Tröegs Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
87
very good
1,241 Reviews
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States | website

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:
1,241
Ratings:
3,809
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
26.68%
 
 
Wants:
228
Gots:
1,060
For Trade:
21
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,241 | Ratings: 3,809
Photo of rayjay
2.75/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

(From notes)

On tap at the Brickhouse in Harrisburg, PA 12/05. Everybody was talking about it so I had to buy a round; I mean it's the talk of the town when it comes out. Served in a pint glass (obviously a rookie barkeep).

Pours deep red with the smallest of heads. Very sweet and thick. Hints of cherries and wood. Alcohol is obvious. Served very cold, but it only got thicker and flatter as it warmed; a pint is a definate challange. The sweetness and alcohol are a little overpowering and not very balanced. I bet it would be less abrasive and more sophisticated after sitting for a few years. Overall this is nothing more than cough syrup.

Now I get it: it's all the rage because it's so high in alcohol. At $5 a pint I guess it does give you bang for the buck (edit: nevermind, I just saw how expensive the bottles were!!!). Alcohol isn't my priority when ordering beers, though.

This beer is a big mangled wreck. All over the place. Perhaps the only aspect that makes me want to try it again is that it is so over-rated.

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Photo of hero27
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.
11% abv...yowsa.

Sheer copper color with a surprisingly fizzy head that is gone in the blink of an eye. Aroma is slight honey with some cranberry mixed in..smells fairly "Christmas-y"..
The honey flavor is perceived right from the get-go, combined with a thick, syrupy malt base. The cherries come out a lot more as it warms..when chilled, I got almost no cherry flavor at all. The 11% alcohol is quite well-pronounced, and there's no getting around the slight burning sensation on your lips and tastebuds. Quite sweet in the finish as well..

Reminded me a bit of Great Lakes' Christmas Ale. The cherry & honey flavors were very similar.

Thanks to ski271 for throwing this in as a little taste of Christmas in June.

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Photo of wcudwight
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter a dark red(nice). with a inch head that quickly reduces to a thin ring around the crown.
Smell: I get cherry, cranberry, jucyfruit gum and alcohol.
Taste: Mmmm, taste starts with loads of malty sweetness, mixed with cherries. Kind of toasty tasting in the middle. The finish is of dry alcohol.
Mouthfeel is good. Thick and filling.
I consider it nicely drinkable for 11%. I've aged my bottle for 6 months and the alcohol is really only noticable in the finish.
A very good beer that is worth the hour and half drive across state lines to purchase. One that I will be looking forward to this coming holiday season.

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Photo of Vancer
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/17/2007 - another bottle sent by secret santa cartdan. MAN, even better with the cold and snow. What a great sippin' winter brew. thanks guy!

Nice lil’ holiday brew, too bad it’s almost June and hotter than the hubs of hell around here! Still, a nice amber pour, frothy tan head, I can tell this is gonna be good.

Malty notes in the aroma, and sweets hints of cheery and winter spices (nutmeg, clove) throughout the taste. Medium bodied with just the right carbonation.

This would be better by the fire in the winter, but not too bad to sip by the pool in 90 degree heat, either! (Holy crap, I see it’s 11.0% - it wasn’t the heat that had my ass spinning yesterday!)
\
Thanks again to beerbeing.

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Photo of BeerRun13
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very clear reddish orange. Has a small ring of a head and little lacing.
Spices and estery alcohol. A touch of pumpkin spice or nutmeg?
Nice flavor. Fruity malt backbone. Low on the hops but has some other spice inside although I don't know if it matches the aroma. The alcohol shows through easily. Well balanced and tasty.
Medium to heavy body. Smooth and creamy. Alcohol warms the palate all the way to the stomach.
Good drinkability. I can see how this could be a holiday favorite.

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Photo of TastyTaste
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ThomasHardy for the bottle, a nice bonus in a personal trade.

Appearance: Medium red-orange body, very unsual, with a creamy white head that last a long time.

