Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

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Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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BA SCORE
87
very good

3,570 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,570
Reviews: 1,223
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 15.25%
Wants: 209
Gots: 854 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,570 | Reviews: 1,223
Photo of Sammy
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle pour at mrbubbler's tasting.

Pours a clear dark honey orange with a foamy bone head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, honey, cherry, and cherry syrup aromas. Taste is much the same with sweet malt and cherry flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of toasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty but fairly syrupy and sweet.

Photo of metter98
3.67/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear coppery amber in color. It poured with a quarter-finger high off white head that died down, leaving a ring of bubbles on the surface around the edge of the glass and eventually completely fading away.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of spices in the nose along with notes of cherries.
T: The taste is similar to the smell – spicy flavors stand out in front of notes of cherries. There is also a bit of sweetness and flavors of honey.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of dryness in the finish.
O: Despite the strength of this beer, the alcohol is hardly noticeable. It is a good sipping beer.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours reddish brown with a nice off white head with moderate staying power, although it does not leave a terrible amount of lace behind. The nose brings some dark fruits, Belgian yeast, and light cherry notes. A bit of booze and some spice. The taste is dark fruits and cherries with a bit of sweet bread. The feel is nice and medium with good carbonation and a nice alcohol warmth. Pretty good fresh, but this definitely takes on a new character with some age; looking forward to reviewing it in that manner.

Photo of brentk56
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
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

Photo of BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Candied fruits woven in soft, caramelized grains is a breif descriptor. Alcohol strength providing the power to fuel the malts and esters. This beer shares a lot of similarities to Ommegang's Three Philosophers with it's candied cherry additions, higher alcohols, all leading into a fruit cake meets cough syrup taste; just tempered into a malty flavor that lures beer lovers like moths to flames. This beer begins with a bright copper color, low head formation and retention, with lacing substitued by legging. A real Barleywine appearance. Aromas are chocked full of esters and alcohol sweetness. Cherries make a definate impact along with notes of rum, roses, and delicate nectar sweetness. All that trancends nicely into taste with malt sweetness becomming the forefront elements- soft, bready, caramelly, and flavorful. Alcoholic heat makes the transition from flavor to body an easy one. Malty and sweet, this beer again takes on Barleywine proportions. The low hop character screams English Barleywine even though the maltiness is subtle and delicate. What a lovely beer that displays a lot of character from sweet to spicy; floral to alcoholic; fruity to bready;... the complexity descriptors can go on and on.

Thanks ShadesOfGray!

Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is the quintessential holiday brew for me, i look forward to it each year, and have been cellaring different vintages for experiment. i find a year really cools down the alcohol heat and lets the flavors develop. the fresh one im drinking now pours a rich cherry amber color, with a sexy frothy pearly white head nearly three inches tall. the nose is lots of fruity, cherries, plums, baked pears, lots going on. also some honey or molassas sugar, a lot of booze, and a curious blend of winter spices, a little heavy on the clove. the flavor is identical to the nose, if a bit less fruit forward. its very balanced, and you dont taste the alcohol as much as you smell it, but you sure do feel it. whew. belgian yeast and candy sugar work magically together, creating a velvety grog that is sure to warm up the coldest bones in the winter time. relaxed carbonation and about as full a body as you can have in a beer that still lets some light pass through it. it gets really hot in terms of booze as it warms up, but thats just fine by me. overall one beer that is not to be missed come christmas time, and one that i keep going back to again and again. if you get youself a case, put a few in the basement until next year too, youll be glad you did!

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of adrian910ss: Poured a medium amber color ale with a small foamy head with average retention and lacing. Aroma of light cherry with some subtle spices and sweet malt. Taste is semi-sweet with cherry and sweet malt. Body is a bit light but alcohol is very well hidden. I was probably expecting a bit much from this beer, which is far from being bad but just not as complex as I had hoped.

