Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
1,270 Reviews
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:
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Reviews: 1,270 | Ratings: 3,919
Photo of CFHMagnet
3.37/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My 100th review :)
I started out with an average pour and ended up getting a little more aggressive when no head seemed to form. I got a half finger of very active bubbly head that was gone in 30 seconds. The beer now sits there with nothing other than a ring atop the body, which definitely fits the "ruby" description.

The yeast hits the nose first, and is quickly followed up by the unapologetic smell of booze. Notes that linger after are malt, cherries, dark fruit and spice.

The taste is very underwhelming. With the nose being what it was, I was unprepared for what would be a serious search through the nuances of flavor. Up front I taste a bit of yeast, heavy spice and some honey, with a little cherry tucked in for support. Unfortunately the alcohol takes over after that, and in combination with the cherry flavor, it tastes like cough syrup for a little while there. Once this mellows out, malt and spice come back out to say goodbye.

Medium bodied, it has enough carbonation to hustle it over your tongue pretty quickly. It doesn't coat very much, nor does it dry, but it does sting your tongue a little, seemingly a little from the carbonation and a little from the alcohol. A strong burn builds up in the back of the throat.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.37/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12oz bottle into tulip glass

A - Poured a syrup looking amber with a very thin head that disappaited almost immediately.

S - Very sweet smelling. Honey and maple sugar smell.

T - Very sweet and syrupy, but not bad. Fun for a one off, but not something I'd want to have more than one of in a night. Kind of like having a piece of candy and a beer all in one, very filling.

M - Very flat and syrupy feeling. Doesn't really feel like a beer, but certainly feels like a holiday drink rich in sweetness.

D - Pretty thick and filling beer for my tastes. Not bad by any means, but drinking too many of these might give you the same feeling as eating too much candy. The high ABV would also prevent you from having too many of these, but not a bad treat if you are looking to fulfill the desire for a beer while also getting your sweet tooth fix.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.37/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. Bottle thanks to zrrbrrt. The bottle features an elf who looks like he got a little crunk before Christmas and brought the cherries with him. I poured this one into a Chimay glass and the head dissipated super fast. The color is red and reminds me a little of cheery 7-up (only a little). It smells slightly syrupy and sweet with hints of cherry. I can barely taste the honey but the cherries are there. This definitely feels like a sipper and is probably going to take awhile. A decent beer but i could not drink more than one in a sitting.

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Photo of Citadel82
3.37/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Finally sampled this at the Open Door, 110 John,Downtown, Manhattan, NYC. Not so sad that I waited. Okay it is a strong beer that masks its alcohol very, very well...behind the cherries and honey. Not my cup of tea as it were, but a definitely solid flavorful brew.

I asked my friend Doreen and "drink shrink" to pour it into a Palm tulip. It poured a dark amber with minimal head. I know she rinsed the glass for sure so not sure why there was o head and minimal lacing. Oh well.

Aroma was sweet honey and tart cherries.

Taste was malty sweet, tart fruity cherries and honey finish. Clover???

Mouthfeel was nimble for the gravity. Not oily or slick.

Drinkable - hell yeah but not something I would seek out regularly.

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Photo of tenacean
3.36/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought on tap. The descriptions of its appearance have been spot on thus far. Troegs describes this beer with descriptors of cherry and cloves. By the end I was describing it as clove beer...lots of clove flavor with some cherry. The heat from the alcohol is always present but not overwhelming.

Overall, a well crafted beer and I'm glad I tried it but I'm not going to buy it again.

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Photo of AleWatcher
3.35/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Blind bomber #9

Served in a snifter.

Looks like apple cider. A slight coudiness in a deep reddish brown color. A very slight head became a ring of bubbles. Some spotty lacing. Looks a bit undercarbonated... A little dull.

Smells of spices and apples... And cherries. Some alcohol is noted as well.

Tastes sweet up front-- perhaps some cocoa? Dark fruits too, maybe? The booziness of the finish blocks a lot of other flavors... And the cherry notes are cloying and sticky... There are some spices in this beer, or least a spice imparted by the yeast. Hard to really pick out more than that. I'm certainly thinking this is a Belgian styled ale-- but the 22 oz format and its contents lead me to think this is an American version. This is almost like a lesser version of Three Philosophers... Just not as thick or delicious.

The body feels a little thin and the bubbles feel tiny.

