Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

BA SCORE
87
very good
1,270 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:
1,270
Ratings:
3,913
Avg:
3.85
pDev:
15.06%
 
 
Wants:
231
Gots:
1,131
For Trade:
23
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,270 | Ratings: 3,913
Photo of PatrickCT
3.16/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 once bottle into a tulip.

a: Festive Ruby colored body. Like a cherry gold color more specifically. 2 1/2 finger slightly off white head. Disappears quickly. Little lace.

s: Faint malts, honey, Cherry juice, alcohol, wormwood.

t: The Cherry and alcohol overpower everything. The combination of the two make the beer taste like it has an overdose of cherry bitters.

mf: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Thin finish with a slight alcohol burn.

o: I don't like slamming beers but this isn't for me. On a personal note I get too much bitters flavor from the cherry, spicy yeast, alcohol heat combination. I like bitters in cocktails but a few drops.
On a style note, aside from being high in alcohol, this is not reminiscent of a Belgian Strong Dark to me.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.16/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz 2008 bottle poured into a troegs pint glass. Picked up a single of this on a whim.

A- Mad Elf pours out a copper reddish color almost ruby like in appearance. A decent frothy white/beige head pops up to an 1/2 inch leaving some very spotty lace. This minimal lace eventually fell down into the liquid.

S- Even though this is billed as brewed with cherries and honey, the cherries are very faint in the nose. The honey comes through a tad bit more but nothing impressive enough to make it a dominate smell. I do get a ton of alcohol in the nose which does not bode well with me. A lot of malts wih some hops and some spicy yeast.

T- Alcohol is the main factor here which is a shame as it detracts from the taste, at least for me. Some sweetness coming from the cherries but not even half of what i was expecting. The honey used increases the sweet taste of this and actually saves this beer. The three different malt varieties are noted and work well while any bitterness from the hops is minimal at 15 IBU's. Some yeast notes in the finish.

M- The malts would make this a smooth sipper but the alcohol completely drown out any other flavors making it a task to drink. It is both smooth and cloying from the alcohol if that makes sense. Mad Elf has a medium build with some carbonation nothing exciting. The mouthfeel does not remind me of a christmas ale even though this is billed as a BSDA.

D- Not that high for me. I've tried this occasionally through the years trying to find something new but this beer never wowed me. It's a decent BSDA but if your looking for a christmas style brew with a nice spice factor look elsewhere. The alcohol completely gets in the way of the cherry and honey additions. I'm not sure if aging this would do any good either.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Ruby red into the glass with next to nothing head with no retention and no lacing.

S - Smells like a pretty fruity belgian triple. Cherries and yeast hit the nose early and give way to a wider variety of dark fruits.

T - Sweet, not enough sour or tart from me, although not that it is what you would expect from tha style anyway. Yeast is slightly subdued. Get a nice taste of alcohol, nothing real special here, overly sweet for my liking.

M - Flat and syrupy, not unpleasant but definately not memorable.

D - Not horribly hard to drink at 11%, but this wasn't a beer I enjoy enough to drink a lot of it.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle from winter 2007. It's time to start killing the cellar, and this is some low-hanging fruit.

Decanted, this is a clear, copper-colored beer with a thin, tan head that rapidly recedes to a ring. Not much lacing is present, which is disappointing for the style. The nose is pretty decent. Dark honey and cherries are noticeable on the nose, but there's also a moderate malt character, with caramel and a surprising chocolate/cocoa character that makes me think of cherry cordials. Alcohol is well hidden, making this less medicinal than fresh samples. Moderately spicy as well, with the alcohol and yeast playing off each other. Despite its age, this still smells pretty vibrant.

The palate, OTOH, isn't as impressive. Like a mellower cough syrup, there's just something about the cherry character here that makes it medicinal. Moderately sweet with honey and fruit cake. Some cherry skin tannins are present to balance the sweetness. The spices seem a little more muted on the palate, and the mid-palate feels a little watery at times. Sweet on the finish with alcohol, some honey and cherry tartness, there's a lingering yeastiness as well. Carbonation is moderate, making this beer, to my palate and given the style, average at best and not one I'd seek to revisit in a hurry.

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Photo of mrfrancis
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a clear, ruby-tinted amber with virtually no head (there is a creamy white mousse that disappears within a minute). The lack of head retention underwhelms me, and I begin to immediately question the quality of this batch.

