Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
1,270 Reviews
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:
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Reviews: 1,270 | Ratings: 3,913
Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A nice rube red color filled my pint glass. Nice head but there was little retention to speak of.

Smell: Well as advertised there are the cherries and honey, but there are also hints of some spices, mild floral hops, and maybe some plums.

Taste: Where is the alcohol? You certainly cant taste it. The honey sweetness comes through first but soon following are the cherries and spices. The spice lingers on the tongue after each sip.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied beer that manages to be sweet without cloying to your mouth with thickness. Mild carbonation is present.

Drinkability: I enjoy these on nice cold winter nights. Warms you up while still managing to be sweet and drinkable.

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Photo of Johtro
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

This is one of my favorites. I love the Belgian caramel taste and feel with the complexities of slight cherry and the Belgian yeast. It does a splendid job of cloaking the high ABV.

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Photo of tkelley
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a single 12 oz bottle at Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont. Poured into a tulip glass.

A -- Beautiful deep ruby color with a nice white head. Bubbles are visible coming from the bottom of the glass. Lacing sticks around on the sides of the glass.

S -- Cherries. Delicious, delicious cherries. And alcohol.

T -- The cherries are, somewhat surprisingly, not overwhelming. They are, however, the dominant flavor (if that makes sense). Its like a good european ale, but with emphasis on the cherries and other fruits. The alcohol from the nose is pretty much absent on the tongue. Belgian yeast as well.

M -- Smooth. I would say... on the heavy side of medium bodied. Not syrupy, but with a noticeable heft. The visible bubbles tickle the lips and again on the back end, but not in the front. It feels good in the mouth. Even though mine was a little cold, it warmed up nicely on each sip.

O -- Really enjoyed this beer. I don't know if I would shell out the big bucks for a case, because I'm pretty cheap, but this would be great at Thanksgiving or Christmas -- just nice to relax with and go through slowly. Cheers!

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Photo of jwinkleblech
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recently sampled a 10oz of the 2008 Mad Elf....must say that this could be my favorite winter beer yet this year (or perhaps I'm only partial to the good folks from central Pennsylvania). Deep red coloration with a wonderful, complex taste (love the chocolate malts) that delivers a real kick. Would drink more if I did not need to drive home!!

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

WOW! I finally score some of this treat. I had a case waiting for me when I got to Harrisburg area for the holidays. I split about 10 of them with some friends tonite.

I drank mine at room temp since I have heard/read that they are better that way.

The brew pours a amber/red color with a pinkish head foaming up nicely. The aroma is all cherries and alcohol. No hop presence at all.

The first sip reveals an off sweetness and cherry undertones are evident. The alcohol is only faint on the swallow with some belly warming action occurring. The body is medium thickness with some vinous characteristics, maybe a little viscous. Overall very drinkable. I actually had three of the bottles tonite over a 2 hour span and definitely feel the alcohol a little by the 3rd even if I didnt taste it. this beer is definitely worth the wait. Hopefully you have tried some and if not try to get it and good luck!

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Photo of gcamparone
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a nice amber body with a 1 inch head that reduces to a layer of foam.

Aromas of raisins, vanilla, dark fruit, caramel and some spices. Smells like a dubbel or tripel.. quite tantalizing.

On the tongue is bananas, wheat, dark fruit, honey/caramel, some cherry on the finish.

Not too noticeable alcohol for the high abv, relatively easy to drink. Medium body

Overall a nice change of pace. Wish there was a little more cherry but nice nonetheless.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle served lightly chilled in a Trois Pistoles goblet.

Appearance: Clear red with just a hint of orange. Topped with a short-lived and frothy white head that recedes to a film and then just a ring of foam. Itty-bitty blobs of lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Nice whiffs of honey and cherries overlying a brandy-esque smell. Mildly floral, too. Not a bad little sniffer.

Taste: Sweet, sweet caramel malt flavor with overtones of honey and light cherries. Grainy and boozy aftertastes. Quite nummy.