This is certainly a beer for a day like today-- mid to low 60s, cloudy, and very windy. The beer seems to work as a night cap on a chilly day, but would be awful on a hot one. I'm really thinking this is a weak quad or a spiced dubbel.

Rips open envelope-- Troegs Mad Elf
Hmmmm... A 2008 vintage.
This beer is one I haven't had yet, but I have a 12 oz bottle of the 2009 in my cellar right now. The beer is a "Belgian strong dark ale," so I cannot compare it to quads-- which will help the score (if compared to quads, this would be VERY low scoring).
It isn't unpleasant-- it just is a bit boozy and isn't very complex.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.35/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, stamped 2010/2011.

appears a bright clear ruby red color. the color is brilliant, but there is little head.

strong cherry aroma, and the cherry and honey flavors dominate the taste. very sweet.

just a little too syrupy for me, maybe it could use more carbonation?

not too boozy, but the sweetness hurts the drinkability a bit.

****update a year later from same batch

appearance is the same. aroma and taste is not as cloyingly sweet. Body seems to have thinned a bit, as I don't have the same "syrupy" complaint. Overall, an improvement.

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Photo of HopsYeast
3.34/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a-pours a clear dark reddish amber with a 1/4 finger pale white head that quickly fads and leaves no lacing.

s-honey, cherries, raisens, heavy alcohol smell, and also has a somewhat sour smell thats a bit of a turn off.

t-taste is a reverse of the smell. a nice warm alcohol flavor mixed in with dark fruits, maltiness, and the slightest hops. lots of dark fruit flavor is preset.

m-somewhat syrupy with very minimal carbonation.

o-well i think im starting to finally get this beer. year after year i tried it and it turned me off completely. this was the first time on tap so it may have been the difference. its deep flavor and warming sensation bought on by the alcohol makes it a good fit for the cold holiday season.

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Photo of Sachsenfreude
3.34/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

appearance; reddish-brown, white head that dissipates very quickly. Kind of flat and boring looking.

smell; all aromatics are quite mild. Definitly some cherry in there with the sweetness from strong alcohol surrounded in spicy malts. Decent smell but the balance could be better.

taste; not as sweet as I expected. Really good actually. Cherry like sweetness only hangs around the aftertaste. Main flavor has a nice balance of hops and malt. Some alcohol gives a fruit flavor but not in a sweet way. A festive tasting beer, Glühwein like without much spice.

mouthfeel; acceptable but nothing special, pretty strong alcohol burn and spotty carbonation, otherwise pretty flat.

drinkability; taste good but does not hide the alcohol well. I would definitly drink again but would not seek it out.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
3.33/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Strong Dark Belgian's are my favorite style but I have avoided the Mad Elf due to my beer guru telling me this one was not very good. But got one in my stocking for Christmas so here we go. Poured a clear red with some carbonation and very little head. Some lacing but it would slide down the glass. Decent smell with the dark fruit and cherry but the alcohol overwhelms it, smelled a little like alcohol soaked cherries. Taste is similar, you pick up the cherry and malt but again it is overwhelmed by the alcohol, just kind of off. They made it strong but not very balanced. It gets easier to drink as I went along but was still not what I would call enjoyable. Some lip licking from the malt which was good. The beer is almost thin, certainly not the rich texture I enjoy in the style. Overall, average at best. Beer guru was right yet again.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.33/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-dark reddish amber with a nice cream colored head that thins out pretty quickly.

S-spicy belgian sugars. molasses. slightly smoked and burnt, yet sweet and syrupy.

T-comes in with a dog breath creaminess with a spoiled taste of belgian sugars. ends with a warming taste of caramelized sugars and smoked burnt taste. pretty forms a matching long lasting after-taste with some bread malts. complex but not exactly well balanced. quite boozy.

M-syrupy heavy low carbonation with a dry finish

O-its difficult to drink more than a pint of this. it hits quickly. the tastes just don't hold up well. you can tell its not brewed in belgium. too much heat, and artificial tasting flavors that don't mix well. honestly i think people get this because its a lower priced alternative to the belgian christmas beers, but just buy them instead. don't save your money by getting this instead.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.33/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Auburn/red with no visible carbonation. No head, no lacing.

S - Odor is faint. Mostly malt with a little spice. I can't descern anything over the smell of carbonated water. Since there is no real carbonation, that doesn't say much for the smell.

