The Mad Elf
Tröegs Brewing Company

The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
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Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #85
ABV:
11%
Score:
88
Ranked #12,583
Avg:
3.91 | pDev: 14.83%
Reviews:
1,330
Ratings:
4,138
From:
Tröegs Brewing Company
 
Pennsylvania, United States
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  244
Gots
  1,236
SCORE
88
Very Good
The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
Notes: 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
Reviews: 1,330 | Ratings: 4,138 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of RedbirdRona
RedbirdRona from Illinois

4.65/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let me start off by saying wow this is a fantastic holiday/winter beer. I could drink this year round. Taste is dark tart cherries, crisp apple, honey, and mulling spices. At 11% abv this is just what you need on a cold winters night in Chicago. This does cause it to have a bit of a bite at the end but I didn’t mind that. Overall, great holiday beer and I am already looking forward to next Christmas.

Apr 18, 2020
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PathofChaos from Maryland

4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance:
Pours a dark, cherry wood with a clean, crystalline clarity. A skinny lather of alabaster white rises to the top, then reduces into a meek perimeter. Fractured lacing goes barely pencil's width down the glass.

Bouquet:
Mashed cherries on buttered wheat toast. Smells wholesome and genuine, not a single blip of artificial cherry. Enticing.

Feel:
Touches down with that smooth, cool caress unique to ales. Hosts a body of medium girth and persistent yet unostentatious carbonation. Gentle sweetness lingers like the comfort of waking from a good dream.

Taste:
A deep abundance of bitter cherries whose tartness is pleasingly nullified by honey layered on fresh bread. The Belgian Special yeast provides the sensation of a leavened, airy, white-wheat loaf that buffers the other flavors from becoming too rambunctious. Imagine a wheat-crusted cherry pie that flirts with the idea of becoming savory. Balanced and delicious.

Apr 12, 2020
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TBoneJones from Texas

3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Deep cherry/ mahogany pour, fairly clear. One of a couple bottles of these I brought back from NJ in December.
Nose is leathery/ antique Belgium notes, a hint of some stone fruit, some alcohol.
Taste is like the nose, with more noticeable sweetness now (molasses/ honey) and the cherries more noticeable.
Feel is very low carbonation (visibly so too), with a nice medium-thick, sticky feel.
In the end it was a stinger, nice tastiness tendered hard to pick out due to the dominant bite/ alcohol presence. Aging the remaining bottle of this can only help down the road.

Apr 03, 2020
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MaltsOfGlory from Oregon

4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle

Pours less than a finger of soapy off white head into a shaker pint, fades somewhat quickly. Body is a very deep amber, with orange hues. Very clear. Looks ok so far.

Nose is sweet, loaded with clove and esters, along with a fair amount of tart cherry notes. Cherry is not fake at all. Very big aroma, somewhat complex, and very appealing.

A little bit of an alcohol bite up front, but pretty moderate considering the 11%, this will drink perfectly fine. As with the nose, esters take center stage, more banana coming through though. The beer is slightly tart/bitter, but not a huge cherry presence. Very sweet, but I think it lands on acceptable in terms of sugars, not too cloying. Wouldn’t mind reducing the sugars though. Pretty nice here, it drinks more like a standard belgian strong.

Mouthfeel is very nice. It's got a good amount of girth to it. Sugar isn't way over the top. Carbonation is very high. The carbonation actually helps reduce the impression of the sugars by giving it a little bit of a dry feel. Alcohol bite is quite low considering the abv.

Drinkability is very high given the 11% price tag.

Appearance turned out pretty poor, basically no lacing.

Overall a really nice beer. Huge flavor, not tooooo sweet, mouthfeel compliments well.

Jan 02, 2020
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rudiecantfail from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip glass.

L---An initial two finger, reddish/beige head which disappeared almost instantly. No Lacing. Color is a dark, clear crimson brown. Head was as expected for high ABV.

S---Sweet. Honey is most noticeable, followed by sweet cherries.

T---Sweet cherries are dominant. Smooth honey winds its way down the back of the mouth & throat. A bit of caramel & cocoa. Strong malt presence with minimal hops.

F---Thick & creamy. Coating on the mouth & throat. Full bodied.

O---Wifey really approves of this one, so that'll bump up its grade some. But I also think this is an excellent beer. Used to be hyped and impossible to get, but now it was just laying around at Wegman's for Wifey to grab me a sixer for christmas.

