Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
1,271 Reviews
Tröegs The Mad ElfTröegs The Mad Elf

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,271 | Ratings: 3,921
Photo of HopDerek
4.02/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear red/amber color with very little tan head and minimal lacing. Aroma is really strong, cherries, Christmas spices, raisins, alcohol, yeast, and a slight hint of sweet honey. Taste is very sweet and fruity, mixing bananas, yeast, coriander, clove, and sweet malt, with a slight note of cherries as it warms. Goes down smoothly yet with a stickiness, medium in body with good carbonation. Hides its 11% abv very well, but it sneaks up on you if you're not careful. One of the best reasons for the Christmas season.

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Photo of AltBock
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got this Troegs beer at Teresa's Next Door on 2/16/2008. They served it to me in a Tulip glass.

This beer was a beautiful dark crimson red with a nice 3/4 to 1 inch head of white foam. I thought the retention was OK because it only left behind some foamy white rings along the edge and a few spots of white lace. It had a pleasent aroma that contained some of the sweetest juicy fruits I've encounter in a beer so far. Behind these fruits was a splash of banana, a touch of yeast, and some subtle toasted malts toward the back. The taste was mostly fruity with juicy fruits. Once I got passed the juicy fruits, I discovered some bitter citrus hops, a splash of banana, a touch of yeast, and a small pinch of toasted malts in the background. The juicy fruits conquered all that were in its path! The mouthfeel was slick! There was no way I could tell that I was drinking a 11% ABV beer. There was no indication that there was that much alcohol in here. It did have an aftertaste, but it was short lived with dry citrus hops and lightly toasted malts. Yet another great beer from the Tröegs brothers! Just be careful with this one, it will sneak up on you!

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Photo of Hoppington
3.82/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just picked this up to see what the big deal was. Poured from a 12oz bottle, it had no head and lace whatsoever - what head was there disapated quickly.

Mead-like smell with presence of honey and raisin notes. Dark amber with faint burgundy in color, and quite clear in the glass.

Taste is enjoyably sweet and malty with a hint of spice from the yeast. Cherry is faint and hardly noticable. Goes down nice and smooth - not too sticky despite its sweetness. Overall, a nice winter beer. Great to drink after sledding, making a snowman or gathering firewood. I would drink this seasonaly. Nice work Troegs!

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Photo of sfoley333
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle(thanks ahatcher78). Poured a red ruby clear color with a thin white head. Smell is super sweet cherry bubblegum, corriander and a whiff of alcohol. Taste is cherry cough syrup with a sweet honey spice flavor and herbal alcohol finish. Mouthfeel is sticky and smooth. Its a very interesting beer but hardly a session beer more like an after dinner drink.

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Photo of OKCNittany
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Clear reddish-brown body. 1/4" off white head that didn't last or lace.

S: Interesting smell of fruits, alcohol, candy, and some spice. Seems to fit well with its Christmas-time release.

T: Everything in the nose is present in the taste, but with alcohol and a light hop presence, leaving it well balanced. Sweet but not too sweet. However, the alcohol is a bit much.

M: Medium body w/ ample carbonation. Warming cherry finish, but it burns a bit as the beer warms.

D: The strong fruit flavor helps keep the alcohol from ruining it, but it's a slow sipper - and a one and done.

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Photo of joepais
3.45/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks MuenchenerKindl for the opportunity to try this one
Bottle poured a clear ruby red into my tulip glass, not much of a head and no lace

Aromas of Belgian yeast and sweet malts fill your head

I do have to say the yeast dominates this one with a sour cherry finish It really hides the alcohol I couldn't pick it up at all. I read one of the reviews and will agree that it is kind of meadish in a way

Very easy to drink light on the palate almost no carbonation

Drinkability well lets say you could pound away a few of these but at 11% I wouldn't recommend it

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kegatron for this extra.

