Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

BA SCORE
87
very good
1,270 Reviews
Tröegs The Mad ElfTröegs The Mad Elf
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States
troegs.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,270
Ratings:
3,913
Avg:
3.85
pDev:
15.06%
 
 
Wants:
230
Gots:
1,131
For Trade:
23
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,270 | Ratings: 3,913
Photo of corby112
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice dark amber with a slight white head. Aroma of cherries, honey and alcohol. Although the abv is 11% the alcohol is masked very well making this a smooth beer. The cherries and honey give this beer a nice sweetness that is balanced out by a slight maltiness.

 269 characters

Photo of jeremy13586
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured in to a Mad Elf tulip

Dark amber in color. Poured a one finger off-white head. The head didn’t last too long. Looks viscous and has a syrupy sheen.

Strong alcohol is in the nose. Totally lets you know that this beer is 11%. tart cherries with a sweet finish.

Tart, hot cherries dominate the flavor of this brew. There is also some good spiciness along with it. Flavor matches the nose, except that it masks the alcohol much better than the aroma. Honey and a bit of nuttiness rounds out the taste.

Medium bodied with a nice carbonation. Smooth, but it does leave a syrupy coating in your mouth.

This is one of my favorite winter brews. It is very drinkable which is the dangerous part. The alcohol content catches up with the drinker before they even notice. Generally a crowd pleaser and a nice one to age for a couple years. Might be hard to find now, so make sure you try it next holiday season.

 925 characters

Photo of jhicks12
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured this beer into a pint glass, first thing I notice was the glowing ruby red color and white head. Beer had a sweet cherry aroma with just a slight honey nose. First taste really got a lot of cherry not some much sour on first taste but more so as I drank. Slight alcohol warming. Not as much as I would have expected from an 11%. Very drinkable and a nice beer to warm you up with out being too overpowering.

 414 characters

Photo of rajendra82
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the cellar meat package by pentathlete, the Mad Elf came out deep amber red with a smallish head. The beer looked slippery, and the dissipating head left little lacing. The aroma was filled with holiday spices like nutmeg, ginger, and I could also smell orange peel. The taste was sweet and spicy with a cheerfully light body that was backed by rum like alcohol warmth. Although clearly a strong concoction, the 11% alcohol was well poised. The mouthfeel was airy and inviting. The aftertaste was a citric and sweet tang and a faint note of hop bitterness. Warmth of alcohol lingered long after the beer was gone.

 618 characters

Photo of GarrettMD
4.31/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep orange, almost amber in color with a thin layer of off white head that disappears into a ring of bubbles around the edge almost immediately.

S - Cherries, honey, caramel, a touch of alcohol, also a lot of aromas similar to a saison (lemon, peppercorn, belgian candi sugar, belgian yeast). Very complex aroma, very unique and I like it a lot.

T - Flavor follows the aroma pretty close. Same basic flavors, cherries definitely dominate along with the background caramel malts. Honey makes it's way in along with the bubblegum and lemon flavors associated with the saison I find in this. Once again, very complex, very well blended, I find myself going back for sip after sip trying to find new ways to describe the flavor.

M - Medium body, slightly sticky mouthfeel. Finish is sweet and sticky with flavors of cherries, honey, and bubblegum. Lasts a while too.

O - Well balanced, complex flavors, very interesting beer to try. I don't know that I would be able to drink too many, but the ABv isn't noticeable at all. Will definitely buy again.

 1,054 characters

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been hanging onto this one and can't wait to try it. Departs the bottle a wonderful golden red with hints of pink even along with a nice off white head. Sweet cherry Lifesaver aroma wafts up into my nose along with some earthy yeasty notes. Mmmm...lovely aroma.

First sip is a mix of honey/cherry sweet malty goodness along with a nice helping of barnyard/earthy yeast tones. There's a nice spiciness that's running through here too..maybe some nutmeg...I can't pick it out. A damn tasty belgian style winter brew!

Nice creamy, full mouthfeel with good carbonation. No complaints from me. Drinkability is good, as this is a tasty brew I could have a few of. Many thanks to blitheringidiot and merlin48 for hooking me up with some bottles of this!

 757 characters

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this years version into a Mad Elf tulip glass from Christmas last year,by the way this is my 100th review.Poured a beautiful ruby red color,quite clear for a belgium style beer.A white 2' thick head,turned into a ring around the glass quicker than I would had anticipated.
Very tiney bubbles stringing together throughout the beer.A very tempting looking beer.
The aroma was very yeasty,clovey,fruity,spicey,slight bannanna,a cherry overtone throughout. An intense and complex aroma,couldn't keep the nose out of this beer.
The taste was very complex and intriging,it was clovey,yeasty,fruity,spicy,a subtle cherry presence throughout. Sweet,dry.tangy the 11% alcohol was a bit hidden in the taste.
The mouthfeel was surprisingly light and airee. A fuzzy warm feeling on the tongue.a nice sharp.dry smooth bitterness,a tartness that makes the mouth water.
A fairly drinkable beer for the style,the alcohol creeps up dangerously upon you.Every taste makes you want more,this beer really grows on you. Smoother and more drinkable than last years version.