Photo of Knapp85
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The mad elf, it pours out as a rich caramel color with pretty nice tan head on it. The aromas are spicy and most definitely Belgian. There might even be some Christmas berries in there too. The taste reminded me of a sweet cherry jelly mixed with a lot of alcohol and some spices to give it some tingle in the aftertaste. This is an enjoyable beer for the winter season, it's a heavier mouthfeel too. The ABV will keep ya warm when you out shoveling snow as well.

Photo of largadeer
2.59/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle received from dyan in our latest trade. Thanks.

Appearance: Auburn in color, good clarity, reddish highlights. The head disappears within seconds of pouring, a byproduct of the 11% ABV and cherries I'd guess.

Smell: Fruity, sweet, bready, and a bit yeasty and medicinal. There's a touch of cherry, but it blends in with the malt and yeast.

Taste & mouthfeel: Malty sweetness paired with fairly reigned-in fruity esters. Cherry is evident in the taste but actually well balanced with the malt, more a subtlety than a dominant flavor, lending a mild tartness as well. This tastes like a bastardized Belgian quad. Some spicy phenols appear in the finish. Very medicinal and cough syrup-like. Bitterness is non-existent. Pretty tough to drink, not my favorite Troegs beer by a long stretch.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.73/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reddish copper, emphasis on the red, and as clear as a pealing Christmas bell. The head is beige in color, fluffy in consistency and starts to recede even as I'm pouring. It does leave a little bit of nice lace, but only a fingernail-thin film on top of the beer.

Alcohol is appreciated in the nose, which isn't surprising given the lofty ABV. I'm trying to convince myself that there are cherries in the nose, but I can't quite manage it. I started drinking at an estimated 55 degrees and got quite a bit of alcohol in my first sip. Bear with me while I let it warm a little more...

There's some fruity sweetness, but again, I'm not certain that I can pick out the cherries. The beer is definitely malty and isn't hoppy in the least. Even with warming, alcohol plays too big a role. 'Medicinal', as a previous reviewer stated, gets it about right.

I drink scotch and bourbon (90-100 proof, neat), but I don't appreciate tasting alcohol, at least to this extent, in my beer. In Mad Elf's case, it overpowers the flavor of cherries and honey, which should be quite nice. An even higher ABV can be almost completely hidden in a fuller, richer beer, but this one isn't either of those. The mouthfeel is merely decent.

I really thought I'd like Mad Elf and was looking forward to the entire sixer. That is, until I drank the first one. If I want a good Christmas brew, I'll reach for a Great Lakes Christmas Ale or a Corsendonk Christmas.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.46/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this one up as an extra in a trade late in the summer and have had it in the fridge waiting to be cleared out for a while. Decided to use this one as a solid nightcap last night. Served chilled and poured into my newly acquired darkness snifter. This was consumed on 11/12/2008.

The pour was rather nice. A honey colored amber coming forward with a good amount of haze to it. Nice carbonation could be seen trickling up from the bottom of the glass and the overall look was very similar to some meads that I have had. Nice touch of white popped up on the top and settled down gracefully, capping off the package very well.

The aroma hit me right off the bat. Nice touch of honey and a small bit of sweet fruit, I am guessing cherries here by looking at the label, though a bit too sweet for my tastes. Interesting mix now of a very grainy base coming through as it warms. I have to admit though it was a bit too sweet and a touch light for me. The flavor was more of the same. Light touches of grain and malty flavors making up the base, but the honey and sweet fruit notes were all very much there and very easily detectable. Lots of honey and mead like flavor in the finish with a light spike of alcohol coming through at the end. Decent carbonation on this medium bodied ale as it felt just about right in consistency. Alcohol well hidden for as strong as it was, though I will admit the sweetness took its toll on me after a while.

Overall not a bad beer, but not what I was hoping to get into. A little bit rough on the sweetness and just not enough balance and tart fruit flavor to counteract it. Still though a solid effort and not something I would turn my nose up at if offered.

Photo of emerge077
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Akorsak at Dark Lord day for this one...

Pours a translucent red, with a finger of foam.

Aroma is spicy, and lightly sweet and spritzy. A little bit of bubblegum.