Pours a cherry red/orange, clear. Head is good but dissipates very fast leaving next to no lace. The nose has alot of wheat in it, and some belgian spice. The taste is thin, but good flavors with alot of wheat flavor and alot of spice with the slightest hint of cherry. Smooth finish goes down nicely. The mouthfeel is a bit thin here, but overall good. Drinkability gets good marks, as the 11% is incredibly well hidden. Good brew, would be a good one for some session drinking during the winter. Thanks Heath.

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Photo of EGledhill
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter galss with 2 finger foam head with no lacing.

A. reddish orange

S. smells of cherry , honey, and spices

T. Cherry and alcohol are the prominent taste in this one. slight honey in front. Alcohol more prominent in the back end of the elf.

M. Eh... Nothing too impressive for the mouthfeel. maybe because it's a bit of an overload on the palate.

D. for an 11% ABV, the drinkability is rather good, smooth til the end, and then the alcohol starts to really come through.

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Photo of jockstrappy
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy cider color with a fluffy white head. Nose is sweet malt, clove, and maybe some brown sugar with alcohol also present. Taste is a subdued belgian spice, with notes of caramel malt, honey, and fruit on the backend. Alcohol warmth at the finish is perfect for a January in Pennsylvania. Very smooth on the palate, and quite enjoyable overall. This is not really my style, but this brew is an exception. A little pricey for a case, but on-tap, it definately warrants a try.

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Photo of Svejk
4.83/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off, I have to send out a huge thank you to Froggyfrog for providing this beer in trade. Not only did he give me a bottle of the 2007 Mad Elf, but he threw in a 2006 bottle as well.

What a great vertical tasting. This beer really benefits from a year of aging. My brother and I opened both bottles at the same time and were able to taste the difference immediately. We tasted the 2006 bottle first, and the complexity of flavor was amazing. It was hard to identify the cherries and honey flavors that are mentioned on the bottle, but we really thought it was a fantastic beer. When we tried the 2007 bottle, we were able to identify the flavors more easily, and the alcohol was much more evident, but it was still great.

This beer goes from great to fantastic in twelve months.

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Photo of DavidSeanNJ
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

After hearing so much about this brew, I was excited to try it. Picked up a single bottle due to the high price tag at 14.99 a sixer.

A- A bright red color/some orange/ tons of bubbles of carbonation, thin ring around the top of my glass, no lace.

S- Smell was overwhelmingly sweet.

T- Taste was a little to sweet for me. The cherries blasted me right away, a long with other tropical fruits, mals, caramel, and spices.

M- Mouthfeel was oily and light, tingly on the tongue due to the high carbonation.

D- Cool idea, but a little too sweet for me. Alcohol was surprisingly well hidden.

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Photo of DrJay
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Though it produced only a thin cap of fine bubbles off a moderately hard pour, the beer itself was a clear, brilliant red. The head retention was decent, with a solid ring settling into place, and the off-white bubbles were a bit sticky and spotty. The nose was a combination of fruit and spices, backed up by a rich maltiness, with notes of banana, tropical fruits, and cloves. The taste was pretty good - very fruity, mostly juicy rather than dried, with lots of banana and berry, plus a pleasant bread character and a balanced spiciness. Full bodied with lightish carbonation that was well integrated into the texture. It was palate coating, yet just short of being sticky, with a mild warmth. Pretty good stuff overall and a tasty Xmas treat. I did find it just a little too sweet though.

