Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

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Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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BA SCORE
87
very good

1,191 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,191
Hads: 3,580
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 7.51%
Wants: 213
Gots: 860 | 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
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Reviews: 1,191 | Hads: 3,580
Photo of smakawhat
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. Getting a head start on Christmas I guess.

A real nice ruby and clear red body, but with a very fast and falling foamy off tan brown head. Lots of noticeable sounding carbonation as well. Barely a collar manages to hang on shortly after and leaves barely a whisp of a top.

Nose is big on Belgian like candi sweetness and some sense of cough drop cherry. A real sense that something sweet is coming.

A kind of juicy light jammy cherry sense on the palate, mixing in with a little bit of bready malts. Surprisingly not as sweet as I thought it might be coming from the nose. Texture actually feels pretty solid, this very nice juicy body almost jammy.

Overall not too bad, nothing real crazy that I am getting excited about though either. For eleven percent abv, it doesn't feel like a boozy mess or hard to drink, which is a nice surprise. However, I am not finding myself really drawn to this. (941 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Mad Elf ontap

Pours a nice reddish brown with a solid, crackling head and some lace. In the nose, caramel malts, cherries and brown sugar sweetness. In the taste, belgian yeast, honey, and soft cherry. Almost tastes like a quad with more fruit notes. Medium bodied, easy and fun to drink. Still one of my favorite seasonals. (325 characters)

Photo of tempest
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not sure what to expect at first, but this sure smells belgian. Lots of spicey aroma up front. I'm used to this being in the paler belgians, but I guess this one might be in the middle. More spice (corriander? in the flavor mixed with the honey and cherries and a little earthy bitterness that blends with the fruit. This is certainly different. It kicks outs at the end with a cherry tang and a hint, albeit an unsubtle one, at the alcohol. Definately not my favorite, but I recommend giving it try. It's worth it. (515 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours amber with just a slight head. Smells of sour cherries and sweet malt with some oak tannins on the back end. Tastes quite tannic with a lip puckering bitterness that carries through to the finish when more sour cherries kick in and help balance the tannins. Not quite what I was expecting, but unusual enough to be enjoyable and interesting. (347 characters)

Photo of corby112
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice dark amber with a slight white head. Aroma of cherries, honey and alcohol. Although the abv is 11% the alcohol is masked very well making this a smooth beer. The cherries and honey give this beer a nice sweetness that is balanced out by a slight maltiness. (269 characters)

Photo of weeare138
3.99/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the '03 version of the Elf that's been aging.
Appears a hazy reddish amber with a small white head that lasts for a minute and fades into a small collar.
Smell is of honey, cherries, rich candy sugar, along with a hint of cocoa powder with that trademark Troegs yeast.
Taste is of a viscous, syrup mix of the above mentioned aromas.
Mouthfeel is thich and viscous with some mellow corn syrupy sweetness that's raw but smooth.
Drinkability - This is a sipper by all means. It reminds me of cherry lip balm in a weird way. A little hard to swallow, even after aging for over 1.5 years. Delicious but still a one and done for me. (639 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 bottling Enjoyed 12/19/2008

Pours a clear red brown with a smallish off white head that disappears quickly. Smells of Cherries, plums, dried fruit, malt, spicy yeast. Tastes of cherry and sweet malt, a bit of alcohol, some yeast funk. I'm not picking up much at all in the way of hop aroma or taste. This bottle is over a year old, so I think what little hop it had has long gone. Body is medium to thick, Mouthfeel is syrupy sweet, carbonation is low. The 11% is well hidden with only a trace of alcohol in the taste. I found it to be a sweet Belgian dark and had to sip this one most of the way down. Not bad, but a bit sweet for my taste, maybe a bit more hops could have helped this one out. I hope to try one fresh someday. (734 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 Oz bottle Sampled through the efforts of Boxing Day BIF and Pentathlete.

This is a beer I have wanted to try for sometime. This is last year’s version but it is a big beer that can take a year of aging!

This pours a clear copper colored ale with a warm red glow. Carefully poured to leave the sediment behind no head forms. To be honest the careful pour probably killed the head more than the beer itself.

An intensely aromatic beer, this is another beer that can fill a room with smell from the glass. This has almost too aromatic to sniff closely. Fairly sweet scent with an intense fruity nature. Strong honey, vanilla, and cherry scents. Lesser aromas of cinnamon, caramel and black pepper. This is a beer that makes you seriously as the question if it is possible to have too much scent? I am sure that this has stunned my sense of smell, it is that intense.

Taste is not as amazingly intense as the smell. The first sip hits you with sweet malt and vanilla. Cherry and caramel are the next flavors that I can taste with a black pepper in the finish. Brown sugar and cinnamon come near the end of the glass. There are also fairly strong lemon and orange flavors to this. This is one hard ale to describe, it is very intense.

Mouthfeel is syrup thick.

The only downside of this beer is in the drinkability department. This is a very intense experience, almost too intense. This is strong enough that you could use it as syrup, just briefly bring this to a boil and you could pour it over pancakes. It is the syrup intensity of this that cuts its drinkability score significantly. This would make an amazing glaze for a ham or just pour over ice cream like hot caramel. An amazing beer that is probably too intense for 99% of most people. (1,763 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark ruby red with a 1.5 finger head. The head lasts under a minute and there is no lacing. The aroma is of alcohol, sweet malt, and light fruits, mainly cherry. There is some sugary sweetness in the aroma which I attribute to the honey. Flavor is sweet honey initially and the alcohol is noticeable. There is a medicinal quality that I can't quite put my finger on. I like the cherry flavor. It's not overdone and adds a nice and subtle fruitiness to this already sweet beer. Medium - full bodied with okay carbonation. Definitely a holiday beer. (547 characters)

Photo of John_M
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Max's during their X-mas in July last night. This was the first beer of the evening for me, which was a good thing, as I never would have been able to appreciate it after a couple of imperial stouts and barlywine.

The beer pours an interesting red mahogany color, but without a great deal of head retention and only adequate lacing. I don't really get a lot on the nose, just some cherry medicine and some noticeable alcohol. On the palate this is pure cherry cough drop, but with some navel orange and grapefruit on the finish. The beer is sweet, but not overly so, and it really doesn't come across as a big beer (despite the abv.). Still, the alcohol is certainly noticeable, and the beer seems to lose something in the finish. I'm almost wondering if the beer has lost something with age, as it really seems a bit lighter then what I recall from previous samples. As the beer sits in the glass the sweetness turns a bit cloying, with more honey and cherry flavor. The drinkability is still pretty impressive for such a big beer, but I have to say I'm not as impressed with this beer as I thought I would be.

A good beer, but not a great one. (1,166 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
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. (935 characters)

Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer would rapidly fizz up with tiny cream coloured bubbles that would disappear just as soon, each crackling loudly as they faded. I couldn't believe the colour at first - one of the most clear and vibrant and bright colours I've ever seen in any beer. Quickly turned flat and bright ruby in colour, it closely resembled a glass of cranberry juice.

(I later couldn't resist but pour in all the sludge from the bottom of the bottle, greatly polluting the clarity, sullying the appearance, which then more closely resembled tomato juice. But the original, unsullied appearance was beautiful, like a Christmas stocking.)

I absolutely love this aroma, and there is no shortage of reasons why. For one, the honey reminds me of quality Polish mead. It has a waxy, earthy, polleny, buckwheat-infused balm that should be evident to even those with a poor sense of smell. Secondly, the cherries are appreciated and blend well with the notes of pear, apple and peach that are byproducts of the yeast. Lastly, malty hints of toffee and figgy pudding accentuate gracefully.

Although this relatively fresh sample should rightly be considered zippy, I've had older bottles which clearly illustrated how high alcohol and low carbonation can combine to make a syrupy mouthfeel. This example veers clear of being syrupy although I do feel slightly let down by the lack of texture and lingering...

For a beer made with sweet and sour cherries, dark malts, bitter hops, sweet honey and spicy yeast you'd think there would be just a tad more texture. Flavours, on the contrary, are ripe and plentiful. The honey is appreciated most, lending plenty of noticeable flavor. The fruity spiciness of the yeast is next, followed by a light tartness from the cherries. The malts, though thinnish, manage to contribute figs, dates and butterscotch.

I'm not crazy about Mad Elf but I do like it a fair bit, namely because its ability to age, its Christmasy flavours of figgy pudding and cranberry, its spicy yeast and warming sensation make it an extremely apt beer for the holidays. It likely wouldn't be the first thing I'd grab when hankering for a yuletide tipple, but if I were more in the spirit for a nightcap, I might be inclined to skip the port and go straight for the Tröegs. (2,271 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours a clear warm brown body with a red hue to it. There is a sea of tiny bubbles that pop to the surface to form a head of tan bubbles.

S- This beer has a aroma of brown sugar, toasted malt a hint of circus peanuts and a caramel malt aroma.

T- The soft sweet malt has a dark nougat notes and some faint circus peanut flavors. There is a blended quality of dark cherries that comes through in the malt flavor but is not pronounced. The finish has a soft boozy quality that is quite nice.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a tight little fizz finish and no real alcohol heat until it gets pretty warm.

D- This beer has some great Belgian strong dark ale qualities with a mysterious malt flavor that is sweet and rich and has a nice accent of cherries to it. This is a great winter sipper. (848 characters)

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

Pours a three finger white head that fades quickly leaving traces of lace. Clear amber/red color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Honey nose. Flavor is sweet honey with hints of cherry. Smooth honey finish. High ABV is totally hidden, is it really 11% ABV?? $3.25 for a 12oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA. (318 characters)

Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 10oz serving as part of the Belgian dinner at Iron Hill's Belgium Comes to West Chester. Appearance and smell are copied from an earlier growler review.

