Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
3,926 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 Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,926 |  Reviews: 1,271
Photo of themind
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice brew from Troegs. This beer pours a nice head and has good aroma. The cherries can be tasted but the beer is not sour. I must say this was very enjoyable and I will seek out another sixer next year to enjoy. The 11.5% abv is slightly hot but the brew still has a decent mouthfeel.

Bottom Line: A good holiday beer to enjoy!

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Photo of cambabeer
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Mad Elf ontap

Pours a nice reddish brown with a solid, crackling head and some lace. In the nose, caramel malts, cherries and brown sugar sweetness. In the taste, belgian yeast, honey, and soft cherry. Almost tastes like a quad with more fruit notes. Medium bodied, easy and fun to drink. Still one of my favorite seasonals.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

last bottle i had of this was bad, or something.. maybe last year's batch wasn't my cup of tea. regardless, consistent positive vibes from other troegs brews demands a re-review.. and boy am i glad i did it.

christmasy red, clear with no head. some bubbles. big nose of belgian malt with silky accents from the honey. reminiscent of other american belgian-style ales in its overabundance of malt without accompanying fruity-sweetness. flavor is complex and very smooth for 11%. starts off with mild cherry hints, more of the maraschino variety than sour red. follows up immediately with some band-aid (ok, alot of band-aid) and spicy heat. the abv was bound to resurface somewhere, and here it is. peppery, finishes with a big cherry juice blast. speaking of maraschino, its reminiscent of the water they pack those cherries in- like a beery shirley temple (or is it rob roy, i never remember). last bottle i had felt more cough syrup cherry than juicy cherry, and this is a vast improvement. nice holiday sipper although you can gulp it. malts are a little 'dirty' (corny?) and for a fruit/spiced brew it comes off awfully plain. still, freshness makes this elf a very good one.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Damn, this is a difficult one to track down if you don't buy some or all of it the moment it comes out, huh?! Gave up trying to find singles or bombers of this - I ain't paying $18 for a six-pack, sorry. Had it at my local today - the first time in a few years trying it - and I gotta say, it's good, just maybe not quite worth the (local) hype.

A decent finger-width, rocky head topped it off to start, but it sunk down quietly and refused to lace. Not expecting much on that end, however, what an intense, gorgeous ruby glow it puts out! (+ 0.5 pts) Big honey and cherry sultriness in the aroma, round and silky smooth, but it never transcends far beyond "hints" and "notes".

You do, however, get a sense that the taste offers a much more concentrated intensity of these scents. Honey carries the bulk of the flavor and feel, coming across like a fruit-flavored mead/braggot. Awfully smooth (one of the most apropos uses of this word) and light - perhaps a result of the quiet-storm profile of the alcohol (which now decides to come out and play). You almost don't feel this flowing through, going down.

Don't be mistaken, the cherry addition to this recipe is substantial as well, and thankfully not in a cough drop or maraschino way - simply a mellow cordial, and in wonderful harmony with the honey. I couldn't, for the life of me, pick out what, if anything, the chocolate malt added to the flavor.

It's remarkable how much I was reminded of my favorite non-beer alc-beverage, Drambuie, when tasting this. It's a well-made brew, if not mind-blowing. A nice digestif - at the least, something to have on a special occasion - but with the slow-creeping and dope-ifying and dastardly-concealed 11%, I'd have trouble putting down more than one at a time.

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Photo of guinnessfan
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into oversized wine glass.

A: Stunning clarity, beauty and color. Pours a deep, golden red, with an orange hue. Small off-white head quickly fades into a lacing ring. Slightly better head would warrant a 5.

S: Sweet but mild, vague cherries and a perhaps a hint of spice, but I'm not sure about the spice.

T: Amazing, like a Belgian without the astringancy or the spice. Milder flavor than a Belgian, but the alcohol is pronounced, without being overbearing. The alcohol takes you right up to the edge, without crossing over the line. Sweetness from honey and cherries and alcohol, but not like cough syrup.

M: Smooth as silk, lightly carbonated, and leaves a nice sweet aftertaste.

D: As good as it is, the alcohol taste and effect keep the drinkability lower than ideal. 1 or 2 at a time would be plenty. I probably only drink a 6 pack/year of this wonderful brew. Kudos, to Chris and John for creating another great product. I'm trying to get to the brewery when they have this in the tasting room.

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Photo of TMB0424
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear burnt red body - ruby-ish. Even moreso when held to the light. Large white head with tons of carbonation rising up. Loads of stubborn lacing on the glass.

Smell is of dark cherries, candy sugar. Very sweet. The sweet honey is definitely there. Slight burnt malt in nose as well.

Taste is of sweet red cherries with honey sweetness. Candied sugar. A lot like the aroma. A nice zesty, lemon yeast element backs this up really well. Has a tart feel to it. Alcohol spice comes out in the finish.