Mouthfeel: Lightly syrupy. Solid medium body with not an ounce of flab on it. Alcohol is well masked, but this is still a muscular beer. A masked Mexican midget wrestler, if you will.

Drinkability: Not to reference my thread about mixing this and Samichlaus together, but I do wonder if one would be moved from the "naughty" to the "nice" column if I left a few of these for ol' St. Nick. A great, high-octane fruit beer.

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Photo of EAKovac
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of my favorite winter seasonal brews, as well as one of my favorite brews from Troegs. A true "winter warmer".

Had a bottle at the bar the other night and quickly remembered why I look forward to "Mad Elf Season" every year. This ruby red brew is full of hints of honey and stronger hints of cherries. It has a higher ABV percentage, but hides the taste of a higher ABV well.

If you enjoy winter seasonals, cherries, and good strong beer, this 11% ABV brew is a definite must!

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Photo of mabermud
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I'm not a Belgian guy, but this nice. This has an very attractive, deep, ruby red appearance. the head is off white and extremely thin and scattered. Mostly, this smells like overripe bananas and very sweet candy liqueur. The taste, of course follows the smell, with cloves, and brown, overripe bananas with sugar. The mouthfeel is full(er) with medium carb.

Overall, I am impressed. This is the first time I am actually drinking one of these beers. Someone sent this to me as an extra and I thought I would drink it to make room in my refrigerator. This has probably opened up a new dimension in my beer drinking realm.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked this up based on my previous good experiences with Troegs and my love of strong and flavored brews. It did not disappoint in any way except the price ($16-17 a six pack, didn't they hear about the economic issues?).

This is a strong Belgian style that will hit you hard with taste and alcohol. But the balance is great, so the booziness is way under the full flavor.

Unlike some monster beers, when you are done, you aren't done, you want another. If I hadn't sworn off stocking my aging bin and the price of this weren't so high, I'd want to try some aged a year. I think it would mellow out quite a bit.

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Photo of GnomeKing
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer on what turned out to be the coldest day in a long time, with wind chills dipping below 0. The bar was very small, and my seat was near the entrance. Every time the door swung open, the whole bar iced over. Drinking Mad Elf made me welcome the cold breeze that night, warming me like a brandy by a fire. It's the best holiday beer I had this season, and I tried many. The Elf is spicy with just the right amount of sweetness. The beer's taste doesn't mask its might -- a winter-worthy 11-percent -- but the ale is nonetheless pretty drinkable. The Elf has melted this Gnome's heart.

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Photo of Vancer
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/17/2007 - another bottle sent by secret santa cartdan. MAN, even better with the cold and snow. What a great sippin' winter brew. thanks guy!

Nice lil’ holiday brew, too bad it’s almost June and hotter than the hubs of hell around here! Still, a nice amber pour, frothy tan head, I can tell this is gonna be good.

Malty notes in the aroma, and sweets hints of cheery and winter spices (nutmeg, clove) throughout the taste. Medium bodied with just the right carbonation.

This would be better by the fire in the winter, but not too bad to sip by the pool in 90 degree heat, either! (Holy crap, I see it’s 11.0% - it wasn’t the heat that had my ass spinning yesterday!)
Thanks again to beerbeing.

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Photo of BigMike
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: looks like carbonated cranberry juice. Ruby red with toms of bubbles streaming. A thin off white head that's gone quickly.

S: The Belgian influance is definitely there. Spicey banana yeast, sour cherries and booze.

T: The initial taste is booze. When that fades the banana and spicey clove like yeast flavors move in. Then the sour cherries followed up with sweet honey that finishes it off.

M: not quite medium bodied. In fact it's almost a bit thin. Good amount of carbonation. The 11% is not as noticable as anticipated and it's quite smooth and easy to sip on.

Overall: so for one reason or another this is my first Tröegs Mad Elf. And I live in PA for crying out loud. All I can say is I have a new favorite holiday seasonal and it's called Mad Elf. This is a tremendous blend of crazy flavors and mouthfeel that all blend together in a sort of organized chaos. I highly recommend this one.