A must try Christmas beer!

 1,094 characters

Photo of wcudwight
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter a dark red(nice). with a inch head that quickly reduces to a thin ring around the crown.
Smell: I get cherry, cranberry, jucyfruit gum and alcohol.
Taste: Mmmm, taste starts with loads of malty sweetness, mixed with cherries. Kind of toasty tasting in the middle. The finish is of dry alcohol.
Mouthfeel is good. Thick and filling.
I consider it nicely drinkable for 11%. I've aged my bottle for 6 months and the alcohol is really only noticable in the finish.
A very good beer that is worth the hour and half drive across state lines to purchase. One that I will be looking forward to this coming holiday season.

 640 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A new year and got myself a growler fill of this perfect winter warmer.

A - A nice solid ruby read poured heavily as instructed on the side of a box I saw to unlock the hidden flavors. This resulted in an inch of head which is amazing for the ABV.

S - Warming alcohol with some sweet herbal cherries and tons of honey put in for good measure.

T - The first sip starts off intense with the alcohol burn start followed by a sort of herbal not sweet cherries and honey backbone finish rounding out the burn

M - The warming feeling of this is pretty intense but after the second glass it felt so right.

D - I struggled to finish the growler myself so get some help damn it! Taking a whopping 3 1/2 hours to get the whole thing down by the 4th it actually felt like the night before Christmas and Santa was waiting for me with gifts, to describe the giddiness was the true definition of a winter warmer. Enjoy this with friends and family!

 939 characters

Photo of orangesol
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served thru a dogfish randall-the-animal with brandy soaked cherries and vanilla.

A - Pours deep, dark, amber with no head at all leaving minimal lacing down the glass. Looks like normal mad elf with no head.

S - Lots of cherrie skin aroma that lingers for some time. A bit of booze from the brandy but it is hidden very well. Very nice nose.

T - Cherries up front that carry thru the entire drink. Middle is a nice mix of cherrie and a bit of chewy malt. Finish is strong with a bit of cherrie syrup and plenty of booze. This has to be close to twenty percent after the brandy was added. It is hidden so well it is honestly scary.

M - Medium body with a heavy flavor and moderate carbonation. Tart finish with plenty of booze lingering on the pallet.

D - Fairly high. I loved this one but after having so many beers already this was the final straw, I had to leave after this one. I have had normal mad elf, splinter red aka BA mad elf, and yet this was the best mad elf I have ever had. The balance was great but the ABV is so high you just can't have more than one.

 1,073 characters

Photo of JISurfer
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the best brew I have had that was made with cherries. It absolute blows away the Unibroe cherry beer, hands down. It smelled like cherries and had a very nice malty aroma with it, as well as the alcohol. The appearance was pretty nice, with the pretty amber color and a creamy head. The head was nice, but lasted a few minutes, then died out to a thin laceing. The taste was similar to the smell, but a little stronger in the cherry area(not too much though, nicely balanced), but the alcohol was barely there for the taste. I was thinking that it was going to be really alcoholy tasteing, but it was hardly noticeable. Man/woman, if it weren;t such a full bodied brew, I would be able to suck this stuff down all night.

 728 characters

Photo of mitch3114
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured 12 oz. bottle into snifter glass

A- Nice brown color with a slight reddish hue

S- I smell the cherries! I also smell Belgian yeast and alcohol. This smells a bit like cleaning solvent...with a hint of banana.

T- Well, it certainly doesn't TASTE like cleaning solvent. I can taste the Belgian yeast. It's more subtle than I thought. I taste sugar cherries and alcohol. Maybe some spices.

M- Mouthfeel is great. It's smooth and has just the right "prickly" with the carbonation. It's not too thick, and it's not cloying.

O- This is a unique beer. I am glad I finally got to try it and I got to try a fresh one. I think I will pick up a 6 pack and lay some down. I think when some of the heat burns off, even more of the subtle flavors will come out. I can see why this is a holiday favorite!

 802 characters

Photo of SkunkWorks
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber poured into a chalice. I know this is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but I'm taking into account that its clearly meant to be a Christmas beer as well in my review and you're just going to have to deal with it!

Look: clear, ruby red with a very few carbonation bubbles visible in the body. The head is a bit on the thin side at about one finger and looks white with a hint of reddishness. It doesn't retain very well and doesn't leave lacing behind, which is fine since its 11% alcohol by volume.

