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Tröegs Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
87
very good
1,239 Reviews
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States | website

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,239
Ratings:
3,806
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
26.68%
 
 
Wants:
228
Gots:
1,055
For Trade:
20
User Reviews
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first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,239 | Ratings: 3,806
Reviews by LTaylor:
Photo of LTaylor
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Sweet and spicy, a mouthful of Christmas cheer - it's my favorite winter seasonal beer. It's flavorful and complex, but doesn't sit heavy in your stomach, plus the high alcohol content puts you in a nice place if you're with family that drives you nuts during the holidays.

I personally like sweet beers, and this one (with honey, cherries, and chocolate flavors) is definitely on the sweet side, so the subtle spice may not be enough to balance it out for those who prefer more spice and hoppy flavors.

You're supposed to drink Mad Elf out of a glass or chalice, but I had it straight from the bottle on this occasion. I recommend using a glass, because I couldn't smell the beer as well. I got a decent mouthful of both honey and cherry flavor when I tasted it (with moderate carbonation) and the spicy flavors lingered on my tongue, which I enjoyed.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of theFLZA
5/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Mad Elf didn't start out as one of my favorites, but over the past 5 years I've enjoyed it more and more each year. It is now my most anticipated seasonal release of any brewer.

It is described perfectly by Troegs on the beer's own label: "brewed with honey and cherries".

It tastes like it is capable of creating life and ending wars. It's that good.

I love high ABV beers (like Mad Elf) that don't taste as strong as they really are. In addition, this beer is delicious and continually drinkable at any temperature, with no bad aftertaste whatsoever.

Troegs hit it on the head, as far as my own personal tastes go. Favorite beer of all time.

Thanks for everything!

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.2/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Split with Goblinmunkey7

Consumed 3/25/14

Appearance: Clear, ruby red - pours with a medium-sized, off-white head - fades to a wispy cap, leaves a few streaks of lacing

Smell: Dark malts and a ton of cherries - cherries to the max, kind of like a cross between cherry preserves and cherry-flavored cough syrup - some honey, but it's more of a straight-up sugar - some Belgian yeast, with some spices, clove, banana, and bubblegum - very sweet and very boozy overall

Taste: Sweet, boozy, spicy - apparently this is a winter warmer of sorts that was meant to be slowly sipped over the course of a multi-day snowstorm - a borderline absurd amount of cherry, with a side of cherry cough syrup - lots of honey flavor - like with the cherry, there's a bit too much honey - Belgian yeast, with some serious clove, banana, bubblegum, and a big dose of phenols - some dark caramel malts, with more sugar - the sweet malts, cherry flavor, and phenolic yeast create something that definitely tastes reminiscent of some kind of medicine

Mouthfeel: More or less a full body, with some syrupy stickiness, finishes with booze

Overall: Elf medicine, engineered to cure sobriety (may cause diabetes)

Cherries, honey, and Belgian yeast are all good things. But in excess, I can't say I'd recommend it. I'm glad I didn't have to drink the whole bomber.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
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!

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Photo of JudgeRoughneck
2.22/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Mad Elf is dark maple colored brew with a thin tan head. It is strongly perfumed with an aroma of cherry-flavored cough syrup that quickly overwhelms faint wisps of hop.

Taste opens spicy with phenols, then sweet malt kept in check by cherry vapors and alcoholic burn. I get a slight tartness in the background and possibly a banana note. The mouthfeel is viscous, thick, flat and syrupy, but I was only able to feel that once my tounge had been numbed to the scorching alcohol.

This is a valient attempt at a new take on x-mas beer but I am not into it. I have been very impressed with the other Troegs beers I've tried, but find Mad Elf a little to close to Mad Dog.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.62/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #47 (Dec 2010):

A cult classic among, beer geeks in the know. From the label to the ingredients it screams Christmas. Crystal-clear red color garners a thin white lacing. Yeasty phenols to cherries to ripe fruit to spice, an amazing nose. Creamy mouthfeel with a bit of crispness to lift the full body. Alcohol chimes in first with lots of warmth, spice and rose water. Cherry juice, candied fruit and faint medicinal flavors hit the middle with a small tartness within. Spice picks up middle to end, making way for the alcohol to really warm. Sweet, spicy finish. This is one of those slow- sipping nightcap brews--after a long day of holiday bustling, you'll probably need one of these.

