Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
3,933 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: 3,933 |  Reviews: 1,272
Photo of Beaverflops
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of tjmiller718
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of DenisKolkin
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle served just above fridge temperature into a pint glass.

Appearance - a dark mahogany or Amber color with a little haze. A thin half finger of tan head is poured and has good staying power. Not much lacing and carbonation is pretty average.

Smell - honey, cherries and Belgian yeast especially. There's a little bit of Christmas baking and fruitcake in there, but generally sweet, cherry leaning and sweetened with honey.

Taste - like the nose, but initially even with more sweetness before a bitter hop note at the end reels everything in. A little too sweet but a nice treat around Christmas. Some spices too giving this the cross between a winter warmer and a dark strong Belgian. Doesn't hit cough syrup for me, but I can see how some get there.

Mouthfeel - smooth and a little syrupy, heavy bodied and carbonation is modest. Works with this flavor combo but could be cloying to some.

Overall - Mad Elf is a fine winter special with plenty of flavor, more than enough booze to keep you prone and a nice honey aspect to it. However due to the sweetness, I can't see this being a regular sipper, although certain worth a try,

 1,145 characters

3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Okay so I was surprised by a beer manager with a sixer of The Mad Elf .
I didn't know much about this Christmas brew , however had heard some mixed feelings.
Being what is it sounded like something that would be up my alley .
The look is fairly nice as it resembles one of my favorites (Samichlaus) except with more carbonation .
The smell is a fruity and spicy as most typical Holiday brews..
Taste is delightful, but a little thin ..
I gave it 3.75 and 4's, but overall a 4 for its 11 abv as it's not even noticeable.

I would buy it again next year and have put a couple of bottles away, so that I can compare them side by side next year;)

Funniest part of the story is I had to get out of the store, before I was tackled as at least 4 different couples asked me where I got them ..
I guess I never realized that they were so desired ..
Thanks Mr Beer Manager for thinking of one your regular customers :)

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Photo of Whyt4243
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Joestradamus91
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of jameyp
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of EuphonicHops
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of hillind
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of thagr81us
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to bs870621345 for this one as a part of a thanks box! Serve from bottle into a Delirium Tremens snifter. Poured a brilliant red-orange with a one finger off-white head to a half finger slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma is comprised of sweet malt, honey, cherries, bananas, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, banana, honey, slight cherries, and very subtle alcohol. It had a light feel on the palate with low-mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty excellent brew. I can't believe this thing is 11%! Excellent aroma and nice flavor that was balanced quite nicely. Definitely a nice fruit aspect going on here to mask the alcohol. This is a must try without a doubt.

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Photo of calise1122
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Late night kindle kept burning by Khiasmus.

Mad Elf, poured into a goblet while listening to Creed by STP.

A: A harsh pour yields a small cap of head hovering over a dark copper, oak stained brown colored beer in the glass. It's clear... in fact it actually magnifies... but with bubbles. Inviting? Yes.

S: Lots of that Belgium yeast that itches me the right way... berries, maybe cherries, but definitely something that ends in "ies". I always have trouble describing this smell... I want to say it smells earthy and musty, but not like the earthy musty beer that I lean on... a differnt smell I suppose, damnit... I guess I just can't pin it down. It may be my poor palate, it could be my lack of vocabulary... I can definitely say that it smells good.

T: Smells like it tastes and tastes like it smells... with a nice burn of alcohol. It has some honey, absolutely has some honey... and the cherry kind of parks itself in my cheeks. It is almost as if the cherries are trying to knock the crap out of the honey, but the honey backs itself into the corner and rope-a-dope's its way into a fair match. I am nearly positive that makes no sense, but that is how it feels.

M: Honestly, at this point... no matter what beer I poured it would be my last. If I started with this, it could go a long way. Is it drinkable in respect to a good session beer?... no, but it is drinkable and I have would never turn down the offer to have another.

D: See above!

