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: 3,919
Photo of jmfc8237
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a decent amount of head that disciPated quickly. Ruby red semi cloudy color and zero lacing in my snifter. Aromas of spicy Belgian yeast clove spice banana and cherry. Some phenol is present as well. As it warms the flavors intensify and have a nice blend of sweet spicy and bright fruit. I'm sertainly loving the Belgian strain in this beer it compliments the maltiness very well. Strong alcohol follows a great balance of sweet spice and everything nice. Velvety mouthfeel makes this aa great session ale. I will be having this again

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Photo of alkemy
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The color is a crystal clear ruby/burnt orange. I believe the head was off-white, but to be honest, it didn't last long enough for me to get a real good look. Smells sweet and boozy. Cherries are predominant, but a bit complex in that maraschino cherries are discernable as well as dried black cherries. Banana, vanilla, and alcohol round things out. Taste is very reflective of the aroma, although the vanilla note seems replaced by a touch of bitter chocolate and honey. Otherwise cherries are dominant. Alcohol is far more present in the nose than on the palate. The finish is somewhat reminiscent of a cherry cough syrup, but finishes much cleaner than one would suspect. Feel is slightly viscous and resiny. Incredibly easy to drink.

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Photo of asabreed
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'd heard about this beer from the site, and lately I've been into buying and saving in the cellar, so I picked up a case a few days ago for about $45. Expensive, I know, but at 11% ABV and the qualities I hope to see happen over the next few years in the cellar, I think it's worth it.

Appearance - Pours a gorgeous amber color. A white head forms and dissipates quickly.

Smell - Extremely complex. The smell of alcohol is certainly there but not overpowering. The complexity comes from the war with the malt, honey, and cherries. Certainly a sweet smell more than anything, but warming and interesting for sure.

Taste - Like the smell, the alcohol is evident, but more welcoming than overbearing. This is a holiday ale, after all. So the warming that happens is certainly good for a cold night. Since the batch is from this year, I can imagine that good things will start to happen when it sits as I said, so in the interest of keeping true to the flavor I'm drinking this one currently at cellar temperature. One of the things I absolutely love about this beer is the masking of the sweetness. Too much alcohol can certainly be ruined by imbalance and too much sweetness. However, the malts are at war with each other in the best possible way and provide complex and intriguing flavors. Also, the honey and cherries are evident but not overbearing. They add subtlety and intrigue into the mix.

Mouthfeel - Not too thin. The carbonation seems perfect to me. Great overall.

Drinkability - Clearly, this beer will kick your ass if you're not careful. Since it's NOT a stout and be consumed pretty easily (especially since the alcohol is balanced so well with the taste), watch out. And even if you could make a session out of this, why would you really want to? Have one at a time so it can be fully enjoyed.

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Photo of DanJan
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

One of my favorite seasonal offerings. Doesn't feel like Christmas without it. Pours a beautiful amber with ruby accents and a little bit of head with some lacing. Almost looks likes the holidays in a glass. The smell is dark fruits, dominated by cherries with a hint of the alcohol to come. Tastes like a mix between a strong wheat beer and a sour cherry beer which is exactly what you'd expect from the info on the label. Just enough of an alcohol burn to remind you of the ABV but it really balances it out nicely. The tartness of the finish allows you to enjoy the coating on your tongue before going for another sip. I plan on aging one or two this time and seeing how they mellow in a year.

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Photo of Budlum
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes (2005 edition):

Pours with a light head and the most brilliant red color of any beer I've seen. The 2005 edition produces aromas of cherries and highly alocholic scents as the 11% abv. would suggest. The taste is immediately fresh cherries with slight hints of honey early in the finish. There is also a slight clove and hop presence early in the sample. The finish is mainly alcohol flavors. Warming would certainly describe this seasonal brew. Two or three of these on a cold night would be my limit before the alocohol taste becomes overbearing.

I was only able to sample the 2004 edition on draft in early December and early March(!) of 2005. The previous edition provided a depth of cherry and honey flavors with only a "sneaky" alcohol finish.

I will certainly look forward to Mad Elf in the coming holiday seasons.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A snap, crackle, pop accompanies the head, with bubbles bursting at the surface. Soon settles down into an off-white table top. Very nice lacing stretching across the glass. Body is a deep, clear red. Cherries shine thru the aroma, as soon as I started to pour. Taste features prominently everything mentioned on the label: cherries, honey, alcohol, and also the malt and hops don't get lost. The malt, honey, and the sense of alcohol create a sort of dopplebock quality, and the cherries are well balanced into the mix, featured but not overwhelming. I feel if you left the cherries out, you would still have a good beer. But I'm not suggesting that. I think the honey is really pulling everything together, balancing flavors, rounding the mouthfeel. I have never been a big fruit beer fan, but I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this. The stock is going fast, but give it a try if you have the opportunity. Tröegs continues to impress.

