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The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
BA SCORE
3.87/5
Very Good
3,958 Ratings
The Mad ElfThe 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
Ranking:
#8,485
Reviews:
1,277
Ratings:
3,958
pDev:
14.99%
Bros Score:
3.77
 
 
Wants:
234
Gots:
1,158
Trade:
24
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,958 |  Reviews: 1,277
Photo of Globetrotter
3.45/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Hand delivered from the Washington area to Moscow as part of a fiver set of U.S. winter brews. Definitely not my favorite of the five, although I had entertained very high hopes. Poured clear copper under a thin tan head that fades quickly. The nose is mildly sweet, with a touch of cherry. The mouth is fairly flat and heavy with sweetness and fruit. The taste opens with mostly sweet cherries, backed by malt and a touch of honey. I could detect no hops anywhere, but there is some alcohol burn in the finish. The aftertaste is all cherry. It's OK, but I'm not thrilled.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.66/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Clear deep scarlet red hue. A medium sized beige head literally fizzes away in seconds. Not even a thin coating is left. Only a creamy edging that leaves sparse lace. The aroma is really quite remarkable. Beautiful belgian yeastiness, breadiness and mustiness. Sweet brown sugar. And delicate cherry notes. I love it. Oh man, this is one dangerous brew. The taste is fine. The mouthfeel is luscious. And the alcohol is nowhere to be found. This all adds up to an exceptional drinkability. The flavors are subtle, but quite discernable. Chocolate covered cherries. Bready yeastiness. Dark belgian malts. Raisin and rum. A little sweet honey. But I can hardly find a hint of alcohol here. And it's 11%?!? Damn. Maybe just a bit of a lingering bitterness on the aftertaste derived from EtOH. The beer feels like silk in the mouth and the body is medium at best. I understand the "Mad Elf" hysteria now. This is damn good.

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Photo of yankeeheel
3.2/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served at cellar temp, which here in Maine is a wee bit cold. Poured a cough syrup red with a reddish head that was gone in 20 seconds. Smells very medicinal.

The taste is somewhat akin to cough syrup with a lot of xtra alcohol. Really sweet up front with a thin middle and alcohol/medicine burn at the end. Not really all that incredible. Just kind of big with alcohol and thin on flavor. I have anoher bottle that I'm going to let cellar for a while and I'll re-visit it.

Thanks to PisskyNights for the hook-up.

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Photo of pbrian
3.2/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cellar temp to start. Deep reddish brown, I missed the color of the head it dissappeared so quick. Had to splash the beer around to get an aroma. Oh, there it is- cherries. Anything else? I don't know, I got sick of having to work for it. Taste was sickly sweet up front, cherry juice with minimal spicy hints. Quite thin for such a high abv beer. Lots of candi sugars? Finish was a bit drier with hot alcohol hits. Overall, just an average attempt IMO, yes, even warm.

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Photo of soulfly967
4.36/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Fat Heads in the Southside of Pittsburgh. Poured a ruby red, very little head that quickly vanished. The smell was of cherries and a bit of alcohol. The taste was amazing. Cherries, alcohol, and a hint of chocolate. A very exellent beer for the holiday season, I only wish that they would have made more of it... maybe next year. Beware, that 11% abv will come back to haunt you in the morning, but it's well worth it.

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Photo of HossMcGraw
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a great looking burgundy color with moderate tan head. Aroma is sweet cherry. Taste is more of the same. Very sweet, but not cloying. Mouthfeel is quite smooth
. Drinkability is pretty good despite ABV, although I'm ready for a nap after one of these.

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Photo of crookedhalo
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003.
Reddish crimsony color with the tracest white head. Carbonation very sparse. Alcohol is evident in the nose as well as sweet and sour aromas, brandy, candied green maraschino cherries and fresh black cherry, too. Tastes fantastic! Biscuity and nutty malt in the front, a touch o' fermented honey, and cut then by the 11% ABV; finished like a Rodenbach Grand Cru, fruity with a slight soury dryness. Very impressed.

