Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Tröegs Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
87
very good
1,240 Reviews
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States | website

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:
1,240
Ratings:
3,807
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
26.68%
 
 
Wants:
228
Gots:
1,055
For Trade:
20
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,240 | Ratings: 3,807
Photo of jhollick
4.59/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a murky dull red color with some copper and caramel coloring. No head, but lacing clings to the glass as I swirl.

Smell: Strong cherry aroma; also lots of honey and sweet malt. It is very thick smelling if that makes any sense. Some spice comes through as well. Awesome smelling beer.

Mouthfeel: Thick, heavy, viscous. Very little carbonation.

Taste: Ohhh mama! A year in the cellar has mellowed this to perfection. The bite and slightly green flavor is gone. No hops that I can discern, but at 15 IBU that is no surprise. That isn't what this beer is about anyway. The slick and juicy sweet flavors roll all around the mouth, with the cherries exhibiting both tarnessa nd sweetness. The malts and honey give body and additional sweetness, almost giving it the consistency of a mead. A bit of spicing rounds out the flavor and keeps things from going over the top on the sweetness scale. There is some dryness at the back, presumably because of the intense amount of alcohol.

Drinkability: What can I say? Somehow this 11.25% monster is drinkable...very drinkable. Don't drink too many, as you will be red faced and making a fool of yourself. The sweetness is very high and tart and dry are the only balancing factors, but I still can't get enough.

Overall: Given sufficient time to mature, this is one of the most drinkable, comples, and fun winter beers around. Tip of the cap to the Brothers Trogner.

 1,437 characters

Photo of wampahoofus
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A maroon to slightly amber beer. A bit of carbonation. Some cream-colored head that fades very fast with little or no lacing.

Smell: Reminders of brandy to the nose. The cherries are there but are not overwhelming. A bit of alcohol.

Taste: Let it warm up. About 55F. Now the flavor is coming out! Lots of fruit, alcohol, nice rounded malt. Just a bit of tartness at the end, but not sour.

Mouthfeel: Has a bit of a lager feel. Tastes like an ale, but has a clean finish for a mouthfeel.

Drinkability: This is a delicious ale. The cherries add a festive quality and the sweetness blends with the alcohol nicely.

This is my Christmas beer for the year. I will be enjoying this beer in my snifter by the fire while watching the snow fly.

 751 characters

Photo of RogerSterling
3.59/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Somewhat dark, when poured has about an inch tall head. Good looking winter beer.

S - Obvious cherry and a bit of honey. Decent combination of the cherry, honey, and alcohol. It's a strong beer, so I was expecting to smell some booze. They did a good job of putting this beer together through the nose. Once you smell it, you want a sip.

T - You get a lot of the smell in the taste. Cherry, Honey, and alcohol are present. I will say that they did mask the alcohol well, but still a little much for me.

M - A little intense from the alcohol, but its rather smooth.

O - I was really excited to try this one. I'm glad I did, but I won't be buying another case. That being said, I would recommend trying this beer. If I can get it in a growler or on tap somewhere I will drink again but a case is a little too much. I think there are better strong belgian ales out there, but still overall a good beer and can understand the hype.

 936 characters

Photo of beerorRIP
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap @ The office

poured into a smaller-than-a-pint-glass glass (highball maybe, not sure). A small light tan head that didn't bother to stick 'round too long. A nice deep amber color with only a few small bubbles floating to the top.

smells like sweet malts, and some fruits... not sure which ones really. a bit of a boozy smell was around too. or was that someone next to me?

taste of sweet malts is right up front, with the fruits showing up as a ripe cherry taste. it's thick in taste. not much bitterness at all in this one. a slight flash of hot alcohol was also there... but just barely. the warming in my gut the real alcohol 'flash'. the bitterness finally showed a bit in the finish to dry things out a bit.

somewhat of a thick mouthfeel but given all that is put in, this is to be expected. the carbonation is there, but limited as you might expect.

this is a beer i only enjoy once a year really. not something i can drink so often even though i do have a liking for beers with the sweet malt characteristic.

the bottle version of this is also slightly different, although i would need to have a taste of it, as i haven't had the bottled version in about 2 years...

