The Mad Elf Grand Cru
Tröegs Brewing Company

The Mad Elf Grand CruThe Mad Elf Grand Cru
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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Ranked #54
Ranked #5,618
4.08 | pDev: 9.8%
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States
Very Good
The Mad Elf Grand CruThe Mad Elf Grand Cru
Notes: We’ve been wanting to do this for a while now. Twenty years in just feels right. If you know Tröegs, you know The Mad Elf, the mischievous belle of the holiday beer ball that helped put our little brewery on the map. In your hands is the Director’s Cut. Tart Balaton cherries – loads of them – make all the difference. Bottle-conditioned and flush with notes of cinnamon and clove, this beer begs to be shared. Take a bottle home, gather your friends, and cherish the cherries.
Reviews: 37 | Ratings: 108 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Jacobier10
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle.

Dark ruby red color with excellent clarity and a light brownish/pinkish head.

Smells sweet and spicy. Loads of fresh cherries bursting through in the flavor. Some peppery spice on the back end with even a little bit of chocolate and dark malts.

Finishes sweet and a little tart from the Belgian yeast. Medium-full bodied and very clean. Not a subtle beer, this is a must-try for any cherry lover out there.

This is a big step up from the base version of Mad Elf, which can get cloyingly sweet. Thanks to Andy for bringing this one over!

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Photo of DIM
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2019. Cherry af.

The tart cherries take center stage, but enough top notch BSDA shines through to keep this from being straight up cherry juice. Worthy of Grand Cru moniker.

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Photo of DeaconWhite82
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Has a cherry with Belgian aroma. Nice head with dark reddish look. Taste is cherry and smooth. Fantastic finish. I really enjoyed this beer. I will be buying another bottle soon.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.37/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12/3/18...deep crimson brown red with a light layer of tan foam on top. Notes of cherry, cinnamon and chocolate too. Heavy cherry sour taste. Smooth, woodsy, sour mash taste. Really flavorful.

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Photo of Vetbidder
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark red colored with a quickly gone head. Can you say cherry, the nose is like cherry soda, slightly wine like. Wow really like the flavor, the cherries are soursweet. Get some heat on the end but very drinkable. Pretty zippy carbonated, deadly tasty.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

750 ml corked & caged bottle poured into a goblet.
Vintage 2018.

Deep ruby red. 1/2 finger of khaki head. Good clarity.

Loads of cherry and cherry juice. Honey, clove, hay, and potpourri.

Fresh smashed cherries and maraschino cherry juice. Lightly tart. Slick honey with only a hint of clove and potpourri.

Full bodied, syrupy, slick, smooth, sweet, and subtly tart.

If there was ever a beer that tasted like cherry juice, this is it! Very rich, decadent, and festive.

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Photo of larryi86
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle, 2018, poured into a tulip

A- A clear ruby red with a small reddish head

S- Sweet, some tart cherries, honey, earthy spice, hints of cinnamon and cloves.

T- Cherries, mostly sweet but a nice tartness, honey, earthy spice, some cloves, touch of cinnamon.

M- Smooth, medium to full body.

O- Not very different but different enough, really enjoyable if you are a Mad Elf fan.

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Photo of MikeWard
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2018 release 750ml bottle picked up at the brewery on Friday, and sipped over a couple hours at home this evening. Tulip glass.

Nice looking body on this one. Deep red wine color, showing clear when held up to the light. A good number of carbonation stream replenish a pinkish hued white head, which leaves a little lacing.

All I can get on the nose is a slightly musty cherry aroma.

On taste, this one is all about the cherries. They are luscious and delicious. There is a really nice warmth from the abv, and a little sweetness to scale back the cherry tartness. Really well balanced, and one tasty beer. Not really getting the spices, which makes it not really feel like a Grand Cru, but given how good it tastes, I couldn't care less.

Mouth closing in on full, finish warm, cherries, and a little tart.

Overall, really happy Troegs bought this one back for winter. A very worthwhile purchase every December.

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Photo of drtth
4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Missed this beer when it first came out last November, but the other day I happened on a shop that still had a few bottles in stock that were stored in a cool dark place and so I gambled and grabbed one.

The full pour of the deep ruby colored beer, into a Corsondonk goblet, produces a thin, slightly pinkish head that persists but slowly recedes to leave a ring around the glass and a partial covering of foam on the surface of the liquid. Sipping creates a few scattered patches and legs of lacing.

