Tröegs Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
1,241 Reviews
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,241 | Ratings: 3,809
Photo of wingman14
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark red/copper with a small off white head that didn't stay for long. The smell is sweet and yeasty with cherry and malt. The taste is very sweet, the yeast and fruit are very pronounced, but just a sweet beer overall. The high ABV is noticeable while sipping, but doesn't detract from the beer or mouthfeel. A medium body, good carbonation, and decent flavor balance. If the sweetness was taken down a bit this could be a top notch beer, but overall enjoyable.

 470 characters

Photo of Amalak
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had off the tap at the Burger Shoppe in Downtown Manhattan. It has a red/copper color, clear, bubbly, with a good tan head and some lacing. Slight hoppy scent.

It's very malty and has a strong alcohol taste. Very biting. I think this would do better aged, but it's extremely flavorful. Aftertaste is sourish...kind of detracts.

 330 characters

Photo of SeamusDoyle
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep copper with ruby highlights and a thin tan head. Aromas of yeast, banana esters, bubble gum, and spices. Present in the background are sour cherries, dark fruits, and orange-poppy seed muffins. Cherries become more pronounced as this warms. Flavor is sour yeast and cherry, astringent spices, and a sour/spicy finish. Nice sweet and tangy mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

 380 characters

Photo of Naugros
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No dating on the bottle, but this is the 2010 edition of this holiday brew.

Poured into a wheat glass it rose a two-finger head that stayed for a little bit and then reduced down to a film and crown that left very little lace. A deep copper with a ruddy tint, the beer's clear enough to see carbonation through it.

Barnyard-like Belgian yeast funk assails your nose and you want it to be followed by sourness, but it's backed up by maltiness and honey sweetness instead. The cherries are definitely not Morellos and come across as meaty, but not all that sour.

The taste follows the smell with dark fruits and funky yeast esters, but sourness is stopped short by a bitter bite. The esters thrown off by the yeast dominate the mouthfeel and it lingers. As that hits, the alcohol tries to take center stage and makes it feel more medicinal. This beer is sort of all over the place. The flavors come at you in waves and are not well-integrated. Is it sour or bitter? The two sensations fight it out and you're left wondering what it should be. It does improve a little when it warms up and it's possible that laying this down for a year might balance it out and make it more drinkable than it is right now. Still, this won't be on my yearly "look for" list.

 1,258 characters

Photo of tgncc
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice looking red color, tinge of brown, small white head. Looks a bit like cherry soda. The smell is classic belgian ale: yeasty, spicy, corinder, orange peel. Maybe a little candy sugar, but not much cheery or honey. The flavor is malty, sweet, sugar, vaguely fruity. Definitely a little honey in there. Good finish, nice hop sting on palate, which endures. Not bad, not as good as I had hoped. Certainly drinkable; in fact, it's hard to believe it's 11% ABV.

 460 characters

Photo of becktone
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes 12-26-08

Meant to do this one on Christmas but forgot about it...Oh well.

Eye: This brew is crystal clear, and is amber in color, maybe tinting more towards brown. Carbonation races towards the top in troops of delicate, tiny bubbles. The head has a decent formation, but retention is different, much more of a quilt that has lost some of its cotten inbetween the two pieces of fabric-thinner is some places than others-and maybe very close to threadbare in certain spots. Lacing is pretty good-thicker rings connected by sheets, though they tend to have holes in them.

Nose: Heavy on the spices in the aroma, not heavy as in obnoxious, but heavy as in that is a main component. Coriander is one of the main aromas in here. There is also a very sweet malt aroma underneath, an aroma that clings to the nostrils and screams sweet malt aroma, very strong. Sweet honey notes too...those are big in there. All in all smells good, but to me its a little too top heavy, not enough to support these big aromas going on, not enough subtle intracies, compexities.... Diacetly in here too, but not in large amounts, its in small enough quantities to add depth instead of death. Overall aroma is just...uninteresting, it doesn't smell bad, but it doesn't smell great, its good but really nothing interesting.

Tongue: Diacetyl is here, thats one of the first things I taste. Alcohol is also noticeable, but not foreground. It doesn't play a major role, that is it is here, but does nothing for the beer, no balancing, no depth addition. Rather it is more of a by product in this instance. The beer itself is very malty with balance coming from what small hop flavor there is-somewhat spicy-the small amount of bittering hops, and the drying effect that the alcohol has on the palate. Malt-wise I get lots of bready-hefe style characteristics, but without as being pronounced as a hefe. The hefe yeast flavor does alot for this brew. This is a unique brew, and it has its own unique taste, but this is one that isn't really what I was expecting...I mean from the hype.