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Photo of MadElf25
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A. Served in a cognyac glass with a ruby red coloring made me think of Christmas Morning.

S. A Sweet aroma, i really smell the Cherry Flavor.

T. Sweet yet tangy with heavy tates of cherry, i gave it a 4 due to a little bit of an after taste.

M. Very smooth going down, light and airy.

D. It is Definatly a beer i could enjoy again and again

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Photo of stingo
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brilliant near ruby red, with a thick head of bright white foam. The foam reduces quickly, enabling the cherry and honey flavors of the nose to stand out as well as the noticeable but not unagreeable scent of alcohol. These notes are borne out in the taste as well. Eminently drinkable, though with a slightly thinner mouthfeel than I would have expected from this style. This is a quibble however as the Mad Elf is one fine winter brew.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found on draft at Mad Mex the Robinson location, I was just excited to see at tap handle from Troeg's. Appearance: Ruby tinted thin creamy white head little lacing alcohol wards this off. Aroma: Cherries soaked in alcohol with a mild tartness in the air, spices bringing more Christmas cheer, and the malts used a much more complex than bringing out a caramel / mild cocoa scent. Taste: Is comparable to a cherry liquer massive alcohol note sweeps the palate, very warming spicy with tart sweetness and a soft finish this one ties it together. Mouthfeel: Troeg's went MAD this beer has crazy amount of alcohol kicking, full syrupy mouthfeel definitely a one glass at a time type brew. Drinkability: Didn't get tired of the rich tones thought it would be overbearing I was served sixteen ounces of this fine nectar for six bucks not a bad deal.

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Photo of CHickman
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours amber orange/blood red color with a 2 finger off white/tan head that faded slowly, leaving good spotty lacing.

Smells of sweet malt, cherry, honey, brown sugar, yeast, mild booze and spices, all subtle yet evident and enjoyable. It is sweet and fruity with the cherry and dark fruit standing out. The nose was an indication of the good things to come.

Tastes sweet with a burst of spices up front, then is followed up by the sweetness and mix of malt, cherry, honey, caramel, yeast, brown sugar, cinnamon, faint hops, followed by the slight alcohol essence that brings the eclectic mix of tastes together. Well balanced with medium carbonation and a creamy feel that has a trailing sweet malty and spicy taste. It has a nice warming feel that does not reveal the alcohol level and ends with a sweet cherry finish.

I gambled since the cherry and honey combo on the label made me think this beer will either be horrible or wonderful. It was a great gamble, as I picked up a 6 pack of this for Christmas dinner and my brother and I enjoyed it so much that it only lasted about an hour. It was hard to put these down! This is by no means a fruit beer, so don't let the cherry and honey deter you from trying this gem. This Belgian style strong ale is on the mark.

A great winter ale that is very enjoyable and one of the best winter beers I've ever tasted...the taste was wonderful and the overall beer had a great feel, and yet it did some damage from the high ABV in a sneaky way because it goes down smooth. This beer can make any winter evening enjoyable. I highly recommend this beer.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear copper-reddish color. Head was initially quite nice, but soon dissipated to leave only a trace of foam. No real lacing to be seen.
S: Cold: smells aren't that great. After warming a bit: Malty, sweet. Some bready smells are there, and a nicely subdued fruitiness.
T: Initially, the honey sweetness dominates, but that quickly gives way to a oh so subdued fruity taste with a nice hit of malt.
M: A bit more than medium in body, this one is pretty full and creamy feeling. Carbonation is spot on. Alcohol is wonderfully warming, but at 11%, what do you expect?
D&N: Nicely complex, pretty punchy, this one has me feeling just fine about life, if ya know what I mean. A very nice holiday offering from two killer brewmeisters. Check it out.

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Photo of Stimack
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brew poured to a copper color with some reddish highlights. Small light tan head that breaks down quickly. The aroma is a mix of berries, cherries, slight spice and alcohol - simply a lovely aroma. Flavors of cherries which give a slight tart feel, nice malt character, no real hop presence noticed. Alcohol flavor is there and leaves a nice hot feel in the back of the mouth. Though the alcohol is there is does not stand out, and I think that is due to a sweet finish. Though there was not much of a head the carbonation was good, went well with the beer. This brew is a surprise as it weighs in art 11 ABV, does not have that feel as the alcohol is hidden quite well. Though this is a sipper it goes down remarkably smoothly.

