Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
3,933 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: 3,933 |  Reviews: 1,272
Photo of Kerih711
4.21/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BostonBrewins
4.21/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a not quite clear but not quite hazy deep ruby. Offwhite head dissipates rather quickly. Love the color.

S - Very strong nose, extremely sweet. A wonderful aroma of cherries and honey. Heavenly.

T - A super sweet bomb, not for the weak of heart. Honey and cherries overtones lead the way with undertones of sweet bread and stick buns. Slight metallic twang in the finish, most likely a byproduct of the munich malt. Very boozy.

M - Mouthfeel is syrupy, very brandy like. Definitely a sipper.

) - A perfect choice to be enjoyed after a big winter meal. One of my favorite winter beers.

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Photo of MaddDogg84
4.21/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of JasonA
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from Corridor Wine and Spirits in Laurel MD. I picked up quite a few since Ive read such good things about this winter release.

Pours a beautiful clear reddish copper. Tiny head, little lacing, but staying power.

Smell is pretty perfect. Very surprised this small bottle of beer packs such a power boquet. Sweet, malty, fruit. Maybe raisin, cherry. Tough for my amateur nose to tell.

Yummy. Thin, with not much body. Does this beer need to cellar? Dried fruit maybe. Alcohol finish. The alcohol ending is really nice though. No bite really, solid alcohol flavor.

Solid carbonation. Sits nice. No real staying power, but the boquet does stay which is nice.

I voted pretty high on the drinkinability because I think this beers presentation and overall experience makes it very good to drink for a good period of time.

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Photo of Statonxyb
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of bditty187
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Many fellow BAs have advised serving this beer warmer than normal, while I don’t like babying beers to make them adequate I’m not going to spite my palate and serve it cooler. I let it warm-up for a good 30+ minutes after it left the DBF. I hope that was enough coddling… ;-)

Clear, lively reddish hue with a slight coppery highlight, modest animation, the slightly off-white head reached a very modest fourth of a finger, it faded to a soapy collar quickly. No lace was produced as I sipped, that is not too surprising. The aroma has vague cherry influences above a dash of raw honey and spice that are blended with an aloof fruitiness and ordinary maltiness. The potency is modest in strength, it is a little disjointed and kind of hollow. As a whole it is interesting and it provoked me to sip it. The palate is much more complex than the nose indicated, brandy heat upfront, raisins, clove, bread, cherries, a kiss of apples, wavering chocolate hints, slight toastiness, sugar, honey, and more alcohol heat. This is very well constructed and the unvarying alcoholic cherry taste is heavenly! The throat feels the alcohol punch, as does the tummy and mind. I’m impressed that this very sweet beer isn’t cloying and it still has a somewhat dry finish. I wish the body was fuller, this is medium at best and too thin for the punch it packs, if it was fuller this would truly be a marvelous beer that could only be sipped at a leisurely pace. The carbonation is appropriately low and the mouthfeel is smooth albeit kind of slick. A bigger malt backbone would really propel this beer, oh well. While the alcohol is detectable it doesn’t seem to be near 11%, impressive. Even with the multiple layers of flavor this is a very drinkable beverage. Simply lovely. Mad Elf is a beer that needs to be sought out; it is very unique and worthy of a quaff by everyone. Thank you beerluvr (and the Holiday Beer Exchange 2003) and thank you francisweizen for the bottles of this tasty nectar! It is very much recommended!

It was well worth letting this bad boy warm up!

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Photo of CruisaC
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into my DFH glass

Pours a warm red-amber color. Looks like cherries were used somewhere in the process

S--I gather the faintest hint of cherries, almost artificial but not in a bad way. Quite pleasing to the nose

T--I gather a little of the honey, then the cherry at the end. There is a sensible amount of booziness but it's not overwhelming and I would not have guessed 11%--Especially after having a GI BCS the night before that nearly knocked me on my feet at 13%.

