Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
The Mad ElfThe Mad Elf
BA SCORE
3.87/5
Very Good
3,975 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:
#8,602
Reviews:
1,281
Ratings:
3,975
pDev:
14.99%
Bros Score:
3.77
 
 
Wants:
236
Gots:
1,172
Trade:
24
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,975 |  Reviews: 1,281
Photo of xpimptastikx
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to mikereaser for the trade.

Pours a thick dark caramel color with no head. Smells sweet, like cherries obviously, but other dark fruits seem to be there. Taste is sweet of honey with a nice cherry. It smelled of a tripel, but definitely tastes like a dark ale. Very drinkable for the abv.
I'm happy to have an extra to lay down for a year by mike's advice.

Edit: This beer becomes so much more with a year on it. A little too messy fresh, but it melds well with age.

 477 characters

Photo of Maxwell
4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is the first to emerge from my cellar after a short two month sleep. The beer pours a ruddy ruby, with a light, gently cream colored head. The body of the beer is clear and caramelly with little to no carbonation coming up through. On the nose the beer smells big with honeyed raisins, slight candied sugars, bready caramel, and only the faintest ghost of cherry. Spicy alcohol, similar to what you might find in a quad, is also definitely present in the nose. The beer tastes lightly of cherries and honey, transitioning into bready caramel and Belgian yeast character, with a light alcohol spice. The beer begins with an almost framboise like cherry sweet flavor, mixed quickly with spicy alcohol and then creamy honey which opens the beer into grainier caramel and Belgian yeast notes, and light candied sugars. There is a huge cereal bread taste in the middle of the flavor which dies off quickly, but does leave a light bread lingering in the finish and aftertaste. This beer is hugely complex in flavor, and with only 2 months in the cellar it seems to have none of the huge alcohol flavors that other reviewers describe. On the mouth this beer is smooth and caramelly, sitting on the tongue at a medium to heavy body with nearly no carbonation to speak of. The only bite comes from the faint alcohol at the back of the throat, but this is really quite faint, and considering this is 11%, I really don’t taste the heavy alcohol flavor. Overall, I’m a huge fan of this beer. It is a great holiday sipper, to be had in moderation for sure. I could obviously not slug this beer back, but if you put it in a small glass, swirl it around and observe its holiday appropriate color, and then savor and enjoy it. It kisses the tongue, packs a wallop of alcohol, and seduces my taste buds with warm sweet flavors that I want in a holiday beer. A beer to have on Christmas night for sure!

 1,898 characters

Photo of DocD
4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Pauly2X
4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to dashirey for this one.

A- Solid ruby red, wispy head.

S- Clean, slightly vinous hints of cherry.

T- Lightly grainy sweet malt upfront makes an almost seamless transition into a light cherry flavor that is intertwined with floral notes from the honey. Finishes clean and semi dry.

M- Medium-full bodied with balanced carbonation.

D- If it weren't for the 11% I might do more.

A very interesting take on the style. The alcohol is well hidden. This would make a great crossover beer for those who like red wine.

 524 characters

Photo of tillmac62
4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a beautiful ruby amber with a reasonable head and lacing. The nose is of cherries against a slight chocolate coupled with a typical Belgian yeast aroma. It also has hints of sweetness and alcohol. Almost medium body with good carbonation. Nice slick mouthfeel. A superbly balanced beer, with a flavor profile similar to the nose. Tart cherry over a nice sweetness with a chocolate background. For an 11% alcohol brew, this one hides it well - but you get the nice burn all the way through. Crisp finish with a burst of flavor from the carbonation that brings the spice flavor to the forefront. The finish is also where the alcohol becomes more evident as the beer nears room temperature.

 693 characters

Photo of djchrismac
4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of HugoGrim
4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was lucky enough to find this on tap at a local bar. Body is a coppery color with a white head.

Excellent full smell of fruit, mostly cherries. High alcohol content is evident in the scent, though definitely not overpowering.

Flavor holds on to the sweet bite of cherries throughout, but also adds some spicy elements. An excellent balance of sweetness and spices. A bit of breadyness in the finish. Had I not known I would have never guessed this as an 11% ABV.

 470 characters

Photo of Blu799
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of OneDropSoup
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a case swap with some friends, though I've had it many times before.

Poured into a tulip a deep reddish brown with bright orange & ruby highlights. Thin ring of white foam, no real head or lacing. A lot of different colors appear, & the body moves between translucent & transparent. Very fun to look at, like a Christmas tree decoration.

Strong, spicy Belgian yeast character leads the smell, like a tripel with cherries. What follows is sweet bread dough, some alcohol, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg). As it warms, a subtle mustiness/funkiness emerges here & there.

Taste has spices up front, sweetness from honey, both sweetness & tartness from the cherries, & slight sourness in a doughy kind of way. The booze becomes apparent but isn't too harsh.

Mouthfeel is full without being chewy or heavy, & active without being prickly or sharp. The booze, while not being abrasive, is definitely warming & I feel rosy-cheeked & red-eared by the end.

There's a lot of good stuff about this, but by the end of it I'm kind of worn out & ready for a nap. I guess "hard-hitting" would be a way to describe it. This doesn't have quite the complexity that a big Belgian style normally would, but what's there is really good. Part of my appreciation for this beer is the nostalgia & associations I have with it -- it's become something of a tradition & is very comforting.

