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Brewing a Troegs Mad Elf Ale Clone + Recipe

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BrewingAroundtheRrealm

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I started thinking about what I was going to brew for the holiday season back in October. Troegs Mad Elf Ale has been my go-to holiday beer for a very long time. I set out to create a clone.

I searched for an accurate recipe that matched up with the malts listed on Troegs site: https://troegs.com/beer/mad-elf/ Unfortunately I didn't find anything that quite matched up. Most of them were either too dark with an SRM of 18 - 20 or over hopped.

The recipe I came up with is listed on my website here: https://brewingaroundtherealm.com/brewing-a-mad-elf-ale-clone-recipe-troegs-independent-brewing/

My full brew day, with tasting notes at the end, is posted here:

I would make two changes to the recipe. Additional canned cherries and changing out the dark Munich for a lighter one.

The original threads I started with on Home Brew Talk are here:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/troegs-mad-elf.435795/
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/tröegs-mad-elf-ale-clone.183922/

Has anyone else tried to brew a Mad Elf clone?
 

Brooothru

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Ouch! Even at Walmart those Oregon brand canned cherries are around $4 per can. That's like $25 bucks for only one of the ingredients. That's more than what I paid for a 12 pack of Mad Elf earlier today ($24.72, to be exact). Love me some Troeg's.
 

matt_m

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I did some label comparison and Kroger brand sweet and tart cherries appear to about the same as the Oregon and end up maybe $2 cheaper than ordering the 3-packs at walmart.com. I'd imagine other house-brands are about the same too. But I'm sure we have another $15 worth of stuff we can order to get the free shipping and stick to what the OP used.
 
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BrewingAroundtheRrealm

BrewingAroundtheRrealm

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I did some label comparison and Kroger brand sweet and tart cherries appear to about the same as the Oregon and end up maybe $2 cheaper than ordering the 3-packs at walmart.com. I'd imagine other house-brands are about the same too. But I'm sure we have another $15 worth of stuff we can order to get the free shipping and stick to what the OP used.
I don't see any reason why you couldn't use the store brand of cherries. My local grocery stores, Giant and Weis, do not have store brands of the of the cherries to try. I did find the Oregon cherries at Giant this year. The first time ever that I've seen them there. Cleaned them out of what they had. 6 dark sweet, 3 tart.

Yes, if I cannot find them locally I do order them online. And usually pick up what ever else I might need from Walmart to meet the $35 minimum for free shipping.
 
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matt_m

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Thanks, ordered the grain, hops, and yeast this morning. Kroger has been hit and miss the last couple weeks on fulfilling Clicklist orders so I'll probably just order from Walmart to ensure I get all 6 cans.

Was there a particular Beersmith profile you were trying to hit for water additions?
 

Dancy

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So I’m in the primary for 6 days now and the airlock is STILL going. Should airlock be stopped (or at a specific gravity) before I tranfer to the secondary on top of the cherries? Thanks,
 
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You should be at terminal gravity, around 1.020 or below, before racking to secondary with the cherries. Reaching 1.020 or below is going to take 2 weeks or more. Don't try to hurry this. 6 weeks from brew day till ready to drink is not unusual with this beer.
 

Dancy

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I can definitely be patient. I’ll be dipping some bottles in wax and storing for Xmas 2021 😁. Thanks!
 

matt_m

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I finally have everything on hand for mine. My favorite HBS is quite backed up with orders which I'm not going to complain about. Thinking I might brew it on Christmas Eve. @Dancy, I like that idea for gifts for beer-drinking friends and family next year!
 

Dancy

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I finally have everything on hand for mine. My favorite HBS is quite backed up with orders which I'm not going to complain about. Thinking I might brew it on Christmas Eve. @Dancy, I like that idea for gifts for beer-drinking friends and family next year!
Yes, but I’m actually more concerned about the stability of the bottle caps for that long. Beer is usually consumed within in a couple of months but I am unsure how good the bottle cap seal is after a year. Maybe I’m being overly cautious but it’ll look cool 😉.
 
