The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
BA SCORE
3.87/5
Very Good
4,023 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:
#17,917
Reviews:
1,288
Ratings:
4,023
pDev:
14.99%
 
 
Wants:
240
Gots:
1,193
Trade:
24
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,023 |  Reviews: 1,288
Photo of sublimesipping
4.48/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

There are many good things about living in the city of Brotherly Love. Finding Mad Elf on tap unexpectedly would be one of them. This may be my favorite holiday beer. I love the color, ruby red. Elegant, sophisticated, like the taste. Beer tastes more like a cordial, essence of berry, a warm brandy like effect. Excellent balance and mouthfeel make this beer dangerously drinkable, even for some of my non-beer friends. The big suprise being that is has a decidedly strong kick to it(11% can defintiely sneak up on you..)A wonderful, happy glass of holiday cheer, a way to keep the holday spirit alive through cold winter nights. If you can find it on tap, it is worth it! Drink it with someone you love.

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Photo of shapudding
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

No dating on the bottle, but this is 2004 batch. Georgeous pouring with such a show! Everything is just shooting all over the place like fireworks! When that is done I am looking at a glass of clear amber topped with a think whitish, creamy, frothy layer. Scents of marachino cherries, so candy sweet! Bit of clove spiciness coming up from the glass. Can feel the carbination, even hear it when you swirl the glass a bit. But it is very well done IMHO, not too much at all, just a good amount without whacking you with froth. God this is just good stuff. The cherry flavor is not too strong at all, I mean, it is there, trust me. But it is not like you have a lambic in front of you. Bit of the honey sweetness left on your tongue after each sip. Very ripe bing cherries, more like dried bings actually, or dried cranberries, where you get that candied sweetnes from the fruit. Some port in the aftertaste. The sweetnes is not cloying, just very nice. The alcohol is very well hidden, can't taste the percentage in this, it is so nicely drinkable. Just another lovely one from the brothers.
Fun one in the case splitting extravaganza with Stingo, BrewAngel, and The BlitheringIdiot.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
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!

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Photo of aracauna
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Now this had the character that Old Fezziwig was missing. Beautiful red color that catches the light nicely with a smallish white head. A good bit of bubblegum in the aroma, a touch of clove (yeast or spice?), coriander, peppery alcohol and a touch of malt. The flavor carries on with a little less complexity than the aroma, but with just a touch of cherries. 11%? I couldn’t tell. Fun beer.

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

I had this beer on what turned out to be the coldest day in a long time, with wind chills dipping below 0. The bar was very small, and my seat was near the entrance. Every time the door swung open, the whole bar iced over. Drinking Mad Elf made me welcome the cold breeze that night, warming me like a brandy by a fire. It's the best holiday beer I had this season, and I tried many. The Elf is spicy with just the right amount of sweetness. The beer's taste doesn't mask its might -- a winter-worthy 11-percent -- but the ale is nonetheless pretty drinkable. The Elf has melted this Gnome's heart.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12/28/04- Received via trade with Santoslhalper.

Presentation- 12 oz bottle with a freaky lookin' elf on it. No expiration date. Poured into my Westmalle chalice.

Appearance- Nice head at first, but rapidly disentigrates. Very little if and lace. Nice deep ruby red color.

Smell- Ultra sweet malt. Sweet fruityness, (cherries)? Plus there is definite alcohol fumes.

Taste- Taste like a really malted and liquored up Kriek. Heavy sweet malts and cherries. Plus a large alcohol kick towards the end of your swallow. Maybe a bourbon taste? Whatever it is, it's pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel- I was expecting a thicker and more full mouthfeel on this one due to the high ABV. Low carbonation. Still goes down smooth with that little alcohol warming sensation going down.

Drinkability- I'm already feeling it after half this beer. I have another one left that I am going to age and maybe try next winter and see if it thickens up a bit. Thanks very much to by BA bud Santoslhalper who has sent me several brews I have yet to try. This one scores pretty well though. Quite tasty, even if I did have it with Boston Market take out. Probably would have been paired better with something else.

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Photo of AlexJ
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We shared a 12 oz bottle between a few people at a Xmas party. Hazy, amber/orange colored with a dense white head. Spicy-sweet malt aromas complimented by a fruity, definately-Belgian yeasty, biscuity note. Taste is surprisingly less sweet than anticipated. Triple-like in character with a pleasantly subdued cherry/berry flavor balanced out by a spicy malt and hop profile. Big mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Extremely enjoyable. I was expecting an overly sweet, cherry flavor, but this is very nice. PS-I have a feeling that this bottle is a year or two old, althought the host of the party doesn't remember.