The aromas include some cherry fruitiness, a bit of malt, some Belgian yeast and some light spiciness of clove and cinnamon. There’s also just a bit of earthiness from the hops.

The flavors include the cherries and a bit of tartness as well as some sweetness from the malt and the honey. There’s also some clove, cinnamon and a bit of chocolate. The alcohol is well hidden here so this one could easily sneak up on you.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and lightly prickly with the finely bubbled carbonation. The finish begins as the sweetness and tartness both begin to recede but the sweetness goes away faster leaving the ending to a dry, slightly tart semi-dry cherry flavor that has traces of clove and cinnamon to complement it.

On the whole I’m enjoying this beer as much as, and maybe a bit more than, the regular Mad Elf. (But it’s hard to be sure without doing a blind side-by-side tasting.) The additional light tartness brought to the beer by the new cherries leads to the Mad Elf sweetness being a bit better balanced and adds a different dimension of complexity to the overall aroma/flavor profile. I’m now thinking of making an effort to see if I can find another bottle to save for next Christmas.

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Photo of 57md
3.84/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a blend of ruby and copper colors with a half finger of head. The nose has the classic Belgian yeast smell as well as distinct notes of honey. The flavor has tartness from the cherries upfront and the body is quite light for the style.

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Photo of EMV
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a cork'n'cage bomber into a Duvel tulip

L: Clear dark mahogany brown pour. Ruby red highlights as you hold it up to the light. 2 fingers of foamy white head. Pretty minimal lacing.

S: Cherry and honey... sweetness and booze.

T/F: Rich toasted malts... honey, sweetness, and cherry. Boozy and warming... a bit of tartness mid-swig. Sweet/tart fruit. Mild spice... clove and nutmeg. Medium bodied... sticky on the tongue. The finish is tart cooking cherry.

O: Mad elf on steroids... delicious beer... loads of flavor. Sweet, boozy, minimally tart.... honey and cherry... delivers exactly what it says it will. Fantastic beer.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two finger reddish/brown head that fades slowly leaving some lace. Burgundy color, faint highlights. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Cherry nose, and taste follows tart cherry with light spicy finish. High ABV (11%) is hidden. $15.95 for a caged & corked 750ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

a really awesome holiday ale here, i think an improvement over the original, one i already like and respect a lot, but the sour cherries in the mix add a lot, and this seems both quite a bit more complex, but also somewhat more drinkable at the same time, maybe closer overall to a classic belgian dark strong or something appealing to me fundamentally, and i didnt find the sweetness so overwhelming this time. still very much cherry forward, and still plenty sugary, but more refined it seems, less spiced, fancier or something, i really dug this, and find it a perfect and unique winter warmer. it almost seems like darker malt in this, not sure if it is, but like there is more roasty toasty warming balance against the sweet honey and cooked cherry sweet. clove and spice cake and booze too, christmasy in that way, and sort of belgian in yeast complexion to me with everything else thats going on. this could use an extended bourbon barrel ageing i would think too. some cherry astringency to this, port wine and figs, faint tea and licorice. not as different overall as i expected, but the changes over the original are all positive in my book. looking forward to seeing how this one ages...

edit: aged a year since above review, the beer remains virtually unchanged, there is still all the depth, the sugar, and the alcohol too, cherries persist, dark fruits, and all the enormity from the grain. it hasnt faded, but it also hasnt really evolved or mellowed much. still awesome, but i am thankful to have another one in the cellar, might give it a couple of years at this rate. fantastic and festive beer for this time of year!

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.91/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

(corked/caged bottle, sat conditioning in high 60s temps till now... poured into a snifter)

L: ruby-red colored liquid; fizzy frills of foam that all but disappear... no collar at all, but its clarity and bright jewel glow are rather striking... but really it looks like a still red wine

S: sweet cherry wine, mellow spicy essence, dried cherry and subtle (coffee) roast notes later emerge... the alcohol is definitely present, but lacks an edge... solid potency, though not displaying great dimension... the second pour gives off a sweaty/dirty pocket change note for a brief moment

T: cherry wine with spice, favoring more of the cherry's tart than fruity/juicy/sweet nature... seems to have a delicately bitter, woody note in its aftertaste... intense, yet slightly choked (dry) flavors; not quite dynamic - seems to be lacking a bold(er) chocolaty and/or toasty/cookie undertone that my brain and palate feels like it's trying to artificially render like a laser reading a scratched disc

