Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) - Bethlehem Brew Works
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 167 | Reviews: 93 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Dantes:
4.18/5 rDev +10.3%
Package: 12oz. brown, longneck, crowned bottle. Label depicts Santa astride a somewhat fearful reindeer, with saddlebags filled with beer. Blurb describes beer as a “Belgian style ale brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet gale (?), cloves, coriander and allspice.” No date or ABV information, but I just bought this directly from BBW and their website confirms it at 9.5%.
Cost: $10 per 6-pack; $30 per case at Shangy’s
Presentation: Snifter at ~50º
Appearance: An absolutely beautiful beer with a densely creamy bonewhite head and clear, coppery, auburn body. Rita Hayworth, eat your heart out! Super-fine beads replenished the head continually, which left nice lacing. Instantly evoked Autumn.
Smell: A wonderfully complex aroma topped by a definite whiff of alcohol. There’s a lot happening on the nose, but it combines well and is reminiscent of baking cinnamon buns or stöllen. Cinnamon is prominent but not dominating, with the other spicy notes mixing well with the bready bouquet and fruitiness.
Taste: Similar to the nose, alcohol warms the mouth first, but is backed up by the cinnamon and other spices. The Belgian candi-sugar is also detectable, but I think this also shares some similarities to British winter warmers, with its malty, bready body. Despite all of the malt, spices, and candi-sugar, this has a pretty nutty, dry, finish lengthened by the alcohol warmth.
Mouthfeel: Although I’m pretty sure this isn’t bottle-conditioned, it has a fine carbonation. Very mouthwarming and comfortingly “heavy.”
Drinkability: I think this is pretty drinkable, although the alcohol is apparent and the spices can be a bit rough, at least when fresh. Something that I think will be even more pleasant with age.
I first had the opportunity to try a few samples of this at Shangy’s. At the time, it seemed on the sweet side to me, which someone who worked there echoed, comparing it to “Coke,” which I thought went too far. Because I didn’t want to commit to a case, I didn’t buy any. However, a friend had some business not far from Bethlehem, so I went a long for a ride and we stopped at BBW, where I tried some on draught and picked up a 6-pack. I’m glad I did. Neither the draft nor these bottles were cloyingly sweet. It makes a great after-dinner beer as ammunition against the Winter chill.
Backwash: Worth seeking out or trading for. An interesting take on a winter warmer style beer that comes off well.
12-01-2003 23:47:10 | More by Dantes
More User Reviews:
4.22/5 rDev +11.3%
12 ouncer sampled, pours orange amber, clear with an off white head and leaving just so so lacing. Nose here is initially just of alcohol, then some warm spicing comes along. This is a large, bold, spicy, strong brew. Lots of Belgian yeasty phenolics and bubblegum notes, yum, did I mention the warming alcoholic sensations?, the whiskey notes? The vanilla and coconut flavors? double yum. This is a fine, complex and very BA worthy brew, nice job BBC. Go and get some of this stuff! A few bottles on Christmas eve and I'll be seeing Santa's sled floating over my house...
11-14-2005 23:05:42 | More by Billolick
4/5 rDev +5.5%
Appearance: Nice bright amber body with a thin cream head leavs specks of scattered lacing, not bad. Aroma: Ginger, nutmeg with copious amounts of citrus toned hops mild alcohol but well hiddent tone thrown in there. Much more complex than your average Xmas inspired spiced strong ale, thanks to francisweizen for the sample. Taste: Mmm... Christmas in July... well almost. Loads of spices a bit weird and non beer like but the tasty caramel malts and mellowed alcohol come together nicely along with a decent hop bitterness to form one nice brew. Mouthfeel: Fluffy medium bodied evenly carbonated no complaints in this department. Drinkability: Wow, great and enjoyed a nice sized sample but I couldn't session with this one too much going on.
05-17-2004 19:28:18 | More by WVbeergeek
4.33/5 rDev +14.2%
This beer pours a cloudy, orangish brown color, with a very light tan head. The head fades quickly, leaving a good lacing.
This beer has a sour fruit aroma. It also smells spicy. It smells of nutmeg, and coriander. A slight clove aroma is also present. It has a citrus aroma as well.
This beer tastes just like it smells. It has a sour flavor with some fruity notes. It is also quite spicy, with a mostly nutmeg flavor. Some cinimon is also present. The alcohol content is well hidden in the flavor and the aroma of this beer.
This beer goes down smooth, leaving a nutmeg like aftertaste. It is a little undercarbonated, I think, for the style.
Although this beer tastes great, I think it might not be the worlds best session beer. It is a little high in alcohol. Also, the flavor might get a little overbearing after a few.
Overall: Thanks go out to ggaughan for hooking me up with this one. It is great. I could drink it all year. Too bad I have no access to it in San Diego.
12-23-2006 02:24:42 | More by OStrungT
3.85/5 rDev +1.6%
Grabbed a sixer today to stash away for Christmas, but was eager to crack one open as I've never had this before.
Poured into a large chalice, Rude Elf has a nice dark amber / cola colored body with 2 fingers of of white head that lingers for a couple minutes before settling down to a thin creamy layer on the surface. The nose consists of dark fruits, sweet Belgian candy, and caramel malts. The taste is right in line with the aromas, sweet from start to finish, fruits and malts with a nice spiciness rounding out the flavor profile. Medium bodied, and for as fresh as this bottle is, its not that hot.