T - Slightly sour, from the cherries I'd guess, a little spice is detectable, nutmeg and maybe a tiny bit of allspice. It has a strange bitterness, but it mostly masked. I cannot detect any alcohol. It isn't really covered up though, since the taste isn't very strong. I don't know where they hid it, but it is hidden. Aside from the disappearing abv, nothing is too impressive about the taste.

M - Very thick and smooth. Refreshing.

D - There is not a single negative aspect to this beer, but there is nothing great either. I am surprised. It is good, in the sense that it does not offend and is easy to drink. I would sooner have many other holiday brews. Maybe it was the hype, but this Troegs beer is a bit of a disappointment.

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Photo of travduke
3.32/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz poured into a Duvel Tulip.

Look: Dark amber/mahogany body with a thin head that quickily dissipates. No real lacing.

Smell: Sweet caramel malts, honey, alcohol detected.

Taste: This is really sweet. Honey, candy, cherry. A little hot on the alcohol.

Mouth/Drink: Thin mouthfeel, drinkability for me is low due to how sweet this is. Overrated? I think so. Its not a bad beer, but not a "WOW"ing brew.

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Photo of MrDanno96
3.32/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours with just a very thing ring of head (to be expected based on abv). It's a clear orange-amber color with little lace.

S: Very sweet honey, cherries, nutmeg, all spice, and some feint malt.

T: It's very sweet, the honey is very apparent. Cherries and spices come through as well. It's not bad, but a little too sweet.

M: Medium body and carbonation. Alcohol is hidden very well.

D: I really want to like this beer, but it just doesn't quite make it for me. I think if Troegs balanced the sweet flavors with some malts and hops it would taste much better. My friend Zach had a good analogy for this one: It's like eggnog. I could enjoy a small glass of it, but I wouldn't want anymore after that glass. Also, if a beer is going to put me on the floor after drinking a few, I want it to be worth it!

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Photo of Klunco
3.32/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap last night

A- Pours a nice ruby color with white head that immediately disappears

S-Smell is of cherries, and weak dark malts

T-Similar to smell, cherries initially dominate the palate then the malts come in. Cherry taste is natural tasting which is a plus, but the overall taste is very restrained. Alcohol is well hidden.

M- This is one area where the beer flopped. Thin, watery; carbonation is way too low. It doesn't have the full bodied mouthfeel I expect from a belgian dark ale.

D- Troegs did a great job of covering up the alcohol and making this beer not too heavy so I could drink a lot of this, however, the taste is too muted for the style and left me feeling unsatisfied.

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Photo of erz316
3.32/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into westmalle chalice

no head on the beer at all! how odd for a belgian. the body is a very nice black tea colour, and completely diaphanous and transparent. the nose is fairly strong, even more so when pouring and there is some foam. the nose is a good combo of fermented cherries, sweetness (the honey I'm guessing), and an elusive malt body-- one second it is quite strong, the next I can't find it. the only way I could tell this is a dark strong is from the intense boozy fruit, but no other real belgian characteristics. the taste is lacking quite a lot as well, too sweet, no spice, no booze, no real fruity characgter, just kind of a honey-sweet malt mixture. the feel is decent, a bit under carbonated; the drinkability is not, it is too sweet and not anything close to the way I imagine the style.

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Photo of organicbrewer
3.31/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-Light Ruby with a two finger tan head that quickly dissapates Clear

S-Belgiany esters. Some Cherry (no pit) and honey. In one sniff it is really nice but then it gets to be too much, then nice again.

T-Fairly sweet. Some cherry, more honey. No hop bitterness. Kindof all over the place. Not unpleasant though.

M-Sweet! Could use more carbonation to give the perception of dryness or to lift the sweetness off the palate

D-A bit too sweet and alcoholic for me to drink much. Took me a while to finish one bottle. Still not a bad way to warm up when it's cold outside.

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Photo of aforbes10
3.31/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at The Drafting Room and liked it a lot but didnt review it so i bought a bottle to review later. This is in regard to that bottle: Pours cherry red wine-colored with a small thin white head. Fruity alcohol odor. Cherries pretty obvious on the nose in kind of a candy-like way. A ton of alcohol obvious in the taste at first but it ramps back a bit after a while. Cherries come through later, along with a heavy maltiness. Sticky syrupy mouthfeel. A sipper i think. Overall it's good but it was better on tap with a meal in front of me.

