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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: 15.32%
Wants: 216
Gots: 882 | 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
Reviews: 1,193 | Hads: 3,597
Photo of LambicPentameter
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BA SammyJaxxx for sending this along. Reviewing from notes after drinking on 3/25/14. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz brown bottle and I didn't write down a bottling/enjoy by date, most likely because there isn't one to be found. That said, it's a winter seasonal from the most recent winter, for a guesstimate on age. Poured into a large snifter glass.

Appearance - Pours a deep maroon red with hints of wine coloring and a pretty translucent body that would likely allow me to see right through it if it wasn't so dark in color. Atop the body sits a half finger of off-white foam that recedes to a film across most of the liquid, but with thicker buildup in a ringlet around the edges as well as a collection of larger bubbles on one side of the glass, frothy from the pour. Not really any lacing to speak of.

Smell - Initially the fruity yeast profile you expect from a BSDA, but not in the vein of dark fruits. More along the lines of cherry and possibly red plum, with sweet phenols and some winter spice as well as faint impressions of the honey. It's a little one note for my expectations from the style, which is often one of the more complex out there, with lots of layers of flavor from the yeast and malts. This one is bordering very close to fruit beer in the smell.

Taste - Very similar to the aroma in that it has some of those quintessential BDSA/Quad characteristics, but like a shallow version. Notes of cherry and light fruit sweetness as well as some faint baking spice and esters from the yeast. Not much bitterness from hops or toasted malt at all, with fruit and some notes of King's Hawaiian sweet bread.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and moderate to light carbonation, with a slightly sweet finish and aftertaste.

Overall, a nice beer, but not one that blows me away by any means. It's simple and unassuming, but is having to fight an uphill battle against my expectations for the style. Just a bit more depth of flavor--maybe some bitterness to counter the sweetness, or some flavor profiles beyond the sweet would be helpful.

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Photo of Beastcpa
5/5  rDev +29.9%

This is the beer that made a mixed drink person a beer person. It is the best holiday beer in the world, period.

Hold it for up to 5 years, as it only gets better. Have a case in my basement from 2013 for 2014 and beyond. Drink 3 of these and you will be stone cold drunk and happy.

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

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 8/18/2013. Pours fairly crystal clear ruby red color with a 2 finger fairly dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, plum, cherry, pear, apple, fig, light banana, honey, caramel, toast, candi sugar, bread, light chocolate, light nuttiness, herbal, light clove, light bubblegum, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, cherry, fig, pear, apple, light banana, honey, caramel, toast, light chocolate, candi sugar, bread, light nuttiness, light clove, herbal, light bubblegum, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of raisin, plum, cherry, fig, pear, apple, light banana, honey, caramel, toast, candi sugar, light chocolate, light clove, herbal, bread, light nuttiness, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity of dark/bready malt and yeast ester flavors; with a nice malt/yeast flavor balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Belgian strong ale. All around good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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

12oz bottle from GreenMonster12 (thanks Jay!). Bottled 9/13/12. Served in a goblet.

Pours a ruby hued chestnut with about one finger of pale cream head that quickly receds to a thin cap before disappearing completely without leaving any lace.

Aromas of cherry skins, raisin, caramel and a yeasty apple-like note.

Flavors of bright cherry preserves, bitter fruit skin, dark fruit, caramel, Belgian yeast, a little honey and a pretty healthy dose of alcohol. The booze blends a little better as it warms up. Pretty good

Medium body with fairly sharp carbonation. Boozey finish with cherry skin, caramel and yeast.

While I think 1 is plenty for me in a sitting, this is a decent American take on the Belgian strong dark ale style. The cherry and honey additions give it character that helps elevate Mad Elf above other similar brews. I won't go hunting more but this is something I would certainly enjoy again someday.

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Photo of bleedsblu
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Poured from an ice cold bottle into a glass.

I gave it an aggressive pour into a bottle, which produced an 1/2 inch head with a little carbonation and it had a nice amber color.

It smells fresh, I'm not getting the cherries at the scent anyway.

It has a nice mouth feel, thick and not bitter.

It has a good taste, its a nice ale, I'm not really getting the honey or cherries but the flavors are good.

