Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
3,926 Ratings
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 Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,926 |  Reviews: 1,271
Photo of thain709
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - A very nice ruby color...a faint head

S - A sweet smelling ale with cherry notes

T - The taste follows the nose as it is very sweet...cherry, honey, and roasted malts

M - A heavy body...the alcohol doesn't come through as much as expected

D - With the alcohol not coming through too much it makes this a very enjoyable beer...but watch out for that 11%!

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Photo of Brew_ski
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Nunya
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%

Photo of Justindemino
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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

Thanks to BA caminiti for picking up the sixer at Halftime. Nearly 20 bucks?!?!? I think he's skimming some off the top. Let's see if it's worth it. . . .

A: Poured into a Chimay chalice. Body is clear reddish-amber with a small white head and some slow-rising bubbles. Absent those bubbles it looks a bit like cherry cough medicine.

S: Cherries evident right away, along with alcohol.

T: Candied fruit and sugar. Cherry sweetness on the front of the tongue -- and the back too. Heat is evident on the back end of the sip and in the belly. Slightly medicinal overall taste.

M: Good spritzy-ness makes it feel lighter than expected. Call it medium in weight.

D: OK. Too sweet and too hot to want a lot of this, but on the other hand, the 12 oz portion went down pretty quickly for a beer of this strength.

**** Edit, about 1 yr later (12-3-09) ***

Beer has lost that dominant cherry taste. Still hot, however, and still a nice fizzy feel. I'd probably give it all 4's a year out. . . .

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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Would have used a tulip or something if I didn't think this was a typical Christmas Ale. Oh well.

Appears a very nice and clear shade of orange-red with a half inch off-white head that sinks to a skim rather quickly. Leaves minimal lacing.

Aroma is dominated by the cherries in it, with a bit of clovey spiciness coming through, all encased in a sweet sugary backdrop. Perhaps a hint of some figs as well.

The taste is initially sweet and sugary with the cherry flavor coming in quick, but it is actually quite subtle. The spiciness comes in midway through and lasts into the finish where it is met with more cherry flavor that is rather sweet.

Mouthfeel is medium in body, pretty chewy as well, carbonation level might be better if it was higher. Drinkability isn't hurt by the high ABV, but after a while the sweetness starts to get a bit old.

Overall, this is a pretty solid beer. It probably won't make you blow your load but it's tasty and worth picking up if you can get it.

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

The beer pours out a clear dark amber/red interesting color, with a very few little white bubbles. No lacing is left along the glass.

Clove is the strongest scent with a little bit of cherry and a hint of another fruit... kinda of like jucyfruit gum, a little like banana.

Clove and belgian yeast flavors dominate with a very subtle touch of cherry, and a little bit of bitterness in the fairly dry finish.

The mouthfeel is on the fuller side of medium, with fairly high carbonation.

This is a very interesting and complex beer. A very enjoyable drinking experience. Definetly something different - just not my favorite flavors.

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

Ap. Color is a fantastic red amber and clear as can be. I love the color. Unfortunately, there is NO head and almost no lacing. Too bad.
Sm. Spicy, cloves?, nutty, malty, kind of medicine-like aroma, but not unplesant.
Ta. Sweet, spicy, and sour bitterness all rolled into one. Some cherry or cranberry in there. Definitely a cold weather sipping beer. Duh!
Mf. Coats very well and stays. I would like some carbonation. The sweetness lingers.
Dr. Probably best as an after dinner dessert beer. Bought a case (it's PA after all) and now I'm wondering if it was a wise use of $58. Ah well, I'm in no hurry. It's in the beer closet.

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

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. No freshness date -- probably 2009 vintage (per beer manager). Single purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $2.75.

A: Deep, dark ruby red with quickly disappearing beige head with no lacing. Not a surprise with 11% on the label.

S: Spicy yeast, cherry, which is hard to tell whether is from cherries or strong alcohol, dark fruit malts

T: Tart without being sour with solid dark fruit maltiness and delicate honey sweetness that barely weathers the alcohol barrage. Spicy yeast adds a nice counterelement to the maltiness. Cherry is most obvious in the aftertaste. A definite sipper, and a good one.

M: Not as solid of a body as you'd like in a high-ABV brew but still not bad all in all. Medium-body with slick feel with some dryness.

D: Surprisingly drinkable for the ABV and pretty enjoyable, especially for a big ABV brew like this one. The tartness and spiciness play well off of the dark maltiness and alcohol components.

Cellared 1 year: Big body but bland with a lot of the cherry tartness having faded and the chief flavor being the honey.

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Photo of Cavalier92
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a solid holiday offering from Troeg's, but by no means a super star. They sell it as containing honey and cherries and being ruby red in color, but mine was coppery brown and tasted more like a strong golden ale.

It's got a spicy nose from the Belgian yeast and it finishes smoothly for an beverage with 11% ABV. The sweetness and alcohol hide any hops or yeast notes.

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Photo of sbw138
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bottle from The Foodery, poured into a snifter.