 1,456 characters

Photo of gopens44
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark red with a decent two finger frothy head

S - Dark cherries and booze. I like that smell, so I liked this already

T - Much like the nose, a boozy cherry time ensued. Following the cherry's shenanigans was a spice party that included clove and coriander, but not overwhelming like a Belgian Ale. Just a nice balance to the powerful cherry booze fun.

M - A little more than thin, and a smidgeon chewy. Not much carbonation, and a bit of bitter aftertaste.

I really enjoyed this mad bastard, and I'll probably get more this season to drink and age. Love to see what a year or two may do to this.

 604 characters

Photo of Mdez
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of 57md
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish copper with a thin layer of head that has no retention. Nose is tart, but there is also a hint of cream soda, oddly enough. The dominant flavor is sweet candied sugar, but there are also some dark fruits as well. The finish is semi-dry.

For such a high octane offering, the alcohol is hidden well.

I paired this with a few dark chocolate squares and it made for an exceptional late night dessert.

Updated March 2014: Sampled a glass of 2012 vintage on-tap. This beer is one that certainly gets much better with age. I am committed to buying a few bombers next Christmas for the sole purpose of designating them for cellaring.

Update December 2016: Sampled a vertical of 2013, 2014 & 2015 (3, 2 & 1 year old respectively). There wasn't much difference between the 2013 & the 2014 vintages except that the nose on the 2014 was more pungent. The alcohol bite had matured significantly over time for both. By contrast, the alcohol presence was still a bit overdone in the 2015 vintage. Based upon this tasting, I'd say two years of age is the sweet spot for this offering.

 1,089 characters

Photo of Neorebel
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby/copper color into my Delirium Tremens glass. The initial soda-like head dissipates very quickly leaving the tiniest ring of foam. Very intriguing aroma - has creamy, yeasty, funky & sweet tart elements to it. Sweet wild cherry dominates in the flavor. Interesting concoction in that it has a bit of a Pilsner mouthfeel that is a bit lacking in carbonation. Goes down very spicy and crisp, but it does not seem heavy at all. Later after the sip, a delayed warming sensation kicks in. Good, but there are much better Belgian Strong Dark Ales.

 553 characters

Photo of flexabull
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber with a decent head. Looks pretty good.

Beer smells like sour cherries with a bit of alcohol. Not bad... interesting aroma.

The flavor of this beer was a bit surprising. Reading that it was brewed with cherries I was thinking strong fruit notes. But in this one, the fruit definitely takes a back seat to the traditional beer flavors.. This one really reminds me of a strong Belgian ale. But instead of the apple flavors I usually taste from this style, the cherries show up just a bit, but they certainly aren't obvious. Interesting... it is almost like the cherry flavors were made without the addition of the cherries, they are that subtle. Very well made.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, but just a bit above average.

I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. Seeing that it was brewed with cherries, I was bit reluctant. (I am not a big fruit beer fan) But this is a very well made and enjoyable beer.

Thanks for the unique tasting beer Foxman!

 973 characters

Photo of IrishRedRock
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I was very happy to see this interesting brew on draught. It flowed from the tap a rich amber color with a thin creamy, slightly tan head on top. Aroma was somewhat malty with a hint of spice.

A pleasant bitter hop flavor started this one off, accompanied by some nearly chocolatey flavors and a nice smoky flavor as well. Finished dry with a mild flavor of tart fruits, cherries I do believe. This is one fine complex Holiday ale.

 435 characters

Photo of classixIII
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is my favorite beer season and Mad Elf is one of the many reasons why.
Poured a dark amber with little to no head. Amazing smell of fruits, cherries right out there. Honey, grains and a hint of alcohol. Very smooth, minimal carbonation. Dry finish with a hint of bitterness and just enough alcohol.
I need more!

 317 characters

Photo of abuliarose
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass, revealing ruby-toned clear body with an airy yellowed head that dies fast. Lightly bubbling body reminds me a lot of champagne. Smells like fruity hops and cherry cough syrup with hints of farmhouse funk. Intriguing.