Jan 01, 2020
Photo of G-Style
G-Style from New York

2.9/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I was a bit disappointed in this ale. I love the look of the beer and the art work on the bottle, however I really couldn't find a lot of flavor as it was overpowered by the high alcohol content. I could smell the cherry but it tasted like I was really drinking a scotch ale.

Dec 30, 2019
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Wattie83 from Pennsylvania

3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Great holiday beer to sip with company! Nice cherrywood color small whisps of foam on top. Carbonation continues rising throughout the drink. Smell of cherries and the spicy notes from the yeast. Taste follows nose with cherries and phenols dominating. Sweet beer...very sweet. Sweeter than other representations of the style. Feel is light to medium with a fair amount of carbonation. Overall, kind of a tradition to drink over the Christmas season and for good reason. It's tasty!

Dec 29, 2019
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Eapressocycle from Pennsylvania

4.26/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

One of my favorites. A nice warming alcohol forward brew with a lot of sweetness and just a hint of hops. Belgian yeast gives it some extra complexity. A bit more carbonation would be welcome. It's a Christmas beer and I look forward to a six pack once a year.

Dec 23, 2019
Photo of erok
erok from New York

1.86/5  rDev -52.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Iyou could all 5-senses about this thing if you wanted to, but in the end, my god the flavor, it burns. Straight cough syrup. Total drain pour. Life is too short to drink beer this awful.

Dec 23, 2019
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Msp004 from New York

3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

To be fair this is an ageing experiment, bottle is from 2014 so well past fresh date.
Pours a deep hazy amber with no head or lacing.
Nose is not overwhelming but prominently honey and tart cherry.
Mouth is thin with an enjoyable amount of carbonation (which is surprising considering the age) with tart cherry as the predominant flavor finishing dry and tart drinking almost like a cider.

Dec 23, 2019
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VoxRationis from New York

3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Decanted from a 12 oz (355 ml) can into a custom taster pint; freshest by 10/25/2020. Guessing it's exported, that means it was canned 10/25/2019.
A: Pours a crystal clear, dark copper color with a ruddiness and ochre to ruby highlights, a less than one finger, short-lived head, and no lacing to speak of.
S: Aromas of cherry, caramel, and honey.
T: Sweet. Flavors mirror the nose very closely. Subtle, but cumin like bitterness that "balances" the insanity.
M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Booziness is evident and not a plus.
O: I really like this. A sweet melange of caramelized barley, cherry, and honey, offset by solid, but not overpowering bitterness. Just what the Doctor ordered for the seasonal blues. How is it not Braggot?

Dec 21, 2019
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themoviebrewer from Massachusetts

4.44/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A complex but smooth Belgian ale that you don’t realize is 11% ABV until your halfway through it. The Mad Elf pours a festive deep red with just a little bit of head, and gives a well balanced cherry based flavor with hints of all kinds of different things. A solid holiday beer in moderation, or in excess, depending on how your relatives are behaving.

Dec 19, 2019
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Stevosps

4.36/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This Mad Elf when poured from a bottle leaves a 1/4” lacy head and has a nice sweet malt aroma.It presents with a dark Amber color. It is bold in flavor with a sweet honey and malt taste. At 11% Great for a cold winter’s night !
Happy Holidays and enjoy the Elf ! Only comes once a year !

Dec 08, 2019
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rlubell

3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was expecting so much more! I was really excited by other reviews and descriptions. And, I was greatly disappointed. A very pretty amber color in the glass, with a respectable head, was a good start. The cherry nose was apparent. The taste was lost to the high alcohol content. I just tasted booze; not good booze. I thought allowing the ale to reach room temperature would help bring out more flavor, not so much.

This is not an elegant Belgium ale like Chimay. It's like a Scotch ale with low carbonation. It also has a thin mouthfeel.

I wish I had a better report. I can't imagine drinking the other five beers; they will go back.

Nov 24, 2019
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Historiker

4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured amber-brown with next to no head.
Smelled of cherries, chocolate, raisins, and spice.
Tasted primarily cherry and raisin, with subtle chocolate notes. Very nice balance of sour and sweet. Not hoppy at all.
Nice, medium bodied holiday beer.

I appreciate that this one isn’t spice-forward like many of the mainstays. I’d happily drink it again, but mainly in winter.

Nov 16, 2019
Photo of Peach63
Peach63 from New York

4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours copper with a 1 inch cream-colored head, which quickly dissipates. Heavy lacing.