Appearance - A nice deep deep amber/brown color. No signs of carbonation, a nice creamy very light brown head of a little more than one finger. A good looking beer.

Smell - A very yeasty smell right off the bat. Also picked up some darks fruits, almost a plum/prune scent.

Taste - Very sweet, with a combination of the malts thrown in. You can really taste the cherries at the end.

Mouthfeel - The overly sweetness gives it a little too thick of a consistency, but it is super smooth.

Drinkability - Good drinkability. Not one I would drink over and over again. I'd consider it almost a dessert beer.

Serving type: bottle

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

22oz bottle, poured into a snifter glass.

A- This beer pours a nice deep red, with a foamy head that dissipates very quickly.

S- Notes of cherry, Belgian yeast, spices, honey, and cherries. Did I mention cherries?

T- Lots of cherry in the taste, along with a noticeable amount of alcohol and a sweetness from the honey. The spices and yeast have a large impact here, but the cherries are in the forefront. It almost gets close to making me think of a sour, but not quite. It is not really boozy, but the alcohol is there.

M- Not very carbonated, kind of syrupy and thick.

O- This is one hell of a seasonal beer. I am about finished with a 22oz now, and let me tell will sneak up on you! I love the cherry flavor in such a big Belgian brew, and think it is somewhat original for a "holiday beer". I would highly recommend this one!

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

A- Pours a nice ruby red with a half inch of light tan head that only lasts a few seconds.

S- Aromas of cloves and sweet grain stand out, with a hint of sour cherries also noticeable.

T- More cloves and husky grains dominate the flavor, which is quite dry at the start. The sweetness comes out in the finish, with a honey-like sweetness and a burst of tart cherries. Bitterness is light and the alcohol is hidden quite well.

M- Medium-bodied with a good active carbonation that's not too strong.

D- Not bad. As I said before, the alcohol is hidden well, so that's a point in its favor. I still don't think I'd want to drink a lot of it. One is definitely enough.

This is a good American-made Belgian-style ale. Still, it could do more to stand out in a crowded field. At no point did I think that it was particularly unique or interesting. The cherries are a nice touch, but they aren't prominent enough to really give the beer much character. All that being said, this is still a solid beer, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the style.

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Photo of bigdaddyjerry
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i didn't get much cherries or honey flavor... maybe a little more would of been better..

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Photo of NEhophead
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown bottle served in a chalice.
Vintage 2012-2013, batch #120913.

Tea-tinted oak in color. Carbonation-filled off-white head that disappears to a broken sheet after only a moment leaving no lasting lace.

Sweet, Belgian candied sugar marry beautifully with the cherry, fig, raisin, and plum fruity esters. Spicy anise, brown sugar, and nutmeg add another layer of depth to the already deep aromas.

Slightly tart fruit flavors: orange and cherry, come through initially. The Belgian candied sugar is a bit heavy with a touch of an artificial taste. The yeast adds a hefty dose of spiciness along with the strong anise flavor. All of the individual flavors are bold and do not quite make for a balanced sip; including a hefty alcohol presence.

A full, medium in body. The body, much like the flavor, is a bit out of balanced creating a rather slick, slightly unpleasant mouthfeel particularly for the style.

A bold ale in more ways than one. I can really envision this one only improving with age, allowing the flavors and alcohol character to mellow.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle pour at mrbubbler's tasting.

Pours a clear dark honey orange with a foamy bone head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, honey, cherry, and cherry syrup aromas. Taste is much the same with sweet malt and cherry flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of toasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty but fairly syrupy and sweet.

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Photo of Prue
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Nomis
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Vivs85
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of akajimmyd
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
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 Sammy
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Belgian spicy aroma. Creamy mouthfeel. Fruity with a sour finish. Yeasty and sour. Lacey. Tinged colour. Winter in June.Sweet and sour and in need of food to separate out the taste directions. An extreme and a different from this brewer.Alcohol warming but no warning it was this high. RFD.

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Photo of MispeledStalion
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of CFram
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of jahred
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 11/3, tasted 5/19/04. Many thanks to beerluvr and BIF 6.0 for this bottle!

Pours a bright orange-brown color with a nicely sized tan head. There's some lace on the glass as I drink, but not an overwhelming amount.

The scent is sweet - there's going to be plenty of of malt, lemon and alcohol in this beer.

The first taste I get is vanilla, with an orange/fruity malty flavor following, and a biting, trailing alcohol aftertaste. As the beer wars, the sweetness continues to come out. Also a bit of spice - is it nutmeg? Clove? Or just something coming from the hops? I can't tell ...

I couldn't quite place that fruity taste, so as I finished up this beer, I looked through previous reviews. Yes - that was it... Cherry, most definitely!

Oddly enough, the Mad Elf had the unfortunate combination of being a little too thin for my taste, along with having too much of an alcohol flavor, with the 11% being very poorly hidden. Though still quite tasty and interesting, I have a feeling this needed to sit for another year to settle down a bit.

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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,926 ratings.
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