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Photo of goochpunch
1.84/5  rDev -52.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Pours out a hazelnut/maple syrup color with a still body and just a ring of white bubbles. Smells terribly grainy with tons of honey and cherry cough syrup. Candyish sweetness explodes in the nose. Tastes of, yes, candy sweetness, overripe fruit on the verge of rot, Belgian banana esters going wild, cough medicine, and hot alcohol. Mouthfeel is slick, viscous, syrupy, is harsh with bubbles. Drain poured this since I didn't want to get ROBO-FRIED. This is a prime example of an American craft brewery totally messing up a Belgian-style beer. I'd take a Bud over this, please.

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Photo of goldbot
2.3/5  rDev -40.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a deep, brilliant, ruby red; clear, with essentially no head - which isn't too surprising. Any aroma is very subdued at first - just a barely detectable hint of malt and dark cherries and raisins. Seriously, how does this beer have almost no aroma? There is some flavor, at least. Malty and sweet but lacking any complexity. Hints of bread, raisin, cherry. A subtle, spicy yeast flavor tries to come out but is held back. There's flavor but not very much of it. Somehow the alcohol is very well hidden but I don't know how. Slight bitterness; full bodied but with a thin, watery mouthfeel. Maybe I'm doing it wrong but this beer lacks any character whatsoever. Alcoholic malt water.

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Photo of jamesdr1968
1.72/5  rDev -55.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This beer poured a beautiful dark ruby red color with a nice, creamy head. The taste was a smorgasbord of cherries, vanilla and honey --- an extremely sweet beer, but unfortunately it reminded me too much of cough syrup. I would like to try this on tap to see if there is much of a difference. Great appearance, but the taste was too overwhelming.

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Photo of airohead2001
1.75/5  rDev -54.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Split this with glazeman in Buffalo.

Appearance looks like apple cider - flat and dark. Smell is of apples, clove, cinnamon, and allspice. Taste is the same. Really this is just another bad Christmas beer that tastes like cloves and cinnamon. Finish is thin and biscuity, like Miller Lite. No cherries. No honey.

Very disappointing brew from an excellent brewery - not what I expected from Troegs.

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Photo of claspada
2.44/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Aromas of layers of sweet cherries and some sublter Belgian yeast funk smell, with lesser bananas and clove esters.

The taste is a complete flop for me. Simply put it tastes like a cherry cough syrup which was fermented with Belgian yeast. Way too sweet as well from the honey I presume. This isn't beer in my opinion but a mead/lambic hybrid mess.

The only saving grace is that the mouthfeel isn't totally syrupy and cloying; medium bodied and very good level of carbonation.

Overall this is a miss for me, too alcoholic, unpleasant and even ended up being a drainpour. Will not revisit ever again, even for free.

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Photo of Hophead717
2.33/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

A fresh 2011 12 ounce bottle, poured into a DFH Signature Glass.

A: A deep, pretty ruby red, with a thin head that entirely dissipates almost instantly.

S: Sweet malt and dark cherries rush at the nose, with notes of honey and hints of spice also making themselves known. this beer is overwhelmingly sweet (not in a bad way). smells almost like candy.

T: Dark cherry upfront, with a strong sweetness to the beer. Unfortunately, the cherry flavor comes across is an identificably medicinal flavor. The more I sip, the more I notice. You're left with the same medicinal taste after the finish. There are some slight hints of spice from the Belgian yeast, but my palate is having a hard time picking them out over the medicinal flavor. I wanted to like this beer...but did not.

M: Nicely carbonated and surprisingly thin for a 11%. Mouthfeel is fine.

O: Definitely disappointed. This is a beer I've heard a lot about and was excited for. Oh well. I have five more that I'll age for a bit and we'll see what happens. Expectations are low.

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Photo of johnshuster
1.82/5  rDev -52.8%
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.

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Photo of Arinthos
1.59/5  rDev -58.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

I had this brew at a christmas eve party out if a 24 or so oz. bottle. The break down goes something like this

A- This was a great dark ruby red aboslutelly th best part of this otherwise >>>>>> beer.

S- unfortunatelly the only smell was of bad alcohol kinda like a old english on steriods.

T- unfortunatelly the only taste was of bad alcohol kinda like a old english on steriods

M- Decent carbonation, but way overpowering alcohol burn in the throat horrible burn felt like a cheap cheap booze.

D- never again this was a really bad expierence didn't even finish it.

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Photo of EvoRich
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Aged one year

Look: Copper/red in color. Pours with one finger head which fades quickly.

Smell: Cherry cough syrup, A slight hint of alcohol.

Taste: The honey comes through on the flavor, right up front and the cherries, half way through, with a malty finish. Again, only a small hint of alcohol.

Feel: Fairly medium bodied with a good deal of carbonation.

Overall: I used to like the beer much more than I do now. It's a bit hyped.

