Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
1,271 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

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Reviews: 1,271 | Ratings: 3,922
Photo of HotHands
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into Chimay chalice.

A - pours a deep translucent ruby with a small white head.

S - cherries are the predominant aroma, with some honey, candied orange, and spicy notes.

T - honey and cherries up front with some other fruit notes - apricots, currants, and raisins, with some good spiciness from the hops and the yeast. The yeast certainly tastes like a Belgian. A mild chocolate taste is present as well. Finish is a mild cherry taste. The sweetness is at a good level - not too much or too little. I didn't really detect much booziness, which I like.

M - carbonation is fine. Medium body. Feel is just a bit syrupy but the finish is dry.

D - hides its eleven percent ABV quite well. That sneaky elf!

This is a solid, interesting seasonal from Troeg's that is worth trying at least once. It seems to be a bit polarizing but I enjoy what they've done. The flavors are balanced and nothing feels out of place.

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Photo of brewsadedotcom
3.89/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice...

A: Has a dark red color, pours with a thin film of foam that disappears quickly. Nice lacing.

S: Strong smell of cherries. The aroma makes it immediately apparent that this is a big beer.

T: The taste of cherries evolves into a pruney taste and finishes with a sour aftertaste.

M: Carbonation is faint. Leaves a sour aftertaste.

O: I don't think my description of this beer is particularly flattering, however I did enjoy it.

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Photo of railman
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer! The color the label everything! Picked this up after a suggestion last year.
Happened to see it on display at a local beer distributor. Had to get it.

Poured from a 12oz bottle. No freshness date.

This brew pours a nice burnt amber / ruby red color.
Virtually no head or lacing noticed. Almost no carbonation.

Smells a little on the sweet side with little cherry on the nose. Almost no hops detected.

Tastes sweet but not overdone. Minimal cherry flavor.

Feels somewhat syrupy but again not overdone. Medium to full bodied brew.
I really like this brew. Too bad its 11% cause I can suck these down all night.


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Photo of MaxSpang
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Christmas tulip!


This Elf is a lovely deep copper red color. It's more translucent than expected. The head was about a one finger khaki color, and disappated in a hurry. None of it remained. Looks like a lovely brew! I feel like the cherries were added to give it a good amount of color, but not so much on the flavor (more on that later).


There is some definite big Belgian character coming through. Surprisingly, alcohol isn't that present. There is a lovely honey aroma, but not a lot of the cherries. There's a good bit of raisin bread character, and the Belgian spiciness is met with some dark fruitiness. Smells amazing.


Yum - this is a big bad ass beer. There's a lot of chewy breadiness, and some wonderful dark fruit character. The sweetness is definitely high, but not cloying. The honey comes through at the back of the tongue and hangs around for a little while after the swallow. The cherry flavor is present, but it's not very noticeable. The Belgian spiciness is a nice addition to to overall flavor, but isn't the focus of the beer. Alcohol? Schmalcohol, this beer doesn't appear to have the stuff.


This Elf starts off big and chewy, and feels slightly syrupy (the good kind of syrupy). At the end, there's a bit of dryness that ups the drinkability. It's nice and warming after each sip, and even though you can't taste the alchol, you can feel it! There isn't much carbonation. The beer is pretty drinkable, but demands to be savored.


This beer is excellent. This is definitely not a beer to drink every night, but is great for winter nights. It doesn't have as much spice character as other Holiday beers, but is a MUST for this time of the year. I don't know what made the Elf Mad, but this beer makes me very happy. Plus, I love the fact that they sell it in a variety of ways - 22 Oz Bombers, 12 oz. Singles, and even six-packs instead of four-packs! It gives you the opportunity to buy a sixer, drink a few, then age the rest.


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Photo of BitterPachyderm
2.95/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this 12 oz. little gem from tprokop7. Thanks! The vintage date here, seems to elude me.

Poured into an oversized wine glass (new glassware, PLEASE!). There was almost no head at all, like a date with the girl who preaches abstinence...and what head there is, is gone within sixty seconds. It has a deep mahogany body and seemed somewhat lifeless. This isn't looking too good.

The aroma was a bit bready and phenolic. There is a dirty cherry smell here, but not overbearing. The bubblegum smell here is a bit of a turnoff. No Belgian smells noted.

You can get a tick of cherry midpalate if you really try. It reminds me of a cheap wine or maybe even a cough syrup from my childhood. The honey comes through as it warms...a stale honey. Is there some pine in here? I have to question it's Belgian categorization once again!

The mouthfeel is flat...from first sip to last sip. There is almost no body and it coats your mouth in an oily slickness.

Drinkability? Not without any body!

Overall, I'm just going to chalk this one up to being aged too long or bad storage conditions. I've heard too many good things about Troegs to be turned off by one possibly bad beer. I will revisit this beer in the winter if possible.

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Photo of iBeer16
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed in a pint glass.
A: pours a copperish red color with a Tan head. Can see carbonation clearly. Leaves

S: cherries and slight hops, nice mallty aroma as well.

T: wow, smooth sweet cherry flavor all the way through, nice malty flavor as well.