I like this holiday BSDA, I just like the Mad Elf a bit more - I am curious how this ages, maybe I'll lay one of these down for a year and give this review and edit in 2011.
11-14-2010 03:02:10 | More by prdstmnky
3.78/5 rDev -0.3%
notes from 11/25/2009
on-tap poured into a 12oz tulip at the brewpub
first Belgian ive had on tap, poured a ruby red color with a decent head, as other Belgians ive had this tastes a little bit like a wine with nutmeg and cinnamon, it did drink nice and smooth
not exactly my cup of tea as its a little high in abv% to be a constant order but worth a try at least once a season
12-09-2009 00:33:51 | More by psujesus
4/5 rDev +5.5%
A bottle from the brewery. ABV not listed on the label. Initially from fridge with a cloudy yeasty peach colour, soap bubble head. Good kitchen spice cabinet aroma. Initially creamy good medium mouthfeel, and spices refreshed.Like a good Begium, yet hint of metallic finish. As glass warmed, mouthfeel felt thinner and spices Ok but not delicious, more like an American Winter warmer.
05-21-2006 04:02:23 | More by Sammy
4.47/5 rDev +17.9%
The appearance is quite nice with a slightly hazy, deep chestnut body that displays crimson highlights topped by a short and creamy light tan head. The head drops shortly but maintains a nice collar and leaves some spotty lace throughout the glass. The nose is sweet and fruity with the clove standing out amongst the various spices. Upon further investigation the cinnamon and nutmeg are also notable. The full body is enhanced by a very fine carbonation that's at first gently crisp on the tongue, but becomes creamy as it warms across the palate. The flavor is quite rich and extravagant. It's impressively vivid with a sweet, juicy malt that's drenched in soft, swirling spice flavors. The bitterness is well restrained for obvious reasons. The complexity of the spicing is astounding, with each of the many spices appearing seperately as you progress through the serving. With one sip the nutmeg may appear clear as day, but on the next it's all about cinnamon. I'm honestly not sure about the sweet gale, but the coriander/clove seem to have a constant presence. If you hold it in your mouth for long enough you may be able to note several of the spices in a row; and yet they never overpower the palate. Exceptional, and very well balanced! As might be expected, the finish is dry with a variety of lingering spices and a light touch of softly fruity and gently caramelish malt. The alcohol is completely cloaked, which is surprising for a beer of 9.5%! Quite impressive! I've never tasted a beer that can take so much spice and wrap it up so nicely in one small package. Of course, it is still limited in it's drinkability as the bold spicing will tend to build on the palate beyond one glass - but it makes an exceptional after-dinner drink or nightcap! This is one to enjoy from a brandy snifter on a cold night in front of the fireplace with a well-worn leather-bound copy of Dicken's.
01-14-2003 17:58:28 | More by NeroFiddled
2.9/5 rDev -23.5%
On-tap at the Allentown Brew Works. Maybe it was brewed in Allentown, but its the same beer. Served in a goblet it appears a dark brown.
This beer has a lot of good flavors, but frankly it's a mess. They don't work. Nutmeg and cinnamon compete with dried cherries and a strong clove taste. This beer would be okay without the clove phenols, but they really throw a wrench into the works. For the strength, the body is otherwise drinkable, but I won't be returning to this beer. No thanks.
12-08-2008 20:09:14 | More by tempest
4.08/5 rDev +7.7%
On draft, and in bottle available at the Brew Works.
A very dark ale with a one finger head that leaves very little lacing, but a nice ring of tan foam around rim of the glass.
The aroma is rich in plumb, cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and mostly - banana. The over-riding impression is of something luscious and desert-like.
The flavor follows this up. It is a thick and warm tasting beer that is rich in layers of sweet flavor. The most predominant taste is that of a fruitcake laced with christmas spices. It is perhaps one of the most pronounced and deliberately flavored holiday ales. There is some alcohol aftertaste but it is not disruptive to the sweet palate.
The mouthfeel has a molasses like quality but is not actually thick. Here is where the alcohol becomes stronger and leaves a whiskey like feeling in the stomach. The beer is very drinkable despite its high alcohol and strong tastes.
12-28-2009 03:55:20 | More by Minotaur
3.9/5 rDev +2.9%
A 10 oz chalice served at the Allentown Brew Works.
A: The ale is admirably dark, befitting the style. Unlike a dubbel or quad though, this ale lacks haziness. While the ale is dark, it is clear that there is no sediment to muck up the works. There was little head on the pour but, on tasting, the ample carbonation is evident.
S: The nose is Belgian, full of flavor and very festive. Dark candi sugars create a semi-sweet taste that is bolstered by raisins and spices.
T: My first thought was that this is a dubbel on performance enhancers. The candi sugars are robust and sweet, driving the entire taste. The yeast adds dark alefruit flavors, raisins and dates. A spice profile of cinnamon and nutmeg also adds depth to the flavor. The booze quotient of the ale is off the charts, it is hot from the get go and never settles down. Seriously, this one knocked me out.
M: The mouthfeel is hot, full of alcohol strength that stands up to the holiday spice profile. This was a nice beer for an unseasonably cold March afternoon.
D: One chalice was enough for me. The flavor profile is enjoyable but the booze really gets in the way.
03-30-2008 01:35:34 | More by akorsak
Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) from Bethlehem Brew Works
85 out of 100 based on 167 ratings.