Smell: honey, maltiness, some Belgian inspired spices and a bit of cherry. A little alcohol is there but not as much as I'd think.

Taste: One of the things I was apprehensive about this beer is that the cherries would be overdone, since I don't particularly like cherries. Luckily, they take a back seat to the other flavors. There's honey sweet maltiness, some cherry, Belgian inspired spices, and a bit of booziness. There's some spiciness from the hops but its quite subdued.

Feel: medium bodied, especially at the alcohol content, not much carbonation, and a bit of booziness. Not much in the way of hop bitterness, which is to be expected given the low IBU.

Drink: very drinkable for such a strong beer. I could drink this all night if I wanted to but would probably die in the attempt.

Overall, a very, very good beer to drink around Christmas. Its a solid Belgian Dark Strong but really stands out as a Christmas beer. I think the B+ rating this has is a bit on the underrated side. This is easily my favorite beer I've had from the Troegs Brothers. Try and get this one if you can! Cheers!

 1,610 characters

Photo of sully42
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I decided to go to the 6pack shop on Broadway in Bethlehem. Wow what an interesting 6 pack shop. I was talking to the guy working, and I asked if they had any Mad Elf still. He two bottles tucked away on a shelf. It is rare to find this beer in the middle of July. So I took both of them.
After opening the bottle and pouring it into a glass, i was amazed by the dark ruby red color. Almost a full finger of head it.
The smell was a moderately strong cherry blossom smell, just delightful reminded me of the smell of spring time.
Lifting the glass to my lips and taking the first sip blew me away, so many flavors blending together all at once. A sweet chocolate and cherry taste with a hint of sourness to it. A nice lite carbonation was perfect for the flavors.
It is very drinkable for being 11%.
I cant wait until Mad Elf comes out again.

 845 characters

Photo of FightingEntropy
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very beautiful dark cherry color beer with a lot of alcohol (not surprising at 11%) in the nose along with dark fruits, cherry, fig. Very nice spicy character in the nose as well. Could not conjure up an head at all and no lace down the side. Very sweet oily character with cherry, and very sweet. Since I like sweet, no worries, but some would probably describe it as cloying. Strong yeast character as well. Hops is listed on the website as only 15 IBUs, which seems true with no hop character, so the yeast is the main component for the spicy notes. Very cool, fun beer with lots of character and punch. Not overly complex, but a very good beer overall.

 656 characters

Photo of ski271
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, medium reddish-copper with a very small, frothy, slightly off-white head that quickly diminishes to a thin film. Actually didn’t even know what style this beer was until I smelled it. Obvious Belgian with moderate wheat, sweet malts, cherry and some other fruit esters accompanying the light alcohol presence. Toward the end of the bottle when it really warmed up, I was picking up some light clove and a light woodsy smell. Flavor-wise, it starts out with rather typical Belgian flavors, mostly because I had served it too cold. it then opens to reveal a wonderful malt backbone and a complex array of flavors, but it’s the duo of cherries and sweet malts that steal the show. I admit at first it threw me a bit, but the second try was much better. And it kept getting better all the way to the bottom of the glass. It has a medium body, lightly oily texture and soft carbonation. This is a real holiday treat that is well done. Hard to believe this beer is 11%! Use with caution.

 998 characters

Photo of ElGuapo
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A small, quick dying head on top of a clear brown brew with amber notes. Nice aroma of cherries and cloves hit first. Other nice wintery spices are in the mix as well. I pick up some yeast and a bit of alcohol in there too. Very nice on the nose indeed.

This beer seems to be sucked into my tongue like a sponge. I have to squeeze it to let all the flavors come out, and they do so in great fashion. The start has a beautiful fruit flavor, which then gives you a hint of the alcohol. The warming character is excellent. Spices come in next led by clove. Slight notes of caramel are found occasionally as well. The finish is very balanced, and it leaves you with a spicy aftertaste. This is an excellent brew. The complexity is very nice, and even though it is a pretty heavy beer, it's body is not thick as to hinder drinkability to those who like something lighter. I could drink it all day. I only hope that a good amount of BAs got their hands on this one because it is excellent.

 988 characters

Photo of TheBierBand
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer of this on my latest beer run. Never having been let down by Tröegs.... I was confident that this one would not dissappoint.

Poured into a pint glass to form a 1" head. The head was beige in color and had great retention. Color was deep carmel amber.

Nose: Fruity, malty, lots going on here.

Taste: Really good... mirrors smell. Nicely complex.

MF: Not as effervescent as many belgians.... but that's OK with me.... a bit creamier... a bit heartier.

Drinkability: Could sneak up on you.... but goes down easy.

