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Tröegs Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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1,241 Reviews
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs 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
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Reviews: 1,241 | Ratings: 3,811
Photo of keifffff
3.3/5  rDev -14.5%
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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Photo of IceTrey9785
3.29/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bought a six-pack for $13.99 at the Total Wine & More in McLean...

A: This beer looks great. I poured it relatively fast to develop a larger head, but it didn't really take. The beer seemed a little flat, with small amounts of lacing. The rich red color is fantastic...I couldn't wait to take a sip.

S: A rush of malty sweetness, faint hint of hops, but the cherry/honey in the brew gives off reminders of a cold weather medicine (maybe a lozenge or something...). Slightly oily on the nose, and a mild burn from the alcohol. I figured it might be around 10% -- 11% isn't too far out of the realm.

T&M: Excellent carbonation and creaminess -- the beer really fills your mouth, and engages the palate. The cherries hit about midway through the palate. Little to no hops, but the alcohol does the job of cutting the sweet aroma. A lot drier than I anticipated, and much more flavorful too. A nice tart cherry finish.

Overall I really like this beer. I don't want to drink two in a row, but perhaps with a nice dessert, it would be most welcome. Definitely a little too warm out for a beer of this magnitude -- on a cold winter day by a fire, and I think this beer would come alive. Highly recommended, especially given how much complexity this beer brewed with fruit really has.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.29/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber red with a decent amount of head that dissipates quickly. Smells really strongly of cherries and spice. Honestly... Doesn't smell that good. Tastes spicy and a bit tart/sour. Its got a lot of yeasty tastes to it too... It has a solid mouthfeel and is fairly drinkable but it doesn't really do that much for me.

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Photo of Bmoyer0301
3.29/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Poured into a standard snifter at O'Riley's pub in Harrisburg. Very Thin bright white head that is fading very quickly as I write. When I hold it up to the light appears to be crystal clear ruby red/ pinkish with absolutely no haze or yeast chunk. Very Very pretty looking. As I give a little swirl I notice the viscosity is pretty heavy but not quite syrupy.


Right off the start I am pulling out the cherries, black licorice, sugar honey like sweetness, some medicinal notes that remind of of some cough drops or children cherry cough syrup. Maybe some menthol ? There is some heat alcohol in the finish.


Bright honey sweetness, cherries and yeasty phenolic funk are the front and center stage here. Some sour apples, cloves, bananas and absolutely no hops to mention of. This is sweet but not cloyingly overdone. As I keep going cider notes are coming through and I hate to say this maybe pencil shavings?


I LOVE Troegs but this is one of those beers that never does it for me. I usually have one or two a year just to see how the batch came out and I really should try aging some. I might have better results. Good beer, just not for me for 12% it drinks dangerously smooth.

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Photo of popery
3.29/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

From notes, 1/28/11. Bottle. This beer is a bit of a sweet mess. It certainly drinks smoother than its 11% abv, but that’s the best thing about it. It pours a very red amber color with a small off-white head. The aroma is sugar cane, cherries, honey and some fruity Belgian yeast notes. The taste is sweet with a somewhat cloyingly sweet finish. It’s just a bit of a mess. The flavors don’t really clash, but it’s cloying upon cloying. It’s actually a lot like what I imagine an elf would drink, a sort of fruity beer nectar. Mouthfeel is sticky but otherwise fine. I’m being a bit harsh, but it’s just too over-the-top for me. Lots of sweet flavors in this one.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Light reddish brown, I expected it to be pinkish red! No head. Cinnamon, nutmeg, apples, rhubarb, grapes and pomegranate sweet fruity vinous aroma. Earthy and caramel undertones. Mild vodka is noticeable in mouth. Caramelic sweettarts, apples, vinous grapes, cinnamon and tart fruits on the tongue. Rather thin bodied unfortunately, low carbonation. A beer that is hard to interpret well, this could be a spicy cooler for all I know, but it’s not without pleasure to sip. Fun to brew I guess, but a bit expensive for what it is. I wouldn’t try more than once anyway. Thanks you Mr Weizen.

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Photo of cbutova
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark red with a small white cap. Head retention is pretty low and only a tiny bit of lace stays behind.

S- Mostly has a Belgian spice, like cardamom/coriander feel to it. Definitely a bit of dark fruit vibe from the cherries. Surprisingly faint to me. Some pine.