Mouthfeel is crisp, light. Medium bodied, but maybe somewhat too light for the style. It's very drinkable - the sweetness does not get old. Alcohol content doesn't hinder, either. Very refreshing, very enjoyable. A nice 'holiday' beer from a great brewery.

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Photo of csnyder83
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of imasickboy
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yet another courtesy of the frog. 2006 season, drank September 2007.

Poured a beautiful reddish amber with a nice two finger, semi-dense head. Truly an outstanding looking beer. I am a sucker for a red-tinted beer.

The smell was no surprise. Cherry and honey. Neither was a overpowering aroma, which was a relief.

It had a medium body, and felt very smooth in the mouth. There was a bit of alcohol feel to it, which is the only reason this one didn't rate even higher.

Tasted simply of a decent, medium bodied beer, with a bit of cherry and honey. Aftertaste was the same, only the cherry and honey seemed to stick around just a bit longer. So ridiculously simple, but extraordinary. I wish I had more to say about this one, but I don't. It is what it is, and it is a mighty fine beer. Unfortunately, with the ABV being so high, drinkability suffers. I could easily drink MANY of these, would it not kill me.

Despite the steep cost, I will be purchasing either a case or a sixtel of this one when it comes out the end of next month. This is a top-notch beer. I love it.

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Photo of Martelljw2
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of farrago
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The head is on the thin side, a semi-deep tan color, not very dense and evaporates swiftly, average lacing without much stick. The liquid is an attractive coppery red with a dark orange tint, large amount of super tiny bubbles swirl about inside, excellent clarity does not weaken the richness of hue, handsome. The nose is full but not soft, filled with sweet honey, molasses, baking spices , candied orange peel and a mix of cola and chocolate, the cherries come through clearly, consistent and unambiguous, no secrets hidden. Full-bodied, Walks at a good pacing, not brisk, but on no leisurely stroll either, the carbonation fluffs it up when needed. The citrus is mixed but helps temper the honey, caramel, chocolate stuff. The cherry fruit base pulled in opposing directions by plum and strawberry flavors. Cola, maybe licorice, there is a sweet smokiness to it as well. Not really as well spiced as one might hope for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, maybe more like a Winter Warmer. The length is so-so. In a fun and convivial environment you could easily through 3-4 of these back in spite of the ABV, alone at home, one, maybe two. There’s no intellectual hook.

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Photo of GreenMind
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of AbeyBaby66
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great brew for the Holidays!

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Photo of SonOfKyuss
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of poundboy
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Obtained this bottle in a trade with GCBrewingCO. Thanks much for the opertunity.

Appearance: Red, not amber like a red ale, but red like toasted cherries. Minimal head as is common in high alcohol brews. Just the sort of ruby treasure you can imagine finding in a Mad Elf's cellar.

Nose: Indentifiable fruit scents, Alcohol undertones, A mild floral hoppiness and hints of sweet malt.

Taste: Begins with a sweet maltiness combined with the fruity spicy character I associate with trappist ales. True to its name, one sip begins to warm you right up. Finishes with the slighest hint of spice. Neither my finace or I could taste cherries.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, pleasant carbonation, creamy despite not being all that thick.

Drinkability: I could pound these back until I could no longer stand up, which would proabably be after say 2.5.

Overall a damn good brew. Perhaps not a classic but certainly one to seek out.

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Photo of drewbage
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled after a long Xmas day to celebrate my glorious victory in our Annual Bloodmatch Trivial Pursuit Game. 12 oz brown bottle provided courtesy of PisskyNights. (Thanks!)

Beer was sampled cool at first (~55F) and allowed to warm up over the course of an hour.

Beer drops into the glass with a thud and no carbonation. As it settles in the glass the drinker is presented with a deep red leather colored beer.

As the beer comes up to room temperature, the cherries and spicing becomes stronger melding with a very evident alcohol presence.

The flavor is filled with cherries and a bit of honeyed sweetness. As the beer lolls on the tongue, the combination of alcohol and cinnamon begin to sweep the thickiness of this beer form the palate.

Decent warming beer for the occasional slow sipper during the winter time.

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Photo of MacQ32
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

A - pours a cloudy amber brown with a finger of tan colored head, OK retention and pretty decent but loose lacing.

S - Sweet cherries, honey, slightly sour, oaky booze aromas.

T - sweet honey and light boozyness, cherries. A little Mediciny due to the cherry+booze combo but very nice. Quite well balanced/tame

M - minimally carbonated, smooth, silky and nicely drinkable.