Feel and Drinkability: Carbonation is extremely low, I think that it could be a bit higher, I mean really, you can't really even feel it on the tongue when it sits in the mouth. Feel is medium-heavy with a definite lean towards heavy here....carbonation again. It feels okay in the mouth, I think that the carbonation sould be more delicate...and in more abundance, but while being more delicate....its there to lighten the body a bit, give some scrubbing action-just a bit-and to fill out the overall feel, make it more beer like...I'll finish the bottle, but as of now this isn't one that I'd go chasing the price is a bit high-$8 a bomber-...for something that I feel that the hype here is more than it deserves. A decent beer but the hype (in my opinion) is greater than the beer. This is one that I'll not be buying next year...not that its bad, but it just isn't worth buying again...

 2,977 characters

Photo of gr0g
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12oz. bottle. Reddish-copper color. High clarity, not much in the way of head formation. On the nose, Belgian yeast character in the way of a chalky aspirin bottle note hits first. Sweet honey note. Cherry cough syrup.

Flavor is sweet but well-restrained. Alcohol strength is quite well hidden. This isn't bottle conditioned, so the carbonation isn't very vigorous, though it's a bit harsh. Malty and fruity character, though the finish is a bit bland. Having had this several times throughout the years, it's main selling point is that it's strong. Otherwise, it's unspectacular.

 595 characters

Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a clear dark amber/ruby with a small white head that fades away. Some spotty lacing.

Smell is dominated by sweetness with and holiday spices. Cherries are pretty strong with a hint of booze.

Taste is pretty sweet as well. Honey, cherries and more spices dominate with very little bitterness and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is a bit sticky and syrupy.

This seems to be one of the most accessible Holiday beers because it's sweet and high in alcohol. A bit too syrupy for me.

 474 characters

Photo of walleye
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

from the bottle. poured a nice amber, with no head. aroma, at 1st I got a sourness when it was 1st poured thanafter it sat for a couple of minutes the sourness went away, got honey, malts, cherries, chocolate, yeast, alcohol. flavor, tart cherries, fruits, orange, choclate, and a nice touch of alcohol not tobad of a beer.

 323 characters

Photo of WheelsPSU
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bought a single 12 ounce bottle from the local beer shop. Cracked it open with the future Mrs. two days before Christmas.

I drank this straight from the bottle so I can't tell much about the color. Sacrilege, I know.

The beer produced a very light scent of candied cherries and medication. But not like cough syrup because it didn't have an artificial scent.

The taste was sweet cherry upfront followed by cream and honey which ends with a sour cherry twang. That was the enjoyable part. The taste that I did not care for was spicy Belgian yeast. Totally ruined the beer for me.

I preferred this beer a lot more as it warmed. Possibly because the honey becomes more pronounced. The alcohol is extremely well concealed. I would have had no idea this was 11% without the checking the label.

 792 characters

Photo of Augustiner719
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had on tap at THE OFFICE in Summit, NJ.

Appearance: Crystal clear, mahogony, ruby red brown color. Very small 1 finger head dwindled down to nothing quickly. Zero lacing.

Smell: Smells like a bit of ludents cough drops, slight alcohol aroma and some deep malty, light chocolatly aromas.

Taste: Tastes very smooth for the 11% abv. Very little alcohol burn. Cherry juice, slightly medicinal and malty backbone.

Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated. Not overly cloyingly sweet. Good viscoscity. Nice and round on the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Great winter style beer. I wouldnt have more than 1, maybe 2 of these because this is a very strong high abv beer. Nice though.

 664 characters

Photo of ummswimmin
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter to enjoy with an outstanding Christmas Eve pasta dinner by my wife. It paired pretty well with the red sauce.

The coloring looks really good. It is a deep red with about two fingers of foam from the pour. The foam goes away pretty quickly.

This smells very interesting. You get the cherry and sweetness from the honey pretty quickly. The belgian presence adds a decent amount of sour to the beer. The sour works well with the smell of the cherry.

This beer tastes interesting. It doesn't quite balance perfectly, but you can pick out the elements of the beer pretty well. The cherry and honey stand out, and the belgian presence helps.

This was a very interesting experience. If this is on the shelf, I recommend picking up a bottle for something new.

 777 characters

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

This beer seems a clear tribute to Ridgeway's Elf beers (Bad Elf, Criminally Bad Elf, Insanely Bad Elf, etc.)...let's see what mischief the Troegs brothers have up their sleeves this holiday season...

Pours an orange-leaning rust color, with slow-moving bubbles reaching a non-head at the top. Well, there is a dirty white head at first, but it settles down in less than a minute to a soapy crown. Expected, at 11%...