T- Interesting. Starts with a big blast of strong, dark fruit. The finish brings a good deal of yeast spice notes (coriander, zest) with that fruit. The cherry and yeast are very strong flavors and some alcohol comes through as well. Clove and banana really become huge as it warms.

MF- Moderate body with high, palate-stinging carbonation. A bit of a creamy feel to it. Pretty damn hot from the high ABV. A bit of a burn in the back of the throat.

DB- The flavor to me is a decent mix of dark cherry and strong Belgian yeast spice. The high ABV makes this a one bottle deal for me, a sipper.

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Photo of PhageLab
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a sifter.

A - Deep ruby red coloration. Produced a fingertip's worth of froth that stuck around for a bit, then faded out into a ring around the glass. Minimal lacing.

S - Hmmm, cherry and citric acid. A bit pungent for my tastes. Alcohol also shows up here.

T - Quite hideous chilled, but once it had time to breathe and reach room temperature, some flavors actually came through. Cold it tastes like citric acid, but as it warmed more of the spices came through, as well as the cherry flavor. Not bad, but not great either.

M - Medium body, warming from the abv, low carbonation, pretty smooth on the palate.

D - Okay I suppose, although I wasn't too impressed. I think I just bought into the hype a bit much, which one should never do. I doubt I'll seek another out, though I wouldn't turn one down if offred. Maybe cherries just don't belong in my beer. Recommended if that's your thing.

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Photo of Rickythejeweler
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2009 Vintage Keg on-tap at Hudson Street Stackhouse 1/18/11

A - Clear ruby, almost no head nor lacing.

S - Sour cherry.

T - Cherry, bread, belgian yeast, and other wierd but welcomed flavours that I couldn't sort out.

M - Thick, slightly syrupy, low carbonation.

D - The alcohol was hidden very well, but the sweetness got to me a bit more than I would have liked.

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Photo of mlockman
3.27/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This beer is crazy vinous, it is almost like drinking a wine, to be honest. Definitely not my favorite, but wasn't horrible overall; I really don't understand why it is in the Belgian Strong Dark Ale category.

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Photo of UMNbeerhunter
3.27/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Darkness tulip on 6/10/11.

Pours a dark amber with a nice size off white head that dissipates very quickly leaving no lacing. Head was gone in an instant lots of bubbling carb head.

Smells of some kind of fruit but if cherry is a faint after smell. I also smell carmel and roasted malts.

Taste is of booze, a little bit of cherries, and some malts. Not much to say about this beer. I had high hopes but...

Mouthfeel is moderate in weight and not bite at all. Again I had hoped for some more then just a fruity aftertaste.

Overall I am really unimpressed with this brew. I had heard great things but... Yeah one and done on this brew for me. No taste complexity, weak smell, and I just can't get what the big deal is about this brew. Pass.

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Photo of Pecafaced
3.26/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass. Allowed to warm up to about cellar temperature.

A- There appeared to be an instant color change during the pour. Initially it appeared to come out slightly light and golden but then became ruby red upon the completion of the pour. The head was very thin and quickly dissipated after the pour.

S- instant smell of sour cherries and a sweetness possibly attributed to the honey. Also hints of spice or cloves can be detected.

T- The taste is sweet with some hints of the sour cherry and the spice from the yeast. Not overly sweet though. The alcohol is present at 11% but not overwhelming.

M- Decent carbonation, a bit dry on the finish.

D- Overall a good holiday beer. Definitely good to drink during the cold months. Not overwhelming with the alcohol and not too sweet for my palate. Would definitely get again.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.26/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reddish colored and pretty clear, zero head and essentially zero lacing.

Smells sweet and spicey, cinnamon notable, cherries also notable.

Taste is very powerful, tons of fruitiness, cherries and figs, plums, herbal and earthy notes, very noticeable alcohol.

Finish is dry and tart, body is slick and syrupy, almost a bit sticky.

I'm not super impressed with this one. A nice one off but not my favorite in the style by any stretch.

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Photo of lnashsig
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to mjtiernan for sending me this one. He is an honorable man indeed, we had a bet over the Texans vs Cincy playoffs (Abyss vs Parabola) and in addition to the agreed upon Parabola, he threw this and Goose Island Black Out Stout in the package. I'll certainly be trading with Matt in the near future. Now to get to the review. Poured from bottle into Victory tulip glass. Pours a crystal clear amber color. No head at all to speak of and tons of alcohol legs. Smell- booze! raisins, prunes, cherries, brown sugar, burnt creme brule. Taste- BOOZY! raisins, dark cherries, very strong alcohol phenols. Some bitter notes on the end, but this one is a dark fruit boozy bomb. Just really not much else there. Mouthfeel- very little carbonation at all. The booze dominates.

