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)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

184 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 184
Reviews: 93
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 16.05%
Wants: 12
Gots: 21 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: goindownsouth on 12-08-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 184 | Reviews: 93 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ujsplace
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice.

Brew is a deep brownish-ruby in color with a mild fluffy, white lace that leaves some lacing.

Very aromatic; smells of sweet candy, rasins and dark fruit with some spice.

Big sweet candied-sugar malt up front that gives way to rasins and dark, over-ripened cherries and some figs. Faint, earthy hops, along with a solid alcohol presence, which is most evident in the finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth and well carbonated.

Overall, this is another very nice brew from Fegley's. I'll admit, I am a sucker for the seasonals - tis the season for this type of brew...this is not for everyone and the abv may mute it's sessionability, but this is good on a brisk fall or winter night.

Photo of bbeane
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009-2010 Edition... I remember having this last winter at the Brew Works and enjoying it though it was very boozy. Lets see if it's mellowed after almost a year in the cellar...

A- Poured into my PALM snifter... dark amber in color with some fine sediment. Has a weak fizzy head that appears and disappears quickly

S- First wiff gives off a nice sweet aroma, belgian candied sugars, malts, and spices... still smells a bit boozy. After some swirls of the snifter, the belgian sugars and spices intensify... smells delicious

T- Still a very tasty brew, though it's still got some heat... starts out and finishes with a very sweet malty taste with healthy amounts of spices and sugar, and hints of dark fruits evident. Still has a hot boozy finish

M- Medium/full body with light carbonation

D- Still pretty intense alcohol taste, though still quite tasty. I'll definitely be buying a couple more bottles this year to sample and compare as well as some to cellar...


Photo of mattgreger
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a sniffer, poured a deep redish/brown color. With little head, with no lacing present

Aroma hit me as soon as I opened the bottle. A wonderful spicy, smell hits the nose. I was excited to try this brew at that point. There was some strong nods of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and other spices mixed in. The finish of this aroma has some banana and caramel and maybe the hint of figs as well.

The flavor here is exactly what I expected after smelling the spices from the bottle. There is a strong flavor of some bready yeast. Followed with some great mixtures of spices that give this brew a wonderful flavor. The finish has some great fruit flavors that round this brew out. Though the alcohol is high on this one...these flavors mead together to make a great brew without the alcohol hit.

The mouthful is medium bodied and smooth. Wonderful flavors hit all the taste buds of the mouth. Very low carbination on this one, that allows for it to be such an easy mouthful.

Drinkability on this one depends on the drinker. Anyone not big into brews heavy on spices might dislike this brew. The ABV on this one is high as well, so some people may or maybe be able to handle this brew. I do have to say this is another excellent brew by Brewworks and I have found now a great winter seasonal brew to consume.

Photo of mdwalsh
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
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 number1bum
3.2/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Purv's in Peckville. Comes in a pint glass, reddish copper color with absolutely no head whatsoever. Completely still.

Smell is extremely spicy with lots of cinnamon and clove. It's also sweet and quite boozy. Some dark fruits peek in. Smells like an overspiced winter warmer so far...and those aren't really my thing...

Taste is also exceptionally spicy and boozy. Wow are there a lot of spices in this beer. Cinnamon, clove, and not sure what else. Some caramel too and a lot of sweetness. As it warms some dark fruit, cherries especially, come in, as does some vanilla which is actually the flavor I am enjoying most. Some good flavors here but this beer is all over the place. I wouldn't call it complex; I'd call it messy.

Mouthfeel is a medium-full body but is very flat. Sticky sweetness to the beer, but needs some creamy carbonation.

Eh, this beer has some potential but it's all over the place. Lots of components but they don't mesh. It's a mess to be honest. I really like the vanilla actually, but the spices need to be toned down a bit and it all needs to meld a bit more. At the end of the glass I feel tipsy and nothing more...

Photo of Minotaur
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%
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 psujesus
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
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 ClockworkOrange
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle poured into a nonic pint glass. The ale appears a hazed deep chestnut color with about a finger of tan head. Nose and flavor are dominated by spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, spicy pepper, and a touch of clove, hints of banana, figs, and caramel. Maybe a notch better than medium bodied and amply carbonated. A tad heavy on the spice, but if you dig that type of thing, certainly check this one out.

Photo of tempest
2.9/5  rDev -23.7%
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 hopdog
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. On multiple occasions.

