Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
3,923 Ratings
Tröegs The Mad ElfTröegs The Mad Elf

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

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: 1,271 | Ratings: 3,923
Photo of Mikus
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

I am not a big holiday beer guy. Pumpkin, Oktoberfest, XMAS, etc. Had to give Troegs a chance though. Found one reasonably priced (couple of bucks). This sat really nice, though. Smelled and tasted the cherries, nice Belgian yeast, and warming booziness. Taste of alcohol, however, was well-hidden for a 12% beer. Smooth mouthfeel. Might be my fave XMAS brew. Still have a couple more stragglers to try, though. Cheers!

 419 characters

Photo of MadCat
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very clear brown, good head, no lacing

Smell: Cherries and malt

Taste: Cherries up front, then maltiness, with some interesting yeast flavors that could use a little toning down. Could be fantastic with age.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low carbonation. A little boozy on the finish

Overall: Good ice cold, gets worse as it warms. I think with some age it could be way better, the flavors need to marry a bit better.

 427 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The mad elf, it pours out as a rich caramel color with pretty nice tan head on it. The aromas are spicy and most definitely Belgian. There might even be some Christmas berries in there too. The taste reminded me of a sweet cherry jelly mixed with a lot of alcohol and some spices to give it some tingle in the aftertaste. This is an enjoyable beer for the winter season, it's a heavier mouthfeel too. The ABV will keep ya warm when you out shoveling snow as well.

 463 characters

Photo of eslemarc
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber in a Mad Elf tulip glass.

The beer pours with an off-white cream colored head, maybe a finger tall at most, deep amber color and fully transparent with visible carbonation. Little lacing from each sip.

There is a strong scent of cherries and a little honey sweetness. Some alcohol is present, similar to the alcohol presence in a red wine. Slight hints of a malt breadiness with a clear hop balance to keep from being too sweet.

Relatively lighter mouthfeel than I would have imagined, a fair carbonation leads to a clear taste of cherries and maybe some banana. Tastes clearly boozy, but deceptive to the 11%abv.

The beer seems more like a digestif, very comforting and warming post dinner to substitute a port wine. The sweetness would work well with dessert. A fine beer as a great winter warmer.

 813 characters

Photo of Tbn2
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a deep red with a head that doesn't disappears really quick.

S-Big malty sweetness and some yeast aromas as well. In the background, that is a smell of sweet cherries.

T/M-Pretty good. Big malty and phenols/spicy yeast flavors are the main characters. Balancing them is a touch of sweet cherry juice and I get a little bit of the honey at the very end to give it a somewhat dry finish. Alcohol and phenols linger and give a nice warming feeling all the way down.

I'm not much of a Belgian fan but picked this one up because it looked interesting to me and I'm not disappointed.

 588 characters

Photo of TheDudeBeers
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Orangish-Purple in color. No real head to report
S - Fruit and perhaps some clove and other spices
T - Apricot, citrus fruit, cherries up front with the spices coming late in the taste.
M - A little heavy for a winter warmer but I like that. Thick on the tongue with low carbonation.
D - I usually don't like Winter Warmers. It's just not my favorite style but I think this is pretty drinkable.

 400 characters

Photo of Koufax21
3.49/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12 oz. Bottle into a snifter. It pours a beautiful transparent ruby liquid with 1/2" head that quickly disappears. Smells of spice; clove is what I’m getting with some peppery accent. Tastes of sweet fruits. Clove, fig, and cherry. The cherry was not as pronounced as I imagined it. The honey adds another layer of complexity. Very smooth for 11%. Mildly carbonated and medium bodied. This is definitely a cold weather beer. After 6 oz. I can feel the warming effects.

 479 characters

Photo of seedyone
3.49/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

From bottle at home. Coppery, brown ale color with virtually no head or lacing. The cough syrup aroma is redolent of cherries. The texture is far from syrpy...actually a bit disappointing. That being said this is a true wintery treat.

I was introduced to it as a blend w/Troegs Dream Weaver in a 80/20 mix, The Elf adding a very pleasant balance to the wheat beer dryness of the Weaver.

OK on it's own, at the right rime of year, but since we're running about 15F+ on the year, this might find it hard to become a preferred quaff...but the marriage works very well.