Smell: Carmel, honey, caramel, subtle yeast, fruit, (yes, cherries), and a large dose of alcohol thrown in.

Taste: Mellow and more subdued than I expected, I can taste cherries, defintitely, they give the beer is a nice fruity flavor. Yeasty and highly malty, hops are almost an afterthought to what I would consider a "dessert" beer. Not bad, but not up there with my favorites of the style, lacks depth.

Drinkability: Not a bad beer for quaffing, although there are many better in the style, but this is a delicious beer, one worth trying.

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Photo of Budlum
4.28/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes (2005 edition):

Pours with a light head and the most brilliant red color of any beer I've seen. The 2005 edition produces aromas of cherries and highly alocholic scents as the 11% abv. would suggest. The taste is immediately fresh cherries with slight hints of honey early in the finish. There is also a slight clove and hop presence early in the sample. The finish is mainly alcohol flavors. Warming would certainly describe this seasonal brew. Two or three of these on a cold night would be my limit before the alocohol taste becomes overbearing.

I was only able to sample the 2004 edition on draft in early December and early March(!) of 2005. The previous edition provided a depth of cherry and honey flavors with only a "sneaky" alcohol finish.

I will certainly look forward to Mad Elf in the coming holiday seasons.

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Photo of cro250klr
3.18/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tried this one on the advise of a friend who likes yet another Troegs brew, Trogenator. I've had the Trogenator before and I though it was a bit heavy and on the syrupy side. Not at all what I'd call a session beer.
Now, while I absolutley love high abv Belgian Darks, I have to admit that I was a bit let down here. The Elf is dark, the appearance looks wonderful and the smell hints of spices of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Albiet faintly, but they are there. From that alone I was thinking that this was going to be a treat. Alas, the mouthfeel was clean , but the taste seemed to be missing the spices. The alcholol wasn't that pronounced, which was good, but something was lacking overall. From the nose I'd be thinking of something Belgian. However, the aftertaste assures me that this is an imitation. All of that combined made me glad that I had crossed paths with this one at a local pub. I had almost purchased a case, ( Archaic Pa. LCB Law), prior to finding this one bottle. For the abv content the case cost was rather low. I should have known something was up. While the Elf is a far cry from being the worst, it's an even a further cry from being the best. A nice try by the Harrisburg brewers but, I wouldn't stick my neck out for this one.

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

12 ounce bottle, without freshness dating. Poured just below room temp in a Belgian style chalice, pours, medium mahogony, with a slight reddish hue, minor tan head, quickly dissapating, medium sized bubbles and leaving some, not too impressive lacing. Nose is just slightly picked up, grainy and of fruits and some alcohol. This is a smooth, easy drinking Belgian stlye ale. 11% hidden well, but with a nice fruity, cherry warming feel. Notes of, malt, light candi sugars, vanilla, honey, mild hot sauce and sherry soaked cherries. Fine and flavorful sipper.

Thanks to my friend "Grassy" for a sixer of this hard to find nectar...

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Photo of JayQue
4.17/5  rDev +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.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a rich and vibrant brown. Slight red hue. Thin white head that receded to an even thinner film. Some lace. Nose is sweet and spicy with molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Flavor is strong in the spices. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and a shot of pepper for good measure. Slightly malty sweet at first but then quickly followed by the spice. Bits of molasses and honey. Lots of heat from the alcohol. Enough to make this a nice slow sipping drink, like a scotch. Lighter mouthfeel than I was expecting but I think that was from the alcohol. A nice beer to drink one bottle of but more than one bottle is asking for a rough morning.

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Photo of Jredner
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is strong with cherries, malt and hints of nuts. Pour is amber/red with just a hint of a head. Flavor is nutty and malty with hints of fruit and sweetbread. Have no idea where they are hiding 11% alcohol. Tastes like 6% if that. Finish is the most cherry laden. A very interesting beer. Quite pleased with it.

