Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,239 | Ratings: 3,806
Photo of Globetrotter
3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Hand delivered from the Washington area to Moscow as part of a fiver set of U.S. winter brews. Definitely not my favorite of the five, although I had entertained very high hopes. Poured clear copper under a thin tan head that fades quickly. The nose is mildly sweet, with a touch of cherry. The mouth is fairly flat and heavy with sweetness and fruit. The taste opens with mostly sweet cherries, backed by malt and a touch of honey. I could detect no hops anywhere, but there is some alcohol burn in the finish. The aftertaste is all cherry. It's OK, but I'm not thrilled.

 572 characters

Photo of joepais
3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks MuenchenerKindl for the opportunity to try this one
Bottle poured a clear ruby red into my tulip glass, not much of a head and no lace

Aromas of Belgian yeast and sweet malts fill your head

I do have to say the yeast dominates this one with a sour cherry finish It really hides the alcohol I couldn't pick it up at all. I read one of the reviews and will agree that it is kind of meadish in a way

Very easy to drink light on the palate almost no carbonation

Drinkability well lets say you could pound away a few of these but at 11% I wouldn't recommend it

 570 characters

Photo of jjayjaye
3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A crystal clear reddish brown color. When poured aggressively a faint wispy head formed and faded quickly. The smell is sweet and very coriander spice and fruity. Light-Medium bodied, the mouth feel is whoa fully under carbonated, but the spiciness and tingle from the alcohol keep things interesting. The spicy coriander cinnamon character is slightly overwhelming. I understand that its made from cherries. I am definitely not getting the dark fruit fig taste that i expected. Oh well, just another interpretation i guess. Give it a shot.

 540 characters

Photo of OleJohnnieAle
3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours an amber hue with a minimal white head that quickly dissipated in to a fine lace.

S: Sweet cherry and fruit aroma with an boozy ending.

T: Very sweet start with a alchol hitting hard in the middle. Almost barley wine in taste as it is very fruity and boozy. Bit of a spicy yeast bite to it as well.

M: Very strong and boozy. Medium body and minimal carbonation.

O: Very interesting beer, almost too much going on that it strays so far from beer. Almost a wine like quality to this one. Great sipper and seasonal beer though just not my style.

 557 characters

Photo of blitz134
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First real cold night of the year...pulled this out of the closet for a nightcap...one wiff told me that this one might definately put me out. This is last years version, so not fresh...

Appearance is a perfectly transparent caramel (not ruby red as the website says). Thin white head on the pour which disappeared to a small ring around the edge of the glass. Not the usual head of a belgian although I'm not sure if this is really true to the belgian style to begin with.

Aroma is a bit sweet with a little acidic funk to it. Alcoholic notes swirl readily from the glass. A slight cherry aroma comes around if you are really looking for it. A strong aroma, but somewhat non descript.

Again, I think the taste doesn't have much that really stands out, except for the alcohol. Taste is mainly malty with a touch of mildly sweet fruit in the background. I don't really detect any of the honey and cherries in any particular flavor. Although you can pick out the alcohol in this it isn't overwhelming, either in taste or effects of sitting on the stomach.

Mouthfeel is a little thin in my opinion, could be a bit thicker. Drinkability is okay for the high abv. The flavor or aroma doesn't really offer anything which I find particularly intriguing which would make me really desire this in the future. Maybe the flavors don't hold up for very long, I'm not sure. I have one more bottle to sample though.

 1,413 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Nice ruby color with a 1/2 finger tight, egg white head that reduces rather quickly to a ring of thin foam around the outer edge.

S: From far away I could smell the cherries, but they aren't as overwhelming as I thought they would be, especially when I get my nose up close. The honey is present and there is a sweetness. Slight bit of alcohol as well.

T: Very sweet, cherry flavor, and the honey comes out as well. There is almost a mead-like flavor.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Slight alcohol heat on the flavor profile and on the finish.

O: Its good, just not my favorite. I don't have a problem with the slight alcohol presence, just not really for me.

 678 characters

Photo of kbeals
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

brees6221 sent this to me a while back when he hooked me up with plenty of Troegs brews.

A- Dark, murky orange in appearance with a finger of off-white, fizzy head. Head sticks to the side of the glass leaving an array of lacing. Good head retention as well.

