The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
Very Good
4,023 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,023 |  Reviews: 1,288
Photo of srandycarter
3.69/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Rich amber clear, not much head nor lace.

S- Big malty smell, almost cloying in nature. Interesting, though.

T - Big malt beer. Not so much of the Belgian attributes that I am used to, but nice.

M - Medium, good carb, ok balance.

D - Did not really touch me.

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Photo of thestranger99
3.69/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of sleazo
3.69/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A_Pours a clear chestnut colour with a smallish off white head. Staying power and lacing are nto strong points.

S_Sour and sweet cherries dominate the smell. There is also a decent ammount of carmel malt.

T_Cherries hit huge up front, mildly sour but mostly sweet. This is followed by a healthy dose of caramel. The finish is dominated by a spicy yeast character which unveils flavours of pepper, bread dough and and even a bit of wine must. A minor hint of alcohol heat in the aftertaste doesn't distract

M_Slightly viscous with a small bubbled but tight carbonation.

D_The cherries are a bit too strong here and make the whole beverage a bit cloying. If there was a bit more sourness I like this better. That said, this is probably what they going for and this is clearly a well made brew. For a brew of this strength the alcohol is almost completely hidden.

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Photo of BeerIsland
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thought I'd celebrate the end of winter with a 2006. Head's totally gone in a few minutes; looks OK otherwise. Not a lot of aroma left in this one. Tastes great all the way through; oogles of complexity, well balanced, nice carbonation, pleasant lingering finish.

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Photo of mtyrrell
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle

A- A nice amber red with a small head that quickly recedes, no lacing

S- Spicy, fruity, alcohol, fruit maltiness

T- Fruity cherry taste, spicy yeast, strong alcohol taste for a beer

M - Medium body, very smooth

D- Got a nice buzz from this 22oz bottle, 11% ABV. A pretty good brew, just not my cup of tea

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Photo of jbfarris
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of sfoley333
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle(thanks ahatcher78). Poured a red ruby clear color with a thin white head. Smell is super sweet cherry bubblegum, corriander and a whiff of alcohol. Taste is cherry cough syrup with a sweet honey spice flavor and herbal alcohol finish. Mouthfeel is sticky and smooth. Its a very interesting beer but hardly a session beer more like an after dinner drink.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mad Elf pours a still, clear ruby color with a thin off white head on top. The foam dissolves quickly leaving no lace on the glass.

The aroma is faint with sweet notes of bubblegum, clove and cherry. Reminds me of a hefeweizen. As the beer warms the aroma becomes more apparent, but still not too strong.

Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer has a sharp fizz on the tip of the tongue and a light syrup feel on the palate. The flavor is sweet with a balance of spice. It begins with cherry and bubblegum, spicy notes of clove, cinnamon and pepper appear in the middle and it finishes with a touch of alcohol and oak(?). Once gone the cherry and bubblegum flavor lingers on the palate.

For 11% abv this is a quite drinkable beer, however the alcohol sneaks up on you pretty quick. The flat appearance is a bit of a drag, but the complex flavor makes up for any faults.

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Photo of UDbeernut
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My 100th review, on tap poured into a pint glass, not the correct glass wear

a: nice dark amber color, translucent with slight carbonation. When it arrived at my table, there was no head but lots of sticky lacing.

s: alchohol and cheery

t: cherry sweatness dominates flavor. Also taste alchohol. I think I taste a bit of honey too.

m&d: full bodied beer, very nice beer but i would not drink more than one during a session.


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Photo of Imstillthegman
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Merry Christmas to the Mad Elf.

He poured out of the bottle a beautiful ruby red color with a nice to it. Fingers worth of white head really put me in the Christmas spirit...well maybe not, but it looked good. Lacing isn't a factor with this one.

The aroma is a funky Belgian one with some cherries, honey, caramel, and sweet bread.

Flavorful seasonal with tastes of holiday spices, funky yeast, sweet cherries and oh yeah...alcohol. Woo. I think I can breathe fire right about now. This is good, but I think it needs a little aging. Bit rough around the edges although I can see the tasty light at the end. I think I'll sit on some of this for a while.

Body is thinner than expected, yet a bit syrupy. Definately believe a little time in the cellar will help this one out. Right now one bottle is plenty, but with some age this should be even more enjoyable.