 1,185 characters

Photo of talkinghatrack
4.82/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sometimes you can't forget your first.

My first Mad Elf was on a bitingly cold Sunday morning. My brother and I were in a parking lot, tailgating at an annual Eagles game and waiting for some steak to cook while huddling over our plastic cups of beer. After several Coors Lights (no shame there - great tailgate beer), my bro pulls out two Mad Elf's and tells me I have to try this stuff.

Wow. Loved it. Still do.

(2007 bottle, poured 1/5/09)

A dark reddy brew with a nice but quickly dissapating head, the sweet cherry-themed bready aroma invites you into each sip. Sure, there is a hint of alcohol in the nose and taste but we're talking about an 11% alcohol content here. After a few sips you stop noticing.

Smooth enough to drink fast but who would want to waste it? Great malty mouthfeel yet a light/medium body. A slighty high carbonation keeps pace with the other elements and dissipates quickly on the tongue. Love the tangy sweet finish in the back and sides of the tongue and the pleasant warming sensation as it travels down the throat.

If you can stand to let it age, it only gets better. I'm tempted to crack into my few remaining 2006 bottles but willpower has held out so far.

 1,197 characters

Photo of SeamusDoyle
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep copper with ruby highlights and a thin tan head. Aromas of yeast, banana esters, bubble gum, and spices. Present in the background are sour cherries, dark fruits, and orange-poppy seed muffins. Cherries become more pronounced as this warms. Flavor is sour yeast and cherry, astringent spices, and a sour/spicy finish. Nice sweet and tangy mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

 380 characters

Photo of bigeyedfish
3.94/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Mad Elf glass which was purchased solely to drink Mad Elf out of. Where a screened on date would normally appear, happy holiday's appears. No born on date, vintage to be found.

Really nice dark-ruby color. Almost like a brown that has some red injected into it. One finger of head dissipates kind of quickly, though not uniformly. Some parts still have 1/2 finger of head when the first holes in the wedding-dress-white head come through.

A delicious smelling beer. Cherries, honey and Belgian yeast; everything the beer said it had. Some alcohol present as well, but at 11%, that's to be expected. A really nice smelling beer.

Really big finish, with a lot of cherries and a lot of alcohol both present at different stages featuring different intensities. A real nice sweet honey flavor on the tip of the tongue that is probably the highlight of the beer. No really transitory flavors; kind of goes from a honey/nectar bomb to a cherry/alcohol bomb, although the finish kind of has a ginger ale-type quality to it; it's alcohol, but alcohol that tastes like Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Obviously, it's a young, young beer, so that will probably be smoothed over over time. I think I remember on the Troegs tour the guy mentioned Mad Elf was fermented for some ridiculously short amount of time, something like 9 weeks(though I may be mistaken), so this beer needs a lot of time. This beer has the potential to be great in 12 months. As for now, two big distinct flavors, not much in between. Like a sandwich on fresh out of the oven olive-oil and sun-dried tomato cibada bread with a kraft single in the middle.

There's some, but there is not a lot, which I think goes back to the needing more time problem. It does not have much carbonation, so it's no real problem to swallow. It's pretty well made, and it's a very smooth beer, which the alcohol hidden for most of the mouth. Some really big palate gripping in the back of the mouth, almost offensive at times. Nice mouthfeel; let's age it and see if it gets a Barry Bonds in the late 90's level mouthfeel. It's got the potential to.

Can you drink one and not realize it's 11% ABV? Absolutely. Can you drink more than one and not realize you're drinking an 11% alcohol beer? Now we're getting into the land of 'maybes' and 'probably nots' Even in the first one, some nice warming alcohol is present. For one, the drinkability is almost perfect; for more than one it's less than impressive. So it's above average but not quite good.

