The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
Very Good
4,022 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,022 |  Reviews: 1,288
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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Photo of bigdaddyjerry
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i didn't get much cherries or honey flavor... maybe a little more would of been better..

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Photo of NEhophead
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown bottle served in a chalice.
Vintage 2012-2013, batch #120913.

Tea-tinted oak in color. Carbonation-filled off-white head that disappears to a broken sheet after only a moment leaving no lasting lace.

Sweet, Belgian candied sugar marry beautifully with the cherry, fig, raisin, and plum fruity esters. Spicy anise, brown sugar, and nutmeg add another layer of depth to the already deep aromas.

Slightly tart fruit flavors: orange and cherry, come through initially. The Belgian candied sugar is a bit heavy with a touch of an artificial taste. The yeast adds a hefty dose of spiciness along with the strong anise flavor. All of the individual flavors are bold and do not quite make for a balanced sip; including a hefty alcohol presence.

A full, medium in body. The body, much like the flavor, is a bit out of balanced creating a rather slick, slightly unpleasant mouthfeel particularly for the style.

A bold ale in more ways than one. I can really envision this one only improving with age, allowing the flavors and alcohol character to mellow.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle pour at mrbubbler's tasting.

Pours a clear dark honey orange with a foamy bone head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, honey, cherry, and cherry syrup aromas. Taste is much the same with sweet malt and cherry flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of toasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty but fairly syrupy and sweet.

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Photo of Prue
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Nomis
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Vivs85
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Djoneil
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz shifters of the 2017 & 2015 @the Brass Tap in Baltimore

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Photo of akajimmyd
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Not much head or lacing. Reddish hue.

Smell – Sweet malts and spice, subtle hints of fruit.

Taste – I get prunes or dark fruit up front followed by spice and a little bite of alcohol.

Mouthfeel- Sweet up front. Full, full body. Finishes with a little too much astringent alcohol.

Drinkability – A winter warmer through and through. Many characteristics that remind me of a barleywine. Tremendous and serious brew. Be careful, quite drinkable.

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Photo of Sammy
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Belgian spicy aroma. Creamy mouthfeel. Fruity with a sour finish. Yeasty and sour. Lacey. Tinged colour. Winter in June.Sweet and sour and in need of food to separate out the taste directions. An extreme and a different from this brewer.Alcohol warming but no warning it was this high. RFD.

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Photo of MispeledStalion
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of CFram
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Moestavern
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of jahred
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 11/3, tasted 5/19/04. Many thanks to beerluvr and BIF 6.0 for this bottle!

Pours a bright orange-brown color with a nicely sized tan head. There's some lace on the glass as I drink, but not an overwhelming amount.

The scent is sweet - there's going to be plenty of of malt, lemon and alcohol in this beer.

The first taste I get is vanilla, with an orange/fruity malty flavor following, and a biting, trailing alcohol aftertaste. As the beer wars, the sweetness continues to come out. Also a bit of spice - is it nutmeg? Clove? Or just something coming from the hops? I can't tell ...

I couldn't quite place that fruity taste, so as I finished up this beer, I looked through previous reviews. Yes - that was it... Cherry, most definitely!

Oddly enough, the Mad Elf had the unfortunate combination of being a little too thin for my taste, along with having too much of an alcohol flavor, with the 11% being very poorly hidden. Though still quite tasty and interesting, I have a feeling this needed to sit for another year to settle down a bit.

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Photo of Patlee3324
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%

Photo of drew74
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%

Photo of AMCimpi
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%

Photo of mj_col
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%

Photo of u2carew
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz long neck. Consumed 01/09/10

A) Pours with a finger thick head. Settles slightly. Lacing is thin and sticky. The body is absolutely transparent with active upward carbonation. Amber in color with just a bit more red than usual. This has got to be one of the best beer presentations I have seen in a longer - nearly perfect!
S) Sweet - caramel, toffee. Notes of alcohol. Mild citrus notes. Black pepper.
T) Malty and alcohol up front. Hints of dark fruit - cherries and apples in the mix. Malty sweet all the way through. Finishes with just a hint of hops. The aftertaste is sweet banana and alcohol effervescence.
M) Very mellow fizziness. Medium body with a little bit of girth. Slight syrupy feel.
D) A nice Belgian in style. Was hoping for something unusual / unique that would make this a standout... oh well, still a good brew.

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Photo of daythree16
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a wine glass. Clear honey-amber color with a 1" head.

Very winy aromas. Sweetness with a touch of cherry, though I don't know if I would have noticed it if I hadn't read the label first. Taste is sweet and piney with a lot of alcohol heat. Just a hint of sourness from the cherries.

Mouthfeel is medium and drinkability is decent, but the noticeable alcohol kills it a bit for me.

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The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 4,022 ratings