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Yes, but I’m actually more concerned about the stability of the bottle caps for that long. Beer is usually consumed within in a couple of months but I am unsure how good the bottle cap seal is after a year. Maybe I’m being overly cautious but it’ll look cool 😉.
I have nothing to back this up but I feel this would be fine. As long as it is stored properly. I opened a few bottles of a Wit i brewed in 2018 this past summer. They tasted perfectly fine. Not as good as when they were originally brewed but still carbonated and drinkable.
 

matt_m

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I brewed this today. Missed on the OG pretty big as my pre-boil gravity was where I expected. I'm thinking it must be related to the honey but I didn't think to take a reading before adding the honey. Still it should be around 8.5%+ depending on where the FG comes in.
 

Dancy

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Last night I transferred to the secondary with the blended cans of Oregon Red Tart Cherries and Dark Sweet Cherries. The gravity reading was 1.007. I think fermentation completed because after 28 hours on the cherries, there’s no activity. I pressed on the side of the plastic Speidel fermenter and the airlock has zero movement. I’ll leave it alone for two weeks, then bottle. I plan on adding LalBrew CBC-1 Cask & Bottle Conditioning Ale Dry Yeast at bottling to help with carbonation.
 
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Last night I transferred to the secondary with the blended cans of Oregon Red Tart Cherries and Dark Sweet Cherries. The gravity reading was 1.007. I think fermentation completed because after 28 hours on the cherries, there’s no activity. I pressed on the side of the plastic Speidel fermenter and the airlock has zero movement. I’ll leave it alone for two weeks, then bottle. I plan on adding LalBrew CBC-1 Cask & Bottle Conditioning Ale Dry Yeast at bottling to help with carbonation.
That's impressive. The best I've ever done on this was a final gravity of 1.018. Did you use Wyeast 1388? Did you make a starter? If so, what is your starter process? Next year I might add WLP 090 on day 3 or 4.
 

matt_m

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Mine has slowed to a crawl in the mid 40's according to Tilt. Read that Wyeast recommends some agitation to prevent a stall so at some point today I'll probably do that by adding some CO2 via the dump port on my conical.
 

Dancy

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That's impressive. The best I've ever done on this was a final gravity of 1.018. Did you use Wyeast 1388? Did you make a starter? If so, what is your starter process? Next year I might add WLP 090 on day 3 or 4.
I used two packs of Mangrove Jack M41, rehydrated. Pitched at 64 degrees F. I put four 1/2 gallon bottles of ice in my fermentation jacket, switching them out every day for maybe 4 days then let the fermentation come up to around 70-72 F. I realize the temp sticker on the side isn’t the most accurate method for tracking. The airlock was active for 7 or 8 days. I transferred to secondary after a total of 12 days.
 
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BrewingAroundtheRrealm

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I used two packs of Mangrove Jack M41, rehydrated. Pitched at 64 degrees F. I put four 1/2 gallon bottles of ice in my fermentation jacket, switching them out every day for maybe 4 days then let the fermentation come up to around 70-72 F. I realize the temp sticker on the side isn’t the most accurate method for tracking. The airlock was active for 7 or 8 days. I transferred to secondary after a total of 12 days.
That is interesting. I typically don't use dry yeast. I might have to give m41 a try in something.
 

Dancy

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That is interesting. I typically don't use dry yeast. I might have to give m41 a try in something.
This is my first Belgian. I typically brew recipes beginning in the upper 1.040s to 1.060 and directly pitch Imperial Organic Yeast (200 billion cells). I‘d like to begin making starters but frankly, I didn’t want to spend money on what I need for that at Xmas time so I opted for the Mangrove Jack dry yeast. I was surprised at the 1.007 reading at transfer to the secondary (my hydrometer is accurate). This was the longest vigorous fermentation I’ve had.
 

Dancy

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Would you recommend for or against cold crashing this with gelatin finings? I did this for the first time recently for a brown ale, very successfully — it is cold here in Minnesota so I just set the fermenter out in my condo’s balcony. Given the cherries in the secondary, is this worthwhile?
 