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Photo of brentk56
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear red/amber color with a small head that quickly dissipates and leaves just a little bit of lacing

Smell: Clove, bananas and honey predominate in the nose; malts and cherry in the background

Taste: Quite complex; starts out with a blast of alcohol which then reveals a variety of fruit flavors; more candied fruit with bananas than cherry at the outset; in the middle, the tongue starts to tingle from the carbonation and then it winds up finishing with clove, cherry and honey flavors - very subtle

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a bit of carbonation; warmth in the gullet from the ABV

Drinkability: A nice sipper to drink once it has warmed and opens up

Thanks, Shaggy9356, for the chance to re-visit

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a fairly hazy deep red color with a touch of brown mixed in, with a finger of off-white head. The head fades fairly quickly down to a ring around the glass leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is full of sweet and slightly tart cherries. There is also some yeast smell and a touch of spices. Really pungent.

T - Starts off with some sweet candied cherry flavor and some nice yeast flavor. Little bit of holiday spices in the background (little bit of clove). Also a bit of honey sweetness. Through the middle a bit of tartness comes out alongside some Belgian yeast flavor. The finish has some lingering sweet cherry flavor alongside some caramel and some booze flavor that lingers very nicely.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate lively carbonation. A touch syrupy and oily, but still really nice and smooth. The booze finish here is really nice.

D - For an 11% abv beer, this stays remarkably drinkable. The flavors are really nice and balanced and work very well together. The sweet cherry flavor is really excellent.

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Photo of glid02
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Sunswick in Astoria, NY.

Pours a clear copper color with a half-finger white head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with hints of medium to dark fruits - cherries with hints of figs - and a good deal of spices.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet and crisp caramel malt flavors up front are joined by mild amounts of spices almost immediately. Midway through the sip lightly tart cherry flavors enter into things and carry through to a crisp and sweet finish. As the beer warms the malt flavors intensify and the spices dissipate a bit.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with lighter than average carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could have had another.

Overall this seems to be a somewhat polarizing beer however I found everything to be present in good amounts and nothing seemed overpowering. Worth a shot.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours a clear warm brown body with a red hue to it. There is a sea of tiny bubbles that pop to the surface to form a head of tan bubbles.

S- This beer has a aroma of brown sugar, toasted malt a hint of circus peanuts and a caramel malt aroma.

T- The soft sweet malt has a dark nougat notes and some faint circus peanut flavors. There is a blended quality of dark cherries that comes through in the malt flavor but is not pronounced. The finish has a soft boozy quality that is quite nice.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a tight little fizz finish and no real alcohol heat until it gets pretty warm.

D- This beer has some great Belgian strong dark ale qualities with a mysterious malt flavor that is sweet and rich and has a nice accent of cherries to it. This is a great winter sipper.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at the New Cumberland Elephant & Castle Pub during their annual Troegs Christmas in July event.

Pours a dark, clear ruby red color with a 1/4 finger of creamy eggshell colored head. A soft ring of retention and thin wisps that skim the top leave behind some thin strands of lacing. The aroma is a big time cherry blast of tartness but there is just enough honeyed sweetness to balance things out. There is also a bit of alcohol beef in the bouquet that reminds you that your about play with fire.

The taste is just the same as the aroma and still has a surprisingly fresh feel to it. Cherries dominate the profile but are extremely well balanced with sweetness from the honey notes and maybe some darker feeling malts. The mouthfeel had a medium to full body with not a lot of carbonation but still maintains a slick and smooth feel on the palette. There is also a good bit of heat in the overall feel but the flavors and body more than help cover up any stinging effects from it.

I love this beer because of it's simplicity. Cherries + Honey + Alcohol. It's as simple as that and it's a credit to the well balanced nature of this, that it doesn't come out tasting like cough syrup. It's all so smooth and easy on the palette, that the ABV of this can creep up on you very unexpectedly. Packed with festive flavors and toasty feel, this is a perfect for the holidays or anytime your looking for a warm and flavorful pick-me-up from a beer.

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Photo of Stubbie1
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This elf is a clear reddish orange color, an slightly off white head makes it to the top of my glass. It came and left rather fast not leaving much of any type of lacing.

The aroma at first is very mellow. However, as this brew warms up it is a frenzy of fruit. Cherries and fresh plumbs come to mind when I breathe in. Hints of spices also fill the air.

Taste: A lightly sweet start with a smooth mild middle transition to a wonderful fruity finish. Again, cherries and fresh plumbs come into play. Not overwhelming but a nice mixture with the malt.

Wow, for one pissed off elf, this beer is great. I’m sure it is better on a colder winters night. The 11% (to me) is not noticeable. The flavors and aroma of this beer get better as it warms.

Bottom line: If your lucky enough to get your mitts on a bottle or two of this brew, do it, I think you wont be disappointed!