Why write last remarks on this beer so early? I'll be back in 12 months. And probably 24. This is a 'Lost:Season 1' beer: total cliffhanger with a huge reason to believe it's going to be fantastic.

 2,714 characters

Photo of Andrew61923
2.92/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 oz bottle into Portsmouth Brewery tulip. Sat out of fridge for ten minutes before opening. Picked this up a few months ago and figured it was time to drink it, even though the holidays have passed.

A: Pours a deep ruby with a quickly dissipating off-white head, which forms a thin halo. Lots of floaties in the glass, which I was not expecting. Not terrible, but I would have liked this to be more filtered.

S: Clove, bubble gum, and cherries. True to the style, but not things I usually want in my beer. It doesn't smell bad by any means, but I can tell this isn't going to be my favorite.

T: Sweet with the same notes of bubble gum and cherries. Again, not my thing.

M: The ABV is high and you can tell. There is a pretty substantial burn at the end of each sip down my throat. I had thought about sitting on this for a year and, while I doubt I would like the flavor that much more, this would have probably improved. As is, however, I'm not a fan.

O: In hindsight, I'm not sure why I bought this beer. I'm not a huge fan of the style and I tried as much as possible to enjoy it, but it's just not growing on me as I drink it more. At least I know to pass on buying it next year and I'm thankful I only got one.

 1,235 characters

Photo of Beerwolf666
4.71/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

What a Fantastic Brew! this is one of those Beers, that as soon as you pop that top and smell it,your heart starts racing,and you just know it is going to be something very special ~and Indeed it is,the nose is sweet,with Honey and a hint of Cherries and malts,~the taste pretty much follows the nose,sweet[but not cloying] you pick up the Honey and though you do get a nice Cherry note, it is more in the background then in your face,and does not have that "Cough Drop" Medicinal taste you get with a beer like "Sam Adams Cherry Wheat"~taste more like fresh cherries,and it IS Tasty as Hell,also would never know this Beer is 11% A.B.V.,Because I do not ever get that alcohol burn or boozy tatse,but perhaps that is Because I drink a lot of High A.B.V. Strong Beer's and Ales~this is not a Beer you knock back with your buddies while watching the Game or playing Poker,this is a Top Notch [IMHO] World Class Brew,it is a Beer you Savor and take your time to enjoy it's Amazing Flavors and the brewer's Art,what a BEER! Cheers 2 All;]

 1,035 characters

Photo of LennyV
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark coppor color into my Maudite snifter. Small one finger head which leaves quickly. Little to no lacing

No overpowering smell. Faint sweetness with some cherry.

Tastes of sweet cherrys and malt. The alcohol is masked very well.

Medium body more like a "heavy medium" Slight carbonation.

This is a great sipper. Something to hold and enjoy the evening with. It is so very smooth and easy to drink that at 11% abv I could easily ruin the next morning if I am not careful.

 486 characters

Photo of Torps
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very interesting beer. Pours a dark, dark amber. Great looking beer. Nothing overpowers in the aroma and that translates into the taste. Slight hints of cherry and honey. Again nothing overpowers. Very balanced and drinkable. Especially considering the ABV.

 257 characters

Photo of Roose13
4.68/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

22oz bomber poured into a glass

A: A dark ruby red with a two-finger off-white foamy head.

S: Smells like cherries, yeasty

T: Cherries, some honey flavoring. Very malty as well.

M: Crisp, carbonated and hides the 11%

Overall: This was a first try and this beer was amazing. Wow!

 283 characters

Photo of MMOSNN
4.69/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look - a deep hazy brownish ruby red color with a decent white head that dissipates quickly. There's some nice silky lacing.
Smell - tart cherry and yeast hit the hardest, but there's also some notes of sweet honey and dark fruits.
Taste - tart cherries, dark fruits, brown sugar, honey, and some slight booze towards the end.
Feel - good carbonation, creamy body, and smooth finish.
Overall, the combination of sweetness and tart cherries is done very well, it has a rich body, and it looks pretty amazing. It's definitely not for casual drinking, and I could imagine that some people would be put off by it, but if you like rich, complex, and sweet Belgians, I think you should try this.