 584 characters

Photo of wcintula
3.49/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a tumbler, the beer is clear reddish amber with very little head. The smell is very sweet, obviously sweetened. Cherries are noticeable in the aroma and taste with a with the Belgian yeast coming through on the end. A touch of alcohol. Kind of a slick feel to it, four of these beers will sneak up on you and beat you over the head if drunk too quickly.

 365 characters

Photo of pmarlowe
3.49/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've been sitting on this for quite awhile, not sure how long. Tulip glass.

A: Pours medium amber, so-so clarity, with virtually no head.

S: Lots of honey, cherry, amber and caramel malts, cherry apple crumble pie, and there's some subtle spiciness underneath. Kind of interesting, but borders too much on the fruit juice end of the spectrum.

T: Cherry fruit juice, caramel malt, and a little sweetish honey. The malt and honey linger on the finish, and the honey imparts a smoothness (kind of like eating actual honey, in a good way).

M: Full bodied and lightly carbonated. Works well with the beer. Alcohol is very well hidden.

O: The warming quality and hidden alcohol makes this a pretty good sipper for cool evenings. It has just the right amount of sweetness.

 771 characters

Photo of gillagorilla
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber (from notes)

A: Reddish brown with a big head.

S: Malty, sweet with cherry and honey.

T: Mild and plain sweetness.

M: Slightly crisp with even bubbles. A bit viscous.

O: Ok, but I couldn't finish. It was a weird combination of flavors.

 254 characters

Photo of devinoconnor
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this a few times, but in 2011 it seemed to disappoint. Pours a ruby red with little foam.

Smell is fruity, cherries hit the nose mixed with malt. Little to no hops.

Taste is complex... a lot going on. Chocolate and the cherries mix well, and appropriate for the Christmas season. The subtle spices in the nose seem to be more than subtle on the finish. A little harsh, and "alchoholy" which I suppose is expected.

Overall, worth the try. But a little too hard to enjoy with the rough finish.

 501 characters

Photo of mtbikeguru
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Gotta love the nice red label that depicts a tipsy elf hanging on the Troëgs name. The 11% ABV would make anyone tipsy if they had enough of these guys.

This bier has a very nice glowing ruby red color and a substantial bone-colored head during the pour, which is surprising considering the ABV, but the head did subsided quickly. Very, very fine carbonation

One would think that the alcohol would be very prominent on smelling this brew but it is very balanced with the cherry, pale malt, subtle spiciness, and some other fruity kind of banana esters to come to the front.

Very drinkable bier so be careful because this mad elf will smack you around if you drink to many of his buddies.

 699 characters

Photo of UrbanCaveman
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, poured into a tulip glass at approximately 45 degrees F.

A: Pours a clear red-amber, that reminds me of a good Vienna lager. Forms a nice three-finger head of foam that quickly collapses to a cap and thick ring, which leaves decent lacing. Appears to be highly carbonated.

S: Sweet cherries over caramel malt open the aroma, with other yeasty undertones appearing, such as banana and plum.

T: The sweetness from the nose is present, alongside a wallop of tartness. Fruit flavors abound through this beer, with the cherries being front and center, surrounded by some fig and plum along the sides through the middle, and a distinct hint of banana at the finish. There's an alcohol heat that appears in spots as well, and a touch of spice flavor - clovey, not the usual winter beer suspects.

M: Sharp and prickly carbonation, this beer tries to bite back. Aside from that, it is a thin and light brew.

O: Not bad. I was honestly expecting a winter warmer when I picked this up, as opposed to a Belgian ale. I don't know if I'll repeat this one when it's on shelves next to Trois Pistoles for a comparable price point, but it was a pleasant surprise.

 1,165 characters

Photo of Higravity
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I popped my one to enjoy after meeting with a damn wedding photographer. Red kool-aid color and a hint of a head in my duvel tulip. Smells of a mild fruityness and alcohol. The taste is not what I was expecting, not nearly enough of the cherry flavor and I wonder now about the color. The alcohol is prevelent and there is a background fruityness and some malt flavor with a tannic bitterness. I had a decent mouthfeel and was very clean finish and a good drinker even at 11%, but not really my bag.