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Photo of Uniobrew31
1.75/5  rDev -54.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This is the most over rated beer going right now. I have never been so disapointed in my life in a beer purchase. I have never met anyone who actually enjoys this. I love belgian beers and winter beers but this one just doesn't qualify as either. do yourself a favor and leave it on the shelf

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Photo of ChrisBowers
2.4/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Maybe this thing needs to be cellared for awhile but I am not a fan. It reminds me of Robotussin. In the words of Chris Rock "Out of Tussin? Put water in the bottle and shake it up, More tussin!" It definitely has a lot of stuff going on, I'll give it that. Tons of alcohol in this one with a big malty sweetness. The cherry aftertaste though is horrid. Truely horrid. A very unbalanced beer, the alcohol is very evident and makes it an unpleasent, if warming, drinking experience. Lots of people seem to like this so maybe my tastebuds are tweaked the wrong way but this stuff tastes like cough medicine to me.

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Photo of harrymel
1.6/5  rDev -58.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Thanks again to Chaney and Steelerx for setting me up with this as an extra! One for now, one for later!

Poured to NB globe.

A: Orange amber ale with little to no head. Surface is simply the pinnacle of the beer. Not even edge bubbling. No lacing. Unimpressive.

S: Sweet, alcoholic. Reminds me of a malt beverage (as noted on label), but not really getting the honey and cherries as I had hoped...Stand corrected, slight sweetened cherries in the mid point.

T: Very alcoholic. Very sweet. Wish I could sense the crastsmanship in this drink. I am having a hard time finishing this one. Wow, I was sent two of these, I will probably send the other out in a trade as an extra if I have space to fill. Horrible. Astringent.

M: think, medium carb. Very average.

D: This is unlike anything else I've had from Troegs: intolerable. I had a hard time finishing this one.

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Photo of Schulzie
4.51/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look it, I'm paying $2 a pint for this because no one likes it, and they want empty the keg. I just won the friggin lotto. It's a damn Belgian people, enjoy!

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Photo of brentk56
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
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

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Photo of rorykanderson
4.07/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Amazing that 11% ABV can be so subtle. High marks for the beer's ability to subdue any hints of burn with a great balance of flavors from cherries to cinnamon to bready malt. A seasonal treat that could be enjoyed all year.

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Photo of BigTomZ
1.82/5  rDev -52.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A - Pours a nice looking red with decent white creamy head that stayed around.

S - Smells like sweaty ball sack, with some cherry notes.

T - Taste was like cherry cough syrup with pennies and band-aids in it.

M - Mouthfeel was thick and syrupy.

O - That thick mouthfeel combined with the sweetness and metallic taste did not make for an enjoyable beer. I really enjoy most beers from Troegs, but not this one.

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Photo of mfc
2.34/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Let me first off say, they get one full point for their label art. Pretty cool. Sadly, the rest of it wasn't so great.

A: It looked decent. Dark orange, almost red with a hint of cherry color. Almost no carbonation (I assume because of how alcohol-heavy it is?)

N: Lots of cherry, syrupy

T: No bueno. Sorry. It is flat and alcohol city, USA. Reminds me of cherry schnapps.

M: Flat flat flat and way too heavy on the booze without any balance or attempt to mask.

Addendum: Reading other people's reviews, I think I may have gotten a bad bottle. Mine had nearly zero carbonation. I'm going to bump the mouthfeel up to 2 for that, but I stand by the fact that it is too syrupy and tastes a bit like cherry cough syrup.

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Photo of Jtg66821
2.85/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drink it while it's cold or it tastes like cherry cough syrup

61 characters

Photo of threeviews
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%

12oz bottle (BOD: 09/25/14) into a Rastal Teku 2.0 glass...absolutely fresh!

A- Pours a beautifully clear, ruby red with <1/2 finger of a white head which disappears as quickly as it forms. (4.0)

S- Sweet, heady aromas of chocolate, stone fruits (cherry, plum, raisin), banana, honey and clove-like spice are all represented which blend very well. (4.5)

T- The fruity components are noticed first followed by a milk chocolate flavor across the palate. The finish is long and lingering, but far from cloying. (4.5)

M- Despite the lingering milk chocolate sweetness, it finishes quite dry, making this full-bodied beer easy to consume. Although not much head formed, the beer's carbonation is near-perfect. (4.75)

O- Regardless of category, this is a well-crafted beer...and perhaps one of the best in Troegs' profile. It blurs the lines between a Belgian Quadruple, Belgian Dark Ale, Fruit Beer and English Strong Ale. Very Unique and again, very well executed. If you have a love for big Belgian inspired beers, this is a must try! (4.5)

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,239 ratings.
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