, but it was a pleasant surprise.

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Photo of TimeBandit
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

I have had this before, and always found that the alcohol finish at the end reduced my enjoyment. Just opened a bottle that a friend kept in his cellar for close to a year. The beer aged quite well, in my opinion. The sweetness from the cherries and honey was still quite prominent, as was the yeast spice. But it seemed to me that it had mellowed and become smoother in terms of the alcohol heat. I am now motivated to pick up six to put away for next year.

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Photo of matridium
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%


this beer would get a 5 but I think if it was just a little lower in alcohol
flavor is right no for a festive brew for the holidays.

Nice for a cold winters night!

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Photo of GameOfBeers
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%

What is this beer?

Pours a ruby red, light head, terrific lacing.

Tastes like cherries and spice (go figure) but there is a deeper fruit profile I am still working on. A little sweet but not too sweet.

Smells of sweet cherries again.

Crisp and satisfying but not overpowering on the alcohol. Very balanced.

Overall, fantastic. Not exactly what I think of as a winter beer, but it has its moments. Definitely buying this again.

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Photo of weirdohappy
4.75/5  rDev +23.4%

Vary, vary guut beer. reminds me of something. But not sure what. Beautiful amber color. Smells of wine? Like a chardonnay. But an amber chardonnay. And also called a beer.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,208 ratings.