Poured a dark and cloudy brown color with a smaller sized off white head. Aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves (and I'm sure I'm missing a couple other spices in there), and on the fruity side. Closely reminded me of a stick of gum that's been chewed on for a while. Tastes of the same. Spices are there in the tastes but not overpowering. Tastes like a spiced cake of some sort. Alcohol content well hidden. Lacing left on the glass.

Photo of maddogruss
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12 ounce bottle of this into a glass mug.

A: Pours a dark amber body with a tan head with nice retention and decent lacing along the sides of the glass until the finish.

S: Banana esters were very evident in the smell with hints of alcohol and sweet malts in the undertones.

T: Hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and coriander in the th taste with banana esters evident in the aftertaste. Could not really taste the alcohol at all.

M: A nice, smooth mouthfeel that was pleasant on the palette.

D: Overall, a nice drinking beer with a nice taste and mouthfeel. Cannot drink too many of them without getting a little tipsy, but, if you do not care about that, this is a nice beer to do it with. You will not taste the alcohol too much, it tastes great, and it goes down real smooth.

Photo of dmamiano
4.8/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this beer at the sister brewery, Allentown Brew works.
Color was dark brown, virtually no head wth minimal lacing.
Served in a chalice.
Smell was reat, belgian malts, yeasts highly noticeable. Fruity in the nose, figs, dates and some peppery notes as well.
Taste was awesome. Smooth, yeasty and full. Very spicey wit ha big peppery finish.
Very good beer.

Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
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 yourefragile
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006/07 12 oz bottle

A: Pours a cloudy, dark amber/reddish color with a thick off white head that quickly dissipates with little lacing.
S: Very strong and spicy, nutmeg, cinnamon, a little vanilla, some alcohol coming through too.
T: This brew isn't as spicy as it was a year ago, as the flavor and the alcohol have mellowed out a lot. I enjoy this more a year later as I thought it had a little too much going on when it was fresh and the alcohol was a little too potent.
M: Medium body, high carbonation and very smooth (much more so than I remembered). Much smoother and creamier than I remembered.
D: Much better than it was a year ago, before you knew you were drinking a 9% abv and it has now mellowed out nicely. However, this is still very spicy and sweet and difficult to drink more than one at a time. I also had the 2007 on tap a few times, though I haven't reviewed it, I personally prefer the 2006 (fresh or aged) more so.

Photo of coalcracker
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark ruby color. Head retention stands up well initially, though falls away fairly quickly.

Smell: Very interesting. The spices are quite evident- clove, cinnamon are obvious. The spices mute out any malt aroma.

Taste: Good lord! Spices jump out right at you. Sweet malt is there but is really overwhelmed by the the cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg (among others. An alcohol presence is also evident, though not overpowering.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied brew.

Drinkability: Between the strength of the beer and its character, I would only have one of these boys at a time, pairing with food would also be a challenge.

Overall: An interesting and different strong ale. Will cellar these guys for a while to see if these spicy tones mellow out a bit.

Photo of KA3WXV
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First let me start by saying I like darker beers with good mouthfeel.
Not watery "want a bees"

A - Came in a 12 oz goblet, great ruby red color with a small head
S - Nice malt taste with hint of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.
T - I liked this spiced beer. Spiced is not my favorite type. This was "on Tap" but nicely aged for a dark beer and very pleasant with low hops and lots of malt.
M - medium body, medium carbonation, pleasant aftertaste.
D - Started this before the meal came. I liked it.
Stood up well to Blue cheese hamburger- it has enough character of its own not to get lost with tasty food - unlike so many beers.
The second was as good as the first!

A better "Mad elf" which I buy by the case

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.8/5  rDev 0%
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 WesWes
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with a solid spice content. This beer has multiple spices that really add some character to the aroma. The Belgian yeast esters lend a hand as well. The taste is decent. It has a solid malt flavor, but the spices really take away from the overall enjoyment. It's just got too much spice. The mouthfeel is decent as well. It's a full bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a decent winter brew, but they really need to back the spice content down a bit.

Photo of froggyfrog
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5


Consumed this beer outdoors in May as part of a spring cleaning effort.

You can smell the spices on this one from a mile away. We're talking Yankee-Candle-strength bottled Christmas.

This beer smells and tastes like cinnamon and nutmeg. Also there is a resinous wintergreen-like quality (perhaps from the sweet gale). The beer is crunchy as if large granules of sugar are suspended in the liquid.

All I can say is spices, spices, spices. It is actually kind of pleasing in a ridiculously overdone, I-have-no-idea-what-the-actual-underlying-beer-tastes-like sort-of-way.

This sweet monster would be best paired with Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps you could serve it with a fat dollop of whipped cream. That would be awesome.

Photo of beerhawk
4.45/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one complex brew! Man you pop the bottle open and it fills the room with aroma. Christmas in a bottle. I guess holiday beers don't really have a style since some are hoppy beers, others fruit beers and ones like this that are spiced. So you really can't say much about style. It is it's own i suppose. I was told to try this brew two ways...cold and room temperature. So I bought two bottles from the pub. I must say room temp is the way to go. I pourd it into a brandy glass. The carbonation was a bit high for a big beer like this. I prefer light carbonation on the spiced beers and high ABV's. The head was pure white on a crystal clear ruby red beer. Did I mention the aroma..oh yeah...awesome. The head died quick, but I enjoyed every small sip over the course of about an hour while I watched Lost on TV. The Belgian yeast give it almost a trappist taste. This is not a beer I could have more than one of per session. The spices are to big for that. I don't think I am going to put the other one in the cooler. I liked it right out of the bottle room temp. Maybe I'll keep it in the basement to bring it down to cellar temp next time. Worth a try if you like complexity. I think it will age well too. I will have to get a case next year to give as gifts to my friends.

Photo of flexabull
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle is really ridiculous looking. Label could use a redesign... an elf looking right at me, with earrings, a big nose, and sticking his tounge out? Looks really amature hour to me.

Anyways, on to the beer. The brew is a nice clear dark amber color with a good looking head, and nice carbonation noted.

Aromas reek of nutmeg. I notice it from foot away while pouring the beer. When I stick my nose really close, I notice more nutmeg, and a very distinct bubble gum like smell. Kind of odd... not sure if I like it.

Flavors are interesting. Taste is clean up front, settles in with some alcohol notes, and then finishes with the spices... nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander are all noticed, but none are too overpowering.

Mouthfeel is lighter than I expected, but still decent.

You certainly can't judge a beer by it's label. This is pretty good. I don't think I could sit around and drink more than one of these. But this one bottle was definitely interesting and enjoyable enough.

Thanks for sending this aprilluvsbeer!

Photo of OStrungT
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
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 jscottku21
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I must admit, this style is growing on me. After having the Corsendonk Christmas Ale recently, this provides a nice comparison. Slightly spicier than the Corsendonk, this Brew Works seasonal is an excellent brew for those cold winter nights. Surprisingly drinkable for the style and ABV, I would certainly return to this fantastic effort from BBW.

Photo of jdg204
4.43/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one at the Bethlehem Brew Works itself, luckily they still had 24 oz. 4 Packs left. You need to let it warm up a bit to let the alcohol calm (it could probably use a little aging too), but this is the best Winter Warmer I've had yet! This one will leave you feeling nice and warm during those long winter nights!

Appearance - Beautiful deep red color with small head. You need to let it warm up a bit to let the alcohol calm (it could probably use a little aging too), but this is the best Winter Warmer I've had yet!

Smell - All the wonderful fruits and spices come through in the odor. The nutmeg and cinnamon come through the strongest

Taste - Fantastic! Everything you'd expect from a Holiday Warmer, a very deep flavor. Cherry is the most evident fruit flavor while nutmeg, cinnamon, and corriander come through strong too. This is basically a nice Holiday Spiced Wine in beer form.

Mouthfeel - Wonderful warming sensation, good carbonation, and maybe just a bit too much alcohol (probably the only fault).

Drinkability - This beer rules the holiday season! While you're drinking it you can just feel the Christmas Season within you. It has all the wonderful smells and flavors all wrapped up into a great brew.

Photo of beermanbrian
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

06 version

Color is deep brown with an orange tint. Minimal head and just some wispy foam on the top. The bottle list cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet gale,cloves, coriander and allspice and I can believe they are all in there. The smell hits you with a wallop of spice but somehow manages to not go over the top. The cinnamon spice sticks out as most noticable for me in the taste but it is an interesting blend that you can ponder on each sip and pick up something different. The finish is a little cloying and the high abv comes through with a little burn. Overall a nice holiday beer.

Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) from Bethlehem Brew Works
85 out of 100 based on 184 ratings.