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Photo of thain709
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - A very nice ruby color...a faint head

S - A sweet smelling ale with cherry notes

T - The taste follows the nose as it is very sweet...cherry, honey, and roasted malts

M - A heavy body...the alcohol doesn't come through as much as expected

D - With the alcohol not coming through too much it makes this a very enjoyable beer...but watch out for that 11%!

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Photo of Brew_ski
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Nunya
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of Justindemino
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Photo of Kendo
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BA caminiti for picking up the sixer at Halftime. Nearly 20 bucks?!?!? I think he's skimming some off the top. Let's see if it's worth it. . . .

A: Poured into a Chimay chalice. Body is clear reddish-amber with a small white head and some slow-rising bubbles. Absent those bubbles it looks a bit like cherry cough medicine.

S: Cherries evident right away, along with alcohol.

T: Candied fruit and sugar. Cherry sweetness on the front of the tongue -- and the back too. Heat is evident on the back end of the sip and in the belly. Slightly medicinal overall taste.

M: Good spritzy-ness makes it feel lighter than expected. Call it medium in weight.

D: OK. Too sweet and too hot to want a lot of this, but on the other hand, the 12 oz portion went down pretty quickly for a beer of this strength.

**** Edit, about 1 yr later (12-3-09) ***

Beer has lost that dominant cherry taste. Still hot, however, and still a nice fizzy feel. I'd probably give it all 4's a year out. . . .

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Photo of DrJay
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Though it produced only a thin cap of fine bubbles off a moderately hard pour, the beer itself was a clear, brilliant red. The head retention was decent, with a solid ring settling into place, and the off-white bubbles were a bit sticky and spotty. The nose was a combination of fruit and spices, backed up by a rich maltiness, with notes of banana, tropical fruits, and cloves. The taste was pretty good - very fruity, mostly juicy rather than dried, with lots of banana and berry, plus a pleasant bread character and a balanced spiciness. Full bodied with lightish carbonation that was well integrated into the texture. It was palate coating, yet just short of being sticky, with a mild warmth. Pretty good stuff overall and a tasty Xmas treat. I did find it just a little too sweet though.

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Photo of roadhouse
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Would have used a tulip or something if I didn't think this was a typical Christmas Ale. Oh well.

Appears a very nice and clear shade of orange-red with a half inch off-white head that sinks to a skim rather quickly. Leaves minimal lacing.

Aroma is dominated by the cherries in it, with a bit of clovey spiciness coming through, all encased in a sweet sugary backdrop. Perhaps a hint of some figs as well.

The taste is initially sweet and sugary with the cherry flavor coming in quick, but it is actually quite subtle. The spiciness comes in midway through and lasts into the finish where it is met with more cherry flavor that is rather sweet.

Mouthfeel is medium in body, pretty chewy as well, carbonation level might be better if it was higher. Drinkability isn't hurt by the high ABV, but after a while the sweetness starts to get a bit old.

Overall, this is a pretty solid beer. It probably won't make you blow your load but it's tasty and worth picking up if you can get it.

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Photo of westweasel
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours out a clear dark amber/red interesting color, with a very few little white bubbles. No lacing is left along the glass.

Clove is the strongest scent with a little bit of cherry and a hint of another fruit... kinda of like jucyfruit gum, a little like banana.

Clove and belgian yeast flavors dominate with a very subtle touch of cherry, and a little bit of bitterness in the fairly dry finish.

The mouthfeel is on the fuller side of medium, with fairly high carbonation.

This is a very interesting and complex beer. A very enjoyable drinking experience. Definetly something different - just not my favorite flavors.

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Photo of deaconoflove
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ap. Color is a fantastic red amber and clear as can be. I love the color. Unfortunately, there is NO head and almost no lacing. Too bad.
Sm. Spicy, cloves?, nutty, malty, kind of medicine-like aroma, but not unplesant.
Ta. Sweet, spicy, and sour bitterness all rolled into one. Some cherry or cranberry in there. Definitely a cold weather sipping beer. Duh!
Mf. Coats very well and stays. I would like some carbonation. The sweetness lingers.
Dr. Probably best as an after dinner dessert beer. Bought a case (it's PA after all) and now I'm wondering if it was a wise use of $58. Ah well, I'm in no hurry. It's in the beer closet.

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Photo of argock
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. No freshness date -- probably 2009 vintage (per beer manager). Single purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $2.75.

A: Deep, dark ruby red with quickly disappearing beige head with no lacing. Not a surprise with 11% on the label.