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Would you recommend for or against cold crashing this with gelatin finings? I did this for the first time recently for a brown ale, very successfully — it is cold here in Minnesota so I just set the fermenter out in my condo’s balcony. Given the cherries in the secondary, is this worthwhile?
I see no harm in cold crashing this. I usually keg this and let it clear over the course of 2 weeks. 2 weeks in the keg fridge is no different than cold crashing. Gelatin shouldn't hurt either. Though I don't see the need.
 
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Dancy

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Thanks. I don’t think I’ll add the finings as it will settle out fine (enough) in the bottles over time. Also, I really do not want to open the secondary for anything that really isn’t it necessary. This is a 4 gallon batch in a Speidel 7.9G fermenter so there’s more head space than I’d like. I really need to buy a 5G as well.
 

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I bottled my 4G batch tonight (39 bottles), ending up at a gravity reading of 1.005. OG was 1.098 so I am at a bit over 12%. Smells and tastes wonderful with a strong cherry odor and nice reddish tint. Used roughly half a package of LalBrew CBC-1 hydrated with 4.7 ounces of corn sugar for bottle carbonation. Full disclosure: I’ve never actually tried Troegs Mad Elf Ale! I have not found it in stock the few times I tried to locate it but I just had to make the recipe. I’ll try it in a couple weeks and also save some bottles for next Thanksgiving/Xmas.
 

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Mine is still slowly chugging away, just hit 1.028 late yesterday. Still regularly bubbling but its definitely slowing. A week ago it was dropping a point every 18 hours or so, now its more like 30.
 

matt_m

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I hit 1.022 before the yeast dropped, blowoff activity ceased and my Tilt indicated it had been a few days so I dumped yeast today and added the 6 cans of cherries just one day shy of 1 months since brew day.

Curious if there's any way to estimate the additional ABV of the sugars from the cherry puree? It appears the gravity went up by about 4 points after the addition and there's definitely renewed activity.
 

Brew_Dude41

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Read up on back sweetening in the cider forums.

If you add a sulfite solution or something like that it will kill off the yeast and stabilize your gravity.

Personally, I have not done this and I am not sure of the process, but I know I have seen it discussed there.
 

Dancy

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Mine has slowed to a crawl in the mid 40's according to Tilt. Read that Wyeast recommends some agitation to prevent a stall so at some point today I'll probably do that by adding some CO2 via the dump port on my conical.
What Wyeast did you use?
 
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I hit 1.022 before the yeast dropped, blowoff activity ceased and my Tilt indicated it had been a few days so I dumped yeast today and added the 6 cans of cherries just one day shy of 1 months since brew day.

Curious if there's any way to estimate the additional ABV of the sugars from the cherry puree? It appears the gravity went up by about 4 points after the addition and there's definitely renewed activity.
If you add the additional points to your starting gravity you will come up with a close approximation. Use the new starting gravity to calculate your ABV. It's not going to be perfect. But it will be close.
 

Dancy

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So three weeks after bottling, carbonation is slow. The few test bottles I’ve placed in a warm environment are carbonated but not near what I want for the style. However, I know from past experience with bottled beer and corn sugar it can - and likely will - take off at some point. I used half a package of LalBrew CBC-1 hydrated with 4.7 ounces of corn sugar for 4G of beer.
 

matt_m

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And we are back!

I kegged mine this weekend. Still waiting for it to carb up but once it cold crashed and I blew the bits of cherry that settled out it seems like it will be good, though I may cut back on the cherries next time for my personal preference. We'll see how it ages.
 

Dancy

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@ marr_m I hope to hear what you think of it after ages and if you think you’d still use less cherries.
 

Dancy

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So as of two days ago, it is very carbonated with a slightly pink cast to the foam — and its tasting sooo good with a definite cherry influence. Four cans of the cherries for a 4G batch - Two sweet, 2 tart. Again, I’ve never had the original but I’ve purchased 3 Belgian darks and believe mine is at least in the right neighborhood. Seven or 8 to consume now and 24 wax sealed for the 2021 Thanksgiving/Xmas holidays.
EDD928B4-D0D2-4E99-B7BB-215B453420B6.jpeg6517F561-13D1-4F30-ADA4-28B61E95CB63.jpeg
 
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