2004.
Sampled this years version and not quite as impressed. Lacked the high notes that last years had. Cherry and honey present. Seemed too alcoholic, synthetic and sweet; and the nose was more yeasty and nutty, with perfuminess looming. Not as impressed compared to last years.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ah the Elf ! Thanks to Brluvr (Ted) for making it happen. I haven't been this excited about a beer for some time, I even bought a Mad Elf goblet/chalice from the brewery for the occasion.

Pours a beautiful reddish brown color with small head that is very intricately laced. Carbonation looks very lively.

Aroma is much deeper and complex than color would indicate.
Immediate is hit was a little licorice, followed by some honey and other complex malt flavors, I only got a very subtle cheery note after some time warming. Almost had a Trippel aroma to me.

Let sit for about 30 minutes before opening and 10 minutes after pouring (based on recent discussion about best temperature)

Here comes the first taste. . . .
Boy that's good. Excellent powerful malt taste upfront with just a hint of sweet cherries on the aftertaste and slight bitterness. Mouthfeel is very full and smooth yet you know you are drinking a high gravity beer. Reminds of a gentler Piraat with some nice fruit undertones. Ingredient bill says chocolate malt and I only got them as the beer really warmed up and the flavors really opened. i'm going to drink another at room temp (at least high 60's) and see what other flavors may open.
first experience with Troeg's, have a feeling I have to go on a pilgrimage at some point.

Great beer, I think 2 would be my limit.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.28/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A snap, crackle, pop accompanies the head, with bubbles bursting at the surface. Soon settles down into an off-white table top. Very nice lacing stretching across the glass. Body is a deep, clear red. Cherries shine thru the aroma, as soon as I started to pour. Taste features prominently everything mentioned on the label: cherries, honey, alcohol, and also the malt and hops don't get lost. The malt, honey, and the sense of alcohol create a sort of dopplebock quality, and the cherries are well balanced into the mix, featured but not overwhelming. I feel if you left the cherries out, you would still have a good beer. But I'm not suggesting that. I think the honey is really pulling everything together, balancing flavors, rounding the mouthfeel. I have never been a big fruit beer fan, but I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this. The stock is going fast, but give it a try if you have the opportunity. Tröegs continues to impress.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found on draft at Mad Mex the Robinson location, I was just excited to see at tap handle from Troeg's. Appearance: Ruby tinted thin creamy white head little lacing alcohol wards this off. Aroma: Cherries soaked in alcohol with a mild tartness in the air, spices bringing more Christmas cheer, and the malts used a much more complex than bringing out a caramel / mild cocoa scent. Taste: Is comparable to a cherry liquer massive alcohol note sweeps the palate, very warming spicy with tart sweetness and a soft finish this one ties it together. Mouthfeel: Troeg's went MAD this beer has crazy amount of alcohol kicking, full syrupy mouthfeel definitely a one glass at a time type brew. Drinkability: Didn't get tired of the rich tones thought it would be overbearing I was served sixteen ounces of this fine nectar for six bucks not a bad deal.

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Photo of frank4sail
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was very lucky to get the last of these at The Beer Yard. Yes quite a drive for me and always worth it.. (Matt is the man).. Jcalbi told me this beer was a must try "by any means get your hands on some". So here goes.. out of my Westmalle goblet: (one of the best labels i have ever seen on a holiday beer!)

Deep bright red sparkle colors swirl in the glass. A nice tan snow head on the pour this then leaves the glass quickly (ABV?). Wonderful crystral ruby look. Sweet cherry hop sharpness to the nose. Initial big bready, yeasty (belgian quality) to the taste. This sharp base then is smoothed by honey and hints of cherry on the tongue. Great balence for a big beer. Your mouth is left slightly dry and wanting more. The beer is not overly fruity or sweet at all, but that hint of honey and cherry skins hypnotise the palate. This is really a treat. If you shut your eyes you would think you were sitting in a bar in Brugge next to Jingle and Jangle (Santa's elfs in A year without a Santa Clause). I would buy more if I could!

