Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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: 3,599
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 26.75%
Wants: 216
Gots: 883 | 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: 3,599
Photo of mtbikeguru
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Gotta love the nice red label that depicts a tipsy elf hanging on the Troëgs name. The 11% ABV would make anyone tipsy if they had enough of these guys.

This bier has a very nice glowing ruby red color and a substantial bone-colored head during the pour, which is surprising considering the ABV, but the head did subsided quickly. Very, very fine carbonation

One would think that the alcohol would be very prominent on smelling this brew but it is very balanced with the cherry, pale malt, subtle spiciness, and some other fruity kind of banana esters to come to the front.

Very drinkable bier so be careful because this mad elf will smack you around if you drink to many of his buddies.

 699 characters

Photo of briscott99
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a nice dark reddish brown. A white head of about two fingers. A little bit of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Smells substantial.... bready, yeasty, but also a bit of sweet honey in there. Says it's brewed with cherries, but I'm not picking up that scent on the nose.

Taste: Cherries show up in the taste, but only slightly for me. SPICE... there is a big holiday spice component to this beer... shows up in the aftertaste. Nutmeg? This beer is really malty sweet. I don't detect much hop character at all... maybe a little bittering, but it's definitely overshadowed by the sweetness. This is almost like liquid candy. And for being 11% ABV I don't detect much alcohol in the taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a light carbonation.

Drinkability: I couldn't do more than one of these in a sitting. It's definitely interesting and leaves you with a lot to ponder, but I just wish it were a little less sweet.

Not my favorite, but definitely worth a try. It definitely tastes like the holidays to me.

 1,032 characters

Photo of Grintbrad
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is ruby brown with very little white head. Head dissipates quickly with little lacing.

Aroma is cherries, yeast, bread, sugar and yeast.

Taste is pure cherries, malt sweetness, with subtle spices (cardamon? Clove?) - not as over powering as expected for a holiday beer. The taste is definitely belgian style with brown sugar and spice, but cherries dominate the flavor to the end.

Mouthfeel is flat - moderate body, but very little carbonation or lacing. Somewhat surprisingly for a Belgian style specialty ale.

Drinkability is just average. The alcohol is quite hidden, but the sweetness to me is overpowering without it, and hinders the ability to have repeat glasses.

Overall, a tasty holiday beer, one of the better ones.

 741 characters

Photo of AleWerks
4.7/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Great ruby red color with good carbonation.
S: Cherries and honey are obvious with fruits coming through late.
T: Cherry and honey again with dark malt, plum, fruit, crystal sugar, and ending with a sweet finish.
M: Rich and full mouthfeel with balanced carbonation.
D: For an %11 ABV beer this one sure goes down easy. A really nice beer.

 342 characters

Photo of Kopp
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another review split between my roommate and I, he picked this beer up for us at a small liquor store the town over from our school.

A: Reddish clear color, clear with a small head that vanishes immediately, no residue sticking to the glass

S: Sweet scent, but not saccharine... Fruity scent

T: Overall has a taste of cherries, with the flavor of honey that is tasted in the back of the throat. The bite of the elevated alcohol content is noticeable, particularly in the finish

M: Smooth, low level of carbonation, not sticky or gummy

D: Taste and mouthfeel is very pleasant, a bit sweet, but the alcohol content of 11% does not lend it to a session beer

Overall: It's a good beer that we enjoyed splitting. It was a bit sweet for my tastes, but Tim enjoyed it a lot. It was a fine beer that we both recommend, but it's more for a night in than a night out.

 864 characters

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

 171 characters

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.

 208 characters

Photo of drumstik
4.62/5  rDev +20%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

First Elf of the Season. I love the ruby red label with the off white and green colors. Of course there is the trademark yellow Troegs cap on top that makes this bottle stand out from the rest.

Pours the a lovely red/amber. This years might even have a little bit more of a dark red hue to it.

Smells of deep rich cherries and plum with lots of malty goodness and a hint of sweetness.

Taste hits with a great malty sweetness with a hint of cherries. Just a touch of spicyness and a tiny hint of hops. As you sip it coats your mouth and throat (perhaps from the honey?) as it slides down with just the right amount of carbonation. Finishes sweet and spicy and a subtle hint of alcohol.

A fantastic beer that lives up to all the hoopla that surrounds it. A great late night sipper to send you off to dreamland. Grab it while you can or you will be regretting it later!

Last year I discovered Mad Elf and I couldn't get enough of it. This year it is wonderful yet again and has inspired me to write my first review here on BA. Hopefully many more to come!

 1,068 characters

Photo of eggplantwiz
2.47/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an ommegang goblet.

A: No real lacing, no / minimal carbonation. Flat-ish amber appearance.

S: Overwhelmingly sweet, honey and cherries come out. This is the strongest point for this beer.