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Photo of Jonada
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle. 2012 vintage. Served in a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a murky dark red color with one finger of head, which dissipates quickly to a slightly off white collar. Body is hazy with quite a bit of suspended sediment.

Smell: Cherry, clove, dark fruits, honey and some light medicinal notes.

Taste: Spicy Belgian yeast, cherry, dark fruit, pepper, sweet bread. Insanely drinkable for 11%.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, slightly heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is medium and ideal for this particular beer. Finish is lightly sweet with medium alcohol warmth.

Overall: Extremely tasty and very unique beer. One of my favorite winter seasonal beers and always worth seeking out a 6 pack when it's released.

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Photo of HopheadEd
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an unbelievable reddish, garnet color with a slight head that fades quickly. Very little lace. Aroma of cherries comes through right away, with a slightly tart mouthfeel. Not overwhealming tartness, but a serious alcohol taste, that tries to hide behind the cherries. Much better as it warms, which is easy to do because this is a sippin' beer! Just a guess, but the ABV has to be around 11%. Truely a "nightcap" beer!

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Photo of psinderson
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in official glassware at the Sharp Edge Creekhouse.

Appearance: Beautiful deep amber red color with a thick, foamy white head. The color of this beer is a perfect compliment for the holidays.

Smell: Fruity and malty. I detect a bit of honey and maple, maybe also cherries. Smells yummy.

Taste: Extremely well blended and smooth. A great combination of cherry, honey and caramel. There seems to be a bit of citrus in there too.

Mouthfeel: Nice body and carbonation...great going down!

Drinkability: Anything with this much alcohol needs to go down slowly, but Mad Elf hides its strength well.

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Photo of IceAce
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce bottle with no evident dating method

Pours deep copper body capped with a dense light tan finger of foam. Nose is Belgian yeast and ripe red cherries like those of upper Michigan variety. Clarity is outstanding.

Entry is...oh my...this is good! Carbonation brushes by the cheeks while the midtaste highlights a slick honey mouthfeel and sturdy malt. The finish is where this beauty really shines...a crisp hop bite followed by a lingering of holiday spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and corriander followed by the sweet taste of ripe juicy cherries.

The flavor belies the elevated alcohol content...this crazy 'ole elf will really sneak up on you! A holiday winner!

Kudos to fuzzyfrog & SwillinBrew for each flinging me a bottle of this.

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Photo of boblinneman
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Maybe a little young, but this barley wine is good. Dark ruby color looks great when held to light. Smells of sweet cherry and alcohol. The sweet honey/cherry flavor is balanced well with hops. Very clean finish with a lingering alcohol warmth. Wish the beer was bottled so I could age some.

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Photo of drseamus
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice deep red body. Crystal clear. Thin white head was there initially but disappeared quickly.

S: Tons of yeasty aromas and some cherry. There is some banana in the nose from the yeast.

T: MMM. It is indeed good. Cherry up front with a nice smooth sweetness. The honey is only slightly noticeable in the sweetness but it is great none the less. For 11% ABV, the smoothness is impressive.

M: Very smooth with great balance.

D: This is an amazing beer. I could drink it all day long although at 11% I would be surely drunk by the end of that day.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A beer I've been psyched to try for a while and finally got around to trying it. Bought a bomber of this for about $6. Pours an orange/red color, alcohol and cherry smell to it. Taste is complex and dangerously tasty. Medium bodied, great mouthfeel. The honey and cherry flavors really shine through, and the beer remains well balanced throughout. Being 11% ABV, the alcohol has a presence so this is a sipper for sure. A pleasure to drink, tons of complexity and tastiness to get through... will most likely be buying a few more of these before the winter season is through.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Troegs Mad Elf

· Appearance: Ruby Red body with a creamy white head, which quickly subsides to a very faint lacing.
· Aroma: Faint sweetness & malt. Some fruitiness, likely cherries as noted by Troegs. Also noticeable alcohol.
· Taste: Sweet fruity malt, here is where I noticed the honey presence. Perhaps some spiciness as well. One of the best each year.
· Mouthfeel: Very smooth and balanced. Alcohol presence is strong. Carbonation is faint, but flavor is apparent.
· Drinkability. Excellent, one I could enjoy for a session, minus the high ABV.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Dogfish signature snifter. No freshness date.