S: Pronounced aromas of sweet cherries, honey, caramel, and gingerbread are immediately evident. Surprisingly, I am not picking up a boozy, alcoholic scent.

T: Opens spicy and bready with notes of red apple, caramel, gingerbread, honey, sweet cherries, and cognac. The finish is delicate, warming, and long with bread, honey, and cherry notes. I was expecting greater complexity and a more assertive flavor profile.

M: Slick, oily, and full-bodied. Feels thinner than it is. Goes down smoothly. Par for the course for this style.

O: I don't think that I would recommend this ale. It is ridiculously overhyped and overpriced. There are far better and far more authentic Belgian strong dark ales on the market.

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Photo of d0ggnate
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 1/10/09. Poured from bottle to goblet.

A: Poured copper/amber/orange color with no lacing and head layer fading to nothing quickly.
S: Strong citrus, sweet floral and honey aromas, notable candied sugars.
T: Very sugary. Slight citrus continued. A bit sour, vinegar-like, probably cherries. Later noted some caramel and banana flavors.
M: Slick. Watery. A bit oily. Almost no carbonation.
D: The taste was a bit off, to me. I was expecting more, but wasn't impressed overall. The carbonation was lacking and the beer was way too sweet for my taste.

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Photo of nomad
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A deep red color, glowing, but showing nothing else. Smells of dark honey with wonderful natural tones to it, like the floral scents of a fresh and natural honey. Bare black cherry scents behind, as the smell of wonderful sweetness is never cloying or noxious.

Tastes of sweet honey, barely some cherry, and a caramel flavor like crystal malt. In fact feels like there is a big malt base to this beer. A large and largely creamy finish, it becomes oily near the end, wiping out the quick first flavors. Thinnish mouthfeel.

A decent holiday beer.

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Photo of woodske1
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Great logo on the bottle and a great name. I am not impressed with the taste though. They went too over the top with spices in my opinion.

What it does do is offer a wonderful aroma. It smells like christmas inside that bottle. The taste however makes it not very high on drinkability.

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Photo of FeDUBBELFIST
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber to a pint glass.

A: A beautiful red/coppery brown brew with ruby highlights. Very clear. The head was average, off-white, with big & small bubbles but very short retention. The bubbles cleared from the center to the edge of the glass efficiently and with purpose, like in a video game how a bomb would clear an empty field. Minimal lacing.

S & T: Huge aroma and very enticing but quickly went from excellent to overwhelming. Halfway through I was already looking forward to an IPA to reset my palette. Big caramel malts, average pine hops with a hint of lemon rind. Definite yeast presence. So many (read too many) unmistakable aromas and flavors: cherry, over-ripe banana/bubblegum, honey, apple, peach, peppery spices & champagne vinegar. Almost masked, the 11% ABV could not quite be suppressed. This brew is way too sweet.

M: Again, started out great, nice and lively carbonation. Slick texture. What seemed at first a medium body, was really thinned it out by the high alcohol. Ended up as a cloyingly sweet and syruppy hot mess.

D: Not very drinkable, but definitely not a drain pour. Order one, get your buzz on, then move on.

It's interesting how I rated the first half of my pour compared to the second. I did a lot of crossing out on my review sheet as my opinion continued to change for the worse. Each criteria except appearance was docked at least one entire point by the end of my review. OVERWHELMING. The flavor and aromatics were relentless.

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Photo of cro250klr
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
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 AndyAvalanche
3.19/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured it into a Sam Adams Perfect pint glass and this is one of the best looking beers I've ever seen. Pours a reddish amber color with excellent clarity. The foamy head was decent in size and was an orange cream color that produced very generous amounts of lacing. It really looks more like a nice hearty lager than anything else in my opinion, but I found this beer to be pretty average from here on out. I'm not overly experienced in tasting Belgian style ales, but it tasted pretty average to the style in my opinion. It said that it was brewed with honey and cherries, but I really couldn't smell either of them. Belgian yeast seems to dominate the nose in opinion, followed by some roasted malts. I was impressed that there was no smell in the alcohol until it got to room temperature, and it still wasn't that strong then either. Very surprising for a reasonably high ABV. The taste was pretty good, it gets sweeter here. If you try you can taste the honey a little bit, and there is almost a cherry aftertaste. Other than that it's pretty average. The mouthfeel is ok, a little bitter, still no alcohol bite that is pretty impressive, reasonably well carbonated. I really didn't find this beer to be all that drinkable.

