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Tröegs Mad Elf | Tröegs Brewing Company

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1,241 Reviews
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs 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: 1,241 | Ratings: 3,811
Photo of womencantsail
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to TroyG2352 for sending a bottle of this in a recent trade.

A: The pour is a clear amber color with a thin off-white head and nothing in the way of lacing.

S: There's a heavy spice component to the nose along with some fruity Belgian esters and alcohol.

T: The spice is once again very strong along with a very noticeable sweet pear flavor. The sweet caramel malt and a light sugary flavor provide some additional sweetness.

M: I was surprised by the fact that this is fairly light and crisp on the tongue.

D: Unfortunately, this beer didn't seem to be all put together. Luckily, the flavor is better than the nose, but not amazing in any sense.

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Photo of russpowell
4.16/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an effervescent caramel/red with a thin filmy head. Minmal lacing & no head retention

S: Sweet, fruitty & hints of cherry& oakyness& a little booze as it warms

T: Dry with berry/cherry notes up front. Some woody/oaky character & a slight medicinal twang comes through. I also catch a little vanilla as it warms. A little warming alcohol is present as it warms. Finishes winey with cherry notes, slight chocolate & dryness

MF: Extremely low carbonation & slick

Drinks really easy for the abv, something a little different, but 2 of these beauties & you're done, This took the chill off a brutal winterstorming evening & certainally got me in the holiday mood! This would work with turkey or fruitcake. Mad props to GnomeKing for this one.

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Photo of Jason
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle with a bottled on date printed on the neck.

Appearance: Quick to give two fingers of foam but the crackling leads to a ring of lace and very little head. Brilliantly red in colour, dark red at that.

Smell: Sweet malt, touch of bitter phenols and a hint of cherries in the back. Faded whiff of alcohol throwing some rosy esters.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Alcohol is evident in the full bodied and malty brew. Lots of sweetness on the palate of malt and a kiss of juicy cherries. Spicy phenols help to balance a bit … very little hop character to be had. Suggestions of brown bread and toasted husk middle to end, nice juicy burst of fruit in the middle as well. Finish with a sweet, alcoholic and spicy kick.

Notes: Perhaps one of the most interesting beers I have run into for a long time. Highly complex yet this bottle seems a touch green … you have to wonder what a year or two in the cellar would yield.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served on-tap at Rattle N Hum in New York, NY

A: Pours a clear dark copper in color with some amber highlights and moderate amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall light beige head that reduces to a ver thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of cherries and dark fruit with some light notes of spices.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of malts with some dark fruit sweetness and cherries. Additionally, there are notes of honey contributing to the overall sweetness and a light to moderate amount of spice. Very light amounts of bitterness in the finish which fade quickly.

M: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Light hints of dryness in the finish.

O: This beer is pretty easy to drink due to the fact that the rather high ABV is well hidden. This is a good sipping beer, with a decent amount of complexity but too strong for anything other than slowly sipping.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing these bottles!

After enjoying this stuff a bunch back in my NoVa days, I was stoked to get to try some more, thanks to my boy VDubb, who cracked some '07 and '08 bottles. This stuff pours a clear sunrise amber topped by a half-finger of relatively short-lived off-white foam. The nose comprises cherry, honey, fig, dates, caramel, light biscuit, and mandarin orange. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a pinch of black pepper and nutmeg. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slick-ish feel. Overall, a rather enjoyable brew, one that doesn't overdo the spices and/or fruit, which many winter brews have a tendency to do. Good times.

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Photo of orangesol
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served thru a dogfish randall-the-animal with brandy soaked cherries and vanilla.

A - Pours deep, dark, amber with no head at all leaving minimal lacing down the glass. Looks like normal mad elf with no head.

S - Lots of cherrie skin aroma that lingers for some time. A bit of booze from the brandy but it is hidden very well. Very nice nose.

T - Cherries up front that carry thru the entire drink. Middle is a nice mix of cherrie and a bit of chewy malt. Finish is strong with a bit of cherrie syrup and plenty of booze. This has to be close to twenty percent after the brandy was added. It is hidden so well it is honestly scary.

M - Medium body with a heavy flavor and moderate carbonation. Tart finish with plenty of booze lingering on the pallet.

