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:
3,919
Avg:
3.85
pDev:
15.06%
 
 
Wants:
230
Gots:
1,135
For Trade:
23
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,270 | Ratings: 3,919
Photo of TripleSun
3.69/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very smooth for a belgian strong!

L - lucious ruby red with a creamy head
S - cherries, honey and alcohol
T - bananas, cherries, tiny bit of syrup mouthful
F - full bodied and very smooth

Troegs makes some good beers and this is pretty decent. Has a bit of a sticky feel to it but nice flavors going around

 308 characters

Photo of beerorRIP
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap @ The office

poured into a smaller-than-a-pint-glass glass (highball maybe, not sure). A small light tan head that didn't bother to stick 'round too long. A nice deep amber color with only a few small bubbles floating to the top.

smells like sweet malts, and some fruits... not sure which ones really. a bit of a boozy smell was around too. or was that someone next to me?

taste of sweet malts is right up front, with the fruits showing up as a ripe cherry taste. it's thick in taste. not much bitterness at all in this one. a slight flash of hot alcohol was also there... but just barely. the warming in my gut the real alcohol 'flash'. the bitterness finally showed a bit in the finish to dry things out a bit.

somewhat of a thick mouthfeel but given all that is put in, this is to be expected. the carbonation is there, but limited as you might expect.

this is a beer i only enjoy once a year really. not something i can drink so often even though i do have a liking for beers with the sweet malt characteristic.

the bottle version of this is also slightly different, although i would need to have a taste of it, as i haven't had the bottled version in about 2 years...

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Photo of talkinghatrack
4.82/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sometimes you can't forget your first.

My first Mad Elf was on a bitingly cold Sunday morning. My brother and I were in a parking lot, tailgating at an annual Eagles game and waiting for some steak to cook while huddling over our plastic cups of beer. After several Coors Lights (no shame there - great tailgate beer), my bro pulls out two Mad Elf's and tells me I have to try this stuff.

Wow. Loved it. Still do.

(2007 bottle, poured 1/5/09)

A dark reddy brew with a nice but quickly dissapating head, the sweet cherry-themed bready aroma invites you into each sip. Sure, there is a hint of alcohol in the nose and taste but we're talking about an 11% alcohol content here. After a few sips you stop noticing.

Smooth enough to drink fast but who would want to waste it? Great malty mouthfeel yet a light/medium body. A slighty high carbonation keeps pace with the other elements and dissipates quickly on the tongue. Love the tangy sweet finish in the back and sides of the tongue and the pleasant warming sensation as it travels down the throat.

If you can stand to let it age, it only gets better. I'm tempted to crack into my few remaining 2006 bottles but willpower has held out so far.

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Photo of SeamusDoyle
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep copper with ruby highlights and a thin tan head. Aromas of yeast, banana esters, bubble gum, and spices. Present in the background are sour cherries, dark fruits, and orange-poppy seed muffins. Cherries become more pronounced as this warms. Flavor is sour yeast and cherry, astringent spices, and a sour/spicy finish. Nice sweet and tangy mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

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Photo of bigeyedfish
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Mad Elf glass which was purchased solely to drink Mad Elf out of. Where a screened on date would normally appear, happy holiday's appears. No born on date, vintage to be found.

Really nice dark-ruby color. Almost like a brown that has some red injected into it. One finger of head dissipates kind of quickly, though not uniformly. Some parts still have 1/2 finger of head when the first holes in the wedding-dress-white head come through.

A delicious smelling beer. Cherries, honey and Belgian yeast; everything the beer said it had. Some alcohol present as well, but at 11%, that's to be expected. A really nice smelling beer.

Really big finish, with a lot of cherries and a lot of alcohol both present at different stages featuring different intensities. A real nice sweet honey flavor on the tip of the tongue that is probably the highlight of the beer. No really transitory flavors; kind of goes from a honey/nectar bomb to a cherry/alcohol bomb, although the finish kind of has a ginger ale-type quality to it; it's alcohol, but alcohol that tastes like Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Obviously, it's a young, young beer, so that will probably be smoothed over over time. I think I remember on the Troegs tour the guy mentioned Mad Elf was fermented for some ridiculously short amount of time, something like 9 weeks(though I may be mistaken), so this beer needs a lot of time. This beer has the potential to be great in 12 months. As for now, two big distinct flavors, not much in between. Like a sandwich on fresh out of the oven olive-oil and sun-dried tomato cibada bread with a kraft single in the middle.