M: carbonation is great, looks heavy but is not. Great body.
Overall, great beer

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Photo of vwcraig
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 edition of Mad Elf

Poured a beautiful ruby-red color into a goblet. Head disappears into a tiny ring around the outside of the glass. Slow stream of carbonation rising from bottom of glass.

Smells of honey and unsweetened cherries. Faint alcohol smell.

Tastes just like Troegs claims it does; like honey, cherries and light spices. Also slightly detectable alcohol but well concealed at 11% abv.

Good mouthfeel with little carbonation. Kinda viscous. Actually clings to and coats inside of glass.

Never had more than one of these at a time due to high abv. Could see pushing the number higher though to trundle through the holiday season...

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Photo of Thingus
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Live tasting 12oz bottle into Duvel Tulip...

Appearance; pours a bright and lively pale red color with not much of a head at all, a very thin ring of off white colored head hangs around the edge of the glass... No lacing to speak of...

Smell; smells like cherries and honey, tons of "Belgian-esque" spices..

Taste; definitely tastes as it smells, the cherries add a slight tart demension, with strong flavors of honey and a plethora of the typical Belgian spices (I don't think there's any doubt as to what type of yeast was used here!) also, 11%?! Sure as hell doesn't taste it... Exceptionally well hidden...

Mouthfeel; medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation, goes down easily with no afterburn or warming from the alcohol content... A yeasty, spicy finish that lingers for a few minutes with a slight tartness that I associate with the cherries...

Overall; of all the winter brews I've had, this is unquestionably my favorite thus far... Typically I'm not a big fan of Belgians or the associated yeast but it blends very well with the cherries and honey in Mad Elf... My first Tröegs brew and I was not disappointed!! ISO; Nugget Nectar

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Photo of CGiusti23
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 3.75

I really enjoyed Troegs Mad Elf. It had a great after taste and for having a high ABV, it was pretty smooth. The only problem I found with it, as well as others around my have said, is that it's one of those beers you could only have one or two in one sitting. Overall a great beer for the holidays.

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

A: Crystal clear and deep ruby red in color with some amber highlights; thin white head forms with excellent lacing.

S: Spicy Belgian yeast up front with sweet cherry notes right behind. Slightly floral and overall aromatic and cheery. Biscuity, caramelly malt in there as well.

T: Mad Elf is sweet with Belgian spice and juicy cherry flavor dominating. Sweet toasty malt flavor in the middle. Belgian candied cherry character lingers on the palate with mild to no bitterness. Finishes spicy-sweet as a hot alcohol note warms the tongue.

M: Body is medium-full and very creamy. This is where it really hits the mark. Lightly carbonated, slick and chewy, but not syrupy.

O: ABV is hidden well; highly drinkable for the booze content. A great American holiday adaptation of a Belgian style. I always come back to this one year after year.

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Photo of ivehadthatbrew
4.46/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look: This beer seems interesting right from the start. A beautiful ruby red hue. There's a nice white/tan head making this beer look extremely inviting.

Smell: Chocolate, figs, cheeries, honey and a nice smelling warming booze aroma coming off this brew. It's pretty beautiful.

Taste: A perfect balance of tart, caramel, fruit, bready and spicy flavors. The only thing setting it off balance is the big booze flavor, which is actually nice.

Feel: Just like I said, the big booze flavor is very nice mostly because it warms you up! It's the perfect seasonal beer. It is sort of cry at the end, but other then that it's nice.

Overall: If there was one beer I could drink during cold weather the rest of my life, this would be it. It's almost exactly how I'd want my brew to be. Beautifully done.

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Photo of TripleSun
3.69/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very smooth for a belgian strong!

L - lucious ruby red with a creamy head
S - cherries, honey and alcohol
T - bananas, cherries, tiny bit of syrup mouthful
F - full bodied and very smooth

Troegs makes some good beers and this is pretty decent. Has a bit of a sticky feel to it but nice flavors going around

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Photo of NolanGTI
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one was a real eye opener for me, not at all what I expected. It pours a nice clear brown, slight amber. One finger cream head. Light nose, not nearly what I expected from an 11% brew. The kick was well hidden.

The taste was exceptionally smooth and not overly pince coney or spicey, probably a bit more tame than I would have hoped for. All in all, a very nice beer but one that you can drink far too much of far too quickly, so be careful.

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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 EGledhill
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter galss with 2 finger foam head with no lacing.

A. reddish orange

S. smells of cherry , honey, and spices

T. Cherry and alcohol are the prominent taste in this one. slight honey in front. Alcohol more prominent in the back end of the elf.

M. Eh... Nothing too impressive for the mouthfeel. maybe because it's a bit of an overload on the palate.

D. for an 11% ABV, the drinkability is rather good, smooth til the end, and then the alcohol starts to really come through.

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Photo of ztaylor1
2.82/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance- hazy dark gold, no head to speak of...

Smell- sweet caramel, honey, and grapes. There citrus notes, but they are faint.

Taste- cherries are very dominant. Alcohol is present. Very potent.

Mouthfeel-light body with little carbonation

Drinkability-too strong for me to even finish this bomber.

