Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
3,928 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: 3,928 |  Reviews: 1,271
Photo of October
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of sampsonw
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of Thickfreakness
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a fairly clear cherry amber red. No head at all, decent carbonation from my DFH signature glass, no real lacing. Just kinda flat.

S- Alcohol right up front, sweet cherries, honey, sweet maltiness and just a hint of bitter hops. A little cinnamon, allspice, clove and yeast.

T- Smacked in the mouth with alcohol... I like that! Sweet and a bit spicy. Dried cherries, clove, nutmeg, allspice and honey. Has a nice little bit of banana yeastiness as it warms up.

M- A ton of alcohol bite on the tongue. Very sweet with a nice yeastiness. The cherry and honey blend nicely with the peppery spices. A little bit sticky, definately sweet, and just a hint of bitterness on the roof of my mouth.

O- Really nice. I've always liked this seasonal. Probably not something I'd buy year round, but I do get my share when winter approaches. Wish it had more carbonation, more REAL cherry depth, and hid the alcohol just a bit more.

 930 characters

Photo of jnagle88
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of drewfromboulder
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of wrogers19971
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of tkdchampxi
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This beer is better on draft than in the bottle. Sometimes it comes off a little too boozy, but it has nice holiday flavors, and there are some good citrus, orange, and spice notes.

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Photo of 20holmbrew
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Ruby red with a thin off-white head.

S: dark fruit and cherries. Reminds me a little bit like cough syrup.

T: malty sweetness and honey. Cherries, as expected

M: medium body with low carb. Silky smooth

O: just picked up one in a mixed six pack. I am not a big cherry fan but wanted to try anyway. I can see the appeal for some but not really up my alley. Worth a try.

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Photo of dental
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Bebum
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Clear medium amber, no lace. Medium body, moderate flavor, high heat, avg length, fruity finish.
Sweet but enough bitterrness to keep it from being cloying.
Barley candy flavor, coca-cola.
Rich, enjoyable.

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Photo of jlindros
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Heard a lot of good things about this beer, so figured I better review it.

A: A light head develops of about 1/2 inch. It's brilliantly clear with an amber orange brown color with a big bright reddish hue, really presenting those cherries.

N: A very Belgian strong ale nose, with lots of sweet Belgian malts, slight yeast, and a big alcohol kick. Some light toasty bread malts trickle through, and hints of cherry beckon at you in a nice subtle way. Perhaps a slight spice and other things nice (see what i did there?)

T: Very much of a Belgian strong to start. Lots of Belgian malts, sweet malts and some sugar, some yeasty flavors. A big alcohol taste dominates too. Spicy flavors and warming alcohol. Some spicy flavors, possibly from the Belgian yeasts. A slight tangy fruit also comes through, but I don't get much for cherry anymore, unless that's the tangy fruit. I think I do get a little honey, and that probably shows on the dry finish... Ah, I got some dry cherries finally. It's pretty light but I finally got some.

M: Super warmth and alcohol burn. The alcohol is somewhat like bourbon in it's burn. It has very light carbonation and is pretty light.

F: Finishes really dry and really rips the paint, er skin off your tongue. The alcohol is so heavy and tastes like burning. You can feel it all the way down the throat. Some light sweet Belgian sugars stick around a bit, and the slight yeasty flavors also linger for a bit. Overall not a light finish, but not too bad all things considered.

Final thoughts: A pretty nice Belgian strong ale, lots of Belgian sweets and malts and yeast, etc. Some spices, little honey, tangy fruit, not much on the cherry front. The only issue I see is that the alcohol is a little too overbearing. I think that could have been throttled back a bit. Otherwise a nice beer, sippin beer.

 1,837 characters

Photo of nhindian
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a Delirium Tulip.

Just had this released in my local stores last week and jumped on the opportunity to pick up a 6-pack. At $15, it's a bit more than I'm used to from Troegs, but for such a high ABV seasonal release, I don't see it out of the ordinary.