There's some, but there is not a lot, which I think goes back to the needing more time problem. It does not have much carbonation, so it's no real problem to swallow. It's pretty well made, and it's a very smooth beer, which the alcohol hidden for most of the mouth. Some really big palate gripping in the back of the mouth, almost offensive at times. Nice mouthfeel; let's age it and see if it gets a Barry Bonds in the late 90's level mouthfeel. It's got the potential to.

Can you drink one and not realize it's 11% ABV? Absolutely. Can you drink more than one and not realize you're drinking an 11% alcohol beer? Now we're getting into the land of 'maybes' and 'probably nots' Even in the first one, some nice warming alcohol is present. For one, the drinkability is almost perfect; for more than one it's less than impressive. So it's above average but not quite good.

Why write last remarks on this beer so early? I'll be back in 12 months. And probably 24. This is a 'Lost:Season 1' beer: total cliffhanger with a huge reason to believe it's going to be fantastic.

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Photo of Torps
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very interesting beer. Pours a dark, dark amber. Great looking beer. Nothing overpowers in the aroma and that translates into the taste. Slight hints of cherry and honey. Again nothing overpowers. Very balanced and drinkable. Especially considering the ABV.

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Photo of Andrew61923
2.92/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 oz bottle into Portsmouth Brewery tulip. Sat out of fridge for ten minutes before opening. Picked this up a few months ago and figured it was time to drink it, even though the holidays have passed.

A: Pours a deep ruby with a quickly dissipating off-white head, which forms a thin halo. Lots of floaties in the glass, which I was not expecting. Not terrible, but I would have liked this to be more filtered.

S: Clove, bubble gum, and cherries. True to the style, but not things I usually want in my beer. It doesn't smell bad by any means, but I can tell this isn't going to be my favorite.

T: Sweet with the same notes of bubble gum and cherries. Again, not my thing.

M: The ABV is high and you can tell. There is a pretty substantial burn at the end of each sip down my throat. I had thought about sitting on this for a year and, while I doubt I would like the flavor that much more, this would have probably improved. As is, however, I'm not a fan.

O: In hindsight, I'm not sure why I bought this beer. I'm not a huge fan of the style and I tried as much as possible to enjoy it, but it's just not growing on me as I drink it more. At least I know to pass on buying it next year and I'm thankful I only got one.

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Photo of Beerwolf666
4.71/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

What a Fantastic Brew! this is one of those Beers, that as soon as you pop that top and smell it,your heart starts racing,and you just know it is going to be something very special ~and Indeed it is,the nose is sweet,with Honey and a hint of Cherries and malts,~the taste pretty much follows the nose,sweet[but not cloying] you pick up the Honey and though you do get a nice Cherry note, it is more in the background then in your face,and does not have that "Cough Drop" Medicinal taste you get with a beer like "Sam Adams Cherry Wheat"~taste more like fresh cherries,and it IS Tasty as Hell,also would never know this Beer is 11% A.B.V.,Because I do not ever get that alcohol burn or boozy tatse,but perhaps that is Because I drink a lot of High A.B.V. Strong Beer's and Ales~this is not a Beer you knock back with your buddies while watching the Game or playing Poker,this is a Top Notch [IMHO] World Class Brew,it is a Beer you Savor and take your time to enjoy it's Amazing Flavors and the brewer's Art,what a BEER! Cheers 2 All;]

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Photo of LennyV
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark coppor color into my Maudite snifter. Small one finger head which leaves quickly. Little to no lacing

No overpowering smell. Faint sweetness with some cherry.

Tastes of sweet cherrys and malt. The alcohol is masked very well.

Medium body more like a "heavy medium" Slight carbonation.

This is a great sipper. Something to hold and enjoy the evening with. It is so very smooth and easy to drink that at 11% abv I could easily ruin the next morning if I am not careful.

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Photo of Roose13
4.68/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

22oz bomber poured into a glass

A: A dark ruby red with a two-finger off-white foamy head.

S: Smells like cherries, yeasty

T: Cherries, some honey flavoring. Very malty as well.

M: Crisp, carbonated and hides the 11%

Overall: This was a first try and this beer was amazing. Wow!

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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 biophiliadude
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle to tulip glass

A: deep reddish brown, to bourbon orange. small white head that disappears quickly. No lacing.

S: Spice, malt, alcohol.

T: Spicy maltiness, sourness of the cherry at the end. Warmth of the alcohol too. It all mixes well, nothing overpowering anything else.