 689 characters

Photo of stingo
4.28/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brilliant near ruby red, with a thick head of bright white foam. The foam reduces quickly, enabling the cherry and honey flavors of the nose to stand out as well as the noticeable but not unagreeable scent of alcohol. These notes are borne out in the taste as well. Eminently drinkable, though with a slightly thinner mouthfeel than I would have expected from this style. This is a quibble however as the Mad Elf is one fine winter brew.

 445 characters

Photo of biophiliadude
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle to tulip glass

A: deep reddish brown, to bourbon orange. small white head that disappears quickly. No lacing.

S: Spice, malt, alcohol.

T: Spicy maltiness, sourness of the cherry at the end. Warmth of the alcohol too. It all mixes well, nothing overpowering anything else.

M: Bubbles, smooth malt.

D: I could drink these all night. Certainly the best Winter Beer I've had this year. Smooth, and the high alcohol is almost unnoticeable as it works well to bring out the warm malts, substantial body of the honey, tart cherries, and collective holiday spices. Highly recommended.

 588 characters

Photo of djbow
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Mad Elf is one of my favorite seasonal brews. This beer pours a clear red color with a head that dissipates quickly. As it color and smell indicates, the taste of this beer is a pronounced cherry with a hint of honey flavor. Mad Elf drinks very easy and goes down smooth. Here in lies the problem for those unaware of the 12% alcohol content. The fact that they sell this high powered beer in a 3 Liter format as a special item to accompany the 12 and 22 oz formats is truly MAD. Enjoy!

Serving Temp = 47 F.

Glass = Pint Glass.

 529 characters

Photo of Goldopelgt
3.77/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First time I've had this one from Troegs, I've had a few others from them before, and, overall, have been pleasentely surprised.

A- Amber to ruby hues...thin, whitish head with minimal lacing

S- Very interesting...definitely pick up some spice right away, but nothing in particular is jumping out at me...somewhat sweet and floral (but not in a bad way!), not necessarily what I was expecting from "an ale brewed with honey and cherries."

T- Again, kind of just like it smells...some spiciness and sweetness, yet nothing too overpowering, crisp, nice...and oh, yeah, at 11% you almost forget what you're drinking.

M- Medium bodied, minimal carbonation...surprisingly enough, you really can't taste alcohol even 11%

D- Overall, not my personal favorite, but not a bad beer by any means. Troegs doesn't disappoint with this one, and offers a dangerously easy drinker that, at 11%, could definitely get you in some trouble!

 925 characters

Photo of DanThomas
3.94/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A- Cherry/orange color, no head, lots of bubbles fizzing to the surface.

S- Lovely melange of scents. Bubblegum, cherry, alcohol, honey, and raisins.

T- Lots of cherry flavor, but in a good way (i.e. it's not cough syrup, but a nice, mellow authentic cherry) that combines with bubblegum, banana, and a ton of other flavors that I can't even pick out. This beer is endlessly interesting on the palate, always changing. The alcohol on this is really nice. It warms the throat and the spirit but it's really smooth going down so you barely notice it.

M- Soft carbonation that's quite right for this beer, and the alcohol, as mentioned, is done perfectly. Overall it is pretty thin-bodied but a very substantial beer nonetheless.

D- I love it a lot but the alcohol on this hits you hard; plus, the myriad of flavors gets frustrating after awhile even though the beer tastes great.

Not my favorite winter warmer, but it is without a doubt the most interesting.

 961 characters

Photo of JMWEB2
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted...12/14/2011
2010 keg on tap at the growler station @ Joe Canals... thank you

A: Pours a muddy crimson brownish color head completely dissipated, some minor lacing left behind.

S: Alcohol is there, but there is a fruit flavor... cherry-like. Interesting.

T: Alright this must have mellowed significantly, the booze flavor is not present and there is a nice tartness of cherries. Clove is also present, very enjoyable, and I'm not a big fan of the style.