Overall its a good beer and I'm looking forward to the promotional special beer and glass coming out soon, this is an ABV of 11% so this seasonal is certainly a sipper that I highly recommend.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
2.7/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Uh thanks angrybabboon?

Appearance: Mostly clear brick reddish copper. Heamalt a very dirty white. Bubbly and thick, settles to a small cap and slightly larger bubbly collar. Minimal lacing and carbonation.

Smell: Alcohol, honey, cherry skin and some juicy cherry flesh. Syrupy with some bready caramelized malts. A bit of clover and some sweet malt base. Almost malt syrup sweetness. Cherry juice. Fruit leather. Pretty sweet. Yup.

Taste: Cherry leather fruit syrup with a serious honey drizzle. Sweet, cherry flesh, mildly tannic. Some other vague dark fruit. A touch grassy in the back. Cherry sweetness. Slightly roasted malt with some caramelized malt sweetness. Honey drizzle. Sweet, but not cloying. Borders on it though. Warming amps up booze and honey sweetness. Cherry starts to run medicinal as well. Hyper boozy.

Mouthfeel: A bit syrupy up front and then hits a bit thin on the finish. Moderate carbonation and surprisingly clean.

Overall: Buddy is a better elf.

Sweet cherry fruit leather with honey. Maybe an ounce or two with a bit more refinement.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Split with Goblinmunkey7

Consumed 3/25/14

Appearance: Clear, ruby red - pours with a medium-sized, off-white head - fades to a wispy cap, leaves a few streaks of lacing

Smell: Dark malts and a ton of cherries - cherries to the max, kind of like a cross between cherry preserves and cherry-flavored cough syrup - some honey, but it's more of a straight-up sugar - some Belgian yeast, with some spices, clove, banana, and bubblegum - very sweet and very boozy overall

Taste: Sweet, boozy, spicy - apparently this is a winter warmer of sorts that was meant to be slowly sipped over the course of a multi-day snowstorm - a borderline absurd amount of cherry, with a side of cherry cough syrup - lots of honey flavor - like with the cherry, there's a bit too much honey - Belgian yeast, with some serious clove, banana, bubblegum, and a big dose of phenols - some dark caramel malts, with more sugar - the sweet malts, cherry flavor, and phenolic yeast create something that definitely tastes reminiscent of some kind of medicine

Mouthfeel: More or less a full body, with some syrupy stickiness, finishes with booze

Overall: Elf medicine, engineered to cure sobriety (may cause diabetes)

Cherries, honey, and Belgian yeast are all good things. But in excess, I can't say I'd recommend it. I'm glad I didn't have to drink the whole bomber.

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Photo of jdhowe
3.84/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage poured into a Firestone Walker tulip.

A: Pours a slightly hazy red amber with 1 finger of straw-colored head that dissipates to a foamy ring.

S: Cherry, wheaty malt, corn, honey, and a hint of alcohol.

T/M: Prickly carbonation up front with a medium mouthfeel. Up front is honey and malt sweetness with a slight bitterness. Plenty of malt sweetness accompanied by a very mild bitterness throughout. Cherry is not very prominent. Finish is coating, almost a little drying, with a bittersweet lingering flavor.

O: While reviewing this, it strikes me that my opinions of it are not really all that high on this beer in individual metrics, and yet I quite like the beer. Really a nice, unique holiday ale that doesn't overdo its "holiday" flavors, while doing a really nice job of dealing with its 11abv. Drinks much closer to 9, but with a little bit of heat. Bumping this up a bit in overall for that reason; I think this beer comes together quite nicely.

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

Aromas of cherries. Slightly boozy taste but at 11% it's not really an issue. Decent amount of carbonation. I always look for this around Christmas time as it is a favorite of mine. Get a little extra whenever you see it and age it a year . . . The honey will really come through and add a new dimension to this brew. Perfect for those cold winter months.

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Photo of CGiusti23
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 3.75

I really enjoyed Troegs Mad Elf. It had a great after taste and for having a high ABV, it was pretty smooth. The only problem I found with it, as well as others around my have said, is that it's one of those beers you could only have one or two in one sitting. Overall a great beer for the holidays.