M: Bubbles, smooth malt.

D: I could drink these all night. Certainly the best Winter Beer I've had this year. Smooth, and the high alcohol is almost unnoticeable as it works well to bring out the warm malts, substantial body of the honey, tart cherries, and collective holiday spices. Highly recommended.

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Photo of djbow
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Mad Elf is one of my favorite seasonal brews. This beer pours a clear red color with a head that dissipates quickly. As it color and smell indicates, the taste of this beer is a pronounced cherry with a hint of honey flavor. Mad Elf drinks very easy and goes down smooth. Here in lies the problem for those unaware of the 12% alcohol content. The fact that they sell this high powered beer in a 3 Liter format as a special item to accompany the 12 and 22 oz formats is truly MAD. Enjoy!

Serving Temp = 47 F.

Glass = Pint Glass.

 529 characters

Photo of Goldopelgt
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First time I've had this one from Troegs, I've had a few others from them before, and, overall, have been pleasentely surprised.

A- Amber to ruby hues...thin, whitish head with minimal lacing

S- Very interesting...definitely pick up some spice right away, but nothing in particular is jumping out at me...somewhat sweet and floral (but not in a bad way!), not necessarily what I was expecting from "an ale brewed with honey and cherries."

T- Again, kind of just like it smells...some spiciness and sweetness, yet nothing too overpowering, crisp, nice...and oh, yeah, at 11% you almost forget what you're drinking.

M- Medium bodied, minimal carbonation...surprisingly enough, you really can't taste alcohol even 11%

D- Overall, not my personal favorite, but not a bad beer by any means. Troegs doesn't disappoint with this one, and offers a dangerously easy drinker that, at 11%, could definitely get you in some trouble!

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Photo of DanThomas
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A- Cherry/orange color, no head, lots of bubbles fizzing to the surface.

S- Lovely melange of scents. Bubblegum, cherry, alcohol, honey, and raisins.

T- Lots of cherry flavor, but in a good way (i.e. it's not cough syrup, but a nice, mellow authentic cherry) that combines with bubblegum, banana, and a ton of other flavors that I can't even pick out. This beer is endlessly interesting on the palate, always changing. The alcohol on this is really nice. It warms the throat and the spirit but it's really smooth going down so you barely notice it.

M- Soft carbonation that's quite right for this beer, and the alcohol, as mentioned, is done perfectly. Overall it is pretty thin-bodied but a very substantial beer nonetheless.

D- I love it a lot but the alcohol on this hits you hard; plus, the myriad of flavors gets frustrating after awhile even though the beer tastes great.

Not my favorite winter warmer, but it is without a doubt the most interesting.

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Photo of JMWEB2
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted...12/14/2011
2010 keg on tap at the growler station @ Joe Canals... thank you

A: Pours a muddy crimson brownish color head completely dissipated, some minor lacing left behind.

S: Alcohol is there, but there is a fruit flavor... cherry-like. Interesting.

T: Alright this must have mellowed significantly, the booze flavor is not present and there is a nice tartness of cherries. Clove is also present, very enjoyable, and I'm not a big fan of the style.

M: Smooth very little carb.

O: I'm glad I went with the 2010 because they had 2011 as well, very nicely done again Troegs.

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Photo of JooJooEyeballs
1.24/5  rDev -67.8%
look: 2 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Amount of Honey used is over-the-top with the amount of Cherries being over-the-top-of-the-top. A simply ridiculous beer by the master brewer Chris Troeg!

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Photo of dnrobert24
2.62/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at the Gingerbread Man in Carlisle, PA. Had to see what the hype was about, and I was not impressed. The beer had a dark red hue, with a very thin head that did not retain much aroma. Something mildly fruity was there, like watermelon. The first sip was metallic and stingy. Hot alcohol abounded. Midway through, the fruit came through more predominantly--strawberry mostly, and other juicy red fruits. It reminded me a bit of Juicy Fruit gum. I could not detect the spicy yeastiness normally associated with Belgian-style beers. The pint I had felt a little thin. It was not what I was expecting or hoping for in an American-made Christmas release of a belgian strong dark.