 1,373 characters

Photo of cyclonece09
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured on tap into a chalice. Pours copper red with a small white head. Smells of Belgian yeast with wheat. Tastes of banana and berries with slight wheat taste. Beer is full bodied but still very drinkable, good carbonation. Overall a very good beer.

 251 characters

Photo of Bbock13
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of cpetrone84
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 batch aged by Fathead's in Pittsburgh and poured and consumed in the same place

A-4.5 nice lear ruby red color with a small white head

S-faint belgian yeast, citrus, banana, and clove

T-sweet taste of berries, tart cheries, some banana and cloves

M-smooth ans slick, almost an oily taste with a slightly drying effect

D-very smooth and tasty=drinkability

 364 characters

Photo of RobertH
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great Christmas beer. I usually don't like cherry flavoring, but I really enjoyed this beer!!

94 characters

Photo of haines710
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of CrucialBlue
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Beervis
4.18/5  rDev +8%
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 SPChurilla
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of drcarver
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - a nice deep red color with a small (less than 1 finger) head that sits atop. Leaves a nice amount of lacing around the glass

S - cherries in the front followed by malt, spiciness, and a hint of alcohol

T - sweet. dancing on the line of too sweet but still palatable. Alcohol is present but the cherries is in the background.

D - goes down nice and slow which is good for a brew at 11%.

 392 characters

Photo of hellobeerz
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - A dark brew, a ruby/copper look. Slight see through feel.

S - You obviously get the sweetness of honey and the ripeness of cherries off the bat. But it seems like more are at work here... smells of spices and even chocolate malts are hinted at.

T - The nose follows the taste for the most part. Lots of honey and cherries with just enough spice. The alcohol is present at first, but mid glass it is gone to just a simple warming and relaxing brew. Almost great for a winter night during the Christmas season.

M - A little intense from the alcohol at first, but dissipates and becomes amazing once your palate adjusts.

O - I saw the hype, the advertising, heard the talk in my local brew shops and honestly... It is amazing, every time I head to the local totalwine or other brew shop I pick up a sixer(14.99), It is an amazing seasonal brew for the cold months and I could see myself drinking this well into March. You must give it a chance, and at 11% ABV... it is highly recommended. haha.

 1,000 characters

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I had this at the Hulmeville Inn. Poured into a snifter. Pours an amber color with a white heading. Globs of lacing a present throughout the tasting.

Smell is very sweet,biscuity as well with the slightest fruit aroma on the backend.

Taste again is very sweet,a chocolate taste as well. A type of souriness kind of kicks in the middle and a cherry taste kicks you in the mouth in the end.

Mouth is full bodied great carbonation.Leaves a nice spicy tingle on the tongue.

Drink is excellent very drinkable 11%ABV this shocked me the most. Easy to go down and a few more but not too many or you will be down and out. Rather quickly.

 633 characters

Photo of JunkYardJake
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Molly's Pub in Lancaster.
Suprisingly (and probably unlawfully) served in a 16oz pint glass. Looks yummy. Has a larger head than expected for an 11% brew. Crystal clear and crimson in color. Smells absolutely potent and delicious. Dark fruit, cherries, and honey. Palate is very raw and powerful. The tart cherries stand out without feeling like a ''fruit beer''. The alcohol is very strong and warming, which is perfect for a snowy afternoon in the pub. A bit spicy but not over-spiced. Very unique and delicious. Obviously, this is not a beer meant to chug but is plenty drinkable. Probably the best holiday beer I've come across.
12/17/11 Side note: Had a side-by-side tasting with a fresh bottle and one aged a year in my cellar. Wow. What a difference a year makes. The booziness is all but gone and the cherry flavor really stands out. Great beer fresh and even better with some age on it.

 905 characters

Photo of JayQue
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear, reddish tint. Half inch head that fades away quickly. Leaves some lacing on the glass. Smell of cloves and cherries. Rick taste- cherries, hints of some other fruit and a very mild astringent taste. Very rich, like a plum pudding run through a blender. Rich mouthfeel as well, very pleasant, no hint of the 11% abv until you reach the end. May have got a hint of alcohol taste by then. This is not a session beer. It goes down incredibly smooth but a second one, away from home, would not be a good idea for me. A great winter drink and a great nightcap.

 561 characters

Photo of Biscuit033
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Clear, reddish brown, with no head, just a ring of bubbles around the top.

S: Spicy yeast, sweet malts and and then the cherries hit you.

T: Cherries and honey upfront, spicy yeast flavors of coriander and pepper, orange peel all balanced by malts and alcohol. You find more in every sip.

M: A lot more carbination than expected but it helps balance the sweetness and the alcohol.

D: This is a great winter warmer that is complex, different, and well balanced. Could easily down two or three servings of this after dinner.

The only thing I would like to know is why isn't it bottle-conditioned.

 602 characters

Photo of gordavidson
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A deep, dark crystal clear orange liquid with some red highlights. The bone white head is very thin and splotchy.

S- Bananas, clove, bubble gum, caramel, cherries, apples, and pears. A malty, fruity, Belgian bomb.

T- Bananas, clove, cherries, bubble gum, fruit, and caramel. Sweet but not overly rich.

M- A bit sticky and syrupy with some smooth carbonation. the alcohol only provides some warmth and is very well hidden.

D- A bit of a sipper, but it is very enjoyable and the alcohol is well hidden. Worthy of its legendary reputation.

 543 characters

Photo of veggiemafia
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
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

The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 3,975 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.