Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
87
very good
1,246 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:
1,246
Ratings:
3,840
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
26.68%
 
 
Wants:
227
Gots:
1,095
For Trade:
24
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,246 | Ratings: 3,840
Photo of GoalieRon33
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Medium brown with a reddish hue. Clearish, until it warms then becomes a little cloudy.

S- decently malty, somewhat sweet. Definate honey tones

T- Deep, spicy taste. Cherries, Honey, and other great sweetness propel this beer to the next level. Slight alcohol burn towards the end.

M- Not too heavy, but just right. A ittle thickness towards the end of a bottle. I don't reccomend more than 2 of these.

D- Great beer that is so easy to drink. Being 11%, it is a real wallop of alcohol, but it is barely detectable until the post drinking warming feeling.

 561 characters

Photo of Chincino
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this beer a couple of times during a recent trip to Philadelphia. I first had it at the Troegs brewery in Harrisburg as part of a beer sampler of the beers that were on tap that day (8). I also had this beer from a bottle at the Standard Tap in Philly.

A friend of a friend commented that the Mad Elf was a "big beer" which was very true. This Christmas Belgian Ale was had a spicy aroma and really smelled both spicy and sweet at the same time. I wouldn't say this was one of my favorite beers, but it was a good seasonal beer and worth checking out in my book.

 569 characters

Photo of Nutleybeer
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After 2 years or so of trying, finally I got my chance to sample Troegs' infamous Mad Elf. Apparently, in the past they never brewed enough and it sold out at once. This year, they must have learned their lesson though...I actually found Mad Elf sold in north Jersey; which is a first.

At $13 a six pack, the cost is quite high. Thankfully, at my local store, they sold Mad Elf by the bottle too. At $3 a bottle, while still high, it is a bit more affordable to be sampled.

The smell as you pop open the bottle is distinctive Belgian with a pleasant, somewhat spicy scent. With a reddish copper color, it made for a nice pour with a mild head. The taste was smooth. Not to sweet, but with a subtle hint of cherries. Not as sweet as I imagined it to be.

For those of you interested but unable to find Mad Elf, you can also try Ommegang's Three Philosophers, which is in the same lines (thanks to the guys in Red Bank's Spirits for pointing that out in the past).

 971 characters

Photo of Tbn2
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a deep red with a head that doesn't disappears really quick.

S-Big malty sweetness and some yeast aromas as well. In the background, that is a smell of sweet cherries.

T/M-Pretty good. Big malty and phenols/spicy yeast flavors are the main characters. Balancing them is a touch of sweet cherry juice and I get a little bit of the honey at the very end to give it a somewhat dry finish. Alcohol and phenols linger and give a nice warming feeling all the way down.

I'm not much of a Belgian fan but picked this one up because it looked interesting to me and I'm not disappointed.

 588 characters

Photo of hippityhops85
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber purchased two days ago at Super Food Town in Lansdale, PA.

Pour is deep mahogany. Minimal head that disappears immediately. Understandably so with the abv clocking in a 11%.

Nose is Belgian Yeast, slight cherry aroma. The yeast dominates the profiles.

Taste, when drank cold, the cherries are very abundant. As the beer warms, the alcohol makes itself apparent in a strong way but the cherries are still in the background.

Overall, an excellent winter brew. Picking this up on a 30F night will definitely help warm you up. I wish I had started aging these years ago because they're just going to get more complex with time. And for roughly $4 a bomber, I will be stocking up this year.

 698 characters

Photo of scottyg354
3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pour almost Cherry Wood in color with a short lasting head. Not much lacing with this beer. Just a nice color

S: Cherry and Maltiness with a slight spice and sweetness.

T: Cherry Cough Syrup w/ malt. Not to good at all.

M:Smooth but lacking in carbonation.

O: Not sure why so many people actually enjoy this beer. Oh well, to each there own. Much better holiday seasonals out there.

 389 characters

Photo of Beervis
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from the 12oz bottle a very attractive dark ruby red with a very quickly disappearing, crackling white head. The head disappears completely, leaving nothing but a slight lace.

Smell is very sweet, with cherries, honey, and spicy alcohol.