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Photo of RVigz
4.34/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: The appearance of this beer is a ruby red color with about a quarter inch of head that dissipates quickly.

S: the smell is a sweet cherry and malty smell

T: the taste is similar to the smell, with a prominent cherry taste upfront with a slightly malty/alcoholic aftertaste. slight vanilla chocolate aftertaste that fades out with honey. very delicious. I drank this beer from a tulip glass.

M: mouthfeel was very smooth and not too carbonated, sweetness overpowered alcohol.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into a tulip glass. 1/14

Pours crimson red with very little foam. Cranberry juice appearance. Cherry oak nose. Honey too. Pickly taste, oaky back. Firm alcohol pop. Sips great, and packs a sneaky wallop. Earth bitter in back. Great for a cold day. Excellent.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Got this as an extra but forget from who. Thanks awesome trader. Bottle says 2010-2011 so I assume this has been in a cellar for a while. Pours murky amber colored with nearly no head at all. A nice aroma of super sweet caramel, cherries, honey, some booze, maybe some Belgian yeast influence. Flavor is bready malt with a bit of yeast spice, definite sweet cherry presence, caramel, plums, figs. Big heavy slick mouthfeel with low carbonation. Definitely on the sweet side but pretty enjoyable. A bit of oxidization has settled in but that's ok. I would have this again.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
3.79/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a deep red with a very thin white head. The head dissipates extremely quickl.

S - Cherries and yeast with some maltiness.

T - Cherries right upfront with lots o banana, clove, and bubblegum flavors. There is also a good alcohol in the finish.

M - Medium body with high carbonation. Sticky mouthfeel.

O - Nice holiday beer. Definetly a sipper.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer pours a fairly light and off white head that dissipates quickly. The beer itself is a beautiful and clear ruby red. The smell has strong hints of honey and a fruity yeast smell but very little else. The cherries also come out and mix very well with the other smells.

The taste has strong cherry and honey taste with a hop and fruity taste from the yeast. The combination of the ingredients also create a slightly strawberry flavor as well. The taste comes out a little bit medicine like with the cherries but not too much. Slight hint of booze.

The feel is a little bit flat with almost no carbonation. Creamy feel. Overall, a decent beer and nice on a cold night.

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Photo of MacQ32
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

A - pours a cloudy amber brown with a finger of tan colored head, OK retention and pretty decent but loose lacing.

S - Sweet cherries, honey, slightly sour, oaky booze aromas.

T - sweet honey and light boozyness, cherries. A little Mediciny due to the cherry+booze combo but very nice. Quite well balanced/tame

M - minimally carbonated, smooth, silky and nicely drinkable.

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Photo of Damian
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Drank from a 12 fl.oz. bottle
Served in a goblet

The gorgeous, crystal clear, ruby colored liquid was capped by a super creamy, bubbly and tight, light tan crown that billowed over the top of the goblet. With time, the head faded to a thick collar. Drippy patches of lacing trickled down the glass.

The nose was quite punchy and sweet. Fruity esters from the Belgian yeast notes were immediately apparent. Intense cherry notes. I picked up hints of apple and pear as well. The yeast also contributed a mild powderyness. As the beer warmed, the cherry presence became sweeter and more intense.

The flavor profile was pleasant initially but became somewhat cloying with time. Lots of sweet cherry notes. Hints of apples and strawberries were also detectible. Like in the nose, the Belgian yeast notes lent the beer strong fruity esters. Caramel and dark candi sugar came through as well. Rich and malty. Spicy with hints of clove. As the beer sat, the cherry flavor became progressively stronger and sweeter, and it eventually reminded me of cherry cough syrup.

On the palate, the beer felt quite flat. The liquid contained a super fine and mild carbonation that was rather uncharacteristic for the style. Slightly creamy.

Although this beer was tasty and hid its high alcohol presence remarkably well, I found the syrupy cherry flavor to be overdone and the resulting beer to be rather cloying. I would love to see how this beer tastes without the addition of honey, as it certainly does not need it.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.79/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.5

Mad Elf pours a reddish color with no head. There are strong Belgian candy flavors, with good hints of cherries. The taste has strong cherry flavors, lots of Belgian candy notes, and a yeasty like aftertaste. Very full body, and full flavors. Overall its a sweet and spicy beer.