Glad to have tried this, but it is just a little bit too boozy for my liking and lacks complexity.

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Photo of BWH3
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Mad Elf Troeg Brewery
12 oz bottle in Goblet at 50 degrees F

Belgian Strong Dark Ale brewed with honey and cherries.

Appearance: Clear copper brew with above average and steady stream of carbonation. Head pours bubbly light beige but dissipates rapidly to leave stable ring around glass. Simply head is weak for Belgian ale. Color is on lighter side for style and gas is perfect. (3.0)

Smell: Dark fruit, honey sweetness, and spiciness dominate the nose. Fragrant banana like esters are just beneath the surface buoying the other scents into the air. Some malt sweetness similar to Munich also is detectable. Some warm alcohol notes as well. The aroma is pleasant and well done but not insanely complex or bizarre. I’m not impressed by the cherries contribution to the aroma. (3.0)

Taste: A fair dark fruit and malt sweetness initially with additional sweetness of honey. The cherry flavor or tartness is undetectable. The alcohol warmth is perfect for a cold fall day, but the taste is not that gentle on the palate. The spiciness from phenols produced by the Belgian yeast could be more expressive but is present. Lastly the finishing hops clear the tongue nicely. Overall, average for style in general, but very good for an American interpretation. (3.0)

Mouthfeel: Lighter in body than I anticipated. I think this is appropriate for a Belgian Ales which typically have a discrepancy between the alcohol content and the body of the beer thanks to adjuncts like honey and candi. Carbonation is great for style. The carbonation even has that gentle carbonation common to Belgian styles which doesn’t cause one to belch too much. (4.5)

Drinkability: Fairly quaffable at 11% ABV. Not heavy or overly sweat. In fact, not too filling despite above average gas content. My only complaint is that the beer does not exceed my expectations of a superb Belgian Strong Dark Ale or some of the ratings on Beer Advocate (3.5)

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Photo of Reaper16
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

*thanks to stephenjmoore for the extra!*
12.oz bottle -- 2011 vintage -- served into a tulip glass

Pours a sort of burnt copper color. Not at all "ruby red" like the label claims. Lots of clarity to the body. There was about a finger of buttermilk colored head at first, but it quickly dissipates to a tiny ring. Not really any lacing.

This is a strange beer because the severity of my smells gives me a different profile. If I lightly take in air through my nose, then Mad Elf gives off notes of cherry pie, flower petals, and sugarplum (Seriously. Though they aren't dancing in my head or anything). But a full-on deep sniff is way more earthy and yeasty: lots of botanical notes and lots of clove. There's a bit of an oxidized character to the nose too. I wish the two dynamics would come together more seamlessly.

The flavor is very fruity upfront. There's dark cherry for sure, along with the more figs-and-dates dark fruits that you expect from a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Lots of sweetness. The yeast gives off lots of clove and, like, a flavor that reminds me of the aftertaste of a dish that uses allspice. The yeast helps to balance the sweetness. The finish is the most surprising aspect of this beer. It quickly goes from being fruity and yeasty to a more dry, amber malt-based flavor. This is an amber malt flavor that I want to say I've tasted in other Troegs beers before, but I might only be thinking of Nugget Nectar. But yeah, the finish on Mad Elf is very much like an Amber Ale to me. In fact, this beer is in some respects like an Imperial Amber or something, just with a Belgian yeast strain.

The mouthfeel is pretty light for all of the fruitiness. I realize that the yeast is contributing to the relatively dry finish, so the mouthfeel is accomplishing some positive things. Overall, this is a different take on the style. I appreciate it, but it's not really my thing.

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Photo of smcolw
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Minor head to start that quickly settles to rim bubbles only. No lasting lace whatsoever. The color is deep amber, almost brown. Crystal clear.

Smells of Belgian yeast. Sweet aroma of honey. Some spice that reminds me of oregano. Complex and interesting. Light alcohol warmth.

Cloyingly sweet. Very, very rich body. The carbonation seems quite low. Strong alcohol presence in the swallow and the brief aftertaste--the potency of this beer is very evident. The yeast flavor is more muted than the smell would suggest.