D - Fairly high. I loved this one but after having so many beers already this was the final straw, I had to leave after this one. I have had normal mad elf, splinter red aka BA mad elf, and yet this was the best mad elf I have ever had. The balance was great but the ABV is so high you just can't have more than one.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Nice ruby color with a 1/2 finger tight, egg white head that reduces rather quickly to a ring of thin foam around the outer edge.

S: From far away I could smell the cherries, but they aren't as overwhelming as I thought they would be, especially when I get my nose up close. The honey is present and there is a sweetness. Slight bit of alcohol as well.

T: Very sweet, cherry flavor, and the honey comes out as well. There is almost a mead-like flavor.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Slight alcohol heat on the flavor profile and on the finish.

O: Its good, just not my favorite. I don't have a problem with the slight alcohol presence, just not really for me.

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Photo of smcolw
3.25/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Minor head to start that quickly settles to rim bubbles only. No lasting lace whatsoever. The color is deep amber, almost brown. Crystal clear.

Smells of Belgian yeast. Sweet aroma of honey. Some spice that reminds me of oregano. Complex and interesting. Light alcohol warmth.

Cloyingly sweet. Very, very rich body. The carbonation seems quite low. Strong alcohol presence in the swallow and the brief aftertaste--the potency of this beer is very evident. The yeast flavor is more muted than the smell would suggest.

Although the smell might indicate complexity, the taste does not follow through.

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Photo of billab914
4.01/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. Poured a deep mahogany color with a little cherry redness coming through in the light. It had a thin spotty white lacing floating on the top of the beer for a head, with a little more concentrated around the edges.

The aroma shows a lot of the sweet honey and cherry flavor. I'm getting a little malty, caramel, dark fruit and a slight alcohol aroma as well. As it warmed I seemed to get a little more spicy, cinnamon or nutmeg aroma from it. Very nice aroma, I like the cherries in it a lot.

The taste is a lot like the nose suggests in that the cherries and honey really come through in helping to give it a moderate sweet fruity taste. The malt also helps give it a strong base and brings some caramel and dark fruit flavors of it's own. The alcohol shows a little in the finish but that I guess is expected in an 11% beer. Like the nose some spices started showing up the more it warmed.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being on the lower side. Drinkability is very good for being 11% abv. I really liked the cherry flavors in it, and I love cherries in general so this is a very drinkable beer for me. I will note that I actually liked it better when it was colder. It seemed to have more of a sweet cherry flavor when colder and it gained more of a malty, spicy almost Christmasy flavor when warmed. It wasn't bad warmer I just liked the cherry flavor when I first opened it better.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have had this a few times but most recently this weekend at Eatonville in DC. Served in a mason jar type glass.

a - Pours a reddish amber color with one inch of off white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of Belgian yeast, cherries, sweet dark fruits, spices, bready malts, bananas, and light sugar. Pretty nice nose.

t - Tastes of cherries, light dark fruits, Belgian yeast, light spice, and bready malts. Taste is a slight step down from the nose. Not as much fruit or as strong as the nose.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Smooth and doesn't feel like 11% ABV at all.

o - Overall a pretty nice Belgian Strong Dark. Nose is very nice and full of cherries, though the taste wasn't quite as fruity. Definitely didn't feel like 11% ABV, would have it again next winter.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found on draft at Mad Mex the Robinson location, I was just excited to see at tap handle from Troeg's. Appearance: Ruby tinted thin creamy white head little lacing alcohol wards this off. Aroma: Cherries soaked in alcohol with a mild tartness in the air, spices bringing more Christmas cheer, and the malts used a much more complex than bringing out a caramel / mild cocoa scent. Taste: Is comparable to a cherry liquer massive alcohol note sweeps the palate, very warming spicy with tart sweetness and a soft finish this one ties it together. Mouthfeel: Troeg's went MAD this beer has crazy amount of alcohol kicking, full syrupy mouthfeel definitely a one glass at a time type brew. Drinkability: Didn't get tired of the rich tones thought it would be overbearing I was served sixteen ounces of this fine nectar for six bucks not a bad deal.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Zella's in Baltimore, MD. Served in a Chimay goblet.

A: Virtually flat. Perhaps 1/16 inch head that left no lacing. The color is a pretty ruby-tinged brown. The beer is light enough to see through easily, which I found rather surprising.