Taste seems balanced, with a nice residual pepper & spice in the aftertaste. Label states that honey and cherries are added. Honey is there in raw form, not especially sweet, and not much cherry. Deceptive ABV, never would have guessed it's 11%.

Nice carbonation carries it along, fairly easy to drink, but watch out, that elf looks pretty crazy.

Photo of oberon
4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice find last night at the Spring House Drafting Room,pours a nice ruby red with a nice creamy,sticky head,aroma is spicey with a light smoky tinge to it.I got the flavors of spiced cherries with tha light smokey flavor with some alcohol note as it warms.Troegs is one of my favorite PA brewers and this offering reinforces that thought.

Photo of womencantsail
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to TroyG2352 for sending a bottle of this in a recent trade.

A: The pour is a clear amber color with a thin off-white head and nothing in the way of lacing.

S: There's a heavy spice component to the nose along with some fruity Belgian esters and alcohol.

T: The spice is once again very strong along with a very noticeable sweet pear flavor. The sweet caramel malt and a light sugary flavor provide some additional sweetness.

M: I was surprised by the fact that this is fairly light and crisp on the tongue.

D: Unfortunately, this beer didn't seem to be all put together. Luckily, the flavor is better than the nose, but not amazing in any sense.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours an opaque, dark copper body with a thin, bubbly, white head.

Smell: Honey-scented maltiness with a fair amount of spices and tart-smelling cherries.

Taste: Very lightly toasty, caramelly malts with a honeyed sweetness. Sip of cherry juice. No real hop bitterness present, the spices are left to do the job of balancing the sweetness. Dull burn of spices on the otherwise warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: A fairly pleasant beer that definitely hide the alcohol well, and, as this was a 2006 bottle, I'll go ahead and declare this to be a mighty fine candidate for aging.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing these bottles!

After enjoying this stuff a bunch back in my NoVa days, I was stoked to get to try some more, thanks to my boy VDubb, who cracked some '07 and '08 bottles. This stuff pours a clear sunrise amber topped by a half-finger of relatively short-lived off-white foam. The nose comprises cherry, honey, fig, dates, caramel, light biscuit, and mandarin orange. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a pinch of black pepper and nutmeg. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slick-ish feel. Overall, a rather enjoyable brew, one that doesn't overdo the spices and/or fruit, which many winter brews have a tendency to do. Good times.

Photo of oline73
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle from the cellar poured into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours an almost clear red amber with a 1/8 inch layer of off white head. Head dissipates almost immediately.

Smell: Very sweet with cherries and hints of honey and brown sugar. Not much alcohol to be found here.

Taste: Cherry and sweet malt and honey dominate. After that I pick up some caramel and a bit of alcohol, which isn't surprising given the ABV.

Mouthfeel: This one is on the thick side of medium body. The carbonation is low and the finish is slick on the tongue.

Drinkability: Admittedly, this is one of my favorite Christmas beers. It has held up well to a year in the cellar. Good beer for a cold night and I'll keep coming back to this one.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.65/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A reddish brown body is capped by a creamy tan head that holds fairly well and leaves some minor lace. The aroma is limited but expresses a soft maltiness, a light touch of alcohol, and a sharp fruitiness similar to cranberry (although cherries are actually used). The body is medium with a gentle, fine bubbled carbonation that leaves it creamy and smooth across the palate. The flavor comes alive with an exceptional balance of light spice, juicy & mildly tart cherry, and a chocolate-tinged malt. The cherry flavor becomes clearer as it crosses the palate, coat-tailed by a firm bitterness and some noticeable alcohol. It finishes dry with only minimal lingering malt notes. Well done and highly drinkable. Somewhat Belgian in character due to the fruit and spice. An exceptionally enjoyable beer that's well worth seeking out.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.62/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade from Silent Sabre, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him.
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright copper color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark fruit (cherries & raisins) and caramelized malt, with a faint touch of Belgian yeast.

