Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

BA SCORE
87
very good
1,271 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:
1,271
Ratings:
3,921
Avg:
3.85
pDev:
15.06%
 
 
Wants:
230
Gots:
1,138
For Trade:
24
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,271 | Ratings: 3,921
Photo of mattcrill
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to cmaruschak for the chance to sample this brew.

Appearance: Pours a deep cloudy brick red with a sudsy white head. The head quickly fades to veins of soapy film on top of the beer.

Smell: Enjoyable blend of honey, pineapple, pear, flowery citrus notes, and a touch of tart fruits. Smells more like a sweet wine than beer.

Taste: Like a tripel. Honey, figs, some clove, some of that Belgian yeast funk, and maybe a hint of under ripe bananas. Very fruity with just a touch of an estery finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, carbonated, and a warming finish that is left on the palate.

Drinkability: The alcohol is hidden well. Kind of sneaks up on you in the finish. The yeasty funk is something that keeps me from over doing it with these styles but it's blended well with the fruit presence. Really enjoyable. I don't know if it seems like a "holiday" beer to me but it's worth trying.

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Photo of johnshuster
1.82/5  rDev -52.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

So, having finished those tasty draughts at the pub I went out the next day to pick up a case of the Mad Elf at the local distributor. That nicked me for almost 50 bucks-you pay for the ABV in there, to say the least.

To my dismay, the Mad Elf is a shadow of its tap greatness when coming from a bottle...at least that's my take.

The bottle itself looks cool-brown glass with a little elf that apparently has a nice buzz going himself. For me, the bottle is the best part of this beer.

The smell is much more concentrated and pungent from the bottle. Note that I drank out of the bottle, not a glass. This may affect what I experienced. Gone were the pleasantly sweet and cherry-like scents. Think more along the lines of cherry robotussin.

The taste was much worse from the bottle than the tap. The beer was far thicker, and the alcohol pervaded the taste throughout drinking, whereas when I had this ontap you only got a slight sensation of the ABV in the aftertaste. This stuff for me was just way too thick and sweet out of the bottle.

Mouthfeel wasn't great either-very heavy and not much carbonation. I am not a big heavy beer drinker, so anything that is thick is not my cup of tea. This stuff's pretty thick, but maybe that's your thing.

Drinkability-Getting one of these down takes a while. There was no possibility of chugging or gulping this stuff-slow sipper only baby, unless youhave powers far greater than mine.

I want to like this beer due to its high ABV and local relevance (went to school near where it's made) but I just can't get the stuff down from the bottle. On tap though, ooo yeah that's the stuff.

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Photo of jamesdr1968
1.72/5  rDev -55.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This beer poured a beautiful dark ruby red color with a nice, creamy head. The taste was a smorgasbord of cherries, vanilla and honey --- an extremely sweet beer, but unfortunately it reminded me too much of cough syrup. I would like to try this on tap to see if there is much of a difference. Great appearance, but the taste was too overwhelming.

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Photo of weeare138
3.99/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the '03 version of the Elf that's been aging.
Appears a hazy reddish amber with a small white head that lasts for a minute and fades into a small collar.
Smell is of honey, cherries, rich candy sugar, along with a hint of cocoa powder with that trademark Troegs yeast.
Taste is of a viscous, syrup mix of the above mentioned aromas.
Mouthfeel is thich and viscous with some mellow corn syrupy sweetness that's raw but smooth.
Drinkability - This is a sipper by all means. It reminds me of cherry lip balm in a weird way. A little hard to swallow, even after aging for over 1.5 years. Delicious but still a one and done for me.

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Photo of Dithyramb
2.82/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Served on tap per this year's XMas in July at Max's in Baltimore. Poured into a large tulip cup, it was a pale rose colored brew with absolutely no carbonation going on in the brew, no real head. There may have been a slight ring around the edge when it was first served. No lacing.
Smell of cherries soaked in honey
Sorry, but couldn't help but think this was light cherry cough syrup. It even had the same sticky mouthfeel going down. Slight tanin like hop finish. Not fond of this one on tap after it had been sitting a few months. Plus, I'm not overly sure if this is a Belgian strong...

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Photo of Beervis
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

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Photo of WesWes
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a hazy amber color with a 1/4" offwhite head that fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with a slight honey sweetness and a mild cherry aroma. The taste is good. It has a smooth malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes warm and full of cherries. It has a residual honey sweetness. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn good beer. I've heard about it for a while, but never could get it. I love the use of cherries. This is a good drinker.

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Photo of LuckySevens82
2.63/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle courtesy of Dithyramb
Pours a pale, slightly hazy rose color with a small, but well formed white head. Retention is a bit lacking, but the lacing and collar are nice.
Smell is cherries, slight honey, some hops, a bit of caramel, definitely wine like in character, with just a hint of cough syrup.
Taste is a bit bitter up front, with some residual sweetness. Cherry cough drops come to mind. Bitter hops finish this one out. It seriously tastes like Vicks Cherry cough drops. Which I like, but not in my beer. I was hoping that this would be a lot sweeter than it actually is.
Mouthfeel is okay, carbonation is nice, and it's not particularly hard to drink.
Overall, wow, I was really hoping that this would be better. Nevertheless, I'm not very fond of it and I probably won't have much more of it.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained via massive hand trade with most accommodating of BAs, merlin48. Thanks buddy.

Appearance - pours a festive reddish amber. Fizzy short-lived head lasts but a few seconds. Great start, a little lacking overall though.

Aroma - spicy nose of cinnamon and allspice, abates after a minute or two, revealing some bready malt and potent alcohol.

Taste - malt and booze, vaguely similar to Beelzebub but softer on the palate. The spices fight to get through and have only limited success. The spices linger on the swallow as the alcohol fades. The finish is sweet, tasty, and warm. A lighter alcohol level would allow more spice development and would improve the profile.

Mouthfeel - smooth, fairly heavy and coating, average carbonation, all working well together.

Drinkability - a good beer that improves as it warms but could use more holiday spice flavor sooner. Still, if I had access to this it could be an annual tradition.

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

from the bottle. poured a nice amber, with no head. aroma, at 1st I got a sourness when it was 1st poured thanafter it sat for a couple of minutes the sourness went away, got honey, malts, cherries, chocolate, yeast, alcohol. flavor, tart cherries, fruits, orange, choclate, and a nice touch of alcohol not tobad of a beer.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the cellar meat package by pentathlete, the Mad Elf came out deep amber red with a smallish head. The beer looked slippery, and the dissipating head left little lacing. The aroma was filled with holiday spices like nutmeg, ginger, and I could also smell orange peel. The taste was sweet and spicy with a cheerfully light body that was backed by rum like alcohol warmth. Although clearly a strong concoction, the 11% alcohol was well poised. The mouthfeel was airy and inviting. The aftertaste was a citric and sweet tang and a faint note of hop bitterness. Warmth of alcohol lingered long after the beer was gone.

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Photo of watermelonman
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This poured to a nice and surprisingly light amber with hints of yellow and red. The head quickly reduced to a ring and left minimal lace.

Flavors are of light malt up front and quickly switch to a bit of cherry with just a hint of honey. The smell is decent enough but the taste is quite good, especially as it warms. It's alarmingly easy to drink for the alcohol content.

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

Christmas in April, whay not? 2004 edition. Poured a delightful clear cherry color with slight head that left minimal ring. Smell is of cinnamon and spice and all things nice.Alcohol well hidden. Taste is superb with a hint of dryness in the back of the throat. Left a nice fruity taste in the mouth. at 11% very drinkable. Next taste will be Christmas in July.

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Photo of PatandDavid
3/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cloudy copperiness. Somewhat tan head. I get candied yeastiness, but sadly some soapiness in the aroma. Taste is a bit muddied, malty, yeasty, spicey, and some soapiness in there as well. Ends a bit citrusy. Mouthfeel is medium, carbonation is somewhat low.

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

Thanks to pezoids for this sample as a part of secret santa '04.
Aroma presents with a high phenol quality. Sweet. Fruity. Clove. Alcohol. Nice and bold. (cherry).
Rich red amber. Clear. Fast and quick head.
Phenols supported with a strong malt base. Fruity qualitites are persistent. Touch of alcohol. Nicely complex. In time finishes dry.
Fully carbonated. Leaves an oily coating on tongue. Medium feel to a little less.
This pretty good. It loses it's punch in time. But I like the initial presentation a lot. I like the spicey sour aspects of the flavor.

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Photo of whartontallboy
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby red tulip pour with a big frothy white head that disappears rather quickly. Smell is easy to pick up even in a smoke-filled bar. Cherries, malt, and enough alcohol that you know what you're getting into. Flavor is also heavy on the cherry notes, but I also caught some cinnamon and clove as well The alcohol is present in the flavor and gives it a bit of a peppery bite, but it's not as strong as you'd expect from an 11% ABV. A nice one to sip and savor, and I really enjoyed this one more as it warmed a little.

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Photo of yeagerbm
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a big ol wine glass, this unique ale appears brilliantly red with a small frothy white head. The aroma is spicy with phenols. First flavors to come across are the fruity cherries with the floral sweetness of honey. The sweetness is balanced by a nice of spicy esters and refreshing bitterness with a slightly hot alcohol finish. The mouthfeel of this beer is relatively light for the ABV due to the use of honey to thin it out, which makes this brew very drinkable.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich crystal clear amber hued pour with dissapating head cap to a collar in a goblet. with a tight rising middle carbonation.

Bold brilliant scents of cinnamon, rum and ginger snap fig. Dark fruit prevails. Aromatically powerful.

First swigs: Dry cherry schnapps. Cider infused rummy hot. Clean finish with a touch of cherry soda.

Frothy light bodied. Sticky sweet lip smacker.

Last swigs: This is the Nobel Peace prize for Winter Warmer brew. Especially, locally. Go Chris & John Trogner. Glas that I bought a case with Stingo.

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Photo of Truh
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deliberately messed up some toys for the good girls and boys with this one on 3/8/2005. 12-oz. bottle very graciously offered to me by JayT poured in a shaker glass; closer to 11-oz. in order to keep the sediment in check.

Some initial frothiness with a piling of big bubbles in the middle which all just settles to a wash. Light orange hue with just a touch of red and haze, likely from sediment, and very little slow action. Cherry sweetness on nose, raspberry pulp and a bit of light heat. Candy cane sweetness with cherry pie thrown in, but quite light; malt presence is refined with a woody oak character that lightly touches. Very pleasant offering that I wish I had access to on a regular, or at least seasonal, basis.

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Photo of kmo1030
4.39/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pinkish coppery color with very thin head that a lighter version of the same color. sweet ripe cherry aroma, with honey, a subtle spiciness, and light caramel maltiness. a good amount of alcohol is also present along with some subtle typical belgian aromas of banana, clove. cinnamon as it warmsthe taste is very much like it smells, with the cherries and malts more pronounced. there is a nice warming alcohol quality at the finish. reasonably full bodied with delicate carbonation. very drinkable, but definitely one to let warm up to near room temperature. i'm glad i had a chance to pick this up, i wish it was available a little closer to home.

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Photo of oelergud
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Mildly hazed red copper body, tan head without much retention or lace and moderate carbonation.
Malt and cherry scents up front mingled with a clear hints of alcohol.
Cherries and spiced honey very apparent. Aftertaste is surprisingly mild and holds notes of alcohol. After warming up a little the cherries fade somewhat in the background and the honey flavors become much more apparent.
Chewable maltiness and thick coating left behind by this brew.
Flavorwise very drinkable but ABV is too high for indulgence.
Beware of the Elf, it'll make you mad!

-Oelergud

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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is actually a bottle from last year's batch that I've had in the DBF.

Lovely clear ruby in color with a respectable layer of tan-colored head that died off to a lasting "edge of the glass" ring. Surprising quantities of lace on the glass. Nose initially was mostly cherries, but as it warmed, other smells were noted: honey, sweetness from the malt, some medicinal alcohol, and spices. Flavor was delicious...and this coming from an avid hater of cherries. Melded nicely into the overall fabric of the beer, the cherry notes were not overbearing or anything. The spices and honey become more apparent as it warmed. The alcohol content makes itself known towards the end and the finish is quite clean. Mouthfeel, overall, is good and given the masked ABV, insanely drinkable. Thank goodness I can seek out the Elf here in Richmond every winter!

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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 sublimesipping
4.48/5  rDev +16.4%
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 +13.8%
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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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,921 ratings.
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