Although the smell might indicate complexity, the taste does not follow through.

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Photo of projectflam86
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours a ruby red color with a thin white foam head. Not much lace left behind.

S- Plenty of cherries in the nose with lots of sweetness and dark fruits. A tiny bit of Belgian 'funk' aroma as well.

T- Lots of sweet malt flavor initially with some honey and caramel. The cherry flavor is a bit medicinal and the high alcohol creates a brash finish. I expected a bit more out of this one in terms of flavor.

M- Medium bodied with ok carbonation. Boozy and harsh with an astringent feel.

D- Not a bad beer necessarily, but I had much higher hopes for this one.

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Photo of Brewsky29
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a transparent red with quarter inch of fizzy head that dissipated quickly.

Smells of cherries,honey and spicy yeast.

The taste is very sweet honey fruity with alcohol warmth and a slightly fruity aftertaste.

Feels very fizzy, highly carbonated, warm. Almost wine like.

Overall its a nice change of pace. It is a little sweet for my taste, and I'm not sure if I would pick this one up again. Maybe just a single.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A brown body with ruby highlights and a tan head that leaves just a little bit of lacing.

Smells of ripe fruits and honey with some peppery belgian yeastiness.

Taste is definitely dominated by honey and cherries. A little too sweet for me. Some nice belgian malt and yeastiness though. Hides the 11% ABV pretty well though. Mouthfeel is medium.

Too sweet to be really drinkable to me.

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Photo of vikingloki
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass with a small head that disappeared almost immediatly.

Nice red orange color, nothing about the small is overwhelming, just a brief whiff of hops.

First mouthful is tart, might be the carbonation, medium mouthfeel, no hint of hotness from the whopping 11% ABV.Very crisp, good balance, I would think this beer would smooth out and more flavors will come out with ageing.

Just a hint of honey and cherries, but obviously they were the big reason the ABV is high as it's not a malt monster of a beer. It's kinda wierd the ABV is high and the beer is not dark at all.

Very drinkable - very warming - 3 beers and I wouldn't recommend driving! I was hoping I'd like it more, but it's ok. The more I drink, the more I like. It reminds me of a barleywine more than anything else.

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Photo of Duff27
3.24/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear amber body on a collerish white head.

Fruity nose.

Cherries. Dry finish. Boozy, but what do you expect from an 11% Belgian?

Carbonated, thin-medium mouthfeel. Little disappointing.

Ah it was alright, disappointing. Everything but the nose was less than I was hoping for. Thanks TATURBO.

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Photo of LeRose
3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle to snifter.

Aroma seems to lack any cherry. Smells boozy, hint of honey like sweetness.

Pours dark honey brown with reddish hues. No appreciable head, but plenty of bubbles. Attractive looking.

Initial taste get the alcohol burn, not getting the cherry. Dry finish, sweetness and honey notes. Still not finding the cherry taste at all despite some medicinal hints. Surprisingly bitter. The honey and sweetness seemed to build, then a bit of sourness after a few minutes. Coats a bit with lingering sweetness.

Overall, a little disappointed but this is quite warming and it is pretty cold here today. Will keep sippin on it, but nothing I would rush out to buy again.

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Photo of Jesstyr
3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Was excited to try this beer, and enjoyed it in a Palm tulip and some great cheese.

Overall very disappointing. Looks great, ruby red with a thin bubbly head that remains throughout the drink. Nose definitely shows off the honey and cherry, but its not particularly full or well rounded.

Which leads to a similar flavor - it essentially comes off as a flavored beer, without the depth of Three Philosophers, which is the closest comparison I can think of. The body is too thin for the style and there seems to the raisin/chocolate sweetness you like to see in a strong dark. Overall this is a decent dessert beer, but not much else.

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bomber poured into little tasting glasses- split this year's edition with a few friends...

Deep ruby red with a quickly dissipating head. Left surprisingly good lacing.

Aroma of toasted malt, slightly sweet, fruitiness (cherries, dates) but mostly just alcohol. Saying that it is very present is an understatement. I recently got an 05 as an extra in a trade and am very excited to see how it has mellowed.

One friend said the words "Cherry cough syrup" and once I heard that, I couldn't stop thinking it. Had a nice, creamy, full bodied mouthfeel but the alcohol was very present. Somewhat yeasty/spicy throughout. Interesting to try, but certainly a sipper for the cold months.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 3,811 ratings.
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