S: Spicy yeast, cherry, which is hard to tell whether is from cherries or strong alcohol, dark fruit malts

T: Tart without being sour with solid dark fruit maltiness and delicate honey sweetness that barely weathers the alcohol barrage. Spicy yeast adds a nice counterelement to the maltiness. Cherry is most obvious in the aftertaste. A definite sipper, and a good one.

M: Not as solid of a body as you'd like in a high-ABV brew but still not bad all in all. Medium-body with slick feel with some dryness.

D: Surprisingly drinkable for the ABV and pretty enjoyable, especially for a big ABV brew like this one. The tartness and spiciness play well off of the dark maltiness and alcohol components.

Cellared 1 year: Big body but bland with a lot of the cherry tartness having faded and the chief flavor being the honey.

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Photo of woemad
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle courtesy of bl00. I believe it's my 1st from Troegs. According to the label, it's "Best Before 100218."

Ruby-brown in color, with a thin, beige head. Said head dropped faster than Trump's approval ratings among the non-MAGA crowd. Not surprising given the high abv.

Sweet and boozy aroma. Smells like cherries and honey. Belgian yeast aromas were not so distinct beyond a whiff of spiciness.

Sweetness in the flavor as well. Honey and cherries, as advertised. A little more cinnamony Belgian spiciness emerges in the flavor, but it's still way in the back compared to a typical beer of the style.

Carbonation seems low. Mouthfeel kinda flat and heavy.

Not a bad beer, but the carbonation issues hurt things. As for the sweetness overpowering the Belgian yeast notes, I'd be interested in trying one that was closer to that best by date, maybe things would be melding a little better by then. If I come across it again, I'll sit tight on it a while longer. Regardless, my thanks to Dan for something I'd not get a shot at locally.

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Photo of Cavalier92
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a solid holiday offering from Troeg's, but by no means a super star. They sell it as containing honey and cherries and being ruby red in color, but mine was coppery brown and tasted more like a strong golden ale.

It's got a spicy nose from the Belgian yeast and it finishes smoothly for an beverage with 11% ABV. The sweetness and alcohol hide any hops or yeast notes.

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Photo of sbw138
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bottle from The Foodery, poured into a snifter.

Appearance - A nice deep deep amber/brown color. No signs of carbonation, a nice creamy very light brown head of a little more than one finger. A good looking beer.

Smell - A very yeasty smell right off the bat. Also picked up some darks fruits, almost a plum/prune scent.

Taste - Very sweet, with a combination of the malts thrown in. You can really taste the cherries at the end.

Mouthfeel - The overly sweetness gives it a little too thick of a consistency, but it is super smooth.

Drinkability - Good drinkability. Not one I would drink over and over again. I'd consider it almost a dessert beer.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of brother_kenneth
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, poured into a snifter glass.

A- This beer pours a nice deep red, with a foamy head that dissipates very quickly.

S- Notes of cherry, Belgian yeast, spices, honey, and cherries. Did I mention cherries?

T- Lots of cherry in the taste, along with a noticeable amount of alcohol and a sweetness from the honey. The spices and yeast have a large impact here, but the cherries are in the forefront. It almost gets close to making me think of a sour, but not quite. It is not really boozy, but the alcohol is there.

M- Not very carbonated, kind of syrupy and thick.

O- This is one hell of a seasonal beer. I am about finished with a 22oz now, and let me tell will sneak up on you! I love the cherry flavor in such a big Belgian brew, and think it is somewhat original for a "holiday beer". I would highly recommend this one!

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Photo of InsolublePancake
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a nice ruby red with a half inch of light tan head that only lasts a few seconds.

S- Aromas of cloves and sweet grain stand out, with a hint of sour cherries also noticeable.

T- More cloves and husky grains dominate the flavor, which is quite dry at the start. The sweetness comes out in the finish, with a honey-like sweetness and a burst of tart cherries. Bitterness is light and the alcohol is hidden quite well.

M- Medium-bodied with a good active carbonation that's not too strong.

D- Not bad. As I said before, the alcohol is hidden well, so that's a point in its favor. I still don't think I'd want to drink a lot of it. One is definitely enough.

This is a good American-made Belgian-style ale. Still, it could do more to stand out in a crowded field. At no point did I think that it was particularly unique or interesting. The cherries are a nice touch, but they aren't prominent enough to really give the beer much character. All that being said, this is still a solid beer, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the style.

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The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 4,023 ratings