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Photo of Lothore
3.31/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a clear, crimson hue with a fizzy 2 finger head which dissipates fairly quickly.

S- Smells very sweet and yeasty, lots of clove and banana.

T- Taste is follows the nose with a huge amount of clove and mixed light fruit with a strong undercurrent of belgian yeast.

M- Thick with quite a bit of carbonation (and this bottle is over a year old!)

D- This is a very sweet beer. The alcohol is hidden well but I find the banana flavor to be a little runtesque (like the candy ...). I don't know if i could handle more than one of these in a sitting but it is a good nightcap.

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Photo of jjboesen
3.31/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had the Mad Elf at a recent tasting (4 ounce pour). Initial thoughts: quickly diminishing head that leaves loose lacing then settles into copper colore clarity.

I did detect a few notes of black cherry but given the underwhelming nose in general, it certainly did not linger long. As for the taste, I found it mildly sweet with some clove background. Little hops or malt was noted. I found the mouthfeel adequate, which was rather dissapointing given the brewer - I did not discover what they were trying to achieve here.

This is not one of their best beers; average, yes, but not worth going out of the way for. Personally, I thought the elf more disinterested than mad. Sorry guys.

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Photo of RyanC3958
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Heard about this one and had to give it a try. Pours our a bright red color and you can definitely taste a strong bite of cherry. Have always been a fan of mad elf. Nice strong beer with no bad aftertaste. Always willing to spend the extra buck to get it so I can casually have one now and then. Quality brew and not one you rapidly drink.

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Photo of dpnelson1978
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into glass tulip.

Received in a trade.

A: Beautiful bright deep copper to red body topped with a thin tan head that quickly dissipates leaving behind only a ring of bubbles. Pretty standard for the style.

S: A Belgian yeast strain that I definitely recognize produces fruity esters that mingle with a potent cherry aroma. Very light alcohol scent and notable sweetness.

T: Sweet malt forward flavor dominated by dark red fruit compliments of a cherry infusion and some yeast play. Slightly spicing on the back end. The 11% alcohol content is well hidden.

M: Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Light carbonic bite, and distinct smoothness throughout resulting from noticeable residual sugar.

D: A bit too sweet to drink alone, but would be mighty good with a meal in moderation. Goes down smooth overall.

O: Respectable, but not great. I'd consider buying it again if the price was right.

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Photo of ms11781
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a tulip.

Pours a slightly hazy, deep red color. Looks like it wants to be a brownish red or rust color but every way I look at it, including holding it up to light, it's red. The thinnest of an off white head shows up and its gone almost instantly.

Smell is of ripe, dark fruit up front. Think cherries more than raisins or plums. The ripe fruit aroma is followed by a slight sweetness. The smallest amount of alcohol is detected at the end.

Taste is surprisingly sweet. The fruit flavors are still there but there is a sweetness that seems to ride underneath the rest of the flavors. Sweet up front with a fruity taste in the middle. Finishes mellow with an almost honey and sugar flavor. Sugar isn't the dark/brown sugar that is consistent with the style. As with the nose, the slightest hint of alcohol comes through in the finish.

Smoother mouthfeel due to a medium body and low carbonation. Beer really is smooth all the way through and finishes even smoother with the honey at the end.

Drinability is ok. At 11% ABV a 12oz bottle is enough. However, even if I was to move on to another one it would be something else.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- This beer can achieve a nice big head but it can't support it for long. The result is that there is no lacing on my glass. The color of the beer is the best thing about the appearance. Its a nice vibrant, poinsettia red that is mostly clear.

S- Sweet cherries dominate with an overcoating of Belgo style yeast esters. Spiciness is nice but a little bit more would still be appropriate. I'm getting scents of cinnamon rolls, apple pie, nutmeg and vanilla.

T- This is a very sweet beer, a Tad sweeter than I expected or wanted. Lots of sweet cherries, vanilla, apple pie. I would have liked a touch more Christmas type spices to break up the sweetness.

M- Very very low on carbonation. It makes it seem that not all of this beer ever leaves the palate, creating a slick afterfeel.

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Photo of keifffff
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

No frills yet not bad either. Lots of cherry flavor and holiday cheer. Good seasonal brew to look forward to. No head what so ever though. No pun intended. Will look forward to this delivery each season, but not one of the best from Troegs though. Do not let that discourage you from trying it. It is still a good ale.

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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,919 ratings.
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