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

Thanks younger25 for sending my first bottle

Attractive coloring. Good lacing.
The smell is sweet...toffee, cherry, citrus.
Taste is rather interesting and complex. Cherries are there, of course. Malt. Honey and spices. Alcohol is well hidden in this one.
Smooth slow sipper.
Drinkability is to good. I can see putting away a few of these and having the alcohol sneak up on you.
This is a very nice beer experience.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've heard a lot of good things about this unique and interesting brew, so I was definitely eager to try this sample from Troegs... Really loved their Dreamweaver Wheat, so I knew I was dealing with a high caliber brewing company... this is a very effervescent and eccentric brew... pours an amber reddish copper hue with minimal head... smell is very sweet with a noticeable alcohol tinge present... taste is likewise sweet, with sugars, cherries, and fruity flavors present... strong caramel and honey essence which presents a strong, but drinkable brew... as expected for an 11% ABV, the alcohol is present, but is pretty well-masked behind an interesting cornucopia of flavors... cherries really make their mark on this brew, and the fruity essence is certainly noticed... Good brew... Definitely recommended...

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Photo of crwills
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received two bottles of this from Skinnyelvis in the Secret Santa 2007.

Poured a moderate but opaque brown with not much head. I used a large wine glass for this. Held up to the light, there are some red or orange highlights that make for quite an attractive presentation. Aroma is sweet and malty, with hints of dark fruits and a little bit of something that reminds me of brown sugar. Flavour is sweet, but pleasant and not cloying. The cherries are very restrained, and I think the honey serves to add body rather than flavour. Excellent dark, caramel malts lend a warming flavour all the way through. No hop presence to speak of, and the alcohol (at 11%!) is very well hidden.

I rarely like Christmas brews, as I'm not a fan of most of the spices, but since this one is not really "spiced" I was very pleasantly surprised.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Beautiful translucent dark red body. The body is brilliant when held up to light and screams "Christmas." I have had several of these over the holiday season and experimented pouring into two different tulip glasses and a chalice. This beer produces a very thin, creamy, off-white head that fades rather quickly and leaves a thin collar. No lacing is left behind in the glass.

S- Belgian spicy yeast upfront with a well-balanced mix of cherries, honey, and alcohol in the background.

T- Cherries and honey upfront with a massive bready yeast background. The alcohol and spiciness comes forth for the swallow. What lingers on the palate is hints of cherries, and plenty of spicy Belgian yeast wrapped in a warm blanket of alcohol.

M- Medium carbonation and smooth body with an alcohol slickness.

D- This is my favorite winter seasonal so far. This is a twist on Belgian Christmas ales -most I have had experience with have a licorice or anise presence while this PA representation does not. This is a great ale by Troegs. The summer naked elf is similar to this one-but does not have the complexity.

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Photo of maddogruss
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 ounce bottle into a glass mug.

A: Poured an amber body with no head or lacing to note, even while drinking.

S: A slightly sweet, malty smell with banana ester undertones typical of a strong Belgian.

T: A sweet, smooth malty taste with the banana esters evident in the aftertaste. Did not taste the alcohol at all, which is impressive since it is 11%.

M: Smooth, velvet mouthfeel that was crisp and full-bodied.

D: A fairly drinkable beer. Tastes great and goes down easy. While you cannot taste the alcohol, it can hit you rather quickly, so do not expect to sit down and slam back a sixer of these babies.

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Photo of lramsey48
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I try at least one new seasonal brew each year and was glad that I tried this one. Appears heavy when poured, dense creamy brown head. Better described as a malt wine than a beer, smooth and mellow. Great for slow sipping with some friends by a fire on a cold night. Fruity but not too sweet and hits you with strong alcohol taste that dissipates after a few sips.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Troegs Mad Elf

· Appearance: Ruby Red body with a creamy white head, which quickly subsides to a very faint lacing.
· Aroma: Faint sweetness & malt. Some fruitiness, likely cherries as noted by Troegs. Also noticeable alcohol.
· Taste: Sweet fruity malt, here is where I noticed the honey presence. Perhaps some spiciness as well. One of the best each year.
· Mouthfeel: Very smooth and balanced. Alcohol presence is strong. Carbonation is faint, but flavor is apparent.
· Drinkability. Excellent, one I could enjoy for a session, minus the high ABV.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautifully ruby hued amber with a thickly spiced aroma that has a fair amount of yeasty funk lingering as well. Flavor is spiced like a winter warmer. I feel like I am diving into this at the wrong time. It needs to be snowing like hell with a fire nearby.

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Photo of letsgopens
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on-tap at a little place in the old city area of Philly called Brownie's English Pub. It was an enjoyable place except for the fact that it was somewhat of a Flyers bar, and thats never good for a Pens fan. In any case this BSDA pours a nice deep bronze with an off-white head that holds well and leaves a decent amount of lace.

Sweet and fruity in the nose with lots of caramel malt, orange, cherry, and some toffee. A bit of yeasty Belgian character but pretty sharp throughout. Unfortunately the place was pretty smoky so it was a bit tough to take everything in.

Sweet, tangy fruit flavor with some starchy and dim caramel maltiness. Some spice and faint booze are also present. Some more of the yeasty Belgian flavor can be detected along with some light and dark fruits alike. Somewhat reminiscent of a barleywine but creative and different.

Medium bodied with a bright crispness due to good carbonation. A bit of a matted lingering finish but not dry. Not much warmth at all despite the high abv (11%).

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clean orange-ish/ amber color with a tan head. In the aroma, cherries and a small honey and alcohol hint. In the taste, honey/ more sugar thean clove, and sweet dark cherries. A smooth, medium bodied mouthfeel and a small honey and cherry mixture in the aftertaste. Good flavor, small alcohol in the nose, and quite easy to drink.

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Photo of hellcatsjg
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark ruby red, with a thin layer of head that lasts throughout the glass.

Smell: Spicy, sweet cherry, along with a decent malty aroma.

Taste: Just like the nose, you get a sweet and spicy cherry flavor up front. As that fades a bit, you start to taste the malt. There is an underlying malt flavor that increases as the beer warms. The alcohol is also quite prevalent as you go along and gives you a bit of warmth in the back as it goes down.

Mouthfeel: Nice thickness, good smoothness. The slightly sweet flavor lasts for quite a while after each sip. The alcohol warmth is also quite nice on a cold winter evening.

Drinkability: Very good beer that is most enjoyable during the cold weather. Spicy and warming, this is a great winter seasonal. Slightly high ABV could limit how many you may want.

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Photo of Floydster
3.47/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle acquired as an extra in a trade with the generous user, MuenchenerKindl, nice surprise in the package a few weeks ago

2006 Vintage split with my dad tonight

Poured into my Firestone pint glass with a golden orange color that had a red and pink tint and a 1/2 soapy white head that mellowed almost immediately, not very good retention and minimal lacing

Smell was lots of honey and strong cherries, bread, tons of malt, very faint amount of hoppiness, and

Taste was a little sweet but that is probably because it is a year old, lots of sweet honey and some lighter fruity accents that consisted of raisins and berries, also some sweet caramel and toffee in the finish, no hops left in this one unfortunately, a little bit of a light wine feel, not very balanced but still pretty good overall, tasted a lot of sweetness throughout the entire glass

Pretty weak body and not much carbonation, but the taste did last long and it had a semi-spicy mouthfeel

Could drink much of this mainly because the alocohol percentage is a whopping eleven percent, maybe another bottle of this and that is about it, its sweetness makes this pretty heavy stuff, but it is most likely much hoppier when it is fresh

Troegs makes some unique beers and this is one of them, cannot say this is a Belgian dark ale, I think of it more as an amber with a serious punch, color throws me off when looking at the beer style on here, recommended, not bad and not great either, but worth trying once at least

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Photo of gkatsoris
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice and dark brown, w/ a reddish amber hue.

S: A little alcoholy, cherries, nice hops, spices; made my mouth water (lol).

T: Delicious. I was told it would taste like cough syrup so I held off from trying it; big mistake. Delicious. The cherries were there but not over powering. The spices and cherries are mixed really really well, very balanced.

M: Goes down like warm butter.

D: I only wish I had 2 growlers.

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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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