T: Flavors of dark fruit & Belgian yeast hit you up front and are pretty much the dominant flavors throughout. There’s a subdued malt character and the 11.00% ABV is no where to be found. After-taste is fruity.

M: Extremely smooth, light carbonation, light-to-medium body, clean finish.

D: Very tasty, not filling at all, goes down very easily. I’m not sure how the high ABV gets hidden so well in a beer that’s as light as this one, but it makes this beer dangerously drinkable. This is an excellent beer. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Photo of Kegatron
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

Photo of jlindros
3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Heard a lot of good things about this beer, so figured I better review it.

A: A light head develops of about 1/2 inch. It's brilliantly clear with an amber orange brown color with a big bright reddish hue, really presenting those cherries.

N: A very Belgian strong ale nose, with lots of sweet Belgian malts, slight yeast, and a big alcohol kick. Some light toasty bread malts trickle through, and hints of cherry beckon at you in a nice subtle way. Perhaps a slight spice and other things nice (see what i did there?)

T: Very much of a Belgian strong to start. Lots of Belgian malts, sweet malts and some sugar, some yeasty flavors. A big alcohol taste dominates too. Spicy flavors and warming alcohol. Some spicy flavors, possibly from the Belgian yeasts. A slight tangy fruit also comes through, but I don't get much for cherry anymore, unless that's the tangy fruit. I think I do get a little honey, and that probably shows on the dry finish... Ah, I got some dry cherries finally. It's pretty light but I finally got some.

M: Super warmth and alcohol burn. The alcohol is somewhat like bourbon in it's burn. It has very light carbonation and is pretty light.

F: Finishes really dry and really rips the paint, er skin off your tongue. The alcohol is so heavy and tastes like burning. You can feel it all the way down the throat. Some light sweet Belgian sugars stick around a bit, and the slight yeasty flavors also linger for a bit. Overall not a light finish, but not too bad all things considered.

Final thoughts: A pretty nice Belgian strong ale, lots of Belgian sweets and malts and yeast, etc. Some spices, little honey, tangy fruit, not much on the cherry front. The only issue I see is that the alcohol is a little too overbearing. I think that could have been throttled back a bit. Otherwise a nice beer, sippin beer.

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A beer I've been psyched to try for a while and finally got around to trying it. Bought a bomber of this for about $6. Pours an orange/red color, alcohol and cherry smell to it. Taste is complex and dangerously tasty. Medium bodied, great mouthfeel. The honey and cherry flavors really shine through, and the beer remains well balanced throughout. Being 11% ABV, the alcohol has a presence so this is a sipper for sure. A pleasure to drink, tons of complexity and tastiness to get through... will most likely be buying a few more of these before the winter season is through.

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautifully ruby hued amber with a thickly spiced aroma that has a fair amount of yeasty funk lingering as well. Flavor is spiced like a winter warmer. I feel like I am diving into this at the wrong time. It needs to be snowing like hell with a fire nearby.

Photo of Slatetank
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had a pint of this on tap at Brewhouse grille in Lemoyne, PA.

A - A very clear bright crimson w/ amber highlights and a very thin white cap w/ ultra fine bead. The clarity is very transparent w/ carbonation visible as it quickly rises

S - the smell is sweet and honey-like w/ an aroma that has mild fruit notes and subtle malt aroma. The mild hint of alcohol is apparent

M - A srong vinous feel w/ smooth full and thick body w/ slight alcohol warmth and moderate carbonation w/ gentle sweetness

T - A crisp, fruit taste at first followed by a slight honey flavor and strong alcohol flavor w/ a mild creamy malt taste. There is very light cherry tinges which are dry and have a mild tannic element w/ honey-like sweetness that coats the palate after the glass is drained

D - Let's be honest this is a strong beer and the taste only hides it slightly w/ little real fruit flavor to speak of and lots of alcohol which isn't something I personally find to be all that drinkable. I admit it is pretty smooth for the abv, with honey not overpowering, but too much for more than 1 IMO.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 3,570 ratings.