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Photo of Pencible
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This poured a clear auburn with a bit of light tan head. It smelled like lots of sour cherry, almost tannic like a red wine, with lots of wild yeast, and some burnt barley hops and molasses. It tasted like potent and succulent sour cherry with wild honey malt and lemon hops. As it warmed, the taste of wild yeast became more and more prominent. It was quite thick with no carbonation, and had a lasting tart aftertaste. Overall this was a very flavorful beer, reminiscent of Three Philosophers. It had that unique cherry Belgian flavor that takes a while to get used to, but can be fairly enjoyable. It definitely had clean taste and great body. Most notable was how well it hid the 11% alcohol, which I could barely notice under all that cherry and yeast. If aging this beer brought more honey sweetness to balance the cherry and yeast, this could be a fantastic drink.

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Photo of aoampm
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of GilGarp
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage served cellar temperature into a goblet. The sediment is kept in the bottle for now.

Mad Elf is a bright ruby red color with good clarity when held to the light. The head is short and settles quickly with no lacing.

Aroma is sweet and boozy with a lot of tart cherries. It's a little like English old ale mixed with port wine.

Flavor is strong but very smooth. The base beer is rich and malty with a nice caramel sweetness. The cherries come through very nicely, not artificial at all. A real dark cherry flavor that goes well with the Belgian dark ale foundation.

Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with almost no carbonation at all. The alcohol is fairly well-hidden, considering the strength.

Overall a good holiday beer but not a great version of a Belgian strong dark ale. Taken at face value though, I enjoy it as a nice slow sipper.

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Photo of aval89
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark copper almost ruby color. Half finger worth of head that didn't settle for long.

S: spicy yeast esters, sugar candies, dark fruits. Sweetness comes through with an almost pear/apricot aroma. Subtle cherry notes & small booze detection.

T: dark fruits upfront, spicy yeast notes, more of that pear/apricot flavor.. You then get the subtle but present cherry flavors, slightly medicinal.. booze is pretty well hidden @11%!

Mf: nice full body with a syrupy feel. Good carbonation all the way through..

D: its very hard to tell that this is over 10%, making it real easy to put down.. Had to remind myself to sip..

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Photo of wspscott
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle in Duvel tulip (no date)

A: A light reddish color, sort of like a couple drops of red food coloring in something like Duvel. It poured with a medium off-white head that disappeared very quickly leaving no lace.
S: As it pours, there is a wave of sweet fruit. Up close, you can smell the spicy yeast notes as well as more fruit.
T: Very much Belgian yeast characteristics, along with some fruit, there is a hint of graininess that seems out of place. The more I drink, the more it seems like there was fruit (maybe cherry) juice added to the bottle that was not fermented away, doesn't taste sweet, but there it fruit there. No hint of alcohol at all.
M: Needs a little more attenuation, a little to "creamy", lots of carbonation helps the mouthfeel.
D: A very good and different beer. I like it, but don't love it. I can't decide what style this is supposed to be. It feels like it is on the border of a strong pale and a strong dark, but doesn't fit in either. Regardless, this is definitely a beer worth trying if you are a belgian fan. Recommended.

My wife who likes beer, but is not a beer geek (i.e. hates stouts, barley wines, most porters, IPAs,...) thought this was a very good beer and would not complain if I poured her another one tomorrow night.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle from 2008. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a dark ruby red color with about a quarter inch off-white head that went away pretty quickly. Not much lacing, either. Aroma is fruity and sweet, it smells like cherries, honey, and a bit of yeast and spice (cinnamon). The taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of some chocolate and a little bit of booze. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit coating and has low carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and goes down easy. For the most part the 11% ABV is well hidden. It does catch up to you after a while, but that's to be expected. This brew has aged well, I like it better with a year of age on it compared to drinking it fresh.

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Photo of Jredner
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is strong with cherries, malt and hints of nuts. Pour is amber/red with just a hint of a head. Flavor is nutty and malty with hints of fruit and sweetbread. Have no idea where they are hiding 11% alcohol. Tastes like 6% if that. Finish is the most cherry laden. A very interesting beer. Quite pleased with it.

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Photo of JamnesCameron
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a New Holland Pint glass.

A - not very dark. More of an amber color. Very little head, leaves a thin wisp after about a minute. Not very close to style for a belgian dark ale, even taking liberties with the fruit and honey added.

S - Cherry pits. Sweet, honey, and malt. The cherry really dominates.

T - Cherries, cherry pits, and sweet honey. Don't taste anything particularly belgian about this or dark ale, but it is very "good" - just don't taste the underlying style.

M - mouthfeel is medium, some fruit tannins, dryness from the fruit pits, mildly astringent. Some tartness builds up after a few sips.

D - I wouldn't call this representative of any particular style, much less belgian strong dark ale. But it is very "good." Very pleasent drinkability, almost dangerous.

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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,926 ratings.
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