T: A little bit unexciting really. Sure, I taste the honey and cherries, but it's almost cloyingly sweet with negligible complexity. I'm not sure why this beer gets such good reviews.

M: Smooth enough mouthfeel, medium to light bodied.

D: Surprisingly drinkable for 11% -- the alcohol is well hidden here, no booziness at all, really. Very smooth, but still not exciting.

Overall, a below average beer, but pleasant enough. I don't think I'd seek this out again.

 669 characters

Photo of Zaccone
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Smells like cherries, especially while still in the bottle. After pouring (into a snazzy Mad Elf chalice) smells yeasty and spicy - just as someone else said, like a hefeweizen.

Looks almost iridescent - coppery-red and very inviting. I must say, despite my qualms with drinking more than one bottle at once, if you let me smell it and look at it long enough I'll probably drink it anyway.

M&D: The 11% alcohol owns the aftertaste. Medium-chewy.

finally, Taste.. really a good beer - on occasion, there are times it hits the spot and I call it excellent. The sour-hefeweizen thing is in the background. Very sugary beer, and the cherries are noticeable.

So, seems to taste like a high-alcohol, oversweetened hefeweizen. Very seldom do I enjoy sweet beer, but this one makes my mouth and tummy happy. Though I'll admit to fantasizing about a drier version of the Elf...

 875 characters

Photo of JMB22
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a 12oz glass. Wonderful dark red color, but almost no carbonation and almost no head. That may be the biggest downfall. The taste is overpowering, not really a bad thing, but very intense. Lots of cloves, and very festive. Almost no head halfway through. It's extremely high alcohol content is fairly obvious. Overall pretty darn good, but I am only man enough for one!

 400 characters

Photo of AragornUnplugged
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interestingly dark orange/ruby pour. I have found it is necessary to get aggressive to produce a head, but doing so nicely mellows the first sip. The label proclaims that Mad Elf is brewed with honey and cherries and there is no doubt upon drinking that they mean it. You can smell both, along with some spice, and they are layered in the taste. I would like this beer to have a bit more body, as that would firm up an otherwise great and unique product. Carbonation is light, alcohol is noticably present but quite drinkable. Strangely enough, this is the beer that rescued my sister from the grasp of a heavily imported green bottled macro, causing her to liberate my stash. Good thing I have a source. I need more.

 717 characters

Photo of johnshuster
1.82/5  rDev -52.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

So, having finished those tasty draughts at the pub I went out the next day to pick up a case of the Mad Elf at the local distributor. That nicked me for almost 50 bucks-you pay for the ABV in there, to say the least.

To my dismay, the Mad Elf is a shadow of its tap greatness when coming from a bottle...at least that's my take.

The bottle itself looks cool-brown glass with a little elf that apparently has a nice buzz going himself. For me, the bottle is the best part of this beer.

The smell is much more concentrated and pungent from the bottle. Note that I drank out of the bottle, not a glass. This may affect what I experienced. Gone were the pleasantly sweet and cherry-like scents. Think more along the lines of cherry robotussin.

The taste was much worse from the bottle than the tap. The beer was far thicker, and the alcohol pervaded the taste throughout drinking, whereas when I had this ontap you only got a slight sensation of the ABV in the aftertaste. This stuff for me was just way too thick and sweet out of the bottle.

Mouthfeel wasn't great either-very heavy and not much carbonation. I am not a big heavy beer drinker, so anything that is thick is not my cup of tea. This stuff's pretty thick, but maybe that's your thing.

Drinkability-Getting one of these down takes a while. There was no possibility of chugging or gulping this stuff-slow sipper only baby, unless youhave powers far greater than mine.

I want to like this beer due to its high ABV and local relevance (went to school near where it's made) but I just can't get the stuff down from the bottle. On tap though, ooo yeah that's the stuff.

 1,646 characters

Photo of Svejk
4.83/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off, I have to send out a huge thank you to Froggyfrog for providing this beer in trade. Not only did he give me a bottle of the 2007 Mad Elf, but he threw in a 2006 bottle as well.

What a great vertical tasting. This beer really benefits from a year of aging. My brother and I opened both bottles at the same time and were able to taste the difference immediately. We tasted the 2006 bottle first, and the complexity of flavor was amazing. It was hard to identify the cherries and honey flavors that are mentioned on the bottle, but we really thought it was a fantastic beer. When we tried the 2007 bottle, we were able to identify the flavors more easily, and the alcohol was much more evident, but it was still great.

This beer goes from great to fantastic in twelve months.

