The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
Very Good
4,020 Ratings
The Mad ElfThe 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,020 |  Reviews: 1,287
Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

A - One-finger off-white foamy head that dissipates quickly, leaving a ring of big-bubble foam around the edge. Sunset golden-red in color and clear. Just sitting in the snifters on a table by the fire, this beer looks very inviting.

S - Honey, maraschino cherries, and malt all float into the nose on a pleasant pillow of subtle alcohol. As it warms in the glass, the fruit flavors grow more complex.

T - Very similar to the nose, although the cherriness is more subdued and not cloyingly sweet. Excellent slightly toasted malts dominate along with compliments of caramel and just a hint of spices for the finish.

M - Creamy at first, then very smooth as it's sipped. Just the right amount of carbonation to give it some structure.

D - A delicious winter warmer to be savored and enjoyed. The alcohol is nicely hidden behind the malts, sugars, and fruits, but there to make it drink more like a brandy than a beer. I would have opened a second bomber had I bought one.

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Photo of Billolick
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, without freshness dating. Poured just below room temp in a Belgian style chalice, pours, medium mahogony, with a slight reddish hue, minor tan head, quickly dissapating, medium sized bubbles and leaving some, not too impressive lacing. Nose is just slightly picked up, grainy and of fruits and some alcohol. This is a smooth, easy drinking Belgian stlye ale. 11% hidden well, but with a nice fruity, cherry warming feel. Notes of, malt, light candi sugars, vanilla, honey, mild hot sauce and sherry soaked cherries. Fine and flavorful sipper.

Thanks to my friend "Grassy" for a sixer of this hard to find nectar...

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A reddish brown body is capped by a creamy tan head that holds fairly well and leaves some minor lace. The aroma is limited but expresses a soft maltiness, a light touch of alcohol, and a sharp fruitiness similar to cranberry (although cherries are actually used). The body is medium with a gentle, fine bubbled carbonation that leaves it creamy and smooth across the palate. The flavor comes alive with an exceptional balance of light spice, juicy & mildly tart cherry, and a chocolate-tinged malt. The cherry flavor becomes clearer as it crosses the palate, coat-tailed by a firm bitterness and some noticeable alcohol. It finishes dry with only minimal lingering malt notes. Well done and highly drinkable. Somewhat Belgian in character due to the fruit and spice. An exceptionally enjoyable beer that's well worth seeking out.

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Photo of MiScusi
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the 2007 release.

A- Reddish brown in appearance, more reddish, off white head doesn't build up too much and fades very fast. Lots of floaties, I poured some of the yeast in. I really like the color.

S- The smell is fruit, sugar, I wouldn't maybe guess cherries, but I guess they are there. Has that trademark belgian yeast + fruit that you find a lot in their strong darks. Ok, as I smell it more as it sits in the glass, the cherries really come out, especially w/ swirling.

T- The taste is a mix of sweet and earth. Finish is really bright fruit. It's definitely sweet on the palate.

M- Carbonation is fairly low. Mouth is somewhat slick, on the heavier side of medium body.

D- It goes down fast. A really good beer for cold months. Enough fruit to surpass any cloying sugar that might've been left behind.

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Photo of JoeBloe
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

i've not been liking this too much in it''s $18.99/6pk form - but I'm working a growler on a snowy day today-
pours an almost clear reddish golden orange and puts up a 1/2 finger head of quickly dissipated head -lack of lacing belies its slick high abv character - smells pretty nice and sweet, I'm picking up those dark cherrries - taste is sweet up front with a spicy/bitter finish, cherries/prunes/ and sweet honey - mouthfeel is as if this was mixed directly with honey - thick and slick, in an 'ok' way -
this fresh growler is certainly more evenly balanced than the bottled version, yum - drinkability is real good, even though i should know better...

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Photo of AragornUnplugged
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interestingly dark orange/ruby pour. I have found it is necessary to get aggressive to produce a head, but doing so nicely mellows the first sip. The label proclaims that Mad Elf is brewed with honey and cherries and there is no doubt upon drinking that they mean it. You can smell both, along with some spice, and they are layered in the taste. I would like this beer to have a bit more body, as that would firm up an otherwise great and unique product. Carbonation is light, alcohol is noticably present but quite drinkable. Strangely enough, this is the beer that rescued my sister from the grasp of a heavily imported green bottled macro, causing her to liberate my stash. Good thing I have a source. I need more.

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Photo of Oakenator
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber to red with just a bit of head that disappates quickly. Little lacing left on the glass. Aroma is cherries and sweet honey - easily detectable. Taste is strong - slight alcohol presence but not surprising at this strength. Reinforces much of the nose - cherries are slightly sour and present up front through the middle where the honey takes over on the finish.