M: Smooth very little carb.

O: I'm glad I went with the 2010 because they had 2011 as well, very nicely done again Troegs.

 588 characters

Photo of JooJooEyeballs
1.24/5  rDev -67.9%
look: 2 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Amount of Honey used is over-the-top with the amount of Cherries being over-the-top-of-the-top. A simply ridiculous beer by the master brewer Chris Troeg!

 155 characters

Photo of dnrobert24
2.62/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at the Gingerbread Man in Carlisle, PA. Had to see what the hype was about, and I was not impressed. The beer had a dark red hue, with a very thin head that did not retain much aroma. Something mildly fruity was there, like watermelon. The first sip was metallic and stingy. Hot alcohol abounded. Midway through, the fruit came through more predominantly--strawberry mostly, and other juicy red fruits. It reminded me a bit of Juicy Fruit gum. I could not detect the spicy yeastiness normally associated with Belgian-style beers. The pint I had felt a little thin. It was not what I was expecting or hoping for in an American-made Christmas release of a belgian strong dark.

 684 characters

Photo of HopsYeast
3.34/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a-pours a clear dark reddish amber with a 1/4 finger pale white head that quickly fads and leaves no lacing.

s-honey, cherries, raisens, heavy alcohol smell, and also has a somewhat sour smell thats a bit of a turn off.

t-taste is a reverse of the smell. a nice warm alcohol flavor mixed in with dark fruits, maltiness, and the slightest hops. lots of dark fruit flavor is preset.

m-somewhat syrupy with very minimal carbonation.

o-well i think im starting to finally get this beer. year after year i tried it and it turned me off completely. this was the first time on tap so it may have been the difference. its deep flavor and warming sensation bought on by the alcohol makes it a good fit for the cold holiday season.

 728 characters

Photo of sacullen
2.77/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle from 2010-2011 bottling, poured into Duvel tulip.

A: Pours amber/red. It is reddish where the glass is widest. Head is almost effervescent, more like a cola, and very quickly dissipates to a crown and leaves no lacing.

S: Spices are at the forefront, while cherries are muted. Smells yeasty like a Belgian. Label uses the wording "subtle cherries", and I have to agree.

T: Not enough cherry for my tastes. Again, the spices from the yeast are the dominant flavor, while the cherries are most noticeable in the finish. Estery and doesn't quite hide the alcohol.

M: Light and lively in the mouth, flavors/aftertaste doesn't linger long.

D: Not a beer I would drink multiples of in one sitting. The beer is almost forgettable.

A friend bought me a sixer for Christmas this year. I've had a couple and think I will hold on to the rest to see what some time does to them.

 884 characters

Photo of deruiz10
3.61/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Quite a beautiful amber, slightly reddish with hints of honey-color. Eggshell head is minimal and quickly dissipates, leaves no lacing.

S - Very fruity (mostly cherry) and bright, slight hints of alcohol.

T - Pretty mild up front, body is light but cherry flavors pop out after a moment, mixing with the fruityspicy taste of the typical Belgian dark. The finish is also characterized by a slightly spicy, but subdued taste of hops which serves to mask the relatively high alcohol content well, with cherry flavors also lingering.

M - Fairly light and refreshing, good amount of carbonation.

D - A little too sweet to have more than one in an evening, plus that alcohol content will really sneak up on you. However, it's probably one of the better fruity holiday beers out there in terms of balancing refreshment value with a seasonal holiday flavor without becoming too syrupy or overwhelming.

 901 characters

Photo of jhicks12
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured this beer into a pint glass, first thing I notice was the glowing ruby red color and white head. Beer had a sweet cherry aroma with just a slight honey nose. First taste really got a lot of cherry not some much sour on first taste but more so as I drank. Slight alcohol warming. Not as much as I would have expected from an 11%. Very drinkable and a nice beer to warm you up with out being too overpowering.

 414 characters

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,240 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe