Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
1,270 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: 1,270 | Ratings: 3,913
Photo of ljbrisson
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a copper red color into a Sierra Nevada hop tulip glass. Head was about a finger-width and slightly off-white and settled to a thin cap which was thicker towards the wall of the glass. Aroma is malty with sweet dark fruit, banana, raisins, dark caramel hints. Mouthfeel was full and slick, with great carbonation which balanced the heavy feel perfectly. Taste was very complex with dark fruit, figs, raisin, malty sweetness, some banana, and an alcohol warmth and an almost port-like smoothness to the finish. Drinkability was moderate, due to the high ABV which was balanced well in the drink but definitely had a presence in the taste. Shouldn't drink one of these too fast, as my father-in-law unwittingly found out tonight. Overall this is a great beer, and the experience was made more enjoyable by the fact that I tried it with family on Christmas Eve. This could become a holiday staple.

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Photo of Koufax21
3.49/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12 oz. Bottle into a snifter. It pours a beautiful transparent ruby liquid with 1/2" head that quickly disappears. Smells of spice; clove is what I’m getting with some peppery accent. Tastes of sweet fruits. Clove, fig, and cherry. The cherry was not as pronounced as I imagined it. The honey adds another layer of complexity. Very smooth for 11%. Mildly carbonated and medium bodied. This is definitely a cold weather beer. After 6 oz. I can feel the warming effects.

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Photo of Ezekiel81923
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Also picked up at Capones. Want to see if its worth buying the case.

Appearance: Red/Amber in color. Crystal clear. Not much head to speak of, and what did rise up receded very quickly. Not much for lacing either.

Smell: Predominantly honey and cherries, as the bottle indicated. Big malt aroma behind that as well as a bit of spiciness underneath.

Taste: Honey and cherries are there, but there is more to this beer than that. Big malty backbone is also there. There is some additional spiciness to this one, mainly I find hints of clove, nutmeg and some bubblegum at the beginning. Finishes quite sweet, most likely the honey. Not much bitterness to speak of. The 11% shows itself though, I think this is one that definitely benefits from some age.

Mouthfeel: Medium-Full bodied with minimum carbonation. Very smooth and sweet.

Drinkability: A little to warm on the alcohol for my tastes. No problem finishing the 12oz'er, but a 2008 would probably taste amazing. I'm gonna buy a few more and drink them over the next few months to see how this develops.

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Photo of sdj5
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Reddish-brown. Clear. Darker than white head.

S: Cherry, mostly.

T: Very much like cherries, bread and alcohol.

M: On the thinner side. Average amount of carbonation.

D: I couldn't drink a ton of this, but it's enjoyable in small quantities.

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Photo of mjw2808
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very beautiful golden mahogany that leaves a little less that a 1 inch white head. Doesnt leave much lacing. All i get in the nose is a lot of alcohol and some berry fruity sweetness. The taste however, is more strong of berry than alcohol, although both of which are very noticeable. There is also a small presence of malt sweetness. Good mouthfeel. average mouthfeel. Very good drinkablilty for an 11% alcohol beer. Probably gonna buy this again, and if your wondering if you should buy it, you definitely should give it a shot.

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Photo of I_imbibe
4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bought this December 2012. Aged in a dark cellar. Over a few years your Elf will mellow and impart deeper cherry and mahogany flavor. It is delicious fresh, of course, but save a sixer for around 3 years! Drink it in the summer, too. Why the hell not?

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Photo of prsguitarsr4me
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting beer. Got this as an extra in a trade - thanks jophish17! Nice dark amber color, not much head, and no retention. Aroma is a little sour to me - maybe a bit too much sweet fruit - almost like bananas. Taste is similar but definitely better - smooth and sweet - a little spicy, which I definitely like. I can't believe that the alcohol is 11%. It tastes like 5-6%. I would've liked a little more alcohol presence in the taste and aroma. Feel is smooth - goes down nicely and I could drink several if I had them. Definitely an interesting take on a Belgian strong ale - the alcohol is a little too hidden for my tastes.

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

A: Rigorous pour into a goblet. Reddish hue with an off white head that dissipates very quickly.

S: Smells like what it says: honey, cherries, spice and a fair amount of alcohol.

T: Sweet cherries, alot of herbal notes from the honey and some spiciness from the yeast (I think) finish is long and sweet and is boozy but the alcohol is well hidden for the high abv.

M: Full body with little carbonation.

O: An awesome winter seasonal. I love what they do at Troeg.

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Photo of 20holmbrew
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Ruby red with a thin off-white head.

S: dark fruit and cherries. Reminds me a little bit like cough syrup.

T: malty sweetness and honey. Cherries, as expected

M: medium body with low carb. Silky smooth

O: just picked up one in a mixed six pack. I am not a big cherry fan but wanted to try anyway. I can see the appeal for some but not really up my alley. Worth a try.

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Photo of IIKaRuII
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Half off at Arnolds carry out in willard ohio. Came with the mad elf tulip glass. ( very thin glass I might say )
pours a hazy iced tea color, that almost resembles rust. gets a fairly disappointing head that dissipates quickly. Slight retention.
smells of candied dark cherries. low honey and yeast.
Taste is a smooth cherry. Honey sits on the tongue and allows the alcohol to pass. I'm getting a slight banana in the background as well. yeast is surely there and seems to linger.
Has almost no carbonation and i personally think with as sweet as this is i expect some. drinks a little watery in my taste and the 11% doesn't seem present at all. The cherries seem to mask it well. honey doesn't really play a factor if you ask me.
well this one was a different one for me. I was expecting a lot of bubbles. and carbonation. with as sweet as it is this is a delightful ale. I would expect more from troegs personally, but non the less it was enjoyable.

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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 tmcelvain
3.86/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

L: Amazing ruby red color - I rarely see one that has this neon quality.
S: Malty Alcohol.
T: Alcohol dominates here, too, with sweet cherry undertones. Bready malt body - not a beer for the hopheads. Tastes more of an English Ale to me - I don't get any Belgian yeast flavors.
M: Smooth to start, with a spicy, carbonated finish.
D: Too alcoholly, and not enough complexity to dig in, but is a great winter warmer. At 11%, must be enjoyed in moderation - 12oz had me reeling.

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Photo of pbr85
3.55/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass...
App: Pours a cherry red with absolutely no head. It would be a great looking beer if it had some head but it looks more like syrup than beer.
Taste: First sip is very malty. There are strong hints of cherry as soon as it hits your tongue. Malts stay strong throughout, which makes it a very sweet beer. Alcohol is strong and prominent. Mild hops, more prominent in the aftertaste than in the beer.
Mouthfeel: Great amount of carbonation. The beer goes down smooth.
Drinkability: Though it goes down smooth, the alcohol presence would likely make it difficult to drink more than one. I had one last week from the same six pack and enjoyed it more that time.

This is a good beer to drink when it is cold. The prominent alcohol leaves you feeling warm inside, and the appearance and cherry taste make it a good beer to drink during the holidays.

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Photo of caminiti
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

OK at best in my opinion, sweet, very sweet.
I doth blame Kendo for making me drop $20 on a six pack of candy with alcohol. Poured into a tulip glass an almost bright orange with little carbonation and little head, it packed a lot of taste into each sip, which made it tough to drink more than one at a time. It will probably age well, but I didnt have any interest in keeping it around until next year...

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Photo of chadspivey
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

thanks to akorsak for the growler shipped overnight. poured into my st. bernardus oversized goblet.

A: pours a clear red amber color. Head dissipates really fast, but I like the way it settles, with the bigger bubbles.

S: dark fruits and belgian yeast. spices, dark maltiness

T: grapes, alcohol, belgian yeast, very faint apples. dark maltiness present .

M: medium body. Would have expected it to be thicker considering the class of beer and the alcohol content. still seems to compliment the taste really nicely. slightly velvety.

D: pretty sweet beer, but I'm getting pretty buzzed off just the one. If it werent for the drunkenness, I'd have more.

couldn't decide between 4.0 and 4.5 on the taste. I think I changed it about 4 times. I decided it was closer to 4.5.

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

12oz bottle poured into a snifter, thanks to akorsak .

A: Just like the label says, a clear, ruby red color with light hints of amber to it. I got little head on my pour, which seemed to just race towards the sides. Reminds me of a red Jolly Rancher.

S: .A sweet, malty and spicy smell. The cherries can also be found, but it is subtle.

T: Yummy stuff right here. Malts, cherries, plums come in a first, ending with a nice finish of light spice. Has a long, slightly dry, finish that stays with you until your next sip. Alcohol comes into play as it starts to warm up, but nothing compared to what I expected from its 11% ABV.

M: A nice medium body that fits this beer great. Goes down smooth.

D: I personally, am not too big of a fan of the spices in any beer (so pretty much, I’ve never been too fond of Belgians), but I enjoyed this treat.The high alcohol percentage does hinder me from wanting to drink more than one of these in a sitting, but it does not stop me from wanting to revisit again. Find a Mad Elf for your self and enjoy!

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Photo of veggiemafia
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Joe Mama's, sadly served in a po' boy pint.

Very Christmasy looking red color, slick looking with the only trace of head being a thin ring of light reddish khaki bubbles around the rim of the glass.

Smells really great, lots of Belgian malt and some yeasty notes but mostly the smell is honey sweetness and dark cherry and maybe some plummy things. Almost no alcohol in the nose, which is kind of nice, but kind of weird for a beer this big.

Taste is just like the smell with some added phenols in there. Shockingly even after this had set on our table for a good 45 minutes, the alcohol still didn't really make itself known. It seems like a lot of Belgians have a kind of sickly sweet alcohol presence that I don't really dig, but this just stays sweet and fruity throughout.

Mouthfeel is very slick, very low carbonation, but it's sweet enough that it almost leaves kind of a film in your mouth like skittles or something. There was a lingering component to this that I thought was less than amazing.

Drinkability for an 11% beer is downright scary. As drinkable as Double Bastard, and just as drunkifying. I personally wouldn't drink more than two in any sitting, but man, this is one worth letting creep up on you.

Just don't drive anywhere, in anything after two of these.

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Photo of Bills453
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into my Duvel tulip glass.

This is a year aged 2011 edition...very curious to see how it aged!

Appearance - bright orange-red, off white head. Full of delicious sediment!

Smell - cherries very prominent, can smell the alcohol packed into this one too. Heavenly!

Taste - cherries and honey mix together so deliciously in this beer, it is always one of my favorite winter releases. The aging really worked well! Recently tried frosted frog by hoppin frog, just too much with the cinnamon and nutmeg, Mad Elf is what Xmas brews is all about!

Mouthfeel - nice

Overall - like I said, one of my very favorite winter/Xmas offerings...keep up the good work Troegs Brothers! Again aging works nicely in this brew.

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Photo of djkman
4.49/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a totally subjective standpoint:
I drink this after a meal. As in not guzzle but slow drink like a desert drink.
This is how I drink it.
I can taste the strength I the ale. The honey and cherries make me think and enjoy the Christmas holidays.
Of course the 11 percent is off the chain but I thoruoghly enjoy this brew.

2015 update. Drank one aged 6 months . Still great.
HERE is the thing.... Went to the brewery in August.
NAKED ELF....... Mad elf without the honey and cherries.
Bartender was all out. Could only get it at the brewery. I missed out. Was told people were liking it. Especially the people who are not into the honey and cherries.

Wanted it but no go.
Still getting the mad elf for 2015.

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Photo of soulfly967
4.36/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Fat Heads in the Southside of Pittsburgh. Poured a ruby red, very little head that quickly vanished. The smell was of cherries and a bit of alcohol. The taste was amazing. Cherries, alcohol, and a hint of chocolate. A very exellent beer for the holiday season, I only wish that they would have made more of it... maybe next year. Beware, that 11% abv will come back to haunt you in the morning, but it's well worth it.

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Photo of jlb307
3.82/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A friend of mine brought this to my Super Bowl party. When he said he was bringing me a bottle, I didn't expect him to bring the 0.8 gallon! Everyone got to enjoy this, because there was definitely any room in my fridge for it!

A: Deck the halls! The deep red color was very fitting for a Christmas brew. The head was gone almost as soon as the glasses were filled.

S: You can definitely smell the cherries and honey boasted on the label. Slightly sour but good

T: Started off kind of tart but the honey mellowed it out with the sweetness. Short finish on the palate.

M: Maybe it was just that particular bottle, but it could use some more carbonation, as evidenced by the lack of head. It wasn't bad, but felt like it had been sitting out for a while.

D: It was very good and smooth on its way down. I'd definitely have it again, but not sure that I would pick it over some other holidays I've had.

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

Poured from dated 2011 12oz bottle into a chalice

A: Pours a soft and translucent ruby red with a small fizzy head that sticks around for all of 2 seconds before completely fading. Rather vinous looking in the glass with legs running down the sides upon each sip. Looks like a good strong dark ale!

S: Sweet notes of candied sugars and spicy Belgian yeast play a dominant role in the nose, backed by a few nice nuances of tart cherries. Complex and inviting.

T: Hits the tongue with a rush of flavors: clove and banana yeast character, sweet notes of brown sugar, bubblegum. Finishes with juicy tart notes of bing cherries dried by tantalizingly sweet honey. Alcoholic heat in the aftertaste but it is not overwhelming and actually plays well with the tartness of the cherry notes. Lots of flavors that are all very well balanced! The beer opens up even more as it warms.

M: Full bodied with a slick, vinous feel as it passes over the palate. Light carbonated and finishes slightly dry with a welcome amount of alcohol warmth. Very easy to sip upon, but the 11% abv will get to you soon enough.

O: I thoroughly enjoyed Troeg's Mad Elf and I believe it is well deserving of its acclaim. The cast of flavors work very well together and the beer makes for a great slow sipping experience in the winter months.

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Photo of Edwin
4.53/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at the Troeg's Brewery during their release party.

Appearance - A nice, deep brownish-red. Some initial head that disappears fast, similar to all Troeg's beers.

Smell - Smells like the holidays. Some sour notes with a cherry smell is evident in there. Hints of spices throughout.

Taste - Not for everyone, but will definitely satisfy most. Taste of sweet/sour on the entry and a leftover display of cherry, spice, and some other fruits I can't quite put my finger on. Definitely a different beer than anything I have ever tasted.

Mouthfeel - Strong yet smooth. A very powerful feel on the tongue. After two of these bad boys, it gets easier and easier to send down to the stomach.

Drinkability - It is very drinkable on a cold day. Reminds me of Christmas in frnt of a warm fire. Be 11% alcohol, this one will turn your Happy Holidays into 8 Crazy Nights if you aren't careful!

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Photo of israel
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- opaque, reddish brown in appearance with a slight tan head that clings to the sides of my glass..

S - cherry cough drops with a kick..

T- mellow with a caramel flavor with some cherries and a heavy dose of honey in the aftertaste. for as much alcohol that's in this brew I really couldn't detect it like I would expect.

M- resinous with a nice amount of carbonation ad quite a bit of residual sweetness in the end.

D- undecided on this one, but the amount of alcohol in this it wasn't very noticeable which could make this a really good winter warmer to enjoy at home on a cool evening..

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

pours deep gold/amber with little white head.

aromas are of cherries and honey. also slight traces of belg, yeast influence, warming esters, and scarcely malty.

on the palate the beer is quite full. theres a little honey character, though it's rinsed out by the cherry flavor. there's a nice light lift of fruity acidity which keeps this big beer refreshing. dangerous. tasting nothing like 11 %

mouthfeel is rich and intense but dry enough. the fruit keeps this beer together.

overall, dangerously drinkable.

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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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