F: has a slick velvet-silky texture beneath its soft, sizzly suds... light-medium bodied; canned heat... doesn't dazzle, caress, or coat the folds, but it's alright

O: bought two bottles at release, shared one days later, but let this other one sit till now... the initial bottle showed great flavor potential (and, personally, an improvement from standard ME) but a curious dullness - this bottle was showed a bit of positive development... not sure what the best period of time may be to let this condition, but I feel like the recipe could benefit from more conditioning yeast and/or an additional sugar or grain... if I had to make a comparison, this reminded me vaguely of Quelque Chose by Unibroue, though QC is more layered and nuanced and savory... could just need one more lil nugget - moral is: do not rush to open a bottle of this

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Photo of Slatetank
3.87/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I shared this with my wife on Christmas Eve poured in two goblets from the corked and caged bottle.

The color is ruby with burgundy hue and translucent clarity with a 2 finger sandstone head.
The smell has a deep cherry fragrance with both fruity/floral attributes and slight alcohol in the aroma with a hint of spice. The feel is boozy sweet and tart with a thick body and spicy medium high carbonation with light sweetness mid palate as alcohol wartming into the finish with lingering sour texture. \

The taste is tangy and dry with a somewhat syupy and slight spiced flavor with a alcohol presence and yeast phenolic quality with light dry maltiness and alcohol doing a teeter totter with light stone fruit acidity and yeast cohesion. Overall this is good better than the original yet with less the alcohol bite but honey smoothness and yeast is pretty dominant in the taste

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Photo of ajm5108
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark ruby color, head fades almost immediately but there is persistent carbonation / fizz. Aroma isn't very impactful, features some dry Belgian yeast, light oak, light cherry juice & honey. Taste is reminiscent of regular Mad Elf, just a little smoother & with less of a harsh, boozey finish. There is a good amount of cherry flavor but it veers toward cough syrup territory thanks to some ample honey sweetness. You get some whispers of cardamom, clove and spicey yeast, but they struggle to really congeal against some of those sweet overtones. Mouthfeel is pretty viscous and coating.

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Photo of jlindros
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Meant to try this during the holidays but didn't get around to it. Now gotta try it so I can determine if I need to find more to cellar

Pours a light fizzy head that fades very quickly, dark but clear auburn color

Nose lots of phenols and alcohol, spicy peppery phenols, boozy alcohol, some fruity esters blend with the loads of Balaton cherries, mild spices, perfumey alcohol, sweet candy malt, a little honey, cinnamon and clove like spices.

Taste big sweet candy malt, syrupy, a bit boozy with some perfumey alcohol, into peppery phenols, fruity esters blend into big Balaton cherries, sweet candy cherry and some spices, some spices in the background, cinnamon, clove, mulled tea, very sweet, candi sugar, a bit of honey, syrupy. Finishes sticky syrupy sweet, candy, loadbs of cherry, and booze lingering.

Mouth is fuller bod, syrupy, boozy, decent fizzy carb,

Overall eh, not special, I think I like the regular better, this seems to go over the top without really coming back to earth, not special.

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Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 10/31/2017. Pours fairly crystal clear dark ruby red/brownish color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense cream colored head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big juicy/lightly tart red/black cherries, fruit skin, raisin, plum, fig, date, pear, red apple, caramel, honey, brown sugar, and brown bread crust; with lighter notes of almond, roast, banana, cinnamon, peppercorn, clove, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, cherries, sugar, honey, and dark/bready malt notes; with great strength. Taste of huge juicy/lightly tart red/black cherries, fruit skin, raisin, plum, fig, date, pear, red apple, caramel, honey, brown sugar, and brown bread crust; with lighter notes of almond, roast, banana, cinnamon, peppercorn, clove, and yeast earthiness. Light yeast spiciness and fruit tang/tartness on the finish. Lingering notes of tart red/black cherries, fruit skin, raisin, plum, fig, date, pear, red apple, caramel, honey, brown sugar, brown bread crust, almond, banana, cinnamon, peppercorn, clove, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, cherries, sugar, honey, and dark/bready malt flavors; with a great malt/tart/spiciness balance; and zero cloying/puckering flavors after the finish. Lightly increasing dryness from yeast spiciness and tart/tangy fruit. Medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a smooth, creamy/bready, and sticky/tangy/acidic balanced mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden; a mildly increasing warmth of 11% lingering after the finish. Overall this is an amazing fruited Belgian strong dark ale! All around incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, cherries, sugar, honey, and dark/bready malt flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to sip on; with the mellowly tart/tangy/spicy/drying finish. Definitely a big improvement over the base beer. Very similar profile on yeast/malt/sugar complexity, but the Balaton cherry presence is enormous. They definitely used a lot more fruit than the base beer. Perfectly balanced between all flavors. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of stakem
3.69/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into a tulip appears a dark mahogany with beautiful ruby clarity and a finger of brownish red hued froth that slowly fades.

Aroma has belgian phenolics like clove with a bit of earthy cherry pits. When swirled it smells pretty terrible like sulfur farts and grass.

Taste has an initial mad elf familiarity that quickly changes to having much more cherry tartness and dry graininess than im use to in mad elf. With more sips it gets increasingly medicinal with herbal bitterness.

Medium in body with modest carbonation. Decent. Certainly more cherry character and less sweetness than im use to in Mad Elf. Pretty decent stuff.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the 750 ml bottle in a snifter. This fantastic little ale pours a luminous
ruby red with a moderate head of off white foam with a touch of pink hue
that subsides to a thick ring, thin slight pool, and very light lacing. Nose of
tart pie cherries and subtle spice that lightly hints at cinnamon. Flavors are
stunning to the rather light nose with tart pie cherries touched with a light dash of
cinnamon and a hint of clove on the finish in lightly sweet honey touched malt
that lightly reminds me of a fruited mead. Very nice mouth feel; medium body,
medium low carbonation, and a subtly warming, lightly dry finish.

A solid brew from a fantastic brewery.


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Photo of metter98
4.01/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is clear and very dark red in color. It poured with a minimal head, leaving only a thin collar of off white bubbles around the edge of the glass and some specks of bubbles on the surface.
S: Moderate aromas of cherries are present in the nose along with some hints of spices.
T: The taste has flavors of cherries along with hints of spices and yeast.
M: It feels medium-bodied and rather tart on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The cherries really cut through this beer and help to lighten things up. It hides its alcohol very well.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of atr2605
4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-pours a coca cola color with an off white head with good retention and lacing
S-tons of tart cherry, soft chocolate notes, spicy yeast
T-dominated by tart cherry, again with the sublte chocolate notes in the background, jolly rancher candy, and more tart cherry in the finish
M-medium bodied with above average tight carbonation
O-delightful variation of the original. Love mad elf, and this does not dissapoint. Hope it makes an appearance again next year

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Photo of LifesAnesthesia
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L - dark brown with a reddish hue around the edges with a medium tan head that has hues of pink and red. The head doesn't really stick around too much and there's very minimal lacing - the look really hints at the loads of cherries in the beer.
S - Tons of yeast and bitter/tart cherries dominate with a subtle note of sweet honey.
T - Follows the nose. Loads of bready yeast followed by bitter/tart cherries and slight notes of honey. The alcohol is well hidden for being 11%.
F - medium to full bodied with light to medium carbonation - smooth.
O - This a pretty good holiday Belgian ale but to me the cherries are just too overpowering and possibly too tart. Otherwise, a nice festive ale and definitely an improvement over the standard Mad Elf. Glad I was able to get my hands on a bottle, but probably wouldn't choose it over others.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours an extremely limited head that dissipates very quickly if it even forms. The beer itself is absolutely beautiful. It's a clear blood red that strongly resembles a red wine.

The smell and taste are good. Both have a fairly cherry tart note that is different from the original beer. The honey note has a moderate strength in the smell but doesn't come out much in the taste. The spices are fairly noticeable in both but tend to come out more in the finish than in the beginning. Overall, the tart is the star of the show.

The feel is good. It's a heavy bodied beer with light carbonation and a moderate acidity to it. It isn't syrupy like the original.

Overall, I'm actually pretty shocked how close it is to original Mad Elf only more tart. Anyway, it was still good and somewhat unique given that it was a different kind of cherry. I think that it is definitely worth seeking and trying despite the strong similarity to the base beer. I say go for it but you're not missing out if you don't.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml corked and caged bottle. Opens with quite the pop.

Pours a brilliant ruby red color. Clear, with thick cream colored head. Decent head retention. Big aroma of cherries, spicey herbal Belgian yeast. Taste is mildly tart, fruity and earthy. Not as sweet as the standard version of the beer. Thin to medium bodied.

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The Mad Elf Grand Cru from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 108 ratings