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The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
Very Good
3,975 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: 3,975 |  Reviews: 1,281
Photo of shuajw
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of whallgren
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of gl1800rider
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of GOBLIN
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aromas of cherries. Slightly boozy taste but at 11% it's not really an issue. Decent amount of carbonation. I always look for this around Christmas time as it is a favorite of mine. Get a little extra whenever you see it and age it a year . . . The honey will really come through and add a new dimension to this brew. Perfect for those cold winter months.

 355 characters

Photo of KrissyKat6
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of weeare138
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the '03 version of the Elf that's been aging.
Appears a hazy reddish amber with a small white head that lasts for a minute and fades into a small collar.
Smell is of honey, cherries, rich candy sugar, along with a hint of cocoa powder with that trademark Troegs yeast.
Taste is of a viscous, syrup mix of the above mentioned aromas.
Mouthfeel is thich and viscous with some mellow corn syrupy sweetness that's raw but smooth.
Drinkability - This is a sipper by all means. It reminds me of cherry lip balm in a weird way. A little hard to swallow, even after aging for over 1.5 years. Delicious but still a one and done for me.

 639 characters

Photo of frykid
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of muttyd
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep ruby/amber red with a thin head that fizzes into nothing. Pretty much looks like still red tap water. Although this beer leaves no head, the aroma is not masked at all. Big cherry, clove, Belgian yeast, and caramel malt aroma dominates the nose. Flavor follows the nose - sweet malt backbone with a nice yeasty spice. Cherry/fruity flavors also present, but take a back seat to the typical Belgian strong ale profile. For a beer with no head, this beer is actually pretty well carbonated. Bubbly on the tongue that leaves a sugary sweet coating behind. Very drinkable, I do not want to put this one down.

 609 characters

Photo of thegodfather2701
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a cherry color with a small tan/off-white head that dissipates immediately

S-sweet, boozy, notes of dried fruit

T-very, very similar to the nose as the flavor is pretty sweet with dark dried fruits (cherry, plum, raisin, maybe some apple) and booze. Not overly complex but more flavorful than a dubbel.

M-somewhat thin, but not over carbonated-sticky like candy

D-very drinkable but its high abv. make it a sipper

Overall, this is a good beer and I enjoyed it.

 474 characters

Photo of JamesS
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice red/copper color, although with very little head and lacing. Has a nice scent to it, a very nice cherry aroma to go with the deep ale scent. Nice hop/malt mix with both the scent and taste. Very nice taste, one of the strongest ales I've had in a while while just hinting at the high ABV in the taste. Nice splash of cherry in the flavor without taking over. Not the smoothest, but that's to be expected at 11%. I will not have any trouble finishing the sixer. I may even get the large bottle to take back home for the holidays.

 541 characters

Photo of Slack
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Amber brown in color and clear. About a half inch of head that settles to about an eighth. Very good lacing on a sip.

Nose is cherry, cloves, sugar, and pilsner hops.

Taste is sweet cherries, malt, booze, and hops.

Mouthful is medium-ish and syrupy. Carbonation is average. Finish is semi sweet.

A great seasonal beer that lends itself to a hearty meal. Tasty, balanced, and drinkable. The syrupy sweetness is about the only drawback here which tends to inhibit more than one.

 487 characters

Photo of scootny
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A brilliant, clear darkish cherry red. A thin light tan head that thins quickly leaving a wispy covering. No carbonation. It would score a 3.5 but the color is so beautiful I had to give the brewer style points.

A sweet malt nose with fruits featuring banana, raisins, and light figs. A dark sugar component of toffee mixed with light fragrant cherries. Belgian yeast esters and light fusel alcohol.

Taste is malty with dark cherries and banana. A tartness that blends back into sour cherries. Finish is mild with faint fusels and floral hops being the feature with yeasty dark bread and light nuttiness that lingers in the mouth.

A medium weight with velvety smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is very good as the abv is well hidden and the beer is quite delicious.

A new favorite holiday beverage. I must get some to age for the future yuletimes.

From tasting notes 1/4/2009

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Photo of 80x2HopHead
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of geryeb624
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into my DFH signature glass. Been wanting to try this one for a while, so here goes...

A- Pours a ruby red with hints of a paler orange color when held to the light. Not a whole lot of head, which is to be expected with the ABV, but a nice slick of foam settles on top.

S- Not much cherry or honey in the nose, but mostly a Belgian yeast aroma with requisite spiciness.

T- Well that's not what I expected. The Belgian yeast dominates the taste as well, with some residual fruitiness from the cherries. Wouldn't have known they were there if I didn't know going in. Not bad, just not what I was expecting.

M/D- Smooth mouthfeel with very well-hidden ABV makes this one really drinkable for the ABV.

Well, I admit this is not even close to what I expected. Which isn't to say this isn't good, it is quite tasty, just be careful if your expecting lots of fruity cherry flavors, as you may be disappointed.

 931 characters

Photo of Kurmaraja
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Ohiovania
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of themind
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
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!

 331 characters

Photo of cambabeer
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

 325 characters

Photo of goodbyeohio
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

 1,182 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

 1,760 characters

Photo of guinnessfan
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

 1,036 characters

Photo of TMB0424
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

 765 characters

Photo of csnyder83
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of imasickboy
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

 1,074 characters

The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 3,975 ratings
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