S: cherries, sweet malt, Belgian yeast, alcohol

T: A delicious take on a Belgian Strong Dark beer, this brew has an assertive sweet cherry flavor. Belgian yeast and a pleasant malty taste make this an enjoyable beverage. The beer definitely has an alcohol kick, though it is surprisingly not harsh. Well done.

M: more carbonation needed. ABV hidden fairly well

D: A bit too sweet for me to drink more than one. Also, the cherries, while great, would become excessive after a while.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautifully ruby hued amber with a thickly spiced aroma that has a fair amount of yeasty funk lingering as well. Flavor is spiced like a winter warmer. I feel like I am diving into this at the wrong time. It needs to be snowing like hell with a fire nearby.

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Photo of stakem
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Second review of mad elf for the year, this time on tap.

Pours a very clear orange color with a bit of redness about it and a minimal amount of white head that is quick to dissapear. Nose is your typical belgian including phenols, clove, spice, fruity sweetness and a warming kick of alcohol astringency in the end. Where this beer deters from the normal belgian is in the sweetness of the aroma. It is quite reminescent more of honey and cherry. Taste includes just about everything you would expect from the aroma: a bit of clove and spice, sweetness exaggerated by cherry/honey and a quite warming finish. Feel of this beer is light and moderately carbed. Overall it is a nice sipper and I enjoy this beer while looking forward to it again each holiday.

The noticable differnces from this beer on tap verse the bottle is that the mouthfeel is significantly lighter but that is probably mostly in part due to the higher level of carb than the bottle version.

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Photo of jwc215
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours ruby red with a thin head that soon becomes a patch.

The smell is of cherries, honey and alcohol.

The taste is of tart cherries. Subtle hints of sweet honey and spicy, doughy yeast. Sharp alcohol. Malt and yeast dominate, with little input from hops. Sweettart, alcohol finish. Aftertaste is medicinal - almost like a cough drop. Medium-bodied and sharp. (Cellaring for a good while might mellow it.)

An interesting brew - fruity and sweet. A slow sipper.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 bottling Enjoyed 12/19/2008

Pours a clear red brown with a smallish off white head that disappears quickly. Smells of Cherries, plums, dried fruit, malt, spicy yeast. Tastes of cherry and sweet malt, a bit of alcohol, some yeast funk. I'm not picking up much at all in the way of hop aroma or taste. This bottle is over a year old, so I think what little hop it had has long gone. Body is medium to thick, Mouthfeel is syrupy sweet, carbonation is low. The 11% is well hidden with only a trace of alcohol in the taste. I found it to be a sweet Belgian dark and had to sip this one most of the way down. Not bad, but a bit sweet for my taste, maybe a bit more hops could have helped this one out. I hope to try one fresh someday.

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Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - ruby amber with a soft, off white head

S - sugar, faint belgian yeast, some spice

T - cherries, sugar, belgian yeast, faint spice, faint alcohol

M - medium bodied, warm, good carbonation

This was a really nice beer. I thought it had great balance and flavor. The cherries were a nice touch to the Belgian yeast and spice. They aren't tart or sour. I was very impressed. I would have given a higher score if the flavor was more than cherries with underlying notes meaning I wish it had more of a Belgian character. As it is this is a very good beer that is definitely worth your time.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've had two beers in a row this Christmas Eve that feature that smiling sap Santy Claus on the label and it's about time to genuflect in honor of the unrecognized working class hero, in this case, a certain Demented Dwarf!
So, let's to it!
Appearance: a brilliant bright and shiny crimson color...gorgeous! And adorned with a fuzzy, cream-toned head that's lives too briefly.
Aroma: big on the fruit, but never too sweet, somehow, and damned interesting, feeling like it's rife with spices, and I can pick up the honey hinted at on the label, and the cherry factor is flowing over, in much abundance and joined with a brandyish character, ushering in the full effect of the alcohol content...oh, yeah, 11%, how about that, huh?
So, let's taste!
Dark, rich, fruity, utterly alcohol-drenched cherry goodness! The booze is king here, and it's sublimely delicious! Malt is in command in this beer, and I don't believe hops have a word to say, it's not their show tonight, malt and booze is all, but the sweetness never cloys somehow, and balance is acheived, but not if you account for the monstrous alcoholic component.
Sadly, the mouthfeel gets a bit thin in the middle, and I wish the body was fuller, but that rich, delicious taste seems to redeem any/everything...and then, the booze kicks in for real, and nothing has no excuse! That's how a Mad Elf is born!
My second bottle downed, and this review is done "live" while drinking it and referencing my notes, however scribbly, from the last taste. And I'm nothing short of wowed by this amazing creation! These guys got guts! I've had other Troeg's beers that were commendable and tasty, but not overwhelming and utterly incredible! I really, really, really like this beer!
Domo Arigato, Mr. ManekiNeko for getting this beer to me!