Taste is malty and fruity with the cherry flavor really showing itself, then a smooth mouthfilling honey sweetness takes over. Alcohol is evident, but in a good way, adding plenty of spiciness at the back end. The medium mouthfeel is very juicy, and very little, if any, hop bitterness to be found here.

This is a very drinkable warm weather brew, but not one that I could drink constantly. The sweetness makes it a great dessert beer. It is very different from the regular winter brews that I am used to, but it's definitely one that I'll come back to.

 806 characters

Photo of ljbrisson
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a copper red color into a Sierra Nevada hop tulip glass. Head was about a finger-width and slightly off-white and settled to a thin cap which was thicker towards the wall of the glass. Aroma is malty with sweet dark fruit, banana, raisins, dark caramel hints. Mouthfeel was full and slick, with great carbonation which balanced the heavy feel perfectly. Taste was very complex with dark fruit, figs, raisin, malty sweetness, some banana, and an alcohol warmth and an almost port-like smoothness to the finish. Drinkability was moderate, due to the high ABV which was balanced well in the drink but definitely had a presence in the taste. Shouldn't drink one of these too fast, as my father-in-law unwittingly found out tonight. Overall this is a great beer, and the experience was made more enjoyable by the fact that I tried it with family on Christmas Eve. This could become a holiday staple.

 901 characters

Photo of Koufax21
3.49/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12 oz. Bottle into a snifter. It pours a beautiful transparent ruby liquid with 1/2" head that quickly disappears. Smells of spice; clove is what I’m getting with some peppery accent. Tastes of sweet fruits. Clove, fig, and cherry. The cherry was not as pronounced as I imagined it. The honey adds another layer of complexity. Very smooth for 11%. Mildly carbonated and medium bodied. This is definitely a cold weather beer. After 6 oz. I can feel the warming effects.

 479 characters

Photo of Ezekiel81923
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Also picked up at Capones. Want to see if its worth buying the case.

Appearance: Red/Amber in color. Crystal clear. Not much head to speak of, and what did rise up receded very quickly. Not much for lacing either.

Smell: Predominantly honey and cherries, as the bottle indicated. Big malt aroma behind that as well as a bit of spiciness underneath.

Taste: Honey and cherries are there, but there is more to this beer than that. Big malty backbone is also there. There is some additional spiciness to this one, mainly I find hints of clove, nutmeg and some bubblegum at the beginning. Finishes quite sweet, most likely the honey. Not much bitterness to speak of. The 11% shows itself though, I think this is one that definitely benefits from some age.

Mouthfeel: Medium-Full bodied with minimum carbonation. Very smooth and sweet.

Drinkability: A little to warm on the alcohol for my tastes. No problem finishing the 12oz'er, but a 2008 would probably taste amazing. I'm gonna buy a few more and drink them over the next few months to see how this develops.

 1,061 characters

Photo of sdj5
4.07/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Reddish-brown. Clear. Darker than white head.

S: Cherry, mostly.

T: Very much like cherries, bread and alcohol.

M: On the thinner side. Average amount of carbonation.

D: I couldn't drink a ton of this, but it's enjoyable in small quantities.

 248 characters

Photo of mjw2808
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very beautiful golden mahogany that leaves a little less that a 1 inch white head. Doesnt leave much lacing. All i get in the nose is a lot of alcohol and some berry fruity sweetness. The taste however, is more strong of berry than alcohol, although both of which are very noticeable. There is also a small presence of malt sweetness. Good mouthfeel. average mouthfeel. Very good drinkablilty for an 11% alcohol beer. Probably gonna buy this again, and if your wondering if you should buy it, you definitely should give it a shot.

 538 characters

Photo of I_imbibe
4.51/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bought this December 2012. Aged in a dark cellar. Over a few years your Elf will mellow and impart deeper cherry and mahogany flavor. It is delicious fresh, of course, but save a sixer for around 3 years! Drink it in the summer, too. Why the hell not?

 254 characters

Photo of prsguitarsr4me
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting beer. Got this as an extra in a trade - thanks jophish17! Nice dark amber color, not much head, and no retention. Aroma is a little sour to me - maybe a bit too much sweet fruit - almost like bananas. Taste is similar but definitely better - smooth and sweet - a little spicy, which I definitely like. I can't believe that the alcohol is 11%. It tastes like 5-6%. I would've liked a little more alcohol presence in the taste and aroma. Feel is smooth - goes down nicely and I could drink several if I had them. Definitely an interesting take on a Belgian strong ale - the alcohol is a little too hidden for my tastes.