S- Smells of apples and sugary sweet honey. No real hint of cherries to be found in the aroma. Maybe it's been sitting for a little too long?

T- Once again, apples and honey, a touch of sweet cherries comes through as well but it is pretty muted compared to the other flavors. Also has a bit of a yeasty taste too it. A little too sweet in my opinion.

M- Medium bodied with soft, bubbly carbonation.

D- Pretty drinkable despite the sweetness. The ABV doesn't really make itself known very well. A good brew, but I probably wouldn't seek it out again.

Thanks agains brees6221!

 840 characters

Photo of COBeerBuff
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received via SS '09 from Petroos...

Appearance: Very vigorous pour yields a half-finger of white head crowning a reddish-amber liquid. Definitely has a decent carbonation as you can hear the bubbles from a few feet away. Head dissipates quickly leaving a light ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: The nose is all cherry sweetness. I expected a more subtle cherry aroma, but what I'm getting is straight away cherry. It smells almost like SA Cherry Wheat. There also are some spices hidden in the background, but the cherry overpowers my nose enough that I can't pick them out.

Taste: This is a very sweet beer, almost cloyingly so. The tartness of the cherries is the first thing to hit the palate, and it almost dominates everything else. A little of the spiciness of the yeast is there along with some toastiness in the malts makes its way through.

Mouthfeel: This has a medium mouthfeel. The sweetness makes for some stickiness, but overall, this is a much lighter beer than I had imagined.

Drinkability: This beer drinks very smoothly, which is frightening considering the present nature of the alcohol in this beer. Definitely meant to be a winter sipper. I will enjoy this beer as the snow continues to fall here in Kansas.

 1,240 characters

Photo of cosmo4u
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

tap takeover at holy smoke

Tröegs Mad Elf is a very clear and dense, coppery red ale with a thin, sand colored head that fades to a film and leaves decent lacing on the glass. It has a very strong, sweet aroma of cherries. Deeper in the nose is a medicinal note. It’s pretty full bodied and syrupy with a slightly sticky finish. It has a pretty sweet flavor. Cherries are prominent but so is resiny wood. A little green bitterness comes in at the finish, along with black pepper. The aftertaste is kind of oaky and spicy.

 525 characters

Photo of stxSS07
3.42/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a chalice.

A- Pours a honey-copper color with a thin cap of an off-white head. Leaves decent lacing and legs.

S- Big spicy Belgian yeast character, sweet cherry, and maybe a bit of dark fruits and bready note.

T- Follows the nose with spicy yeast and cherry. Big time sweetness that finishes with bready notes and booze. Lingering medicinal cherry cough syrup quality.

M- Medium-light bodied with high carbonation.

O- A different take on a winter warmer. Not my favorite due to the cough syrup finish, but glad I finally got to try it.

 559 characters

Photo of Glennlawless
3.42/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a 16oz Tulip.

A - Nice one one finger head, amber and see through and color and lots of bubbles. really good looking beer.

S - Smell cherry right away...and dark fruits and some hidden booze.

T - very dry and Super sweet. just cherries in the beggining and all the carbonation and spiciness of the brew hits you here...it finishes with a kiss of alcohol and lingering cherry. Not bitter at all and no noticable hop presence actually breaks through. not noticing the honey. maybe its balancing out the alcohol at the end possibly?

M - Very dry and super carbonated.

Overall this was a pretty good beer. It definetley would not be my first pic but its a super talked about beer in the winter time so i figured it was time to pop the mad elf cherry haha. This beer is a definite sipper, and you can somewhat tell its 11%abv. just a ton of sweetness( probably the honey now that i think about it, duh...) and a ton of cherry. with some very mild heat from the alcohol. its a pretty nice beer. I wouldnt get it again, but id never turn it down.

 1,057 characters

Photo of hosehead83
3.42/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle (vintage 2010) into a Sam Adams bubble glass.
Clear copper/amber in color, with a very short, very brief head of foam.
Aroma-Honey and cherry essence.
Taste-Spicy yeast, honey faint cherry. Flavors are muted and very mellow. Rather flat body but very smooth, as high ABV not evident. A fresher bottle might have gotten a better score.

 361 characters

Photo of ByTor2112
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was the 2006 edition.