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Photo of mentor
3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from detailed notes. A gift of Higravity ala SS'05. Thanks so much for the opportunity! Poured a one-finger light tan head over a crystal clear light orange rusty liquid. Smelled of cloves, orange peel, coriander, and a phenolic edge. Tasted clovey phenolic. Syrupy sweet. Sharp belgian funk. Overall, clovey menthol. Md-light body that's somewhat syrupy. A decent winter warmer.

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Photo of akajimmyd
3.71/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Not much head or lacing. Reddish hue.

Smell – Sweet malts and spice, subtle hints of fruit.

Taste – I get prunes or dark fruit up front followed by spice and a little bite of alcohol.

Mouthfeel- Sweet up front. Full, full body. Finishes with a little too much astringent alcohol.

Drinkability – A winter warmer through and through. Many characteristics that remind me of a barleywine. Tremendous and serious brew. Be careful, quite drinkable.

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Photo of rodrot
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a cloudy amber color with little or no head. I'm guessing the 11.0% abv reduces the head and head retention. Aroma is sweet and reminds me of malt, sugar and spices. The taste is quite sweet also, with notes of candi sugar, malt, caramel and a very faint taste of cherries. The label on the bottle states that this beer was brewed with honey and cherries, but I can barely detect these ingredients. This beer reminds me of an English barleywine/old ale because of the overall sweetness and the light hop flavor. BA lists this as a Belgian Strong dark ale, but I wouldn't know in a blind tasting. This is an OK beer, but I probably would not buy it again.

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Photo of mzwolinski
3.07/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Hazy red in color, with a thin uneven top.

The aroma is sweet and malty. Cherries and honey are understated at first, but give signs of a bit too much sweetness down the road.

The flavor is not bad right out of the fridge. A bit sweet with hints of cherry and very little in the way of hops. Alcohol almost completely undetectable. Nothing terribly stand-out about it, but certainly drinkable

As it warms, the malt and alcohol combine to give the beer a cinnamon-bread character. This is one of the more pleasant aspects of the beer.

As it continues to warm, however, the beer becomes a bit cough-syrupy … too sweet and sticky in the throat. And the warmer it gets, the worse it gets. Even at 55 degrees, it's pretty awful.

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Photo of arguemaniac
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a deep, reddish copper color with a fairly robust head and generous lace (especially for 11% ABV). Fruity and alcoholic aromas in the nose. The very malty flavor features a multi-layered estery, fruity character (primarily cherry), a pleasantly sour tartness, and well-masked alcohol bite. Mostly grain with a distinct touch of fruitiness in the finish. A creamy mouthfeel with mildly active carbonation.

For an 11% ABV brew this one is very drinkable; you would never guess how alcoholic it really is. Add that to really tasty sweet and tart flavor with a somewhat silky mouthfeel and it’s clear that Mad Elf is one of those beers that can get you into a bit of trouble. Highly recommended, but imbibe carefully….

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Photo of Higravity
3.48/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I popped my one to enjoy after meeting with a damn wedding photographer. Red kool-aid color and a hint of a head in my duvel tulip. Smells of a mild fruityness and alcohol. The taste is not what I was expecting, not nearly enough of the cherry flavor and I wonder now about the color. The alcohol is prevelent and there is a background fruityness and some malt flavor with a tannic bitterness. I had a decent mouthfeel and was very clean finish and a good drinker even at 11%, but not really my bag.

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Photo of nvsblman
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color with tinges of ruby red. No head to speak of. Honey and cloves in the aroma, with a trace of sour cherries. The honey really stands out in the flavor with a subtle cherry in the background. Also a little spice and cloves. Full bodied and well carbonated.

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Photo of HugoGrim
4.19/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of ski271
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, medium reddish-copper with a very small, frothy, slightly off-white head that quickly diminishes to a thin film. Actually didn’t even know what style this beer was until I smelled it. Obvious Belgian with moderate wheat, sweet malts, cherry and some other fruit esters accompanying the light alcohol presence. Toward the end of the bottle when it really warmed up, I was picking up some light clove and a light woodsy smell. Flavor-wise, it starts out with rather typical Belgian flavors, mostly because I had served it too cold. it then opens to reveal a wonderful malt backbone and a complex array of flavors, but it’s the duo of cherries and sweet malts that steal the show. I admit at first it threw me a bit, but the second try was much better. And it kept getting better all the way to the bottom of the glass. It has a medium body, lightly oily texture and soft carbonation. This is a real holiday treat that is well done. Hard to believe this beer is 11%! Use with caution.