A: The ale is a copper color with some distinct orange highlights. The head is big on pour but does not retain very well.

S: The aroma is cherries and honey with a bit of medicinal tartness.

T: The ale, served fresh, has a stronger alcohol character. That warmth assists the cherry flavors in coming out. As the ale continues to warm, the cherry character becomes more sour, losing a sweeter character that is present when the ale is cold.

M: The alcohol and cherry pair nicely together and were a nice compliment to the salmon carpaccio that it was served with. The sweet cherry and honey in the beer were a nice fit with the honey-topped salmon and pepper.

D: Well made, the cherry is a nice component that adds strong character. I never imagined that this would pair well with a seafood dish, but it does and is worth a look. (988 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Foxman for this one.

Pours a clear dark amber color, nice carbonation, small head, nice lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, grassy/wheat, dark fruits (Cherries), belgian yeast, and caramel. The taste is sweet/malty, grassy, with a slightly dry finish, ABV hidden very well. Medium body, a complex brew. Very drinkable, does not remind me of an Belgian Strong Dark Ale at all, more like a Strong Pale Ale or WeizenBock. (442 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Edit: Please read this entire review before making any decisions about the worth of Mad Elf.

***

Tonight is a big night for me thanks to Hophead101 ... I was lucky enough to win the Mad Elf LIF that contained a solid 4 year vertical of the much sought after Mad Elf. I am too big a pussy to try all 4 years side by side... soooo.. tonight I am gonna do an '08 and an '05 together. The '08 is in my trusty New Belgium snifter.. the older brother is in a nearly as trusty Chimay goblet.

The pour on both were identical... the sediment stuck alot better on the '05... both had a very short lasting 3/4" head.. both have very clear deep amber red brew (sediment was left in the bottle).. no appreciable difference in appearance. (3.5)

The '08:

Nose: clean belgian ale with fruitiness that may be identified as cherries... but I'm having a time.. lite pale malts and slight but definitely there spicy EtOH... actually really very mild. (3.5)

Palate: Really pretty standard BSDA flavors with a sorta punch of cherry essence mid palate with I guess what could be described as a honey sweetness that has a fairly mild fruity finish.. interesting but not what I would say is something that I would really hunt down.. a little too phenolic toward the end... as it warms.. the cherries show up quite a bit more.. and the honey notes really meld better.. but it still leaves something to be desired. (3.5)

Body: lite side for a brew this big.. belgian or not.. carbonation is surprisingly lite with a more smooth small bubble envelope... (3.5)

Drinkability: Honesty.. I could easily drink "one" or two of these relatively easily.. but again, I wouldn't go out of my way.. easy drinking for a beer of this magnitude.. but it would smack me in the brain fairly quickly. (3.5)

The '05:

Nose: Bready and estery.. slightly oxidized in a good way.. sorta like a fruity tawny port.. toasty.. (4)

Palate: The flavor is much more complex.. MUCH. and amazingly the cherry is much more pronounced.. sorta like a refined Maraschino essence.. like a tablespoon of kirsch in a nice goblet of a good BSDA.. very nice.. the phenolic aspect of the '08 is nearly gone.. the alcohol component is also pretty much completely melded into a much more complex brew.. the finish is more dry with a nice lingering cherry smack (4.5)

Body: The body even feels more refined.. pretty much the same viscosity with a delicate bubbliness (word?) .. (4)

Drinkability: The drinkability actually takes a hit (in theory) with some age.. only because I wanna savor it more.. very nice.. much much more of a sippin beer.. (3.5)

***

Wow.. this was a lesson in beer aging.. Huge thanks Greg.. this seriously made me think.. had I thrown in the '06 and '07, I think the differences would have gotten lost in translation.. this is one of the most generous LIF's that I've seen.. again.. thanks.

I don't know how to review this one.. I have to do the fresh review, but if I had this locally.. I would buy 6 or 12 every year and have a few and probably cellar the rest and not touch them for at least a couple of years.. remarkable what some time can do.

Had I reviewed the '05 here is the standing at 2:00 am MST on 1/28/09

A- / 4.05
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | drink: 3.5
rDev: +3.2% (3,268 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle obtained via trade with Pisskynights. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 3/4" of beige head, which laced nicely, over the reddish copper brew. Aroma is of cherries and malts. Taste is not the tartness one might expect from the cherry aroma, but malts upfront, combined with a deep sweet cherry flavor, which is not overdone, as could easily be a problem, but just right. Alcohol kind of creeps in at the end, in a nice kind of way. Mouthfeel excellent, just like a Belgian dark that you would expect, and the drinkability is excellent, in that even if you aren't interested in another straightaway, the character of the brew will make you return at another time. Excellent holiday brew. (739 characters)

Photo of tobelerone
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murky reddish brown body with a small quickly sinking head and some nice slippery lacing. Aroma packed full of yeasty Belgian esters that are both spicy and quite fruity; vague honey notes and booze follow. For me the flavor was much the same, a big punch of yeast esters bringing lots of fruit and spice, with a late arriving wave of honey sweetness and warming alcohol. Decent grainy malt base, cherries overwhelmed by both yeast and booze and fail to bring much in the way of tartness that would clean things up a bit and cut the syrupy character of the beer a bit.

Medium body, medium carbonation that's pretty much right on target for a Belgian style brew. Moderately smooth and sticky. In the end this is a pretty solid take on a dark Belgian but its a bit sweet for my tastes and doesn't surpass the better iterations from overseas. (840 characters)

Photo of Duff27
3.24/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear amber body on a collerish white head.

Fruity nose.

Cherries. Dry finish. Boozy, but what do you expect from an 11% Belgian?

Carbonated, thin-medium mouthfeel. Little disappointing.

Ah it was alright, disappointing. Everything but the nose was less than I was hoping for. Thanks TATURBO. (296 characters)

Photo of beerthulhu
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ale brewed with honey and cherries. 11 abv.

A: Poured a beautiful cherry red color with orange hues. The head was egg shell white, thin, and fizzy leaving almost no lacing.

S: The nose yielded bright, spicy fresh cherries, with sweet honey while the alcohol was hardly distinguishable hiding behind the sweet aroma.

T: The initial flavor had a nice subtle tartness followed by only a slight alcohol warming. Rich, smooth with a honey sweetness and fresh cherries the palate was crisp, and sweet masking the massive 11%abv with hardly any regard. There was a light yeastiness and spicy fruitiness on the finish. The honey and cherries were balanced beautifully with great alcohol coverage leaving only a slight tinger and warming.

M: syrupy feel with a nice viscous nature that was both sweet and smooth.

D: Drinks dangerously easy in regards to its ABV which could mean trouble and come back to get you in the end. Hopefully the sweetness would limit multiples as the alcohol is not a factor upfront. (1,009 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Medium grade maple syrup

S - Bright but not overpowering. Raspberry, citrus hops, clove.

T - A fun beer. The flavors are interesting and meld into each other surprisingly well. There isn't any one flavor that stands up and smacks you in the face. Primary flavors are clove, allspice, and brown breads. Touch of bitter melon and bananas deep in the profile.

M - Light body but not overly so. Smooth mouth feel. Finishes sweet with a touch of warm alcohol.

D - Very drinkable. Spice profile isn't overwhelming and there's enough flavor to keep you coming back. (567 characters)

Photo of DrJay
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Though it produced only a thin cap of fine bubbles off a moderately hard pour, the beer itself was a clear, brilliant red. The head retention was decent, with a solid ring settling into place, and the off-white bubbles were a bit sticky and spotty. The nose was a combination of fruit and spices, backed up by a rich maltiness, with notes of banana, tropical fruits, and cloves. The taste was pretty good - very fruity, mostly juicy rather than dried, with lots of banana and berry, plus a pleasant bread character and a balanced spiciness. Full bodied with lightish carbonation that was well integrated into the texture. It was palate coating, yet just short of being sticky, with a mild warmth. Pretty good stuff overall and a tasty Xmas treat. I did find it just a little too sweet though. (792 characters)

Photo of tone77
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has an amber color with a small head. Smell is sweet, cherries and a bit of spice. Taste is good, cherries, spices, a bit of sweetness and a touch of alcohol. Feels full bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability, although not exactly a session beer. Overall this is a high quality beer. (325 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.66/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Clear deep scarlet red hue. A medium sized beige head literally fizzes away in seconds. Not even a thin coating is left. Only a creamy edging that leaves sparse lace. The aroma is really quite remarkable. Beautiful belgian yeastiness, breadiness and mustiness. Sweet brown sugar. And delicate cherry notes. I love it. Oh man, this is one dangerous brew. The taste is fine. The mouthfeel is luscious. And the alcohol is nowhere to be found. This all adds up to an exceptional drinkability. The flavors are subtle, but quite discernable. Chocolate covered cherries. Bready yeastiness. Dark belgian malts. Raisin and rum. A little sweet honey. But I can hardly find a hint of alcohol here. And it's 11%?!? Damn. Maybe just a bit of a lingering bitterness on the aftertaste derived from EtOH. The beer feels like silk in the mouth and the body is medium at best. I understand the "Mad Elf" hysteria now. This is damn good. (918 characters)

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,191 ratings.