 786 characters

Photo of SASN
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: beautiful red-golden color-one of the prettiest beers I've seen

S: very nice, sweet, cherry aroma but not overly sweet

T: initial sweetnss with cherry notes followed by a touch of bitterness

M: medium, nice body

D: the high alcohol limits the drinkability, also the more you drink, the more you notice the sweetness-it can become too much

Conclusion: a great seasonal, winter beer. Mad Elf= holiday time

 411 characters

Photo of ssznyter
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Red with a thin layer of foam on top that quickly disappeared. Really enjoyed how just the look of this one was enough to put anyone in the holiday spirit.
Smell: Hint of cherry and a nice Belgian yeast. Sweet and sour.
Taste: Really great. You can definitely taste the alcohol but its not as strong as expected at 11%. The cherry flavor really comes out, especially as it warms up. A nice yeast finish.
Mouthfeel: Light carbonation but pretty good for the beer. I felt like the lower carbonation definitely helps bring out the cherries.
Overall: Great seasonal from Troegs. I'll definitely seek this one out every holiday season both for taste and novelty. Definitely a conversation piece when broken out at holiday get-togethers, and with the 11% alcohol content it definitely helps to warm you up on even the coldest winter nights.

 846 characters

Photo of gregO59
4.41/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Mad elf back on shelves. Always a treat.. Troegs is a never miss product. Found it 1st for 17 .50 a six, 2nd time for 15.50 a six to watch giants game.

appearance- held up to light its like looking at a stoplight

smell- honey, cherries , chocolate , coffee

taste- mixture of same

mouthfeel- light a little sweet

overall- really like it as a diversion from an RIS for the difference to the taste buds . Something

to have when you want to go beyond the usual. Hard not to buy when available .

11% gives off a nice buzz

 525 characters

Photo of hellobeerz
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - A dark brew, a ruby/copper look. Slight see through feel.

S - You obviously get the sweetness of honey and the ripeness of cherries off the bat. But it seems like more are at work here... smells of spices and even chocolate malts are hinted at.

T - The nose follows the taste for the most part. Lots of honey and cherries with just enough spice. The alcohol is present at first, but mid glass it is gone to just a simple warming and relaxing brew. Almost great for a winter night during the Christmas season.

M - A little intense from the alcohol at first, but dissipates and becomes amazing once your palate adjusts.

O - I saw the hype, the advertising, heard the talk in my local brew shops and honestly... It is amazing, every time I head to the local totalwine or other brew shop I pick up a sixer(14.99), It is an amazing seasonal brew for the cold months and I could see myself drinking this well into March. You must give it a chance, and at 11% ABV... it is highly recommended. haha.

 1,000 characters

Photo of Klunco
3.32/5  rDev -13.8%
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.

 705 characters

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

Quite simply my favorite beer on earth. I used to look forward to Santa showing up for christmas, now i look forward to the Mad Elf's arrival. Santa used to bring me chocolate covered cherries, now I get to drink a liquid form of the sweet treat with alcohol added.

 265 characters

Photo of sickpuppy
4.53/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a dark amber to almost crimson red color. The aroma is malt and cherries but the cherry aromoa is faint to me. As far as the flavor I agree with the cough syrup taste however it is not a bad thing as I think of it more as a fruit backing of cherries. Overall I would not drink this beer on a regular basis however this is a great beer for an occassional quaffing!

 379 characters

Photo of KAdams
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - Warm reddish amber with a thick white head that leaves nice lacing.

Smell - Sweet cherries and honey, just like the bottle says. Some spiciness.

Taste - Sort of like the the smell but not as sweet as I expected, which is a good thing here. Sweet, rich honey followed by clean fruit: ripe cherries, apples. Malt flavors.

Mouthfeel - Medium body with good carbonation.

Drinkability - A good holiday beer that is a nice change from the strong, bitter malts found in a lot of dark wintertime lagers. Overall a pretty good beer especially considering the high alcohol content.

 589 characters

Photo of mountaineer99
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I tried this beer a few years ago at a bar because it was on special. My wife and I both liked it and noticed it's punch when we got up from our seats. Last year when I tried looking for it in our area but it was too late SOLD OUT. So this year around the first weekend in November I stopped in and they had it. I was a little taken back at the price $14 for a 6-pack but I wanted to try it again.
This is a very robust beer. It has lots of flavors and it's pretty smooth I think considering the ABV%. I still only drink one of these in a sitting I think two or more would just be too much for me to enjoy fully.
It is a beer that I recommend but I wouldn't necessarily go for the 6 pack since it also comes in a 22 oz bottle also.

 733 characters

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.

 463 characters

Photo of Irish212
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Clear & Golden with a small amount of head.

S: Mixture of a spicy and fruity aroma.

T: Solid taste of cherry with a faint honey taste, falls on the sweet side.

M: Very smooth

D: I really like this beer, but probably couldn't drink more than two of these in one setting between the high ABV and sweetness.

 312 characters

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