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Photo of steelcutoats
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Mad Elf Review

I picked up a case of the elusive Mad Elf the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm now down to my last two, less the six pack I'm cellaring for next year, and figured it's time to put finger to keyboard and write a few words. I poured a 12 oz. bottle into my crystal snifter with enough force to create a nice inch thick head. It quickly dissipated, and left a nice bubbly ring around the inside of the glass. The aroma was heavenly; the bold richness of a strong Belgium dark ale with dates and figs, mixed with the tart sweetness of cherries and honey. Upon first taste there is a detection of dark fruits, such as dates, raisins, and figs. Afterwards the sweetness of the honey and the cherries tartness come through. The Mad Elf is a bit lacking when it comes down "mouthability". There is a deficiency in carbonation, which is one of the hallmarks of most strong Belgium dark ales. Overall it is still a very enjoyable beer and definitely one to keep a look out for this time of year.

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Photo of Kitt
4.34/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From bottle to pint glass, a deep, dark, rich brick-red color. Almost non-transparent. Very weak, thin head with little lacing.

Aroma a malty-cherry; as advertised, a heavy belgian dankness - weighty, humid, musty.

A sinus-clearing, spicy, heavy malt with rich fruity tones. The biting bitter feel with an eclectic lingering spice flavor and a cherry backbone is a lasting and masterful conglomeration. A fantastic spice and fruit face-off that I won't soon forget!

Heavy yet smooth -- sliding right along the throat with no sense of friction!

Drinkability is limited only by the 11 % ABV -- yes, I think there may be a limit here!

I have heard so much about this beer. I was desperate to find it despite the fact I don't like fruity beers. But the fruit is well balanced by the bitter spice and I think the two really complement one another. Walked right into the local liquor store and there it was, the elf staring me in the face! I couldn't find the stuff last season! I am not disappointed with the beer itself -- it is very unique and very good! I only question if it is really worth 14.99/six pk when I'm an hour's drive from the brewery. Perhaps I will answer that question after a couple more rounds! Regardless, this is a worthy belgian-style ale and not far from a top-notch brew!

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Photo of pavandal
4.51/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beer poured into my tulip glass from a growler purchased today. It poured a nice honey - red color with a 1 inch head. Honestly, the most inviting beer I've ever had. lacing left a nice bubbly coating on the glass as I drank.

Smell began with some bready smells, but as the head disolved, it turned to honey and cherries, with alchohol behind it.

As the beer hits your tongue, the first flavor you taste is a bitey sweetness. this is probably due to the cherries involved in the brew. I also taste a lot of bready notes. The high ABV can't be tasted, as far as I can tell. This is a very great tasting brew.

I can see this beer getting dangerous to those that aren't familiar with it. This beer feels great in the mouth, light enough to make you want more, but it has some weight behind it to make you know you're drinking something.

I really, really dig this ale. if the ABV wasn't so high, this would be a constant (as much as it could be, given it's limited run) for me. I don't know why people have said that this tastes like cough syrup, because I sure can't taste it.

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

A- Pours to a light red with a small off-white head.

S- Immediate honey and alcohol. Cherries near the end.

T- Lots of flavors. Starts with a light cherry. A little bit of your winter spices - cloves and nutmeg. I thought that there would be more of an alcohol presence at 11%. It was there, but only slightly. I've had beers at half the ABV that tasted like it they had more than this brew.

M- Very smooth. Moderate carbonation that felt just about right.

D- Very good beer. I don't think that I've had a beer with this high an ABV that I felt that I could drink multiples without a problem. Although, you probably shouldn't drink much more than a single.

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Photo of aluskungs
3.54/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Red like scotch and it looks like a scotch. When I pour the beer it sounded like ginger ale. Fizzing and popping and a head gone so fast if you blinked you would miss it. Now there so few bubbles left in my glass you could count them.

The smell is quite good. Reminds of Sam Adams cherry wheat. A big sour cherry smell and some alcohol.

Taking a sip you get whooped by a sour cherriness, followed by an alcohol burn, and a honey flavor to put out the flame. Complex flavors, a hint of spices, cloves. Maybe brewed with a wheat yeast.

Goes down smooth. The glass is half empty already, drinkable and likable. Sneaky beer, I am felling the effect of this high gravity beer already because it goes down quickly.

A very interesting unique beer. Could use better carbonation, less carbonation, to bring out more flavor.

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

A- Pours a deep reddish amber with a thin tan head that dissipates quickly - some lacing remains on the glass as it warms

S- Sour cherries, cloves, maybe orange peel?

T- A dry start with honey and cherries quickly becoming prominent with sweetness. No real harshness or alcohol burn.

M- Medium-bodied with medium carbonation. Balanced nicely.

D- Alcohol is hidden well, but you need to be aware. The fruity flavor may make this appealing, but I'd have to stop at one.

I look forward to this one every holiday season, then I may only have one or two. 11% for this one is a bit scary, but all in all, it's a nice beer.

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Photo of jhollick
4.59/5  rDev +19.2%
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.

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Photo of wampahoofus
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

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Tröegs The Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,922 ratings.
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