 629 characters

Photo of Sharkophile
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Rigorous pour into a goblet. Reddish hue with an off white head that dissipates very quickly.

S: Smells like what it says: honey, cherries, spice and a fair amount of alcohol.

T: Sweet cherries, alot of herbal notes from the honey and some spiciness from the yeast (I think) finish is long and sweet and is boozy but the alcohol is well hidden for the high abv.

M: Full body with little carbonation.

O: An awesome winter seasonal. I love what they do at Troeg.

 467 characters

Photo of IIKaRuII
3.77/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Half off at Arnolds carry out in willard ohio. Came with the mad elf tulip glass. ( very thin glass I might say )
pours a hazy iced tea color, that almost resembles rust. gets a fairly disappointing head that dissipates quickly. Slight retention.
smells of candied dark cherries. low honey and yeast.
Taste is a smooth cherry. Honey sits on the tongue and allows the alcohol to pass. I'm getting a slight banana in the background as well. yeast is surely there and seems to linger.
Has almost no carbonation and i personally think with as sweet as this is i expect some. drinks a little watery in my taste and the 11% doesn't seem present at all. The cherries seem to mask it well. honey doesn't really play a factor if you ask me.
well this one was a different one for me. I was expecting a lot of bubbles. and carbonation. with as sweet as it is this is a delightful ale. I would expect more from troegs personally, but non the less it was enjoyable.

 956 characters

Photo of jockstrappy
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy cider color with a fluffy white head. Nose is sweet malt, clove, and maybe some brown sugar with alcohol also present. Taste is a subdued belgian spice, with notes of caramel malt, honey, and fruit on the backend. Alcohol warmth at the finish is perfect for a January in Pennsylvania. Very smooth on the palate, and quite enjoyable overall. This is not really my style, but this brew is an exception. A little pricey for a case, but on-tap, it definately warrants a try.

 485 characters

Photo of tmcelvain
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

L: Amazing ruby red color - I rarely see one that has this neon quality.
S: Malty Alcohol.
T: Alcohol dominates here, too, with sweet cherry undertones. Bready malt body - not a beer for the hopheads. Tastes more of an English Ale to me - I don't get any Belgian yeast flavors.
M: Smooth to start, with a spicy, carbonated finish.
D: Too alcoholly, and not enough complexity to dig in, but is a great winter warmer. At 11%, must be enjoyed in moderation - 12oz had me reeling.

 476 characters

Photo of pbr85
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass...
App: Pours a cherry red with absolutely no head. It would be a great looking beer if it had some head but it looks more like syrup than beer.
Taste: First sip is very malty. There are strong hints of cherry as soon as it hits your tongue. Malts stay strong throughout, which makes it a very sweet beer. Alcohol is strong and prominent. Mild hops, more prominent in the aftertaste than in the beer.
Mouthfeel: Great amount of carbonation. The beer goes down smooth.
Drinkability: Though it goes down smooth, the alcohol presence would likely make it difficult to drink more than one. I had one last week from the same six pack and enjoyed it more that time.

This is a good beer to drink when it is cold. The prominent alcohol leaves you feeling warm inside, and the appearance and cherry taste make it a good beer to drink during the holidays.

 900 characters

Photo of caminiti
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

OK at best in my opinion, sweet, very sweet.
I doth blame Kendo for making me drop $20 on a six pack of candy with alcohol. Poured into a tulip glass an almost bright orange with little carbonation and little head, it packed a lot of taste into each sip, which made it tough to drink more than one at a time. It will probably age well, but I didnt have any interest in keeping it around until next year...

 405 characters

Photo of chadspivey
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

thanks to akorsak for the growler shipped overnight. poured into my st. bernardus oversized goblet.

A: pours a clear red amber color. Head dissipates really fast, but I like the way it settles, with the bigger bubbles.

S: dark fruits and belgian yeast. spices, dark maltiness

T: grapes, alcohol, belgian yeast, very faint apples. dark maltiness present .

M: medium body. Would have expected it to be thicker considering the class of beer and the alcohol content. still seems to compliment the taste really nicely. slightly velvety.