M--Goes down well, nice balance between the carbonation and alcohol

D--Very nice overall. This was a first for me but I found it very good. I could drink these on a semi-regular basis during the winter

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Photo of hopsaplenty
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 release

The deep amber, ruby-highlighted Elf raised only a short, quickly dissipating head of tiny tan bubbles that left no lacing. The smell is of dry cherries, sweet honey, hints of clove, and touches of alcohol. It has a medium mouthfeel with a fairly light body and light carbonation. It has a sweet, dry cherry finish. There are hints of cinnamon as well, coupled with the malts. The alcohol is stealthily cloaked behind the cherries. Extremely well balanced, this is a wonderful beer. It would be easy to enjoy several in a row before noticing how potent they are.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12/28/04- Received via trade with Santoslhalper.

Presentation- 12 oz bottle with a freaky lookin' elf on it. No expiration date. Poured into my Westmalle chalice.

Appearance- Nice head at first, but rapidly disentigrates. Very little if and lace. Nice deep ruby red color.

Smell- Ultra sweet malt. Sweet fruityness, (cherries)? Plus there is definite alcohol fumes.

Taste- Taste like a really malted and liquored up Kriek. Heavy sweet malts and cherries. Plus a large alcohol kick towards the end of your swallow. Maybe a bourbon taste? Whatever it is, it's pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel- I was expecting a thicker and more full mouthfeel on this one due to the high ABV. Low carbonation. Still goes down smooth with that little alcohol warming sensation going down.

Drinkability- I'm already feeling it after half this beer. I have another one left that I am going to age and maybe try next winter and see if it thickens up a bit. Thanks very much to by BA bud Santoslhalper who has sent me several brews I have yet to try. This one scores pretty well though. Quite tasty, even if I did have it with Boston Market take out. Probably would have been paired better with something else.

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Photo of Durge
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Found at the Wild Horse in Beverly, MA this one's a brilliant light mohogany, reddish-copper color with a fair whispy white head and good lace. The aroma brings a eucalyptus cherry caramel malt. Very pleasant. The flavor follows suit with clove and fruit nougat and a subtle lemony hop front. It carrys a thin maltiness with some granny apple hints and yeast overtones. I think this comes off better on tap than it did from the bottle. The cherry backbone seems a bit deeper. Carbonation is kind of fine. It's medium bodied with a slightly syrupy feel. Drinkability is modest, there's a mild alcohol presence. Overall, a nice change up choice on tap, well done with a bit of an edge.

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Photo of SteelerNation
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wayyy past the season, but I picked up one of the last bottles and had to try it anyway

A: Red. I haven't ever seen a pure red beer before so I give it high marks. Average head and lacing for a high gravity ale.

S: Bavarian banana yeasts. Super yeasty.

T: A mad array of flavors. The cherry is pronounced but the honey is subdued. Banana phenol yeasty flavors dominate. I can barely taste the delicate honey flavors. Unbelievably sweet for such a high abv. The alcohol is masked wonderfully. German Hallertau and Saaz hops make an entrance late. The aftertaste is a bit cloying and slightly medicinal.

M: Dextrinous but not too heavy.

D: Tastes more like 8% abv than 11%. Give me a whole six pack of this and I would be wasted immediately.

Complex and maddening. Definitely a Belgian ale.

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Photo of kennylopez
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: a slightly hazy reddish dark amber color that pours about a finger thick worth of fine white head that fades to practically a film and leaves tiny spot of lacing.

Smells: almost like a barleywine in my opinion, but a lot sweeter. There is a slight honey smell but it is mellow with the cherries.

Tastes: I taste a lot more honey than I smelled, but it is sweet and cherry note come through the Belgian yeast backbone.

Mouthfeel: for weighting in at 11% this ale is quite a least a lot of solid little jabs(every sip) because it is easy on the burn and well carbonated despite the appearance.

Overall: I picked up a six pack and enjoyed the first couple, I was going to see how the rest age, but I am going to buy another case because it will disappear and I know I will drink it for the holidays.

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Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 2007 bottle

A: pours a nice gorgeous vibrant orangish red. slightly off white head. low retention level and a light amount of lacing.

S: smells like a quad. sweet and fruity, light honey notes, with a great deal of spices.

T: some age on it but I really pull the honey the most. Followed by the cherries, they are light but they are definitely present. AS it warms the cherries really start coming through. A slight funk it present. Some spices, mostly clove are there as well.

M: medium bodied for the style. mild carbonation with the aging. a little chewy. very warming.

D: a very nice brew, especially aged. Fresh is awesome as well, but I wanted to see where it would go after a year. 11% is up there but it is a great seasonal beer for the winter as it is very warming.

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Photo of DuqTroops
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

reviewed - December 21, 2005

Appearance -- reddish in tint. You could tell this is a holiday ale through the color of the beer. Not much head to it as well. Looks enjoyable.

Aroma -- smells of cherries and malt. Not too hoppy. Wants me to take a sip of it.

Taste -- tastes a little bit of honey and malt. Very enjoyable.

Body -- not too heavy. Smooth on the way down and is definitely going to get more.

Drinkability -- not going to drink all the time. Only in the winter months where alcohol is needed.

Price - had to pay $50 for a case of beer. Not worth spending for th entire case. Should get it at brewery with a six pack rather than getting a case.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was quite tempted to purchase this after reading the two sugar donors (cherry and honey), and finally gave in...but $16 is an expensive evening! Either way, I've paid more for beer and what better way to spend it.

A cranberry copper with little head formation, but a fair amount of carbonation anyways. I wouldn't expect an 11%abv ale to have much of a head anyways, that is a rarity outside of the bottle conditioning world. The head that did form was initially about a 1/2 inch and white. I poured the beer into my Belgian tulip and found the choice appropriate. Unfortunately, the beer is filtered, and that means there was no bottle conditioning...which I feel is essential for a good Belgian style ale.

This beer smells terrific! Belgian yeasts mixing with a distinct sweetness unlike many Belgians I've had. I typically fall deeply in love with a Belgian when I first smell it, this is definitely the case. The beer exudes a bready yeast funk, but within reason. The keytone and alcohol fragrances are modest and you might not suspect that it was 11% by smell alone. I get deep rose and banana bread.

Wow. I am relieved that my purchase was well worth the premium. There is strength and balance. I am aware of the fruit present in the beer, and I am not certain about pre-knowledge bias, but I can actually sense cherries and honey. The beer is rich in flavor and sweet like the season. I am impressed once again by this local gemstone of a brewery. I will vouch that this Belgian-style is of considerable authenticity, which for some breweries is easer to say than do.

Smooth and sweet. The only issue I have with the beer is the sweet aftertaste it leaves. However, there are enough other good things going on with this beer to overshadow this minor complaint. The beer went well with dinner and made an even better desert. I do not note a tremendous funk from the yeast, most was only present in the smell.

Highly drinkable. I have gone through 3 tonight and 2 just writing this review. Very well received from all who tried the beer this evening, even those that don't like Belgians refer to it as drinkable. Very smooth and a very worthy addition to my staggering review list. I would purchase again, however, not this season because the best things come after a long wait.


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Photo of wesblount
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nice reddish/amber color with about an eighth inch head that dissipates somewhat quickly

S: Has a nice fruity smell

T: Smooth, fruity (cherry) taste combined with a typical ale taste. Dominate alcohol aftertaste with hints of cherry.

M: Crisp, clean and refreshing

D: This is one of my favorite beers. Highly recommended!

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

A nice find last night at the Spring House Drafting Room,pours a nice ruby red with a nice creamy,sticky head,aroma is spicey with a light smoky tinge to it.I got the flavors of spiced cherries with tha light smokey flavor with some alcohol note as it warms.Troegs is one of my favorite PA brewers and this offering reinforces that thought.

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

Appearance: A nice rube red color filled my pint glass. Nice head but there was little retention to speak of.

Smell: Well as advertised there are the cherries and honey, but there are also hints of some spices, mild floral hops, and maybe some plums.

Taste: Where is the alcohol? You certainly cant taste it. The honey sweetness comes through first but soon following are the cherries and spices. The spice lingers on the tongue after each sip.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied beer that manages to be sweet without cloying to your mouth with thickness. Mild carbonation is present.

Drinkability: I enjoy these on nice cold winter nights. Warms you up while still managing to be sweet and drinkable.

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Photo of Johtro
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

This is one of my favorites. I love the Belgian caramel taste and feel with the complexities of slight cherry and the Belgian yeast. It does a splendid job of cloaking the high ABV.

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

Bought a single 12 oz bottle at Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont. Poured into a tulip glass.

A -- Beautiful deep ruby color with a nice white head. Bubbles are visible coming from the bottom of the glass. Lacing sticks around on the sides of the glass.

S -- Cherries. Delicious, delicious cherries. And alcohol.

T -- The cherries are, somewhat surprisingly, not overwhelming. They are, however, the dominant flavor (if that makes sense). Its like a good european ale, but with emphasis on the cherries and other fruits. The alcohol from the nose is pretty much absent on the tongue. Belgian yeast as well.

M -- Smooth. I would say... on the heavy side of medium bodied. Not syrupy, but with a noticeable heft. The visible bubbles tickle the lips and again on the back end, but not in the front. It feels good in the mouth. Even though mine was a little cold, it warmed up nicely on each sip.

O -- Really enjoyed this beer. I don't know if I would shell out the big bucks for a case, because I'm pretty cheap, but this would be great at Thanksgiving or Christmas -- just nice to relax with and go through slowly. Cheers!

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

Recently sampled a 10oz of the 2008 Mad Elf....must say that this could be my favorite winter beer yet this year (or perhaps I'm only partial to the good folks from central Pennsylvania). Deep red coloration with a wonderful, complex taste (love the chocolate malts) that delivers a real kick. Would drink more if I did not need to drive home!!

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

WOW! I finally score some of this treat. I had a case waiting for me when I got to Harrisburg area for the holidays. I split about 10 of them with some friends tonite.

I drank mine at room temp since I have heard/read that they are better that way.

The brew pours a amber/red color with a pinkish head foaming up nicely. The aroma is all cherries and alcohol. No hop presence at all.

The first sip reveals an off sweetness and cherry undertones are evident. The alcohol is only faint on the swallow with some belly warming action occurring. The body is medium thickness with some vinous characteristics, maybe a little viscous. Overall very drinkable. I actually had three of the bottles tonite over a 2 hour span and definitely feel the alcohol a little by the 3rd even if I didnt taste it. this beer is definitely worth the wait. Hopefully you have tried some and if not try to get it and good luck!

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Photo of gcamparone
4.23/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a nice amber body with a 1 inch head that reduces to a layer of foam.

Aromas of raisins, vanilla, dark fruit, caramel and some spices. Smells like a dubbel or tripel.. quite tantalizing.

On the tongue is bananas, wheat, dark fruit, honey/caramel, some cherry on the finish.

Not too noticeable alcohol for the high abv, relatively easy to drink. Medium body

Overall a nice change of pace. Wish there was a little more cherry but nice nonetheless.

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

12 oz. bottle served lightly chilled in a Trois Pistoles goblet.

Appearance: Clear red with just a hint of orange. Topped with a short-lived and frothy white head that recedes to a film and then just a ring of foam. Itty-bitty blobs of lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Nice whiffs of honey and cherries overlying a brandy-esque smell. Mildly floral, too. Not a bad little sniffer.

Taste: Sweet, sweet caramel malt flavor with overtones of honey and light cherries. Grainy and boozy aftertastes. Quite nummy.

Mouthfeel: Lightly syrupy. Solid medium body with not an ounce of flab on it. Alcohol is well masked, but this is still a muscular beer. A masked Mexican midget wrestler, if you will.

Drinkability: Not to reference my thread about mixing this and Samichlaus together, but I do wonder if one would be moved from the "naughty" to the "nice" column if I left a few of these for ol' St. Nick. A great, high-octane fruit beer.

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

One of my favorite winter seasonal brews, as well as one of my favorite brews from Troegs. A true "winter warmer".

Had a bottle at the bar the other night and quickly remembered why I look forward to "Mad Elf Season" every year. This ruby red brew is full of hints of honey and stronger hints of cherries. It has a higher ABV percentage, but hides the taste of a higher ABV well.

If you enjoy winter seasonals, cherries, and good strong beer, this 11% ABV brew is a definite must!

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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,933 ratings.
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