 499 characters

Photo of jtrockchalk
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Clockwork Orange for this one....An extra in a package I recieved today.

A - Beautiful shade of amber with ruby like tones. Poured nice finger to finger and a half head that quickly receded to wisps.

S - Not as much going on here as I'd expect. I smell honey and yeast can't pick up the cherries that the color makes me expect.

T - Nice Belgian style dark ale. I pick up just a wee bit of the cherries here, along with toffee/caramel malt and just a hint of that circus peanut finish that is usually more prevalent in Hefes and Belgian Pales.

M - Kinda thin, not much lingering on the palate here. Carbonation is nice and cuts the alcohol well.

D - Still kinda finding my way in this category. Overall this beer is very solid and while I would have it again, I won't seek it out or likely drink more than one in a sitting and that's not because of the alcohol content which is well masked, but the fact that there are many more interesting brews out there to try.

 978 characters

Photo of younger35
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Received this wonderful creation in a trade with ClockworksOrange. I’m quickly becoming a huge Troegs fan since I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve tried. Drank from my Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a beautiful shade of crimson with bits of yellow highlights. A decent one finger foamy head forms leaving a spotty cap and thin collar. A small amount of lacing is left but nothing to write home about.
Smell- A bit of spice up front with hints of banana esters. Lightly fruity with a bit of cherry but not as much as I expected. A bit of alcohol shows it head but not as much as I was expecting from the other reviews.
Taste- There are the cherries! Starts with a bit of sweetness from the cherries and the toffee malt. Hella boozy too! Mixed into all this is some banana spice and a bit of a citrus bite. This all culminates at the end to leave a lingering banana fosters like after taste that teeters on cloying.
Mouthfeel- Kind of thin with a bit of warming and a nice zesty carbonation.
Drinkability- This is a pretty interesting brew. I like the direction it’s headed but it seems to lose it’s way midway through. I’d like to see a bit more balance to cut the sweetness. Definitely worth a try though and big thanks to ClockworksOrange for the opportunity!

 1,288 characters

Photo of evilgeniusluke
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle. Enjoyed at home with studying for the BJCP exam. Great appearance, a nice Cherry/Amber color. The nose smelled of honey and cherries, with a slight hint of a clear alcohol scent. The taste is balanced and smooth, with robust fruit and honey flavors.

 276 characters

Photo of BuxMontBeerLover
3.47/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was on-tap at Revivals Restaurant in Perkasie, PA.

Severed in a standard pint glass.

A - A deep, reddish brown color when presented with the brew. Mostly opaque. Little to no head on the beer. Moderate lacing left on the glass.

S - A slightly alcohol smell mixed with a fruity sweetness.

T - A decent beer. A mix of dark fruits like figs and cherries along with a caramel-like sweetness. The alcohol is pretty noticeable. I savored this for about a half-hour. Not a beer to be rushed through.

M - A pretty heavy beer. A heavier consistency.

O - I liked this beer but not something I'd return to. I like trying all sorts of beers but this isn't quite good enough for me to drink if I come across it again.


 725 characters

Photo of kevintaraross
3.47/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on draft in Lancaster, PA (near this Brewer) over the weekend. Very Good in a warm pint glass.

Had this today in a big-boy bottle - much better - more flaverful - less head/less holding "power" BUT better mouth "feel" than on draft.

Would buy the bottle and draft again.

 283 characters

Photo of albern
3.47/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

For an 11% ABV beer, it is a touch watery in consistency and not nearly as full bodied as I would have expected. The beer pours a amber ruby color with zero head. It is a fairly uncarbonated affair. The nose has the alcohol phenols, some sweetish malts in the background, a maybe a touch of the cherries. This has a sherry like aroma to it.

The taste is sweet honeyed malts, with some cherry flavors throughout. There is a touch of spice to the beer, almost a biting nutmeg type spiciness. The beer is overall quite sweet but also very warming from the high ABV. There is a touch of throaty burn as the beer goes down. The beer is a bit deceptive. The ABV is apparent, but the 11% extent of the ABV is fairly well hidden. This is a sipping beer and it is surprisingly watery in body for a beer of this content. It doesn't have the syrupy consistency I would have expected. This is a decent beer, certainly appropriate for the holiday season, but not a beer I would seek out.

 975 characters

Photo of Floydster
3.47/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle acquired as an extra in a trade with the generous user, MuenchenerKindl, nice surprise in the package a few weeks ago

2006 Vintage split with my dad tonight

Poured into my Firestone pint glass with a golden orange color that had a red and pink tint and a 1/2 soapy white head that mellowed almost immediately, not very good retention and minimal lacing

Smell was lots of honey and strong cherries, bread, tons of malt, very faint amount of hoppiness, and

Taste was a little sweet but that is probably because it is a year old, lots of sweet honey and some lighter fruity accents that consisted of raisins and berries, also some sweet caramel and toffee in the finish, no hops left in this one unfortunately, a little bit of a light wine feel, not very balanced but still pretty good overall, tasted a lot of sweetness throughout the entire glass

Pretty weak body and not much carbonation, but the taste did last long and it had a semi-spicy mouthfeel

Could drink much of this mainly because the alocohol percentage is a whopping eleven percent, maybe another bottle of this and that is about it, its sweetness makes this pretty heavy stuff, but it is most likely much hoppier when it is fresh

Troegs makes some unique beers and this is one of them, cannot say this is a Belgian dark ale, I think of it more as an amber with a serious punch, color throws me off when looking at the beer style on here, recommended, not bad and not great either, but worth trying once at least

 1,498 characters

Photo of sisuspeed
3.47/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a crisp, clear, amber color with a big fizzy head that quickly disappears.

Lots of cherry and funky booze on the nose. Some swirling brings out a sweet honey smell and a bit of spice. Smells like many other beers in this style with a large addition of cherries. Kind of like cough syrup.

Booze and sweet, bready malts hit the mouth on the first sip. The finish brings out a nice cherry flavor. Coriander and a bit of orange peel are noticeable as well. Honey comes in and out. Overall, very sweet, boozy and fruity.

The mouthfeel is smooth with light carbonation, but seems to be lacking the body that usually accompanies an 11% ABV beer. The body that is there is somewhat syrupy.

Drinkability is above average, but not by much. The high ABV and sweetness make this a one bottle beer, tops.

Overall, this is a good holiday beer. It goes along with the festive atmosphere, but the excessive sweetness and cherries are a bit too much for me.

 952 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this one up as an extra in a trade late in the summer and have had it in the fridge waiting to be cleared out for a while. Decided to use this one as a solid nightcap last night. Served chilled and poured into my newly acquired darkness snifter. This was consumed on 11/12/2008.

The pour was rather nice. A honey colored amber coming forward with a good amount of haze to it. Nice carbonation could be seen trickling up from the bottom of the glass and the overall look was very similar to some meads that I have had. Nice touch of white popped up on the top and settled down gracefully, capping off the package very well.

The aroma hit me right off the bat. Nice touch of honey and a small bit of sweet fruit, I am guessing cherries here by looking at the label, though a bit too sweet for my tastes. Interesting mix now of a very grainy base coming through as it warms. I have to admit though it was a bit too sweet and a touch light for me. The flavor was more of the same. Light touches of grain and malty flavors making up the base, but the honey and sweet fruit notes were all very much there and very easily detectable. Lots of honey and mead like flavor in the finish with a light spike of alcohol coming through at the end. Decent carbonation on this medium bodied ale as it felt just about right in consistency. Alcohol well hidden for as strong as it was, though I will admit the sweetness took its toll on me after a while.

Overall not a bad beer, but not what I was hoping to get into. A little bit rough on the sweetness and just not enough balance and tart fruit flavor to counteract it. Still though a solid effort and not something I would turn my nose up at if offered.

 1,698 characters

Photo of Riff
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear ruby red color with a small amount of off white head that dissipates quickly but leaves a little lacing. Smells of cherries and yeast, neither a strong flavor. Tastes primarily of cherry, like the syrup cocktail cherries in a can of fruit cocktail. Other flavors of honey and yeast. Body is okay, medium. Lingering sweet cherry flavors. Really, too sweet for me.

 376 characters

Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,923 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.