D: pretty sweet beer, but I'm getting pretty buzzed off just the one. If it werent for the drunkenness, I'd have more.

couldn't decide between 4.0 and 4.5 on the taste. I think I changed it about 4 times. I decided it was closer to 4.5.

 788 characters

Photo of TheItalianStallion
3.69/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip

A: Pours a transparent ruby red with a 1 finger head. Foam quickly fades to a thin collar that leaves behind minimal lacing.

S: This beer isn't very fragrant, but I am getting aromas of alcohol soaked sweet cherries with a miniscule amount of honey. Some yeasty esters come out as the beer warms, but there really isn't much going on on the nose.

T: Flavor is one dimensional as all I'm really picking up is sweet cherries and a very small bit of honey on the finish. Even as the beer warms no new flavors come out.

M: Mouthfeel is lacking in my opinion. The body of this beer seems light on the palate. It is smooth but very thin, almost watery.

O: I was really looking forward to this beer and to be completely honest, I was a bit let down. The aromas and flavors are subtle, and I think this is not a good representation of what a Belgian Strong Dark Ale truly is. It seems a bit too "mild" for the style if that even makes sense. The one thing I must say is that the alcohol is masked extremely well for 11% ABV. So much so that If you told me it was 11% without me seeing proof, I wouldn't believe you. I would drink this beer again if it was free, but I most likely won't buy it again.

 1,233 characters

Photo of Luchman
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter, thanks to akorsak .


A: Just like the label says, a clear, ruby red color with light hints of amber to it. I got little head on my pour, which seemed to just race towards the sides. Reminds me of a red Jolly Rancher.

S: .A sweet, malty and spicy smell. The cherries can also be found, but it is subtle.

T: Yummy stuff right here. Malts, cherries, plums come in a first, ending with a nice finish of light spice. Has a long, slightly dry, finish that stays with you until your next sip. Alcohol comes into play as it starts to warm up, but nothing compared to what I expected from its 11% ABV.

M: A nice medium body that fits this beer great. Goes down smooth.

D: I personally, am not too big of a fan of the spices in any beer (so pretty much, I’ve never been too fond of Belgians), but I enjoyed this treat.The high alcohol percentage does hinder me from wanting to drink more than one of these in a sitting, but it does not stop me from wanting to revisit again. Find a Mad Elf for your self and enjoy!

 1,061 characters

Photo of veggiemafia
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Joe Mama's, sadly served in a po' boy pint.

Very Christmasy looking red color, slick looking with the only trace of head being a thin ring of light reddish khaki bubbles around the rim of the glass.

Smells really great, lots of Belgian malt and some yeasty notes but mostly the smell is honey sweetness and dark cherry and maybe some plummy things. Almost no alcohol in the nose, which is kind of nice, but kind of weird for a beer this big.

Taste is just like the smell with some added phenols in there. Shockingly even after this had set on our table for a good 45 minutes, the alcohol still didn't really make itself known. It seems like a lot of Belgians have a kind of sickly sweet alcohol presence that I don't really dig, but this just stays sweet and fruity throughout.

Mouthfeel is very slick, very low carbonation, but it's sweet enough that it almost leaves kind of a film in your mouth like skittles or something. There was a lingering component to this that I thought was less than amazing.

Drinkability for an 11% beer is downright scary. As drinkable as Double Bastard, and just as drunkifying. I personally wouldn't drink more than two in any sitting, but man, this is one worth letting creep up on you.

Just don't drive anywhere, in anything after two of these.

 1,306 characters

Photo of Bills453
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into my Duvel tulip glass.

This is a year aged 2011 edition...very curious to see how it aged!

Appearance - bright orange-red, off white head. Full of delicious sediment!

Smell - cherries very prominent, can smell the alcohol packed into this one too. Heavenly!

Taste - cherries and honey mix together so deliciously in this beer, it is always one of my favorite winter releases. The aging really worked well! Recently tried frosted frog by hoppin frog, just too much with the cinnamon and nutmeg, Mad Elf is what Xmas brews is all about!

Mouthfeel - nice

Overall - like I said, one of my very favorite winter/Xmas offerings...keep up the good work Troegs Brothers! Again aging works nicely in this brew.

 731 characters

Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 3,840 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!

    Subscribe