Tröegs The Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

very good
3,926 Ratings
Tröegs The Mad ElfTröegs The Mad Elf

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Hop Bitterness (IBU's) : 15
Color (SRM) : Ruby Red
Availability: Seasonal, 12 oz. & 3L bottles, 1/2 and 1/6 kegs (contact your local retailer to pre-order)
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Yeast: Spicy Yeast
Pennsylvania Honey West Coast Cherries

Added by WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,926 |  Reviews: 1,271
Photo of sjones5045
3.25/5  rDev -15.6%

Photo of marine1975
2.5/5  rDev -35.1%

Photo of FickleBeast
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a delerium tremens snifter

A - when poured, there is a very thin ring of soapy foam that dissipates instantly. Color is a cross between cranberry juice and a traditional amber beer color. Carbonation seem almost nonexistent.

S - predominantly smell spicy yeast, some boozy aroma

T - Flavor is dominated by the yeast, but you can certainly taste the cherry flavor in this brew as well. As it warms, the mead-like qualities poke through. This is a very complex and nuanced beer - but ultimately the spicy yeast wins out. As you hold it in your mouth, the boozy alcohol flavors come out and waft up your nose.

M - very thin bodied, almost zero carbonation

D - doesn't not taste like a 11% ABV beer at all - this is dangerously drinkable. Perhaps because there isn't much residual sweetness.

 819 characters

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

Photo of chcfan
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%

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

Poured in a glass stein.

A= deep cherry-amber, very slight white head which quickly faded, modest white lacing.

S= upon opening the bottle it smelled briefly like someone's dirty socks or smelly feet (probably the cherries and yeast settling in), but thankfully that disappeared quickly upon airing and pouring. Light but style-typical scent obvious, sour cherry and biscuit, live yeast and slight hints of alcohol.

T= sweet syrup, yeast, malts, cherry and alcohol. Decent for a holiday beer. Somewhat reminds me of a Belgian Ale or even a cherry Lambic but much better. It's even better if you let it age for 1-2 years, speaking from experience-- it matures to a fantastic treasure.

M= light alcohol traits, slightly watery honey sweetness and sweet-cherry tartness on the tongue.

D= probably one or two per sitting is all I could handle as far as ABV. Otherwise very drinkable. A definite must-try if you have the opportunity. Buy a few at holiday and stock them for a few years later for a great celebration.

 1,016 characters

Photo of ZachKelly
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a clear dark amber/ruby with a small white head that fades away. Some spotty lacing.

Smell is dominated by sweetness with and holiday spices. Cherries are pretty strong with a hint of booze.

Taste is pretty sweet as well. Honey, cherries and more spices dominate with very little bitterness and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is a bit sticky and syrupy.

This seems to be one of the most accessible Holiday beers because it's sweet and high in alcohol. A bit too syrupy for me.

 474 characters

Photo of williahd
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of dbl_delta
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Fresh growler into pint glass. Pours a beautiful reddish-amber with a thin light-tan head. Initial impression is cherries and booze. There is a little bit of hops bite at the very end, but the cherries dominate throughout and linger. Medium mouthfeel; medium carbonation. Alcohol is up front and obvious. A good seasonal sipper, I suppose, but I couldn't take a steady diet of this stuff.

 394 characters

Photo of Harrison8
4.01/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep ruby red, with a thin beige head that disappears rather quickly. No lacing left behind. Coriander and honey hit the nose with a strong malty presence in the background. Coriander, banana, cloves blend with a bit of honey and sweet malty presence behind it to form a tasty brew. Mouth feel is a little above average. Good filling nature, but a little harsh on the carbonation. Overall, a tasty brew that has some good sweet notes in the taste and aroma. Very pleasant to drink.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

 517 characters

Photo of litheum94
3.59/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage, courtesy of ShadesOfGrey.

Ruby body, with a brownish head that pops and snaps like a soda. It's gone in the blink of an eye.

The cherry aromas hit me as soon as I start pouring. Has an amaretto essence to it as well. Mead like, with honey sweetness. This may sound weird, but it smells a hell of a lot like a Payday to me, with aromas of salted peanuts and carmel.