 534 characters

Photo of coalcracker
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark golden hue with light but activation carbonation.
Smell: Aroma is spicy and a bit sweet. Fruity aroma of cherry and dark fruits also noted. Very complex aroma.
Taste: Bready malt base first noted, then a wave of sweet cherry and dark fruits hits soon after. Candi sugars lead the way in the sweetness department. Finish is a little boozy and warming but smooth.
Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel but very smooth and warming at the end.
Drinkability: Not so drinkable by ABV. An enjoyable beer meant to be sipped. Might be a little too sweet for some.

Overall- probably one of the more complex beers I've ever had, which is a good thing. Good seasonal brew in a class of its own.

 690 characters

Photo of yeagerbm
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a big ol wine glass, this unique ale appears brilliantly red with a small frothy white head. The aroma is spicy with phenols. First flavors to come across are the fruity cherries with the floral sweetness of honey. The sweetness is balanced by a nice of spicy esters and refreshing bitterness with a slightly hot alcohol finish. The mouthfeel of this beer is relatively light for the ABV due to the use of honey to thin it out, which makes this brew very drinkable.

 477 characters

Photo of daveytheformer
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz from 2010 Gift Box!
A big thanks to canjeeps for this pain in the ass to ship

Poured into a Mad Elf chalice

Appearance is a nice clear red with a thin white head that fades to some lacing. Golden hued when held up to the light.

Smells sweet and like light pumpkin spice. A not so tart cherry aroma is also detected.

Tastes fruity, sweet and spicy. Light butter tastes followed by lots more spice. A little creamy with just a very light tartness, not really sour just a very light tart flavor.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with not a whole lot of carbonation.

Overall is great! Looking forward to getting more of this and more Troegs stuff.

 657 characters

Photo of ggaughan
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 bottle. Although I have tried all 3 years of Mad Elf, I have not done a vertical of them yet but plan on doing in the future. Maybe around Christmas.

The 2005 poured a nice shiny amber color with a medium thickness light brown head that disipated pretty quickly after completing the pour into the Mad Elf glass. And what a lovely glass it is.

You can pick up the spice notes in this beer upon smelling it and even more spice (nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon?) once you get a good taste. The cherry taste is not overly noticeable but still adds a nice touch to this stellar beer.

It is hard to tell that this baby is 11% abv with how suprisingly smooth it is and goes down. That is why I like it so much and go back each year to try some.

Can't wait to get my hands on a 3litre of this for the holidays.

 814 characters

Photo of mntlover
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a clear ruby amber color I don't know why but I like beers that look red for some unknown reason, caps with a tan head ever so briefly no lace but at 11% no suprise. Aroma is sweet fruity cherry but also apples on top of honey and malt with light hints of chocolate malt but very light. Smells very good some alcohol is also present but it compliments the fruity aroma and is not a distraction. Taste is sweet fruity cherries dipped in honey that linger until light choclate picks up and adds some to the sweetness followed by lingering alcohol enhanced very light bitterness thats slightly sour like green apples maybe more so then any hops. A light spice tingle is also felt thru out the experience but very light and for me undefinable. Alcohol is evident thru out but always in the background and complimenting the experience it warms the body and the soul hard to believe it is 11% taste more like 8%. Mouthfeel is suprisingly medium was expecting something little heavier but that makes it that much more dangerous. Drinkability is great this is one hell of a seasonal beer very well done.

 1,106 characters

Photo of WuKAZUKI
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - wrapping paper red mixed with amber

S - like a holiday fruit cake

T - candied cherries and red apples doused in dark honey with a huge hit of alcohol

M - its like a christmas in my mouth

D - Very drinkable...esp at that awkward christmas party I was dragged to. That high alcohol catches us to you wayyy too easily

Overall - my favorite holiday ale. definitely worth the hype

 384 characters

Photo of brureview
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Is this beer esteemed by The Mad? Perhaps. That's why it doesn't get better ratings.

Although the brewer suggests higher serving temps, i started lower at 45 and contemplated its changes in aroma and taste.

Beautiful ice tea color in a tulip with a 3 F head which soon resolves itself.

Aroma: Cinnamon-clove. Different than other cloves in Belgian ales. More earthy-barnyard.

The mouth feel is moderately carbonated which transitions well into the taste.

The taste at colder temps: cherries, hops., cough drops, honey, cinnamon. This is a complex taste- a different complexity than other beer styles such as Imperial stouts. There is less nuance here, and more crazy flavor. There is a singular cherry-honey taste.

As the beer begins to warm up- the esters become more apparent. Fruit- cherry, and a sweet finish.

There is also more cinnamon, hops, and a light alcoholic finish. The cherries intensify with warming.

With more warming there is an off taste- nail polish?

Perhaps I like this beer more at colder temps. The changes in the beer at different temps makes it quite notable.

This is a beer esteemed by The Mad.

 1,129 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe