Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) - Bethlehem Brew Works

Not Rated.
Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve)Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

192 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 192
Reviews: 94
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 15.75%
Wants: 14
Gots: 26 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Bethlehem Brew Works visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: goindownsouth on 12-08-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 192 | Reviews: 94
Reviews by Edwin:
Photo of Edwin
4.28/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a nice brownish/amber with a creamy white head that was on top from start to finish.

Smell - Smells of cherries and spices (cinnamon, etc). A nice aroma, very fit for the holidays.

Taste - I dare to say that this offering is eerily similar to the Troeg's Mad Elf, but with a tad more spiciness in lieu of the cherry flavor. It's a winner!

Mouthfeel - Very smooth and non-offensive.

Drinkability - Pretty good. I could have a few of these without flinching. The sweetness may become a tad overbearing at times if that's not what you're into.

Overall - A very nice holiday sampling. Nice spiciness and some complexity, but all in all reminds me of the Mad Elf. A+!

More User Reviews:
Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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...

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.02/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of OStrungT
4.32/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of prdstmnky
3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of psujesus
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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

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

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.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of tempest
2.95/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of Shade1951
4/5  rDev +5%

Strange brew! But only at first. I had been drinking Mad Elf by Troegs the couple weeks prior to trying this one. When I first poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a standard beer glass and took a sip, I was slightly put off. Where Mad Elf is "fruity," Rude Elf is spicy. It was a bit of a shock. Cinnamon is, by far, the dominant smell AND flavor of this ale. And while I like cinnamon well enough, my first impression was that it didn't belong in a beer. I regretted having bought an entire case at the quite steep price of $60.

But then, by the time I got to the final ounce, my palate had adjusted. The cinnamon tasted warm and toasty rather than cloying. Definite flavors of "the season" - baked goods. The question that remained was - Would I enjoy the next one?

Well, that evening I tried another. And this time there was no shock to the palate. It just tasted good! The smell which has first bothered me a bit was now pleasant and welcome. The flavor continued being quite pleasant - and though the booze is high, I didn't feel any alcohol burn going down.

How does Rude Elf compare to Mad Elf? I cannot even compare, as they are really quite different from each other, despite the "Elf" in both names. They are both quite good, but in different ways. And of that, I am glad.

Photo of Minotaur
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of philbe311
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A fingers worth of audibly fizzy egg nog colored head fades in rapid fashion leaving a very faint veil on uneven lacing... A warm completely translucent medium brown color... Minimal touches of lacing clings to the glass after each sip before receding... A moderate bit of mixed paced carbonation, some sluggish, most moderate to quick paced...

S - Spiced wafers... Ginger... Cinnamon... Nutmeg... Hints of caramel... Hints of vanilla... Hints of brown sugar... Hints of dark fruit... Undertones of Belgian yeast... A bit of nuttiness... Warming and intoxicating boozy undertones... Rich, deep, and complex...

T - Much of the complexity from the nose disappears on the palette, but there is still a lot good stuff going on... At the forefront are the spices and the booze... Buried beneath is a wide array of malts... Some dark fruits... Some caramel... Some bready malts...

M - On the lighter side of full bodied... A perfect amount of carbonation that packs a powerful bite... A nice warming effect from the booze... Sleek and slightly sticky...

D - An enjoyable sipper... A bit more sweetness would go a long way to making this a world class seasonal offering... Not withstanding this is still a very solid offering and one that I'll continue to sip on and enjoy through out the season...

Photo of SickGnar
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Bright yet dark orangey amber. Barely super light tan head of moderate size. Okay lacing, but it keeps sliding back down the glass.

S: Fruity and spicy in a Belgian yeast way. Nutmeg and possibly other spices. Toasty and caramel malts. Potent and sweet.

T: Prunes and plums and stone fruits (hinting at cherries) and even raisins all contribute to the sweet, fruity, booze-soaked (dark rum / bourbon) core of the flavors. Some lighter candied tropical fruit notes also poke through. Just a tad too far in the background are some toasty, caramel and lighter toffee malts with sugar cookie sweetness. Any hops are well hidden by everything else that is going on. There is vanilla aspect - possibly oaky (but not tannic or woody) - that comes in mid-way and like the fruits has boozy overtones. Spices are nutmeg and allspice, lighter cloves (more phenolic than spice), and some soft & muted cinnamon that grows as the brew warms. Spice level is nice - a sort of refined complement to the overall fruity, sweet, boozy character. Somewhat heavy handed booze with out the robust malts to back it hurts the palate a bit.

M: Just barely below full with a lively carbonation to match against the heft and make it seem a little less dangerous than it is. Almost creamy. Abv is obvious, but not quite so much as expected at 10.5 percent.

D: This is a sipper. A distinctly rich and interesting fireside desert beer. Obviously, yet dangerously strong. While not overly Belgian, it is a flavorful experience. None the less, it is a bit too intense, boozy, and thickly sweet to truly be highly drinkable.

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

Pours light brown with red highlights. Small head with lots of lace. Aroma is malty yets shows signs of ginger, orange peel and maybe cherries. Vey interesting flavors, very well-psiced with nothing dominant but just all working together. Cinnamon and ginger give it a little bit of a ginger ale kick but the malt prevent it from straying too far. Very nice mouthfeel and dry finish.
Can only imagine how good this could be on draught.

Photo of scooter231
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not only is the name cool, the beer is pretty tasty too. This guy reminded me a lot of a Christmasy/Winter Warmer type brew. Tons of flavor, lots of spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, hazlenut and corriander came rushing to the surface at first sniff and taste, and refused to go away. Also some fruityness near the end to sort of balance everything out.

Very very smooth and drinkable, slightly chewy, and extremely sneaky. This one will knock you on your bum without you even realizing it. Overall a yummy Belgian brew I'd try again. And again.

Photo of oline73
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass. I'm pretty sure this is a 2010 bottle.

Appearance: Pours a mostly clear red amber with a finger of off white head. The head fades to a layer on top of the glass.

Smell: Very sweet and malty with some Belgian spice and fruity cherry like notes. I'm picking up some brown sugar and spices as well.

Taste: Sweet and a bit syrupy. Some spices and cherry like fruit notes along with lots of sweet malt. The finish is sweet with some spices. Smooth.

Mouthfeel: The body is a bit syrupy with smooth carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: This is a solid beer. I would have liked the taste to be a bit more refined, but I still enjoyed it.

Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a reddish toned amber with a 1 finger off white head that retains nicely. Scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of cinnamon, sweet malt, nutmeg, coriander, and a blast of Belgian yeast making for an interesting one.
Taste is of the same aromas with a Belgian backbone and brown sugar.
Mouthfeel is sugary and medium bodied with a slightly fizzy ending reminding me of a rum coated ginger snap cookie.

Photo of Phatz
4.32/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

WOW! Now this is a seasonal beer - if ever I have had one. It is *loaded up* with spices and just shy of the threshold that would be considered cloying (quite close though) but it is full of fun intense flavors making it a pleasure to analyze. mmm.

Appearance: Pours and amber orange golden copper color with a big beige head.

Smell: What a nose full. My – goodness. This is the ’05 winter version and still it is packed with nutmeg and cinnamon, coriander, clove, allspice, sweet caramel malts and fruity esters. It is extremely enticing.

Taste: The taste follows the nose with a sweetness (caramel malt) that acts as a binding thread holding together the exorbitant flavors of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel and a slight hint of booze. It has a perfect dry finish as well.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and well carbonated, crisp and dry in the finish.

Drinkability: I really enjoyed this beer. I did share it with others. Still, I am certain one will make and enjoyable spiced beer sipper. But I would not want to drink it all evening long. Make this a desert beer and you’ll be doing just fine.

Hope this is helpful.

Photo of mdwalsh
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 2-3 finger head of light tan, bown/red, lot's of active carbonation. Could be darker. No lace. (I wrote "purple" on the side)

S: Belgian yeast and caramel dominate. No hops.

T: Similar to the smell, less Belgiany. More toffee, cooked caramel, cooked fruit. No hops, not much for roast. Maybe a mild vanilla.

M: Smooth, low carbonation. Too low? no.

D: Very good with curry!

Photo of drtth
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is rich, clear, dark mahogany color with a ½" light tan or off white head that recedes slowly leaving some modest lacing. By mid-way through the beer the lacing is pretty much gone. There is a ring of foam for most of the glass and sipping leaves some speckled lacing.

Smell: The aroma is definite and full. It is fruity with some holiday spices sharply present. There seem to be some clove, cinnamon and nutmeg here and may be something more. No real presence of hop or alcohol shows in the nose.

Taste: The flavors are much as predicted by the nose. There are the spices mentioned above along with some fruity character from the malt. Some sweetness is here but it's hard to tell if it is the malt, the alcohol or both. The ABV is well concealed in this one.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is full to medium bodied and carbonation is both soft and adequate. The finish is moderately long and spicy with some hop showing toward the end,

Drinkability: With this ABV (which creeps up on you quickly) this is a one glass a night beer and a good choice to follow dinner while reading a good book or sitting by the fire. That said, this is an aggressive, take no prisoners beer, that leaves a lasting impression. At first I didn't think I'd like it and that I'd have trouble finishing it. But then as tried more of it I found more in it to like, so I'm expecting that folks will either like it or hate it. While I'm on the fence about whether I'll have another, I expect I'll revisit this beer just to spend more time sorting out the complexity of the aromas and flavors.

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

in fairness, this is a review of last years winter release.

A - Pours a wonderful crystal clear ruby red color with a solid offwhite head
S - Nice sweet malts rounded out with a solid nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.
T - I often find spiced beers change dramatically over time. I don't know how this was fresh but I can say as of this tasting it was quite pleasing. NIce light caramel / biscuit malts weave between spicy belgian yeasts, nutmeg, cinammon and clove. Apparent but not overdone.
M - medium bodied, medium carbonation, crisp with a nice aftertaste.
D - I had this as a standalone after dinner drink. It's current flavor makes me think I should've had this with an apple pie or apple desert variation.

Happy to have tried this one.

Photo of BuxMontBeerLover
3.87/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle was part of a mix-n-match 6pk my friend picked up for a recent tasting. Thanks, Pat!

Poured and enjoyed in a DFH Signature Glass

A - Pours a very dark reddish/amber color. A very small head on the initial pour. A small amount of lacing left after enjoying.

S - A mix of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. The smell of alcohol as well.

T - Wow, this is a sipper for sure. Lots of booziness on the initial sip. The taste is that of a traditional Christmas spice beer - nutmeg, cinnamon and clove mixed with the taste of a yeasty Belgian-style beer. The alcohol is really noticeable. I assume this is a fresh bottle since no dating is on the bottle. Aging this probably would calm down the booze.

M - A rather thick consistency with very little carbonation. A boozy sweetness coats your mouth.

O - A brew that is a one a night beer, IMO. The booze and the overall heaviness of the beer make this a beer to sit back and slowly enjoy by the fire. A decent Christmas beer that I'd enjoying having again.


Photo of jneiswender
4.75/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Nice ale. Thick off white head ...nice carbonation....candied fruit...chalky and minerals...I would seek this out again

Photo of TheFightfan1
3.94/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap at Isaac Newton's. Just missed PTE. Poured into a tulip. Cloudy amber hue with, nice creamy looking heading off white in color. Left some lacing, but turned flat after a little bit.

Spicey as hell. At first whiff I get the christmas spice lineup. Nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon. Then at second whiff I get alot of Belgian notes of candy sugar , coriander , clove. Very complex.

Taste almost matches up to the big aroma billing but does fall short. Heavy malty backbone with an extremely sugary blast. A nice spicey, doughy mixture that does make me think of the christmas holidays and gingerbread man.

Full bodied, decent carbonation and excellent balance.

The name pretty much sums up what this beer is Rude Elf. A perfect beer for the holidays.

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Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) from Bethlehem Brew Works
86 out of 100 based on 192 ratings.