PS.. caution after three or four of these you will have full conversations with Jingle... thanks Jcalbi (jim) for the heads up on this brew ....

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Photo of Maestro
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a neat one. I am not a big fan of Belgian-style ales. I just don't get into the sweet stuff. But the cherries balance that out for me and this ale is nice because of that. The head is very thin but stays around for the duration of the glass. There is a nice lacing left on the glass. The first taste brings a warming feeling that is quite similar to a glass of wine. The honey adds a nice compliment to the sweet taste. The mouthfeel is quite nice. It seems to have a clean finish to each taste with a hint of spices. The alcohol is strong so you wouldn't want to have many, but there is a nice sense of winter drinkability to the beer. I live 40 minutes from the brewery and can't get my hands on any more. It sold way too fast. Ration it if you have it. Cheers

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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Photo of Edwin
4.53/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at the Troeg's Brewery during their release party.

Appearance - A nice, deep brownish-red. Some initial head that disappears fast, similar to all Troeg's beers.

Smell - Smells like the holidays. Some sour notes with a cherry smell is evident in there. Hints of spices throughout.

Taste - Not for everyone, but will definitely satisfy most. Taste of sweet/sour on the entry and a leftover display of cherry, spice, and some other fruits I can't quite put my finger on. Definitely a different beer than anything I have ever tasted.

Mouthfeel - Strong yet smooth. A very powerful feel on the tongue. After two of these bad boys, it gets easier and easier to send down to the stomach.

Drinkability - It is very drinkable on a cold day. Reminds me of Christmas in frnt of a warm fire. Be careful...at 11% alcohol, this one will turn your Happy Holidays into 8 Crazy Nights if you aren't careful!

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Photo of dmarch
4.06/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, the appearance alone is worth making the purshase for. Deep ruby color with a fluffy off-white head. Aroma is more sugary than malty, must be from the honey, Taste is much of the same. Surprisingly, the cherry isn't as distinct as you would think. It is presant though and gives this a drinkability that you wouldn't expect from a 11% beer.

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Photo of BierReise
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a nearly clear cherry red color with no head at all. Just a thin ring of foam around the edge of the glass. Aroma is fruity and malty with strong notes of sweet cherries. I also detect yeast in the aroma. Has a nice crispness like a Belgian Tripel. Flavor is sugary sweet and syrupy with lots of cherries. Alcohol is well hidden, a pleasurable brew.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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Photo of Stubbie1
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This elf is a clear reddish orange color, an slightly off white head makes it to the top of my glass. It came and left rather fast not leaving much of any type of lacing.

The aroma at first is very mellow. However, as this brew warms up it is a frenzy of fruit. Cherries and fresh plumbs come to mind when I breathe in. Hints of spices also fill the air.

Taste: A lightly sweet start with a smooth mild middle transition to a wonderful fruity finish. Again, cherries and fresh plumbs come into play. Not overwhelming but a nice mixture with the malt.

Wow, for one pissed off elf, this beer is great. I’m sure it is better on a colder winters night. The 11% (to me) is not noticeable. The flavors and aroma of this beer get better as it warms.

Bottom line: If your lucky enough to get your mitts on a bottle or two of this brew, do it, I think you wont be disappointed!

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Photo of stirgy
2.88/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I had a chance to sample this rare beer during a tour of their brewery. It seems that even the brewers themselves don’t have much of this one. Troeg brother, Chris said that he wasn’t even sure that they had any of it left. I thought that was funny. This is a holiday beer that will likely be unavailable for the holidays!

On to the review, This beer is coarsely filtered, so they leave a bit of the yeast in the product, although my sample was pretty clear. Poured a golden color with a twinge of cranberry and ruby. There is an alcohol blast that hits you when you bring it up to your nose. Definitely in the forefront. The body is syrupy and cordial-like, although not too heavy. Amazingly, I detect just a hint of cherry (300 pounds were used to make this beer!). But, I want more. The finish is very dry and spicy with an overpowering alcohol bite.