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Photo of Schwarzbart
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep brilliant dark mahogany red with good clarity. Not much head and lacing was spotty.
Smell: Spicy, peppery, tart cherries and cidery.
Taste: The spiciness is strong and really hits you, alcohol taste is at a minimum and I would never have guessed 11%. Some pepper and also cherries, but it pulls off a nice balance.
Mouthfeel: One of the best textured beers I've ever had. Light carbonation provides just enough crispness to a very light and smooth beer.
Drinkability: A good brew and a nice surprise from one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of Gaisgeil
2.9/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Obtained through Secret Santa '05, thanks ManekiNeko!

Not really sure what to make of this one, a bit funky, a bit disjointed, interesting but not particularly appealing either somehow. Pours a medium intensly clear amber in color with no head to speak of. Nose is powerful, lots going on, sort of nutty and spicy, but a lot of cherry character going on here as well, almost lambic-like in a certain respect. Flavor is slightly malty, lots of tart cherry and spice, a little bit of cinnamon noticable. The flavors don't blend particularly well though, and I don't know how one can call this a Belgian Strong Dark, this is unlike anything in that category I've ever had. Mouthfeel is slick and oily, sticks to the palate like syrup. Drinkability is so-so, decent enough, hides the alcohol well, but in the end I didn't crave another.

Slàinte!

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Photo of Zorro
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 Oz bottle Sampled through the efforts of Boxing Day BIF and Pentathlete.

This is a beer I have wanted to try for sometime. This is last year’s version but it is a big beer that can take a year of aging!

This pours a clear copper colored ale with a warm red glow. Carefully poured to leave the sediment behind no head forms. To be honest the careful pour probably killed the head more than the beer itself.

An intensely aromatic beer, this is another beer that can fill a room with smell from the glass. This has almost too aromatic to sniff closely. Fairly sweet scent with an intense fruity nature. Strong honey, vanilla, and cherry scents. Lesser aromas of cinnamon, caramel and black pepper. This is a beer that makes you seriously as the question if it is possible to have too much scent? I am sure that this has stunned my sense of smell, it is that intense.

Taste is not as amazingly intense as the smell. The first sip hits you with sweet malt and vanilla. Cherry and caramel are the next flavors that I can taste with a black pepper in the finish. Brown sugar and cinnamon come near the end of the glass. There are also fairly strong lemon and orange flavors to this. This is one hard ale to describe, it is very intense.

Mouthfeel is syrup thick.

The only downside of this beer is in the drinkability department. This is a very intense experience, almost too intense. This is strong enough that you could use it as syrup, just briefly bring this to a boil and you could pour it over pancakes. It is the syrup intensity of this that cuts its drinkability score significantly. This would make an amazing glaze for a ham or just pour over ice cream like hot caramel. An amazing beer that is probably too intense for 99% of most people.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
2.98/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Damn, this brew isn't playin' around. Pours out to a oil like flat presentation with a small foam head. Low levels of carbonation. Very orange in color. No lace. Aromas are strong, lots of dark fruits and some fermented malt. Touches of spice and herbs round out the smell. Taste is full and powerful; acidic alcohol, spice, thin malts, some citrus fruit. Wow. Quite a bit going on. Mouthfeel is thick and uninspiring, could've used more carbonation. Drinkability is average. Once a season is probably enough for me. Not my idea of the typical Belgian dark ale. Special thanks to MaltyGoodness for the sample.

THE BLOODHOUND FACTOR: The hounds sniffed this, and maybe it was the alcohol, but they ran. No way they were gonna try this one.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,241 ratings.
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