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Photo of smakawhat
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. Getting a head start on Christmas I guess.

A real nice ruby and clear red body, but with a very fast and falling foamy off tan brown head. Lots of noticeable sounding carbonation as well. Barely a collar manages to hang on shortly after and leaves barely a whisp of a top.

Nose is big on Belgian like candi sweetness and some sense of cough drop cherry. A real sense that something sweet is coming.

A kind of juicy light jammy cherry sense on the palate, mixing in with a little bit of bready malts. Surprisingly not as sweet as I thought it might be coming from the nose. Texture actually feels pretty solid, this very nice juicy body almost jammy.

Overall not too bad, nothing real crazy that I am getting excited about though either. For eleven percent abv, it doesn't feel like a boozy mess or hard to drink, which is a nice surprise. However, I am not finding myself really drawn to this.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Medium grade maple syrup

S - Bright but not overpowering. Raspberry, citrus hops, clove.

T - A fun beer. The flavors are interesting and meld into each other surprisingly well. There isn't any one flavor that stands up and smacks you in the face. Primary flavors are clove, allspice, and brown breads. Touch of bitter melon and bananas deep in the profile.

M - Light body but not overly so. Smooth mouth feel. Finishes sweet with a touch of warm alcohol.

D - Very drinkable. Spice profile isn't overwhelming and there's enough flavor to keep you coming back.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a bright, vibrant, ruby coloring, with a slow flow of carbonation and a sparse, filmy, off-white surface coating of head. Aromas of very rich, sugary fruit notes of cherry, fig, date, as well as notes of bubble gum, cotton candy, a blend of nutmeg and cinnamon spice, rich honey, tangy caramel, and woody notes. There's an overall roast character dancing around in there, too. Flavors are rich and sweet forward, with an undertone of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Sweet flavors are caramel, an old-world fruit blend, cherry tart and sweet, rich honey, and earthy notes. There is a subtle booze warmth that builds as you drink. Solid. The beer is slick and light in mouth, despite all the heavy palate notes. There is a tangy fruit sweetness in the aftertaste, with some of the booze lingering around. The finish is slick, slightly oily, with a decent fruit and booze linger. Good beer.

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Photo of Billolick
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, without freshness dating. Poured just below room temp in a Belgian style chalice, pours, medium mahogony, with a slight reddish hue, minor tan head, quickly dissapating, medium sized bubbles and leaving some, not too impressive lacing. Nose is just slightly picked up, grainy and of fruits and some alcohol. This is a smooth, easy drinking Belgian stlye ale. 11% hidden well, but with a nice fruity, cherry warming feel. Notes of, malt, light candi sugars, vanilla, honey, mild hot sauce and sherry soaked cherries. Fine and flavorful sipper.

Thanks to my friend "Grassy" for a sixer of this hard to find nectar...

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Photo of drabmuh
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Beer poured from a bottle into a tulip. Beer is amber / brown in color, forms a thin off white head of medium to small bubbles. Head falls away leaving some lacing.

Beer smells sweet, carmel, some cherries? a little tartness. Smells inviting. Really sweet smelling.

Strong honey taste, really strong. Its front and back with honey. There is a slight aftertaste. Sweet, some caramel. Some alcohol comes through as well. This is a fine beer but unfortunately not my favorite.

EDIT: the more I drink this the more it seems like an imperial hefeweizen....i like it.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
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 tempest
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not sure what to expect at first, but this sure smells belgian. Lots of spicey aroma up front. I'm used to this being in the paler belgians, but I guess this one might be in the middle. More spice (corriander? in the flavor mixed with the honey and cherries and a little earthy bitterness that blends with the fruit. This is certainly different. It kicks outs at the end with a cherry tang and a hint, albeit an unsubtle one, at the alcohol. Definately not my favorite, but I recommend giving it try. It's worth it.

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Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 3,811 ratings.
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