Tastes sweet... very like a Belgian in character, with some funk and some blossoming floral flavor that dies into a fruity cherry (like cough syrup, I swear) light malty aftertaste. Alcohol makes its presence known and overall texture is smooth and a little dry, but I don't know if I would describe it as strong. Medium-bodied. Drinks like a water. Carbonation nucleates very small and slightly tingly on the tongue, dying quickly so as not to add much to the overall body. The aftertaste seriously reminds me of how my mouth feels after cough syrup. So, I'm not sure what this makes me, but it's quite drinkable. Don't know if I'd want more than one glass, though.

A yummy one-off strong dark. I'd get one next Christmas.

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Photo of whiterascal
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: muted reddish brown, no head
S: a little cherry scent, and some raisins, honey.
T: wow. Unexpected. Just a little hint of cherries. Sweetness. I can definitely taste the honey. A bready finish.
M: slippery
D: great beer, but I'd stick with one for tonight.

 259 characters

Photo of 99bottles
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: This beer pours a stunningly clear ruby red color into a tulip glass as an 1" of white fizzy head rises and then settles to a thin and sporadic lace. Below average retention.

Smell: This nose is full of sweet syrupy sugar (honey) and the smell of cherries. Not tart cherries as in a lambic, but cherries from the center of a chocolated covered cherry. Decadent and yet, not really nice. Whew, thick and very remiscent of honey.

Taste: This beer hits the mouth with such alcohol that initally, it's difficult to realize the subtle flavors and complexities. There's a ton of malt, obviously, to get this puppy up to 11% abv. But it leaves less in the aftertaste, instead you get a remnant of the honey and other sweet carmel flavors. This combines wonderfully with the cherry flavor which is much more sour in the actual taste than in the scent. Finally, the alcohol and the malt washes over once more leaving a dry finish and an aftertaste that's sure to land you a DUI if a cop catches a whiff. This is a nice holiday beer, different than many of the others, and nice to sip slowly.

Mouthfeel: Not overly carbonated, very slick and alcoholic, not immensely cloying, medium to heavy body.

Drinkability: I liked it well enough, but I don't think I could ever force myself to drink this quickly. One is probably more than enough as an after dinner drink, or apertif. Whew! Potent stuff.

 1,408 characters

Photo of beergod1
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It smells like Black Cherries. I also pick up some caramel in the aroma. A clear copper color with a moderate white head. The flavor is very acidic and a little sour. I definitely pick up the sour cherries as well as honey and some citrus. Spicy aftertaste. Its very belgian-esque. Not for everybody, but I will buy this along with my other winter brews.

 354 characters

Photo of beerfanbill
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

dark red/amber... had on tap
smell very good, strong cherry and honey taste/smell. im still a novice at picking up all the subtle smells and flavors of a beer so for these ones to stick out they must be pretty strong.
as far as taste, i was suprised to find out its 11% abv. i couldnt have told that while drinking it although it did give me the burning stomach of a higher alcohol brew. great taste while in the mouth and went down smooth.
not my favorite troegs, but very good beer nonetheless

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Photo of genog
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a muddy, and murky brownish red color with a thin layer of light colored head. The head disappears to leave a thin layer with no lacing what so ever. Smell is of amber malt and dried cherries. Taste is sour at first, followed by a bitter sweet taste. Taste is strong on cherries, with a limited watery carbonoation. Strong warming alcohol presence as this one warms after a spell.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Medium grade maple syrup

S - Bright but not overpowering. Raspberry, citrus hops, clove.

T - A fun beer. The flavors are interesting and meld into each other surprisingly well. There isn't any one flavor that stands up and smacks you in the face. Primary flavors are clove, allspice, and brown breads. Touch of bitter melon and bananas deep in the profile.

M - Light body but not overly so. Smooth mouth feel. Finishes sweet with a touch of warm alcohol.

D - Very drinkable. Spice profile isn't overwhelming and there's enough flavor to keep you coming back.

 567 characters

Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,933 ratings.
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