A - Straight out of the gate I was a bit surprised by this beer. I'm not sure if Troegs used artificial coloring or what to achieve the beautiful, deep blood red, ruby color for the body, but it really is fantastic looking and unique. Crystal clear and numerous bubbles rise to replenish the 1-finger head, but ultimately lose the fight as the head crumbles only minutes later to be reduced to a thin ring around the edges. Absolutely no lacing to be had.

S - Smell is also different than I would've assumed based both on the style of this beer and this color. Essentially I'm getting strong vapors of what I would normally attribute to a Belgian Strong Pale such as grape bubblegum, lighter fruits, strong Belgian yeast, and spices. Most notable is the appearance of honey and tart cherries in the nose, which certainly aren't Belgian Pale qualities, but definitely adds to the complexity of this beer and gives it another delicious layer. Finally, rounding out the bouquet is some moderate alcohol heat character that gives it a bit of depth and foreboding.

T - The taste is incredibly faithful to the nose. Initial flavors are almost all bubblegum, banana, Belgian spicy characteristics. The next wave brings the sweet honey and just the slightest hint of cherries. The only complaint I have with this beer is the back-end balance. The transition between the fruits and sweet honey is tremendous, but after being held back for so long, the alcohol strikes with vengeance and kind of muddles the end of the sip and the aftertaste. Supposedly a few months aging does wonders to mellow this out, and I can only imagine how great this will be then.

M - Mouthfeel is relatively heavy and mildly carbonated. Not getting much activity on the palate as it rests, but some alcohol warming is definitely present after swallowing.

D - Drinkability is moderate. I didn't find myself drinking this really quickly, but that is mostly as a result of the relatively hot finish. Assuming all is right and some age can reduce this, I could find this being a great drinking beer a few months down the road. As of now, however, this is a pretty decent sipper that packs quite a punch.

 2,443 characters

Photo of Buckeye982
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of Ryan4120
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of caminiti
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

OK at best in my opinion, sweet, very sweet.
I doth blame Kendo for making me drop $20 on a six pack of candy with alcohol. Poured into a tulip glass an almost bright orange with little carbonation and little head, it packed a lot of taste into each sip, which made it tough to drink more than one at a time. It will probably age well, but I didnt have any interest in keeping it around until next year...

 405 characters

Photo of ffejherb
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2007 - 12oz. bottle into Mad Elf snifter.

A - Clear ruby red body with modest off-white head that disappeared quickly and left virtually no lacing around the glass. Very nice color!

S - Moderate Belgian yeast aroma with dark chocolate malts, tons of cherries and some honey sweetness. Slight cherry cough syrup aroma.

T - Sweet initial flavor with cherries up front and some honey goodness, followed by a very spicy, yeasty finish with a slight pepper aspect on the tongue.

M - Full body with a pretty syrupy texture and soft carbonation. Finish is quite spicy on the tongue.

D - Nice holiday ale that's quite unique and complex. The Belgian yeast blends nicely with the cherries, honey and chocolate malt. While the 11% ABV is well-concealed, this is a brew to sit back and appreciate during the holiday season.

 821 characters

Photo of ChadQuest
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 bottle. so its 4 years old now. the cap came off very easily, like the metal had become more rigid, and i was worried about possible oxidation issues from a bad seal, but after the end i don't think there were any problems. awesome.
This one looks better then most, the head and lacing is just barely off white over a crystal clear cherry body.
Aroma has a deep dense cherry sweetness thatmatches evenly with the flavor. the 4 years must have toned this down i assume because the alcohol is nowhere to be tasted. this doesnt have the spice character i assumed would be in a christmas beer, but instead a rich creamy sweetness from the malts, honey and cherries.


 672 characters

Photo of SLeffler27
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A full, frothy, beige head looms over a gem-clear, ruby-red ale and, as promised, leaves patchy lace on the walls of the glass until swirled and displaced by a film.

Again, as promised, cherries fill the nose with that delightful yeast funk and floral hops, turning peppery with warmth.