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Photo of Mwt
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ogman
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ssmilkstout
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of jzeilinger
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a ruby red in my tulip glass, didn't have much head to speak of, then again, I pour my beers pretty quietly which isn't always good. I'm letting the beer sit in the glass for 10-15 minutes to bring up to room temp. There's now no head at all and no carbonation. Has the Belgian sweet spicey aroma, some cherry in the scent. The only gripe I have, and it isn't anything major, it would be nice to get a stronger aroma coming from my glass. The aromas were harder to detect, maybe because the beer was too cold or my nose was not in good form, who knows.

The taste is totally unique, I wasn't sure what to expect with the "cherry thing" going on here but it works, and works well. Everything blends well on the tongue, the Belgian yeast and cherry flavors seem to almost swirl around the tongue. I taste the Belgian yeast, then the sour , acrid, tart/sour cherry rears it head, then gets beat down by the Belgian yeast, and so it continues for the duration as it sits on your tongue. Minutes after the taste, the cherry nuances linger on the sides of the tongue while the tart cherry flavor causes the salivary glands to go crazy. This beer finishes wetter than I expected. There is a slight warming in the throat from the alcohol and for an 11% beer, the ABV is particularly well hidden. Mouthfeel is very smooth and soft, slight prickling on the tongue, but not too much to make it taste harsh. Medium body.

This is very, very drinkable and can easily creep up quickly and trainwreck you if not paying attention. In fact, I'm amazed how drinkable it is because I'm not one for sweeter types of beers. Very well done, one of the better ones from Troegs.

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Photo of Foxman
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a clear, bubbly deep amber, aspiring almost to ruby. A finger and a half of matte white head dwindles gradually to a frothy toile veil. Pips and flits of lacing meander on the inside of the glass.

The aroma emits a malt and honey sweetness backed by a tart cherry note and a yeasty sourness. It's all mitigated by a haze of blended spice. A distant alcohol hint loiters covertly, reminiscent of vanilla extract.

The first sip tenders a sweet splash of toasted malt and drippy honey, not cloying, but strongly present. A cherry fruit tartness lines the sides of the tongue, while a mild melange of spices lays across the back. The sweetness clings as things proceed, still dueling with the sour and tart character, but joined by a mellow yeasty dough trace near the close. The finish sees sweet and sour slip into a rounded dry spice memory. Noticeably absent is any really overt alcohol reference, short of a comfortable warming body-wide.

Medium bodied, the sweet toothiness and carbonation combine to deliver a fine palatal experience.

Increasingly eagerly awaited each holiday season, it certainly should be this year. All the elements envelop the senses and seem to exist just for your enjoyment. It's a winter warmer that wraps you in sweet holiday cheer. The ABV is felt rather than tasted, but it is very real, and not to be forgotten. Still, I can't imagine a time when the first wouldn't lead to a second. Hell, you can keep your egg nog; mad elves make good beer.

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Photo of Kennethzelljr
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of SheepNutz
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep ruby red color with one finger of head. There is minimal lacing left on the glass. The smell is very sweet with overripe cherries, honey, and a hint of alcohol. The taste starts tart with a zing of alcohol up front. The cherries are very present in the middle of the taste, with a slightly hoppy finish. There is a bit of toffee and honey on the finish as well. The mouthfeel is super thick and smooth. The drinkability is fantastic for an 11% brew. A great holiday ale!

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Photo of whitehouse50
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this into my snifter. It has the color of dark reddish and ruby appearances. Aromas of sweet fruit with a slight bite to it. On the first sip you can notice the alcohol but that quickly fades as you can taste more sweet fruity flavors, definitely the cherries with hints of honey. Mouthfeel gets a slightly gummy or sticky after a few tastes but overall not bad. This one goes down relatively smooth considering its so high in alcohol. This is one of my favorite winter beers.

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Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I like this beer a lot, surpasses Great Lakes Christmas in my book for sure. A dark red brown color with smallish head on it. Nose is sweet malt, some fruitiness (cherries?), some nice spicing to it too. Very holiday, honestly. Flavor follows with some of the same notes, almost fruit-cake-y overall if you up the spicing (cinnamon, nutmeg, and others)--very good. Very smooth and an easy drink. Nice beer, one that I will be getting again.