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Photo of MadCat
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very clear brown, good head, no lacing

Smell: Cherries and malt

Taste: Cherries up front, then maltiness, with some interesting yeast flavors that could use a little toning down. Could be fantastic with age.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low carbonation. A little boozy on the finish

Overall: Good ice cold, gets worse as it warms. I think with some age it could be way better, the flavors need to marry a bit better.

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Photo of WheelsPSU
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bought a single 12 ounce bottle from the local beer shop. Cracked it open with the future Mrs. two days before Christmas.

I drank this straight from the bottle so I can't tell much about the color. Sacrilege, I know.

The beer produced a very light scent of candied cherries and medication. But not like cough syrup because it didn't have an artificial scent.

The taste was sweet cherry upfront followed by cream and honey which ends with a sour cherry twang. That was the enjoyable part. The taste that I did not care for was spicy Belgian yeast. Totally ruined the beer for me.

I preferred this beer a lot more as it warmed. Possibly because the honey becomes more pronounced. The alcohol is extremely well concealed. I would have had no idea this was 11% without the checking the label.

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Photo of WunderLlama
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into glass

Ruby red with faint carbonation. Two finger white foam cap quickly settles into a fizzy layer with no lacings.

Aroma of spices, cloves, pepper and hint of cherry and alcohol.

Smooth start. Sweet malt, bubblegum, slight carbonation. Medium mouthfeel.

Visited the Troegs brewery last week and had Mad Elf on tap, excellent. Bottled version is very good, sweet winter warmer with a deceptive alcohol kick. At 11% abv! it sneaks up on you. Very good beer and worthy if stocking up the fridge for those long, cold winter nights.

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Photo of RandomExile
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: ruby/amber, translucent; scant light brown head almost immediately becoming a film, scattered or no lacing
S: deeply yeasty, . fruity
T: bubblegum and cherry, banana, clove/spice, yeasty, definite banana aftertaste
M: thin but coating; most of the bite surprisingly seems to come from carbonation rather than the high abv, although there's a bit of an alcohol follow-on
O: A little too sweet/candyish, but overall decent. Not worth seeking out.

12oz / Tulip Glass / Victoria Gastro Pub, Columbia, MD

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Photo of farrago
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The head is on the thin side, a semi-deep tan color, not very dense and evaporates swiftly, average lacing without much stick. The liquid is an attractive coppery red with a dark orange tint, large amount of super tiny bubbles swirl about inside, excellent clarity does not weaken the richness of hue, handsome. The nose is full but not soft, filled with sweet honey, molasses, baking spices , candied orange peel and a mix of cola and chocolate, the cherries come through clearly, consistent and unambiguous, no secrets hidden. Full-bodied, Walks at a good pacing, not brisk, but on no leisurely stroll either, the carbonation fluffs it up when needed. The citrus is mixed but helps temper the honey, caramel, chocolate stuff. The cherry fruit base pulled in opposing directions by plum and strawberry flavors. Cola, maybe licorice, there is a sweet smokiness to it as well. Not really as well spiced as one might hope for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, maybe more like a Winter Warmer. The length is so-so. In a fun and convivial environment you could easily through 3-4 of these back in spite of the ABV, alone at home, one, maybe two. There’s no intellectual hook.

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Photo of zookerman182
3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is a ruby red with a one finger off white head.
Aroma is cherries and yeast.
Flavor is cherries, somewhat salty and has a soy saucy after taste.
Not boozy at all but just off flavors not bitter, just cherries.
Mouthfeel is ok, flavor goes away fast.
Not my favorite holiday beer just not horrible by any means.

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Photo of kevintaraross
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Had this on draft in Lancaster, PA (near this Brewer) over the weekend. Very Good in a warm pint glass.

Had this today in a big-boy bottle - much better - more flaverful - less head/less holding "power" BUT better mouth "feel" than on draft.

Would buy the bottle and draft again.

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