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Photo of HopsYeast
3.34/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a-pours a clear dark reddish amber with a 1/4 finger pale white head that quickly fads and leaves no lacing.

s-honey, cherries, raisens, heavy alcohol smell, and also has a somewhat sour smell thats a bit of a turn off.

t-taste is a reverse of the smell. a nice warm alcohol flavor mixed in with dark fruits, maltiness, and the slightest hops. lots of dark fruit flavor is preset.

m-somewhat syrupy with very minimal carbonation.

o-well i think im starting to finally get this beer. year after year i tried it and it turned me off completely. this was the first time on tap so it may have been the difference. its deep flavor and warming sensation bought on by the alcohol makes it a good fit for the cold holiday season.

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Photo of sacullen
2.77/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle from 2010-2011 bottling, poured into Duvel tulip.

A: Pours amber/red. It is reddish where the glass is widest. Head is almost effervescent, more like a cola, and very quickly dissipates to a crown and leaves no lacing.

S: Spices are at the forefront, while cherries are muted. Smells yeasty like a Belgian. Label uses the wording "subtle cherries", and I have to agree.

T: Not enough cherry for my tastes. Again, the spices from the yeast are the dominant flavor, while the cherries are most noticeable in the finish. Estery and doesn't quite hide the alcohol.

M: Light and lively in the mouth, flavors/aftertaste doesn't linger long.

D: Not a beer I would drink multiples of in one sitting. The beer is almost forgettable.

A friend bought me a sixer for Christmas this year. I've had a couple and think I will hold on to the rest to see what some time does to them.

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Photo of GimmeASchlitz
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into trillium tulip

Pours a nice deep cherry color with minimal beige head that goes away quickly but leaves a nice ring of lacing.

Picking up nice notes of cherries and spicy cloves. There is a bit of yeast in the nose too.

First sip is tart fruits and cherries, yeast, and some bread and crackers from the malts. Continuing with a bit of sweetness and some cinnamon. Darker fruits such as plums become apparent in taste. As it warms you can taste the booze a bit but doesn't overpower.

Very light medium body for such a strong ale. Good amount of carbonation and a bit of stickiness to the feel.

The ale sips like a brandy. It has a unique tart, sour, and sweet combination. It is very smooth and because you don't taste the alcohol as much it is easy to drink too fast. The ABV limits you to just one or two but I wish I could keep drinking for the night. Too bad it's only brewed once a year.

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Photo of deruiz10
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Quite a beautiful amber, slightly reddish with hints of honey-color. Eggshell head is minimal and quickly dissipates, leaves no lacing.

S - Very fruity (mostly cherry) and bright, slight hints of alcohol.

T - Pretty mild up front, body is light but cherry flavors pop out after a moment, mixing with the fruityspicy taste of the typical Belgian dark. The finish is also characterized by a slightly spicy, but subdued taste of hops which serves to mask the relatively high alcohol content well, with cherry flavors also lingering.

M - Fairly light and refreshing, good amount of carbonation.

D - A little too sweet to have more than one in an evening, plus that alcohol content will really sneak up on you. However, it's probably one of the better fruity holiday beers out there in terms of balancing refreshment value with a seasonal holiday flavor without becoming too syrupy or overwhelming.

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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.

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Photo of xenolithic
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 1pint 6oz bottle into a wine glass for scent and effect. The color itself is ruby, and looks much closer to a wine than a beer. No head, a fine lacing around the rim of the glass.

Smells of dark fruits, particularly cherries with a hint of what you might smell from a Christmas Fruitcake. You can also smell some dark sugars as well as a mead-y honey characteristic. Not overly sweet, and not overwhelmingly cherry scented as I have heard from others in the past.

Taste includes some subtle cherry tartness with a very tiny sweetness. The alcohol is apparent when tasting the beer, and along with the tartness leaves a bit of a lingering finish. After reading the other reviews on this same beer, mine is noticeably more watery than those describing a thick or oily mouthfeel.

That said, the mouthfeel is closer to watery for this bottle.

Drinkability on this is fairly good, though I don't see this beer being for me outside the holidays. I do like fruit beers, and I like Lambics and Belgians; I would have done better to pair this beer than drink it alone.

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Photo of kenpo23
3.05/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

oh christmas beer oh christmas beer....

A: pretty flat, with no head. pretty red color that some irish red ales dont even have.

S: nice fruity smell. i can smell the cherry (and it doesnt smell like cough medicine to me) and honey.

T: wow, smooth. i can't taste the honey at all but my other half, the super taster, is amazed that i can't taste it. the alcohol taste didn't really hit me.

D: sip away. i cant imagine trying to pound one of these.

nothing extra special about this beer. its very much got a holiday flavor to it though. i bought one for christmas and i will do the same next year, but no more than one for me.

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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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