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Photo of SamuelJackson45
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer about over 6 months span from my first time in season to 2 weeks ago when 6 month age. And this beer mature very well. The sourness of the cherries die down and just so sweet the beer is like liquid candy with some kick. The age made it sweeter but also stronger which is good to my liking. I do enjoy this beer and wish this was a year round beer. The Troegs brothers got this making beer down and just impressing me and more.

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Photo of jtierney89
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy dark orange or amber color with a thin lace of head. Alcohol smell is apparent instantly. Some dark fruit and spice on the back of the nose.

Surprisingly tastes like a Belgian ale and isn't nearly as sweet and sugary as I thought it would be. Slightly sweet up front, hints of cherries, cinnamon, cloves, and dark fruits, nothing to over powering. Spicy balancing finish with a very warming swallow from the high alcohol.

This beer ended up being a lot different than I thought it would be but in a good way. Big and full in body but not syrupy like I imagined.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ale brewed with honey and cherries. 11 abv.

A: Poured a beautiful cherry red color with orange hues. The head was egg shell white, thin, and fizzy leaving almost no lacing.

S: The nose yielded bright, spicy fresh cherries, with sweet honey while the alcohol was hardly distinguishable hiding behind the sweet aroma.

T: The initial flavor had a nice subtle tartness followed by only a slight alcohol warming. Rich, smooth with a honey sweetness and fresh cherries the palate was crisp, and sweet masking the massive 11%abv with hardly any regard. There was a light yeastiness and spicy fruitiness on the finish. The honey and cherries were balanced beautifully with great alcohol coverage leaving only a slight tinger and warming.

M: syrupy feel with a nice viscous nature that was both sweet and smooth.

D: Drinks dangerously easy in regards to its ABV which could mean trouble and come back to get you in the end. Hopefully the sweetness would limit multiples as the alcohol is not a factor upfront.

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Photo of oline73
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle from the cellar poured into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours an almost clear red amber with a 1/8 inch layer of off white head. Head dissipates almost immediately.

Smell: Very sweet with cherries and hints of honey and brown sugar. Not much alcohol to be found here.

Taste: Cherry and sweet malt and honey dominate. After that I pick up some caramel and a bit of alcohol, which isn't surprising given the ABV.

Mouthfeel: This one is on the thick side of medium body. The carbonation is low and the finish is slick on the tongue.

Drinkability: Admittedly, this is one of my favorite Christmas beers. It has held up well to a year in the cellar. Good beer for a cold night and I'll keep coming back to this one.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours a very nice looking clear reddish color. It has a nice cherry nose & it's taste is tart yet sweet. It was very enjoyable. The 11% ABV is extremely well hidden, but it sneaks up on you later. I would imagine that this beer is absolutely stunning in a cold climate where it would be a great winter warmer

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Photo of railman
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer! The color the label everything! Picked this up after a suggestion last year.
Happened to see it on display at a local beer distributor. Had to get it.

Poured from a 12oz bottle. No freshness date.

This brew pours a nice burnt amber / ruby red color.
Virtually no head or lacing noticed. Almost no carbonation.

Smells a little on the sweet side with little cherry on the nose. Almost no hops detected.

Tastes sweet but not overdone. Minimal cherry flavor.

Feels somewhat syrupy but again not overdone. Medium to full bodied brew.
I really like this brew. Too bad its 11% cause I can suck these down all night.


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Photo of drtth
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lightly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically. This bottle is from the fall 08 bottling and so has 9 or 10 months of bottle age.

Appearance: The beer pours out a deep clear dark red with a 1/4" off-white creamy head that recedes to a ring of foam with thin, irregular surface coverage. Initially sipping leaves a ring that turns into leggy lacing as some slides down the side of the glass. Later on sipping leaves only a faint ring and light speckled lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell: The aroma is a complex mix of cherry, spice (clove) and honey. The alcohol is well hidden here.

Taste: The flavor is a delightful mix of the cherry, the spice, and the honey, backed up by hints of chocolate from the malt. Any alcohol is in the sweetness and despite the 11% ABV there is no alcohol heat to this one. The flavor is complex enough that it is hard to say that any one part of the flavor is dominant.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium bodied and soft with very modest carbonation, only a faint prickle by the end of the beer. The finish is medium long and mostly sweet, trailing off into a light yeast character and almost some dry bitterness.

Drinkability: This is a dangerously drinkable beer. However it's a beer for sipping. At this ABV it would be easy to drink too much, and with this level of cherry/sweetness it begins to cloy if sipped too quickly. I definitely enjoy this beer and will return to it again. Indeed if history is a judge I'll have a case laid in when it is released this year and most of it won't see the New Year.

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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,919 ratings.
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