A- Pours a ruby color with a 1/2 inch off white head that retains a bit before fizzing away to a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a thin patch of surface foam. Lacing is sparse and non-resilient.

S- Has a sweet, fumy Belgian candi sugar smell with some dark fruit notes.

T- The Belgian characteristics of this beer have become more apparent since the last time I've had this which was years ago. More dark fruit notes like plum, raisin and cherry than the cloying honey/cranberry sweetness I remember. Alcohol is still masterfully concealed though. The cloying sweetness I remember becomes more apparent as the beer warms.

M- Medium-low carbonation keeps things toned down which is expected from a BSDA with such a high ABV. Slightly syrupy feel with a medium-heavy body.

O- I think I just realized that this was the first BSDA I ever fell in love with. So easy to drink with such high alcohol content. I'm sorry, but that's just a winner for me. Such a shame it doesn't have a higher average BA score.

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Photo of sjohansen
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I had a chance to check this out in bottle at Teresa’s Next Door, in Wayne, PA. I couldn’t pass it up a second time when I saw it at Capone’s and brought another bottle home. The review is from the bottle I took home. Mad Elf has been brewed since 2003, and after the first taste, I knew I made a mistake by waiting this long to try it. Fantastic.

This Troegs brew pours a clear amber. There was little to no head, and the little head there was had vanished almost as quickly as I poured.

The smell is great. There is a definitely fruit bowl smell of cherries that is present throughout. Along the way I picked up hints of honey.

The Mad Elf definitely has characteristics of a Belgium Ale. But it is the honey and cherries that it’s brewed with that make it different. The taste surprised me after I saw that it clocks in at 11% abv. It’s balanced extremely well. It has a light caramel base at the start, finishes with a slightly bitter cherry aftertaste. It’s the stuff in the middle that’s hard to describe. It reminds me of a Belgium Trippel, spiced just right. It is syrupy and slightly bitter from the yeast. Easily the most complex "winter ale" I've had this season.

It's very drinkable, which is extremely surprising for the alcohol content. The 11% makes it impossible to have more then a few, but this is definitely one to enjoy. I have and will recommend this to anyone who will listen.

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Photo of dorianmarley
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is deep, ruby red with gold hints. Nearly no head and no lacing.

Nose is a sweet blend of cherries, malt, and hops.

Taste is lots of sweet, caramel malt. Cherry is surprisingly (and excellently) nuanced. There are also cashews, medium alcohol, and biscuity yeast.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, but the finish leaves an unsavory, murky astringency.

Overall, well-made like all Troeg, but is held back from being great by a tough, murky finish.

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Photo of PBRstreetgang
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to FroggyFrog for the sample! Pours a clear amber hue with a fizzy, pale tan head of two fingers. Dismal retention and no lacing but thats forgivable given the ABV. Wild berry and tropical fruit phenols; more alcoholic than Belgian. Vanilla bean and toasted malt aromas in the background, with undertones of champagne yeast and honey. First sip is sweet with toasty pale malt, a touch of caramel, and some errant dextrins. A flash of zesty marachino cherry, reminiscent of a young Kreik. Subdued Belgian Phenolics are more tart than funky, and combines with the other flavors to mask the alcohol very well. The aftertaste is a little boozey, and further dries out the palate after the mild hop bitterness balances the malts. The mouthfeel is ultimately well-balanced, dancing from sweet, to tart, to dry, and finally a clean alcoholic heat with all flavors receeding- leaving no cloying or residual sugar. The medium-light body is well-attentuated and well-carbonated- thus giving the mouthfeel a light and spritzy character- capable of lifting the powerful elements displayed. Finishes surprisingly mellow, as the malt, alcohol and yeast profile seem to apex, then fade away rapidly leaving only faint white-wine notes on the tounge for the last few swigs. Solid drinkability given the high alcohol, and an impressive interpretation of the style.

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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,913 ratings.
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