The strong acidity is followed by a lingering tartness with medicinal cherry in the background until the finish where it comes front and center. I think this one is closer to a Flemish Red but not quite. Complexity begins to unfold with warmth.

A light body that is dry and oily with soft carbonation and mild astringency. There is no hidden alcohol here. It is up in your face.

Mad Elf makes for a fine winter beer, worthy of sipping by the fireside with dessert and my lovely wife. And yes, I will have another please.

 811 characters

Photo of taigor
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 8oz glass.

A - Poured clear amber color with medium head that slowly dissipated leaving moderate amount of lacing around the glass.

S - Smell is sweet malts, raisins and cherries.

T - Taste is overly sweet with malts and honey. Cherries and slight chocolate taste come through as well.

M - Medium bodied with average carbonation.

D - Alcohol is high and not masked. I would recommend it but dont go out of your way to get it.

 446 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle of the 2008 this one is maybe a little older than 4 years. Pours a hazed crimson-copper color with a small, limpid tan head. No lacing and retention fails at this age.

Nose is fairly oxidized at this point but the cherries are still prevalent. Caramel and toffee are the main malt contributors.

Taste is definitely past its prime at this point, but I am surprised at how long the cherries have held on. Malts are somewhere in between a Belgian dubbel and a carmely barleywine. The yeast makes its mark and is a good choice for this beer, feels very 'Belgian' with more age. The alcohol is well disguised and well integrated with the heavy malt. I like this beer better when around the 1-2 year mark, but this was a fun experiment nonetheless. This beer seems to have plenty of detractors, but I find it to be quite delicious at any point in the aging cycle.

 884 characters

Photo of scotorum
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 10/15/14. Two months old.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick

a; Clear copper with virtually no head or lacing. 3.25

s: Ripe dark fruit, 3.5

t: Dark ripe fruit followed by moderate hop bite. Some alcohol throat burn. 3.75

m: Medium, good body, some carbonation tingle. 3.75

o: Sweet and fruiity, as might be expected of a brew made with Belgian yeast, honey and cherries. The combination tastes more like plums but it hides most of the alcohol in this Belgian strong dark. Net effect is a tasty and powerful holiday ale.3.75

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Photo of stckhndlr
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

A- I love the color of this beer. Literally the same color as the label. A dark pinkish maroon color. Poured into a tulip glass and it developed a good 2 inch head on top that doesn't stick around too long.

S- Great cherry smell all the way. Hints of honey round this out. Just a nice sweet and pleasant smell, hints of spice.

T- slightly acidic like tart cherries. you can also pick up the spice at the end, almost mixed with some cloves.

M- A little bit over carbonated but not too much. Still very drinkable.

O- I want with longing for the end of fall to get here to get this beer each year. It is still one of my favorites. It's a sweet beer and very drinkable. However at 11% you have to force yourself to take it slow. Great winter beer.

 750 characters

Photo of DHarv
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of xenolithic
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 1pint 6oz bottle into a wine glass for scent and effect. The color itself is ruby, and looks much closer to a wine than a beer. No head, a fine lacing around the rim of the glass.

Smells of dark fruits, particularly cherries with a hint of what you might smell from a Christmas Fruitcake. You can also smell some dark sugars as well as a mead-y honey characteristic. Not overly sweet, and not overwhelmingly cherry scented as I have heard from others in the past.

Taste includes some subtle cherry tartness with a very tiny sweetness. The alcohol is apparent when tasting the beer, and along with the tartness leaves a bit of a lingering finish. After reading the other reviews on this same beer, mine is noticeably more watery than those describing a thick or oily mouthfeel.

That said, the mouthfeel is closer to watery for this bottle.

Drinkability on this is fairly good, though I don't see this beer being for me outside the holidays. I do like fruit beers, and I like Lambics and Belgians; I would have done better to pair this beer than drink it alone.

 1,077 characters

Photo of ordybill
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass. very boozy smell and taste. this distorted the rest of the flavors. An ok beer. Seems over hyped to me.

 155 characters

Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,928 ratings.
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