Cherries and yeast are at the forefront of the aroma. Certainly a Belgian character to the yeast, with the fruitiness being thankfully natural in character and well-behaved in strength.

Flavor is a mad ball of tart cherry, spicy yeast, and alcohol. Core beer components, malt and hops, seem to take a back seat to these other elements. A little honey creeps in as well, but basically this is the Spice/Cherry/Yeast/Booze Show. Alcohol lingers into the finish, where an aggressively carbonated texture attacks the taste buds in a not entirely unpleasant way. A fairly syrupy body helps offset that crazy tingle. Ultimately the booze-flavored cherry candy vibe of the beer detracts from its drinkability.

First time I had this was about a week ago, on tap at the Blue Tusk in Syracuse, NY. My palate might have been wrecked by that point in the evening, but it seemed like a strong/spiced English ale then...aroma-wise, it definitely has more Belgian character than anything, but I still feel like the medicinal, unsubtle vibe of Mad Elf is reminiscent of big spiced English holiday ales, and evidence beyond just name and label that this is indeed a tribute to Ridgeway's Bad Elf stuff. Glad to have tried it twice now, but not super-anxious to return.

 1,673 characters

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

Pours an orange-red with minimal head that disappears to nothing.

Smells of sour cherries, spices, malt, some Belgian-esque yeast, and alcohol. This carries on to the flavor; sweet malt and sour fruit at first, but soon overpowered by the alcohol. It would be nicer if it were masked a bit better. That said, it gives a nice warming sensation.

The mouthfeel is nothing special really; somewhat thick and a bit syrupy. All-in-all, I'm somewhat disappointed after hearing all of the praise. Certainly not bad though.

 516 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours ruby red with a thin head that soon becomes a patch.

The smell is of cherries, honey and alcohol.

The taste is of tart cherries. Subtle hints of sweet honey and spicy, doughy yeast. Sharp alcohol. Malt and yeast dominate, with little input from hops. Sweettart, alcohol finish. Aftertaste is medicinal - almost like a cough drop. Medium-bodied and sharp. (Cellaring for a good while might mellow it.)

An interesting brew - fruity and sweet. A slow sipper.

 470 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 OKCNittany
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Clear reddish-brown body. 1/4" off white head that didn't last or lace.

S: Interesting smell of fruits, alcohol, candy, and some spice. Seems to fit well with its Christmas-time release.

T: Everything in the nose is present in the taste, but with alcohol and a light hop presence, leaving it well balanced. Sweet but not too sweet. However, the alcohol is a bit much.

M: Medium body w/ ample carbonation. Warming cherry finish, but it burns a bit as the beer warms.

D: The strong fruit flavor helps keep the alcohol from ruining it, but it's a slow sipper - and a one and done.

 584 characters

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

12 oz bottle enjoyed with local beer buddy in The Big, thanks Peter.

Minimal carbonation, very little if any head, no lacing. Clear reddish brown body, no visible carbonation. Nose is mostly cherries, some sweet notes re honey subsumed by the fruit, a wee bit of floral hops. Taste mirrors the nose, very sweet, not sure this fits into BSDA style tastewise. I got a hit of effervescence my first taste then it was flat as a pancake, medium-light mouthfeel, not sticky. ABV very well hidden for this alcohol bomb, but IMHO this needs significant cellaring. Will be stashing a bottle or two for next Christmas. To be honest, quite underwhelming.

 644 characters

Photo of Px2GrafX
3.51/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

presentation: 12 oz. bottle with an overly holiday red label. tan oval in the center of the label with a "troegs" banner across the middle. "the mad elf" on the top of the oval with "holiday ale, ale brewed with honey & cherries" on the bottom. there's this crazy lookin' elf spillin' a goblet of troegs' holiday ale over the bannner in the center. cherries are all over the rest of the label. "hand crafted by two brothers". 11%abv displayed, but no freshness date.

appearance: pours a beautiful clear scarlet red with bright kool-aid red highlights in a tulip glass. head was a half inch off white, but dropped to a ring around the glass fairly quickly. lotsa bubbles. color is beautiful.

smell: aroma is sweet with malted grains and a hint of fruit. you can detect cherries, but only if you read the label. alcohol aromas as well.

taste: mild in the flavor department. malty sweet with a wash of cherry. grainy with some spiciness and a touch of ambrosia. hop character is mild at best with almost no bitterness. only real bitterness is from yeast in the finish. alcohol is evident and warming but not overwhelming. finishes sweet with alcohol spiciness.

mouthfeel: very little carbonation. light-medium body that rolls around and swallows well. a little disappointing, though.

drinkability: very drinkable. there's not much to stop you here. alcohol is there but well masked at first. mouthfeel makes this is drinkable as the kool-aid it looks like. after a while the alcohol kicks in and is intoxicating and warming, so be careful.

overall: hmmm...this is just an average belgian strong dark. mildly flavorful with cherry and alcohol flavors taking center stage. dangerously drinkable, but the mouthfeel is lacking. if you want an easy to drink, intoxicating, belgian with just a hint of belgian spices and phenols and splashes of cherry, then oddly, this is your brew. otherwise, just average.

 1,918 characters

Photo of RandomExile
3.51/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: ruby/amber, translucent; scant light brown head almost immediately becoming a film, scattered or no lacing
S: deeply yeasty, . fruity
T: bubblegum and cherry, banana, clove/spice, yeasty, definite banana aftertaste
M: thin but coating; most of the bite surprisingly seems to come from carbonation rather than the high abv, although there's a bit of an alcohol follow-on
O: A little too sweet/candyish, but overall decent. Not worth seeking out.

12oz / Tulip Glass / Victoria Gastro Pub, Columbia, MD

 503 characters

Photo of drea0695
3.51/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: what a pretty beer! Poured into an over sized wine glass, a gorgeous cranberry color.

S: Tart cherries. Not overwhelming but just enough to make your mouth pucker up in anticipation

T: cherries, and a nice biscuity malt, almost like a tart cherry pie and as it warms just a hint of alcohol.

M: light carbonation which definitely helps break up the potential for a syrup bomb.

D: probably too drinkable for an 11%. But it's Christmas! Just don't drive.

I really think this beer is a great addition to the holiday season. It's so flavorful and complex. Pick it up you won't be disappointed!

 600 characters

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

Tröegs- Mad Elf

Appearance- A ruby red tinted copper brown with no head.
Smell- Strong alcohol and cherries.
Taste- First sip tastes like robatussin, but the beer quickly settles into a nice STRONG cherry Belgium. Strong hints of spice and clove.
Mouthfeel- Strong alcohol at first but it subdues. A little too sweet.

Overall- A nice sipping Winter Ale. 1 or 2 at the most will suffice. Good but not as great as all the hype!

 435 characters

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

A: Very reddish amber, ruddy copper in warmth. Leans toward off-white head, but small. Decent amount of rising bubbles. More like foamy legging rather than lacing.

S: Sweet with fruity esters. Belgian yeasty - heavy on stone fruit esters, yeasty bread dough, and really light on the peppery / spicy aspects. Bready and lightly toasty malts. Candy sweetness and lots of fruity esters. Increasingly, yet softly, boozy as it warms. Pleasant enough, but lacking in beer aspect.

T: Cherries and honey eh? I suppose, but I get more sweet and boozy. I get general stone fruits, but not overly cherry. Fruit character is ripe to even over-ripe. Heavily sweet, almost cloying - no really tartness. Either way the fruit seems more malt and yeast derived, rather than from actual fruit. I don't really see the honey. Maybe a faint floral hint and fermentable sugars for abv. In addition the fruit notes in the Belgian yeast it also has softly peppery & spicy notes. Malts are mostly grainy & caramel. Hops are shy to the point of being hard to find - perhaps slightly herbal. Mostly I get boozy, but pretty neutral alcohol, and lots of candy sweetness.

M: Rather above medium body, not truly syrupy though it does trend in that direction. Carbonation is only average which makes it relatively light given the heft of this elixir. Full & smooth & slick. Semi-sweet finish with noticeable warming.

D: Even when aware of 11% abv this is sneakily potent. With the sweet and booze this does have a bit of a malt liquor aspect. Still the alcohols are not harsh at all, and I wonder how this would age. Fresh it is a bit thick and sweet, and some how the flavors do nor really meld. Fruity, sweet, florally pungent, yeasty, and boozy. If you sipped a few of these waiting up for Santa you would never stay awake long enough to know for sure.

 1,827 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of adrian910ss: Poured a medium amber color ale with a small foamy head with average retention and lacing. Aroma of light cherry with some subtle spices and sweet malt. Taste is semi-sweet with cherry and sweet malt. Body is a bit light but alcohol is very well hidden. I was probably expecting a bit much from this beer, which is far from being bad but just not as complex as I had hoped.

 405 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very dark auburn, with a very thin off white head that doesnt stick around, but would be expected with the ABV.

Aroma is sweet, like cherries, with a hint of tart and yeasty characters.

Taste is also sweet, with those cherries, not as much tart, but there is some belgo yeast funk to it that leaves a lingering aftertaste. The finish is ripe with booze.

Feel is nearing medium, with a slick quality, and some active carbonation.

The drink is ok, but booze affects it's sessionability.

 498 characters

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,241 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.