Aroma of Belgian yeast, Nobel hops, chocolate, slight banana.

Tastes of chocolate, cherries, spices, molasses, honey, banana.

Full bodied, creamy mouthfeel. Spicy, sweet finish. Light carbonation.

An excellent holiday beer.

Nov 15, 2019
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EnderFett11 from Virginia

4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass, only yielding a finger of head that faded soon. Minimal lacing remained. Brownish beer color, effectively transparent. Smells of spiced cherries. Taste is similar, with the spiced cherries dominating. Borderline too sour for my taste, but the sweetness balances it. Can't tell it's 11% ABV, which is good. Light to medium body, with similar carbonation. Definitely a must have if you like cherries. I'll have it at Christmas time if offered, but not a favorite I'll seek out.

Nov 08, 2019
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good_to_sea from Pennsylvania

4.04/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: Clear, dark brown with a rapidly vanishing head.
Smell: Sweet cherry and raisin, hints of caramel, honey, cinnamon, chocolate, and licorice. Smells (not unpleasantly) like cherry cough syrup.
Taste: Spicy dark malts, chocolate, cherry, banana, cinnamon, booze, brown sugar. Huge, bold, dark Belgian ale flavor. The sweetness and alcohol flavors are a bit cloying.
Feel: Syrupy with minimal carbonation.
Overall: A powerful, flavorful ale, and not an "every day" kind of beer. I don't normally go for beers that are this sweet, but I am a sucker for cherries.

Oct 19, 2019
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Newbeergeek1 from Maine

3.44/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

To be fair it’s not one of my favorite styles so my review is likely to show that. So so would be my review. I just happened to be in Hershey when it came out and I was happy to try it as it was heavily anticipated by the local at the store I asked about it. A more malty than I like.

Aug 06, 2019
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jkblr from Indiana

3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz can freshest by 10/29/2019 poured into a Chimay goblet at fridge temp 11% ABV. The beer pours bright reddish amber with very light brown head. The head recedes to a thin ring and single layer of fine bubbles. Very little lacing is left behind. The aroma is Belgian yeast, honey and cherries. The taste is semisweet cherry wrapped malt with honey showing up mid to late palate. The spicy notes from the yeast build to a climax at the barely bitter finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, adequately carbonated and mostly dry in the finish. The spicy yeast and gentle tartness from the cherry keep the sweetness pleasant and not cloying. Overall, very good. This is a very nice and unique take on the BSDA.

Mar 13, 2019
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BeerAndGasMasks from Virginia

3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the can, it pours a solid clear amber with a modest head. In the nose, malt and a bit of alcohol (not a surprise there!). In the mouth, a sweetish malty flavor coats the tongue. Nice!

2019 Update: Yum!

Feb 04, 2019
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lastmango from Pennsylvania

3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured ruby red with a tan one finger head, light retention. Light lacing was present. Nose of malt, cherry and cinnamon.
Pronounced malt taste with cherry overtone and hint of light honey. Booze is hidden at the first few sips but then jumps out and says Boo . . . ze! Not getting any chocolate notes. Could be a bit more complex, which would raise this to an outstanding brew. Moderate body and carbonation. For a Belgian Strong Ale, the carbonation is a tad light.

Dec 31, 2018
Photo of MrOH
MrOH from Maryland

2.84/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Clear ruby, not much in the way of a white head, not much retention, but ok lace
Smells like cherries and honey, however faint. Not a bad thing, don't like be banged over the head with these things.
Tastes like the smell, but not as good. Alcohol is far too present. Very sweet.
Very cloying. Boozy. Some more carbonation would help, as well as being a bit drier.
Could be a great beer, but it kinda sucks. I've been trying it out here and there for about a decade, and have always wondered why there was any fuss over it.

Dec 28, 2018
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izraelc from New York

3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Ruby red pour. Smells like cherry brandy. A nice malty character. With a sweet cherry finish. A little spiciness. Burns a little going down. A true winter warmer.

Dec 23, 2018
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JamFuel from Sweden

4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at The Belgian Cafe in Philadelphia.

Pours a dark reddish brown with fine, soapy head.

Smell is sweet and a bit spicy with notes of cherries, honey and cinnamon.

Taste is sweet, but with some bitterness to it. Note of cherries, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg. No booze and nice balance.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, well carbonated.

Overall, a really nice dessert beer. Hides it's ABV almost too well.

Dec 11, 2018
The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 4138 ratings