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Photo of wchesak
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Abbaye du Val-Dieu glass

A- about the same color as a rose, very little head - thin, wispy, faded quickly, leaving a very small half rim of white head

S - sweet honey and sweet cherries, slightly boozy background

T - like a cherry soda at first, that gives way to warm honey, and eventually some slight heat like from a cherry brandy

M - on the light side of medium bodied, really the way that the beer coats the inside of your mouth keeps it from being light bodied, slightly under carbonated

D - i know its 11% but it is really not noticeable, however I think one bomber is just right, esp with the fruit/sweet of the beer that I usually can not take too much of; also, this is not a belgian strong dark ale

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Photo of brew3crew
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured into tasting glass.

A-translucent amber/red with white lacing around the edges
S-very suprising. Almost a banana smell to it. Light honey.
T-tastes a lot like it smells. Spicy banana. Really suprising here. Did not expect this at all.
M-medium bodied and smooth
D-very drinkable. Especially for abv.

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Photo of brewcrew76
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to kegatron for this one. 2007 version

A - Clear ruby, amber with little head and no lacing.

S - Candy like sweetness with honey and cherry, a strong belgian yeast note, banana and cloves. Slightly reminds me of a cherry cough drop but in a good way without the medicinal qualities.

T - Honey that creates a candy like sweetness, cherry with a touch of bready malt and another big dose of belgian yeast with banana and clove.

M - Feels like it is on the light side of medium with low carbonation but also has a thicker, sweet syrupy feel to it at the same time. The 11% abv is hard to detect.

D - Having brewed a few honey beers before I think this combination plays nicely. Easy to drink for 11%.

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Photo of Retail1LO
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a 10 oz. snifter. This pours a brilliant ruby color that is nearly transparent. You can see clean through one side of the glass, the beer, and out the other. Pours with the faintest of heads and disappears quickly. The nose is extremely fruity...very winey. The cherries and honey meld together to give this the nose of a mead. It's a lovely scent nonetheless. Were I blindfolded, however, I'd have said this was wine or mead with the quickness. The taste is very sweet, with a shade of tartness to it. The honey and malt tail in at the back end of a taste. This has a very nice mouthfeel to it. Not too heavy, not too thin. It's got a wonderful finish too. Overall, this is a nice, easy drinker that at 11.0%, could very likely catch up to you fast. It doesn't come across nearly as boozy as the ABV suggests it should be. Great seasonal beer.

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Photo of costanzo_mike
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of Natedelattre
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of macster
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a 2007 vintage at Somerville Supersaver on recent trip to NJ.

Pours a beautiful amber/burgundy color with a slight haze. Produces just a paper thin off-white head with no lacing noted.

Pleasant fruity aromas of red cherry, pear, green apple, candy sugar and some Belgian yeast fill the nose. A good dose of alcohol amps the aromas nicely.

Palate was a bit soda pop-like with a disappointing thiness and fizziness.

Flavors start out very sweet and sugary with notes of cherry syrup, apricot, clover honey and pear. Transitions nicely into a slightly tart black cherry, currants and alcohol finish. Would be a great holiday brew in the dead of a nothern winter to warm up the innards.

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Photo of Nutleybeer
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After 2 years or so of trying, finally I got my chance to sample Troegs' infamous Mad Elf. Apparently, in the past they never brewed enough and it sold out at once. This year, they must have learned their lesson though...I actually found Mad Elf sold in north Jersey; which is a first.

At $13 a six pack, the cost is quite high. Thankfully, at my local store, they sold Mad Elf by the bottle too. At $3 a bottle, while still high, it is a bit more affordable to be sampled.

The smell as you pop open the bottle is distinctive Belgian with a pleasant, somewhat spicy scent. With a reddish copper color, it made for a nice pour with a mild head. The taste was smooth. Not to sweet, but with a subtle hint of cherries. Not as sweet as I imagined it to be.

For those of you interested but unable to find Mad Elf, you can also try Ommegang's Three Philosophers, which is in the same lines (thanks to the guys in Red Bank's Spirits for pointing that out in the past).

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Photo of BdubleEdubleRUN
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Tanger for sending me a few of these and one of them being a 08. This review is from doing a side by side with 08 and 11.
The beer pours a amber red color with the 08 being a duller and murkier color with the 11 vibrant and clear. They both have a light tan head that fades quickly and sticks to the glass.
The 11 smell like a cherry and clove bomb, spicy, honey and alcohol. The 08 smells amazing much more balanced then the 11 with the smell a bit candy like.
The taste follows suite to the nose on both beers, the 11 was dominated by belgian flavors with clove, cherry and alcohol. The 08 tastes fantastic, its sweet yet spicy, the clove has faded off a lot revealing a balanced cherry and honey to mesh with the belgian flavors.
They both have a medium body and good carbonation. The 08 in my opinion is leaps and bounds better then the 11, if I get anymore bottles this year I will be putting them away for awhile.

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The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 4,020 ratings