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Photo of brentk56
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear red/amber color with a small head that quickly dissipates and leaves just a little bit of lacing

Smell: Clove, bananas and honey predominate in the nose; malts and cherry in the background

Taste: Quite complex; starts out with a blast of alcohol which then reveals a variety of fruit flavors; more candied fruit with bananas than cherry at the outset; in the middle, the tongue starts to tingle from the carbonation and then it winds up finishing with clove, cherry and honey flavors - very subtle

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a bit of carbonation; warmth in the gullet from the ABV

Drinkability: A nice sipper to drink once it has warmed and opens up

Thanks, Shaggy9356, for the chance to re-visit

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Photo of Bierman9
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a glowing ruby red/chestnut color...quite intriguing. Carbonation is slow and steady within the clear liquid. Head is a thin layer of fine, tan beads, with a smidge of lacework sticking to the glass. Nose is potent, laced with alcohol and cinnamon-like aspects, with some malty sweetness and cherry notes. Body is a solid medium, and carbonation as it applies to the mouthfeel is low, allowing for a smooth passage over the tongue. Pleasantly sweet flavor abounds, with just a hint of the cherry noted on the label. I get more notes of sweetness from the honey, plus a fine melding of spices, dark fruit and alcohol warmth. A fine bier to warm-up with in the midst of the cold-weather season. Thnx to BierReise for the sample!

Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4
appearance: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4

780

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Photo of Zraly
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep pink with orange tints. Little to no head. Smells of cherries and bread dough. Pleasant.

The flavor is tremendous. Rich, sweet malts accompanied by the flavors of cherries and bread. A complimentary flavor of clovey spice and fruit rounds of the yeasty presence. You can taste the alcohol...period. But it gives this ale a wonderful complexity in terms of the taste department.

This is an interesting brew but not entirely approachable. It seems a bit "raw" in some way. Once you get past that quality, you find an eccentric character lurking about as a strong ale.

A nice night cap.

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Photo of ChrisBowers
2.4/5  rDev -38%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Maybe this thing needs to be cellared for awhile but I am not a fan. It reminds me of Robotussin. In the words of Chris Rock "Out of Tussin? Put water in the bottle and shake it up, More tussin!" It definitely has a lot of stuff going on, I'll give it that. Tons of alcohol in this one with a big malty sweetness. The cherry aftertaste though is horrid. Truely horrid. A very unbalanced beer, the alcohol is very evident and makes it an unpleasent, if warming, drinking experience. Lots of people seem to like this so maybe my tastebuds are tweaked the wrong way but this stuff tastes like cough medicine to me.

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Photo of clvand0
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to meathookjones for the bottle of this. I've been waiting to try it. Pours an amber/red color with a very small head. The aroma is excellent. Aromas of cherries, honey, spices. Very nice. The flavor is odd in a very good way. The honey and cherries meld together for a great flavor. There is a spice there to ... possibly from a belgian yeast. Very drinkable. This is one that could easily sneak up on you. Dangerous.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.48/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one pours a nice deep amber color with just a coating of head over top of the beer. The nose is very belgian in character, some spiceyness from the yeast and lots of sweetness, hints of cherries. Smells good. It tastes of goodness. The first thing I get is a nice peppery spice, followed by sweet malt and finished with a nice honey sweetness that goes over the front of my tongue. Wow. Not a hint of the alcohol in there. The feel is nice and thick, leaving a coating of beer in my mouth after swallowing. Drinkability is nice on this one as well. For a big ass beer, its easy drinking and smooth. I like it. Thanks to clvand0 for sharing this with me.

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Photo of Suds
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I’d been wanting to try this beer for some time. I’d read about it, and even heard about it on a tour of the brewery. This was my first chance. It pours a red, slightly hazy color with a thin head. The head is slight, and disappears quickly. The aroma is intense, and predominately of sour cherries. Underneath, there is a malt-like sweetness and alcohol. The taste is fruity, malty, and fairly complex. Medium to heavy body, with low carbonation. An alcohol warming sets in as you drink this one…but the effect on taste well hidden for an 11% ABV. This is excellent!

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

I'd heard about this beer from the site, and lately I've been into buying and saving in the cellar, so I picked up a case a few days ago for about $45. Expensive, I know, but at 11% ABV and the qualities I hope to see happen over the next few years in the cellar, I think it's worth it.

Appearance - Pours a gorgeous amber color. A white head forms and dissipates quickly.

Smell - Extremely complex. The smell of alcohol is certainly there but not overpowering. The complexity comes from the war with the malt, honey, and cherries. Certainly a sweet smell more than anything, but warming and interesting for sure.

Taste - Like the smell, the alcohol is evident, but more welcoming than overbearing. This is a holiday ale, after all. So the warming that happens is certainly good for a cold night. Since the batch is from this year, I can imagine that good things will start to happen when it sits as I said, so in the interest of keeping true to the flavor I'm drinking this one currently at cellar temperature. One of the things I absolutely love about this beer is the masking of the sweetness. Too much alcohol can certainly be ruined by imbalance and too much sweetness. However, the malts are at war with each other in the best possible way and provide complex and intriguing flavors. Also, the honey and cherries are evident but not overbearing. They add subtlety and intrigue into the mix.

Mouthfeel - Not too thin. The carbonation seems perfect to me. Great overall.

Drinkability - Clearly, this beer will kick your ass if you're not careful. Since it's NOT a stout and be consumed pretty easily (especially since the alcohol is balanced so well with the taste), watch out. And even if you could make a session out of this, why would you really want to? Have one at a time so it can be fully enjoyed.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear copper-reddish color. Head was initially quite nice, but soon dissipated to leave only a trace of foam. No real lacing to be seen.
S: Cold: smells aren't that great. After warming a bit: Malty, sweet. Some bready smells are there, and a nicely subdued fruitiness.
T: Initially, the honey sweetness dominates, but that quickly gives way to a oh so subdued fruity taste with a nice hit of malt.
M: A bit more than medium in body, this one is pretty full and creamy feeling. Carbonation is spot on. Alcohol is wonderfully warming, but at 11%, what do you expect?
D&N: Nicely complex, pretty punchy, this one has me feeling just fine about life, if ya know what I mean. A very nice holiday offering from two killer brewmeisters. Check it out.

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Photo of tenant
4.52/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sweet cherry and yeasty banana play well against eachother in the nose. The color is a reddish amber topped off with a ring of white around the edge of the glass. Tight, almost abrasive carbonation gives the tongue a heads up while a rush of tastes enliven the palette. Noble hop aromas, carmelized cherries, subtle malt sweetness, along with a complex, spicy dimension typical of Belgian strong ales combine to express qualities of licorice and bubblegum. The high alcohol content is gracefully hidden in the taste, revealing itself with a warming sensation in the chest. This is a big beer that most certainly must be consumed in moderation. I am more than impressed with the Elf, however Mad he may be. This years version easily lives up to all the hype.

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Photo of merlin48
4.72/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The Elf pours a clear and bright reddish copper body with lots of active carbonation to be seen, as hundreds of microbubbles rush to the surface. Head is offwhite in color, minimal in size, quickly falling into a persistent collar. Very little lacing, but none was really expected given the stated abv.
Aroma is heavenly. Cherries, clover honey, a hint of sweet chocolate malt, and an unusual yeast presence of fresh forest mushrooms(morels) that I've picked up only in a couple of other Belgian yeast strains.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation and none of the expected alcohol.
The taste is an adventure. Sweet and sour cherries hit the palate first, followed by a sweet malt smoothness. Yeast presence is noted, and evokes the fresh mushrooms of the aroma. Lovely! Herbal hops add a welcome bitterness and seem to be of the noble variety. A hint of clover honey and a dash of nutmeg add to the delight. I keep waiting for the fusel alcohol to hit home but it never does. Quite amazing that such a high volume of alcohol can be so cleverly disguised. Very well balanced and a real pleasure to sip.
This is a perfect winter seasonal that I could enjoy any time of the year. Drinkability is dangerous, given the hidden alcohol claimed by the label. Exceptional brew from an excellent brewery. A huge thank you to mtnlover for bringing this nectar my way.

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Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.38/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brown 12 oz bottle. Bottled on date was hard to find -- it's on the bottle, just under the neck label -- but it was 11/1/2004.

This beer poured a brilliant reddish brown with a thin head that quickly disappears. Lots of bubbles rising through the beer but no head. Very clear. A nice looking beer.

Strong fruit -- cherries, mostly -- along with sweet malt. Some alcohol aroma comes through, too. After sitting for 10 minutes or so, the intensity of the fruit fades a little and more of a malt aroma takes over.

Flavor is dominated by the alcohol...with some complex combination of fruit (cherries and raisins), honey and malt. Alcoholic warmth is evident.

Aftertaste is mainly malt, some back-of-th-tongue bitterness, and alcohol....not too pleasant.

Overall an interesting holiday beer. I think I'll age my others for at least another month, then try another. This one hasn't been in the bottle but two weeks.

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Photo of necoadam
4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out a darker shade of amber with a nice head that settled down eventually.

Smell consisted of lots of fruit (cherries mostly) with some light sweet malts. Not overpowering by any strech and quite welcoming actually. Some yeast and brown sugar can also be detected.

Taste was wonderful. Cherries, honey, soft malts, some sugar but not overpowering with sweetness. Towards the middle and the end. No trace of hops to be found in this brew. This is downright excellent.

11% is a little to laugh at, this was more like a 7-9% with all the flavors hitting the palate. Loved every drop of this brew.

Big thanks to Pisskynights for this brew, thanks a bunch!

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Photo of mntlover
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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

I originally had this when I was first getting into craft brew and thought it was quite interesting but not my cup of tea at the time. Seeing as it came out the same did I was picking up some other beers I decided to give it a try again. This pours out a cherry juice red with a decent beige head that eventually falls to a coating of bubbles. Decent lacing was left around the glass as this was consumed. Aroma was a bit sweet with a bit of cherries and a bit of spiciness. Alcohol was evident but it mixed well and added positively to the smell. The taste starts off with a sweet maltiness that had notes of cherries and other fruits with a touch of honey. There was a good amount of spice as well. Aftertaste was a lingering sweetness. Mouthfeel was about medium with a slick and warming feel to it. Pretty damn good drinkability here with the large alcohol being hidden really well. It did warm me up quite a bit as I drank it. Overall this is a very interesting and tasty beer that I would recommend if you haven’t had it already. Oh and Venom’s suggestion to have it warm was spot on.

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Photo of santoslhalper
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, glowing dark red with a thin head. A tiny bit of carbonation bubbles up. Chocolates and cherries burst through the smell of this beer. A nice warming scent of alchohol as well. This is a suprisingly malty tasting brew. Very sweet and fruity with a small but pleseant amount of hops coming through in the back. A beautiful holiday beer. This is going to be one of my "12 beers of christmas" this year. The best offering from Troeg's I've had. This is one of those beers that you won't forget for a long time. Highly, highly recommended.

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Photo of hockeydude
4.27/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear reddish brown color with a slight bit of effervescence which continues for minutes after the pour. Most upsetting is that the head is light and disappears right after the pour.

Smell: The aromas this fine ale exhibits are sweet from the honey and cherries as the label says.

Taste: On the front the cherry aromas are followed by the taste of cherries. midway through the honey becomes prevalent and finishes the palate with the nice sweetness of this ale.

Drinkability: Although not a fan of a beer with any type of fruit or other flavors exhibited, found the mad elf to be amazingly delightful. Even with the high alcohol content (11%), it is difficult to discern the alcohol in the taste. definitely a great bed time beer to relax, unwind and make your christmas list.

Cudos, this is a great beer. Grab one before there all gone.

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Photo of 99bottles
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: This beer pours a stunningly clear ruby red color into a tulip glass as an 1" of white fizzy head rises and then settles to a thin and sporadic lace. Below average retention.

Smell: This nose is full of sweet syrupy sugar (honey) and the smell of cherries. Not tart cherries as in a lambic, but cherries from the center of a chocolated covered cherry. Decadent and yet, not really nice. Whew, thick and very remiscent of honey.

Taste: This beer hits the mouth with such alcohol that initally, it's difficult to realize the subtle flavors and complexities. There's a ton of malt, obviously, to get this puppy up to 11% abv. But it leaves less in the aftertaste, instead you get a remnant of the honey and other sweet carmel flavors. This combines wonderfully with the cherry flavor which is much more sour in the actual taste than in the scent. Finally, the alcohol and the malt washes over once more leaving a dry finish and an aftertaste that's sure to land you a DUI if a cop catches a whiff. This is a nice holiday beer, different than many of the others, and nice to sip slowly.

Mouthfeel: Not overly carbonated, very slick and alcoholic, not immensely cloying, medium to heavy body.

Drinkability: I liked it well enough, but I don't think I could ever force myself to drink this quickly. One is probably more than enough as an after dinner drink, or apertif. Whew! Potent stuff.

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The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 4,023 ratings