I had heard this was a red/amber ale, so I was surprised to find out it's actual style. I actually ended up getting a 22oz, which wound up being a little too much. All in all it was ok, I wouldn't go out of my way to try it again.

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Photo of ProLiquorMan
3.19/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: What a beautiful color! I'm going to call this color red amber. Very little head. But this could be because I don't know how to properly pour beer.

Smell: The only thing I'm getting is some citrus smell. Think about a grapefruit without the sourness and bitterness.

Taste: The taste is very similar to the smell. Again, all I got was some citrus/grapefruit taste. Was expecting more flavors.

Mouthfeel: It was a very "clean" beer.

I was disappointed with this one. There is nothing wrong with it, but it certainly wasn't worth the $16 for 6 bottles. The bottle claims to have some cherry and honey notes. I didn't get any of those. It really lacks flavor.

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Photo of yankeeheel
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served at cellar temp, which here in Maine is a wee bit cold. Poured a cough syrup red with a reddish head that was gone in 20 seconds. Smells very medicinal.

The taste is somewhat akin to cough syrup with a lot of xtra alcohol. Really sweet up front with a thin middle and alcohol/medicine burn at the end. Not really all that incredible. Just kind of big with alcohol and thin on flavor. I have anoher bottle that I'm going to let cellar for a while and I'll re-visit it.

Thanks to PisskyNights for the hook-up.

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Photo of pbrian
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cellar temp to start. Deep reddish brown, I missed the color of the head it dissappeared so quick. Had to splash the beer around to get an aroma. Oh, there it is- cherries. Anything else? I don't know, I got sick of having to work for it. Taste was sickly sweet up front, cherry juice with minimal spicy hints. Quite thin for such a high abv beer. Lots of candi sugars? Finish was a bit drier with hot alcohol hits. Overall, just an average attempt IMO, yes, even warm.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Split with Goblinmunkey7

Consumed 3/25/14

Appearance: Clear, ruby red - pours with a medium-sized, off-white head - fades to a wispy cap, leaves a few streaks of lacing

Smell: Dark malts and a ton of cherries - cherries to the max, kind of like a cross between cherry preserves and cherry-flavored cough syrup - some honey, but it's more of a straight-up sugar - some Belgian yeast, with some spices, clove, banana, and bubblegum - very sweet and very boozy overall

Taste: Sweet, boozy, spicy - apparently this is a winter warmer of sorts that was meant to be slowly sipped over the course of a multi-day snowstorm - a borderline absurd amount of cherry, with a side of cherry cough syrup - lots of honey flavor - like with the cherry, there's a bit too much honey - Belgian yeast, with some serious clove, banana, bubblegum, and a big dose of phenols - some dark caramel malts, with more sugar - the sweet malts, cherry flavor, and phenolic yeast create something that definitely tastes reminiscent of some kind of medicine

Mouthfeel: More or less a full body, with some syrupy stickiness, finishes with booze

Overall: Elf medicine, engineered to cure sobriety (may cause diabetes)

Cherries, honey, and Belgian yeast are all good things. But in excess, I can't say I'd recommend it. I'm glad I didn't have to drink the whole bomber.

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Photo of BillDon
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

22 oz bomber bottle.

2013 vintage

Can't figure this one out. Can tell its 11% abv beer in smell and taste. There is hint of cherries and sweetness from the honey. There is a definite burn up front and afterwards.

Would like to have a few to put in the cellar to see how it ages but not worth the money.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip. Thanks Andy for sharing your Christmas gift from me! Poured into a tulip. The beer pours a dark cranberry color with about an inch of white head that vanishes almost immediately. The body is clear and transparent. The aroma is full of dark cherries and malt. It kind of has a medicinal aroma to it also. Again, cherry flavor right up front. It kind of rounds out with vanilla and oak. Again though, it's kind of medicinal; like a cherry cough drop. The feel is fair. It's kind of dry. It seems to have tannins like a red wine. It's drinks fair, I'm glad I've tried it, but I probably won't grab this unique beer again.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.2/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

This beer pours a crystal clear reddish auburn color with a one finger khaki colored head. Retention and lacing are minimal.

Smell is fruity with clove. Banana and maraschino cherry along with clove and peppery spice make up the nose.

Taste is similar, but very sweet. Also the cherry comes across as syrupy and medicinal. Not a fan.

Feel is medium to full, smooth and syrupy.

Overall not great. The taste is overly sweet and medicinal and I really don't enjoy it.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.22/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Amber-chestnut color with a low tan ring for a head, low-no carbonation, and no lace... :-(. Light spicy cherry aroma with some maltiness. Sweet malty cherry-ish flavors ... a bit cloying with some honey-ish character. Medium bodied and flat with a light spicy sweet malt finish.

Not sure what all the hype is about since this is the second time in a few years I've tried this and I've not been impressed at all either time.

Per label: "Ale brewed with honey and cherries"

Per TBC website:
15 IBU's
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Pennsylvania Honey
West Coast Cherries

Bottled: 10/27/?? ('03' emb on bottom)
Tasted: 12/24/06

($1.79 / 12 oz.)

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Photo of danedelman
3.22/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

poured a 12 oz bottle into a Weyerbacher Tulip glass.

A-Very little to no head with 0 retention. Orange/red copper color with very low carbonation.

S-smells like a belgian red with faint cherries.

T-This is a new bottle so with that being said, the alcohol really hits you first. You then get a tiny bit of the belgian yeast and some malt followed by a microscopic amount of cherries. Really not much going on and I don't really enjoy this one.

M-A bit syrupy but alcohol helps with the poor carbonation. Still feels like it is carbonated due to the alcohol burn.

I bought a case of this so I plan on sitting on this for at least a year.

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Photo of LeRose
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle to snifter.

Aroma seems to lack any cherry. Smells boozy, hint of honey like sweetness.

Pours dark honey brown with reddish hues. No appreciable head, but plenty of bubbles. Attractive looking.

Initial taste get the alcohol burn, not getting the cherry. Dry finish, sweetness and honey notes. Still not finding the cherry taste at all despite some medicinal hints. Surprisingly bitter. The honey and sweetness seemed to build, then a bit of sourness after a few minutes. Coats a bit with lingering sweetness.

Overall, a little disappointed but this is quite warming and it is pretty cold here today. Will keep sippin on it, but nothing I would rush out to buy again.

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Photo of Jesstyr
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Was excited to try this beer, and enjoyed it in a Palm tulip and some great cheese.

Overall very disappointing. Looks great, ruby red with a thin bubbly head that remains throughout the drink. Nose definitely shows off the honey and cherry, but its not particularly full or well rounded.

Which leads to a similar flavor - it essentially comes off as a flavored beer, without the depth of Three Philosophers, which is the closest comparison I can think of. The body is too thin for the style and there seems to the raisin/chocolate sweetness you like to see in a strong dark. Overall this is a decent dessert beer, but not much else.

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bomber poured into little tasting glasses- split this year's edition with a few friends...

Deep ruby red with a quickly dissipating head. Left surprisingly good lacing.

Aroma of toasted malt, slightly sweet, fruitiness (cherries, dates) but mostly just alcohol. Saying that it is very present is an understatement. I recently got an 05 as an extra in a trade and am very excited to see how it has mellowed.

One friend said the words "Cherry cough syrup" and once I heard that, I couldn't stop thinking it. Had a nice, creamy, full bodied mouthfeel but the alcohol was very present. Somewhat yeasty/spicy throughout. Interesting to try, but certainly a sipper for the cold months.

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Photo of Trombone69
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Beautiful Reddish amber. Small head in my pint glass. No Lacing to speak of.
This is the 3rd time of had it. This time I taste the cherry - big, right up front. I love cherries, but this is a bit much. Strong and full flavored. Syrupy sweet, and alcoholic. A bit overpowering, and a challenge to drink. I'm not looking for a beer to challenge me very often. I don't think I'll look for again. Not terrible, I don't hate it.

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Photo of Duff27
3.24/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear amber body on a collerish white head.

Fruity nose.

Cherries. Dry finish. Boozy, but what do you expect from an 11% Belgian?

Carbonated, thin-medium mouthfeel. Little disappointing.

Ah it was alright, disappointing. Everything but the nose was less than I was hoping for. Thanks TATURBO.

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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,913 ratings.
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