It’s a very interesting beer, but in my opinion, should be more balanced out with a better fruit sweetness and not so harsh. This beer is way too young, and could see it aging very well. Too bad there isn’t any left of it.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle served lightly chilled in a Trois Pistoles goblet.

Appearance: Clear red with just a hint of orange. Topped with a short-lived and frothy white head that recedes to a film and then just a ring of foam. Itty-bitty blobs of lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Nice whiffs of honey and cherries overlying a brandy-esque smell. Mildly floral, too. Not a bad little sniffer.

Taste: Sweet, sweet caramel malt flavor with overtones of honey and light cherries. Grainy and boozy aftertastes. Quite nummy.

Mouthfeel: Lightly syrupy. Solid medium body with not an ounce of flab on it. Alcohol is well masked, but this is still a muscular beer. A masked Mexican midget wrestler, if you will.

Drinkability: Not to reference my thread about mixing this and Samichlaus together, but I do wonder if one would be moved from the "naughty" to the "nice" column if I left a few of these for ol' St. Nick. A great, high-octane fruit beer.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Mad Elf pours a nice red color. Not really amber, more of a ruby. The head leaves quickly, probably due to the high alcohol content. The aroma is subtle fruit and spices. The fruit is cherry and it is in the background behind the spices. The label gives no hint at the spice, but I can pickup clove and cinnamon aromas. The flavor is really nice with subtle spice and sweet malt and a semi-dry finish that leaves you with the impression of cherries. The alcohol is only apparent in the warmth you feel after swallowing.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours a very nice looking clear reddish color. It has a nice cherry nose & it's taste is tart yet sweet. It was very enjoyable. The 11% ABV is extremely well hidden, but it sneaks up on you later. I would imagine that this beer is absolutely stunning in a cold climate where it would be a great winter warmer

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Photo of francisweizen
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is damn good stuff from Troegs. This 11%ABV monster pours out a dark, blood-red colour with no head to be found. Aromas are all over the board and consist of honey, cherries, spices, yeast, candy sugar, malts, and light hops. The taste is a melange of sweet honey and cherry flavors. Like cherries dipped in alchol, sugar, and honey. The mouthfeel is a bit much....a little too syrupy and cloying for my tastes, but still decent. The drinkability is good, but this is a 1 or 2 in a night, kind of beer!

F

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Photo of erica
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Mad Elf made me happy! I like the label on the bottle, a great drawing of a 'mad elf'... The beer was a great dark red colour, with a head that disappears almost instantly. It doesn't look carbonated then but it is, just enough for a tingly feel. It smelled great- spicy, boozy, and fruity, but without the banana that sometimes you get with a beer like this.

I tasted it.... I loved it! It wasn't too thick but also not thin... It tasted a lot like it smelled, sweet, honey-ish, fruity, but no banana, and no real taste of the alcohol either, which for me can be dangerous with something as yummy as this, because I'll just want to drink more and forget what I'm drinking, and.... become a Mad Elf myself! However, I didnt, I just drank, and smiled, and went to buy 2 more bottles 2 days later!

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

The color of this beer is a beautiful, rich, reddish, amber. The aroma is sweet, with heavy overtones of honey and fruit (cherry), and an undertone of alcohol.

The first taste screams "sweet!" A burst of cherry and honey is followed by a most subtle bitterness, that doesn't quite balance the dominance of the sugars. The lack of assertive bitterness is almost made up for in the bite of alcohol that follows. The salvation of this beer is that the alcohol bite makes its appearance in a very pleasant, and probably planned, way.

There is no head to speak of, nor is there any lace. This beer, however, doesn't really seem to need it. It is outstanding for a cold winter evening, sitting and reading reviews on beeradvocate.com!

Also, I have to give out props for the artwork on the bottles and six-pack cardboard. Very nice.

As I finish the beer, the alcohol content really stands out in the flavor.

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The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 3,958 ratings
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