Pours a beautiful reddish amber. Great color held to the light. head is non-existent except for a good swirl.
Aroma-Tart sour notes, almost like red wine vinegar. a little sweetness from the honey is barely detectable.
Mouthfeel-Just like the 2005, this tastes nothing like the aroma! Wonderfully sweet. The cherry flavors are there and the honey sweetness is the dominant flavor characteristic. Alcohol is noticeable, but warming with no sting. A nice froth on the palate sweetens it up and releases the alcohol a bit more. Finishes quite clean. This brew will give you a warm fuzzy. The 2005 I drank had aged for a year and really mellowed. This brew is good fresh and also ages well. Troeg's does it again! Cheers.

 749 characters

Photo of BirdFlu
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasted like a common dark belgian witha faint cherry sweetness. It has a meade-like viscosity and leaves a coated feeling in your mouth, which is where the honey really shows through. Not much aroma, just a hint of sweetness. Its ok, but nothing amazing.

 254 characters

Photo of tastymug
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This beer pours a beautiful ruby red color (a clear, red amber) with a half finger head, about half of which retains while drinking.

Smell: Primary aroma is cherries, sweet, fruity.

Taste: Very sweet, yeasty, definitely tastes like cherries, which is kind of funky (but a good funky), syrupy, chocolate, and there’s also a bit of spice that hits the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, syrupy consistency, carbonated but smooths out at the end.

Overall: This is a complex beer but I think it could be a little more balanced for more drinkability. However, considering the alcohol content in this brew, it surprisingly doesn’t override the taste. It’s an interesting beer, but probably not for everyone. I personally find it a nice switch from the more traditional, spicy winter warmers or Christmas ales.

 825 characters

Photo of KAdams
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - Warm reddish amber with a thick white head that leaves nice lacing.

Smell - Sweet cherries and honey, just like the bottle says. Some spiciness.

Taste - Sort of like the the smell but not as sweet as I expected, which is a good thing here. Sweet, rich honey followed by clean fruit: ripe cherries, apples. Malt flavors.

Mouthfeel - Medium body with good carbonation.

Drinkability - A good holiday beer that is a nice change from the strong, bitter malts found in a lot of dark wintertime lagers. Overall a pretty good beer especially considering the high alcohol content.

 589 characters

Photo of ommegangpbr
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not too shabby at all, it just happens to be of a style that is associated with so many world class brews. As an American take on a Belgian strong dark ale this is pretty enjoyable.
The flavor profile is pretty typical- fermented dark fruits, dark cherry speaking up the most because of purposefully added cherry in the brewing process. Making this a little less typical is rather roasted type flavor that one usually expects from stouts or porters. It makes for an edge of bitterness that isn't exactly offputting but needs to tempered with some sort of food pairing to maximize enjoyment.
For American brewed Belgian ales there are better options but this is worth trying.

 675 characters

Photo of ellisdee97
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Light amber with a thin bubbly off white head, which leaves a nice ring. Bubbly lacing clings to the glass.

S: Deep mix of cherry, honey and alcohol. Toasted malt, a slight hint of hops and saccharin sweetness.

T: Very sugary sweet cherry and honey. Toast and warm alcohol. The cherry right now is too sweet but some age should help. Last year definitely had more of a deep chocolate base, which they coincidentally removed from the labels description.

M: Sweet, sticky and sugary. High carbonation.

D: Some age will help but right now it is too sweet. But a nice sipper overall.

 594 characters

Photo of hero27
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.
11% abv...yowsa.

Sheer copper color with a surprisingly fizzy head that is gone in the blink of an eye. Aroma is slight honey with some cranberry mixed in..smells fairly "Christmas-y"..
The honey flavor is perceived right from the get-go, combined with a thick, syrupy malt base. The cherries come out a lot more as it warms..when chilled, I got almost no cherry flavor at all. The 11% alcohol is quite well-pronounced, and there's no getting around the slight burning sensation on your lips and tastebuds. Quite sweet in the finish as well..

Reminded me a bit of Great Lakes' Christmas Ale. The cherry & honey flavors were very similar.

Thanks to ski271 for throwing this in as a little taste of Christmas in June.

 740 characters

Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brown 12 oz bottle. Bottled on date was hard to find -- it's on the bottle, just under the neck label -- but it was 11/1/2004.

This beer poured a brilliant reddish brown with a thin head that quickly disappears. Lots of bubbles rising through the beer but no head. Very clear. A nice looking beer.

Strong fruit -- cherries, mostly -- along with sweet malt. Some alcohol aroma comes through, too. After sitting for 10 minutes or so, the intensity of the fruit fades a little and more of a malt aroma takes over.

Flavor is dominated by the alcohol...with some complex combination of fruit (cherries and raisins), honey and malt. Alcoholic warmth is evident.

Aftertaste is mainly malt, some back-of-th-tongue bitterness, and alcohol....not too pleasant.

Overall an interesting holiday beer. I think I'll age my others for at least another month, then try another. This one hasn't been in the bottle but two weeks.

 926 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Half Pint Pub in Rochester, NY.

A huge seasonal favorite around here, but one I don't really understand the hype for.

Pours a bright copper red, with a one inch head and not much lacing.

Smells like cherry juice/extract, Belgian yeast esters, and alcohol.

This one's sweet as hell. So much medicinal cherry flavor packed in, it's cloying and syrupy. There's not much else here, tons of yeasty esters come into play, which don't help, given they give off similar cherry-like flavors, anyway.

Medium bodied, syrup, thick and sweet mouthfeel. The best thing that can be said is the beer hides the alcohol fairly well, considering everything.

I guess it's just me, people love this, it's a pass for me.

 714 characters

Photo of codyw
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Almost no head. Nice Deep amber appearance with a ruby hue.

S: Strong cherry smell. Also some brown sugar. Can definitely smell the alcohol.

T: Definite presence of cherries. I feel like the alcohol could be hidden a little more. At times it felt just like a slightly carbonated cherry wine. I think a little more hop and malt character would have helped balance out the overwhelming presence of cherries. Definitely a sweet beer. Not as complex as some belgian imports.

M: Smooth at first, but then the high ABV really hits you. I wish it was covered a bit more. I think it could used a little more carbonation. Perhaps my bottle was bottled poorly, because I recall a previous one having more carbonation.

D: You could definitely get drunk from a few of these. Not a bad beer, but I think there are better drinks out there.

 832 characters

Photo of zookerman182
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is a ruby red with a one finger off white head.
Aroma is cherries and yeast.
Flavor is cherries, somewhat salty and has a soy saucy after taste.
Not boozy at all but just off flavors not bitter, just cherries.
Mouthfeel is ok, flavor goes away fast.
Not my favorite holiday beer just not horrible by any means.

 322 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter glass and received very little head, although there were some lace patches that were left. A dark copperish color that is somewhat see thru when you hold up to light.
Got a very good smell but I guess I expected more. I picked up the hops immediately due to high ABV, and I then picked up traces of honey and fruit, but it didn't necessarily smell like cherries which they print right on the label.
As soon as the beer it hit my tongue there was an initial crisp bitterness that dried out my mouth, but the honey smooths it out keeping the body rather light for a Belgian Dark Ale-style and there is some taste of fruit on the backbite.
You can detect a hint of cherry, or some fruit like cherry (nothing citrus like an orange or sweet like a banana) but the alcohol is right there with it.
This is one of those drinks that improves as you drink and it warms the mouth, not burns.
Because it is over 11% alcohol, I might have this once in a while but I wouldn't constantly drink it. To me, the recipe is there if there was less alcohol (I'm just talking a percent or two - it would still be pretty strong). That is just my opinion.

 1,153 characters

Photo of alexgash
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tawny orange-copper body with golden edges, sparkling bubbles, and a dense, creamy, concave, dirty off-khaki head. Nice. Rich nose of sweet yet tangy fruits (melons, tropical fruits, pears). Noticeable cooked vegetable aroma makes for an interesting mix. Notes of honey, spice, and alcohol too.

Taste starts off with hints of toasted malts and moves quickly to cherry and tropical fruit sweetness with a tart edge. Detectable alcohol burn early on as well, which is not a good thing. Tart fruits and vinous flavors dry out early sweetness near the finish. Medium-full body dissipates in the finish with a shot of alcohol warmth. A little too ethanol-y. A pretty good beer up until the rough, boozy finish.

 706 characters

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

    Subscribe