Great cherry flavors, like a homemade cherry pie. Robust nut flavors. Amaretto liquer flavors. A honey sweetness coats the mouth. The finish has more cherry flavors, with a residual sweetness that is little heavy handed.

I like the flavors, but there is too much sugar on the finish. I feel like I just ate a donut or something. That really holds me back from giving this a better review.

 775 characters

Photo of dbc5
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh 2011 bottle poured into Duvel Tulip.

Appearance: Really nice looking beer on initial, aggressive pour. Ruby red with 1.5 finger off white head. Unfortunately, the head doesn't stick around very long which is someone expected given the 11% abv.

Smell: Smells very nice. Sweet cherries, some bready malt, honey, and an underlying tart quality.

Taste: Flavor carries over the tart cherry and sweet honey. The malt comes through in the backend and keeps this from being too sweet. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden given the 11% tag, although you certainly get a nice alcohol warming as you work through the glass. This seems appropriate for a Christmas beer.

Mouthfeel: This is a bit odd for me as I simultaneously get a syrupy feel that somehow seems thinner than I expected. In no way off putting, but just average here.

Overall: This is probably my favorite Christmas seasonal around (although it seems pretty early to have this coming out in mid-October). A nice departure from the typical spiced holiday offering.

 1,028 characters

Photo of mmmbeerNY
4/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of jvgoor3786
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of hustlesworth
3.02/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- fizzy and vigorous buff colored head shrinks down quickly to a nare-nutta not much at all. similar to cola actually. no lace on a very clean tulip. body however is striking ruby red and rusty burnt sienna but due to its mega abv looks flat and disappointing.

S- smells very belgian, hints of chocolate, dark fruits like raisins, prunes, figs, dates, mineral water, spicy clove and banana yeast, pepper, blackberry, some wet dog, sweet honey, floral alcohol, but mostly yeasty and pale pilsener aromas with a fruity background.

T- more mineral water and a fresh grainy cereal flavor that is very appealing. there's a continual underlying fruity sweetness but i can't quite say that cherries or honey stand out. sweetness is not distinguishable from the rock candy syrup (or any other high sucrose simple syrup) that i typically associate with run of the mill belgian knock offs. more notes of milk chocolate and a clean floral hop bitterness but the most exciting part of this one for me is the taste of fresh lightly toasted grain and flavorful, albeit generic, yeast spiciness. finishes sweet with a little bit of residual dired cherry-sherry-wine tannin flavors and my beloved graininess lingers along with it. i will say however that the whopping 11% abv is very well hidden by fruity notes, sugar, and yeast esters.

MF- sugary acidic honey feeling, in this aspect the honey really reveals itself. more grain feeling as well. medium-low carbonation and an almost full slightly syrupy body. alcohol finally becomes evident as i burp and get a flash of heartburn, as well as a sugared dryness as finishing flavors diminish.

D- without being a dick, i'm glad i didn't save this elf til christmas eve. more than subtle, the special ingredients were totally subdued and could have been achieved merely with the magic of yeast, malt and hops, and a lil bit of rock candy. im treating it more like a generic wine than a really good belgian.

 1,944 characters

Photo of BamfBacon
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of sachie23
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of rsquared59
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of nzerbe
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of Loveyourbeer
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of GregSemenza
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of stirgy
2.88/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I had a chance to sample this rare beer during a tour of their brewery. It seems that even the brewers themselves don’t have much of this one. Troeg brother, Chris said that he wasn’t even sure that they had any of it left. I thought that was funny. This is a holiday beer that will likely be unavailable for the holidays!

On to the review, This beer is coarsely filtered, so they leave a bit of the yeast in the product, although my sample was pretty clear. Poured a golden color with a twinge of cranberry and ruby. There is an alcohol blast that hits you when you bring it up to your nose. Definitely in the forefront. The body is syrupy and cordial-like, although not too heavy. Amazingly, I detect just a hint of cherry (300 pounds were used to make this beer!). But, I want more. The finish is very dry and spicy with an overpowering alcohol bite.

It’s a very interesting beer, but in my opinion, should be more balanced out with a better fruit sweetness and not so harsh. This beer is way too young, and could see it aging very well. Too bad there isn’t any left of it.

 1,086 characters

Photo of qchic
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

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

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