Criminally Bad Elf - Ridgeway Brewing

Not Rated.
Criminally Bad ElfCriminally Bad Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.

300 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 300
Reviews: 196
rAvg: 3.42
pDev: 16.37%
Wants: 2
Gots: 20 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: jwc215 on 11-08-2006

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (27) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 300 | Reviews: 196
Reviews by jordanmills:
Photo of jordanmills
3.7/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a show bottle into a pint glass. Comes out amber with a light but thick head. Not much smell to it, not even alcohol. Taste more than makes up for it - spicy sweet with lots pale malt kick. Feels fairly thick on the tongue with a sweet finish. I wouldn't mind drinking more of this one.

More User Reviews:
Photo of scottfrie
3.68/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

500ml bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a glowing apricot with a finger of thick off-white head that faded to an oily film.
S: Candied fruits, sweet caramel, tootsie rolls, and a bit of cream come through. Sweet and fruity but not cloying. Touch of fruit punch.
T: Creamy flavors of vanilla, candied dates, stone fruits, mild cocoa, cinnamon, all spice, leafy herbal hops, tobacco, slight butter, wood, vegetables and fruit juice.
M: Extremely thick and chewy carbonation, frothy and velvety mouthfeel, soft fully body, low bitterness. Fuzzy, soft and creamy overall. Slight tingly alcohol.
O: Better than I expected, but a bit too sweet and fruity to be my favorite. Not cloying though, but the fruit punch flavor is a bit strange. The mouthfeel and body are just right. Would drink again but wouldn't be my first choice.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.76/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bright pumpkin with butterscotch borders, beneath a beautifully bubbly cap of pastel orange tinted bone. This is, without a doubt, the lightest barleywine that I've ever laid eyes on. I'll be interested to see if the color has implications for the flavor. I'm fine with the look, but it certainly doesn't qualify as special.

The aroma is lacking in... well... aroma. No hint of alcohol is a plus, but I need something to go on here. Pale malt (maybe), along with mild English hops (possibly), and that's about it. I don't usually go lower than average when a beer has no trace of offensiveness, but this one is so weak it's pathetic. I'm not holding my breath that it'll open up with warming either.

I liked Bad Elf and I liked Very Bad Elf at least as much. Criminally Bad Elf is a whole nother story. One sip is all it takes to tell me that this is the lightest and least flavorful barleywine that I've ever had, by a fairly wide margin. Let me get used to that fact before I slam it mercilessly for being the wussiest big ale in the history of wussy big ales.

The malt backbone is as spindly as they come for a beer of this style. Since there's very little malty flavor transfer, I have to believe that nothing darker than pale malt was used. Maybe a hint of caramel, but that's a stretch. Hops contribute almost no flavor and very little bitterness. Alcohol, unsurprisingly, is the most generous member of an ungenerous flavor profile. This is not good beer by any measure.

Strangely enough, the mouthfeel is acceptable. It's light-medium for the style and has a silky slickness that may be the best part of the whole damn shootin' match. An incredibly mellow feel to the carbonation is just how I'd have drawn it up.

It looks like I missed Seriously Bad Elf somewhere along the way. When I finally manage to locate a bottle, I hope it's closer to the earlier beers in the series rather than this most recent one. What's next Ridgeway, a 13.0% Russian Imperial Stout called Thoroughly Evil Elf? What the hell, despite the fact that this beer is anything but the dog's bollocks, I'd give it a go.

Photo of oberon
3.01/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I remember when there was just a bad elf damn that seems so long ago,this poured into a impy pint glass a light copper/bronze with a tight but thinner white head that didnt have much lasting power.Wow first whiff after the cap was popped was a real skunkiness but Iam quite sure this wasnt skunked almost rotten fruit-like, as it settled a dark raisiny quality came thru making it easier to take in.Pretty thin for a barley wine not big and or chewey at all,somewhat boozy with flavors of dark fruit and brown sugar mainly I did get a hint of minty hop in the finish.Uhm this is one not to go out of your way to buy because of the lagel gimmick or anything like that its just not that good,next years elf I'll pass on I think.

Photo of RoyalT
3.92/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – This came out looking like orange liquid sugar with little head and a bit on the thin side.

Smell – The sugar is more like cane than anything else, which is nice to smell. There are also some lightly-toasted malts, which makes me think of morning cinnamon toast.

Taste – It's a little milder at the taste but the sugar and toasted Wonder bread come out pleasant. The flavor is nicely balanced, but its mild nature may disappoint some who have difficulty appreciating the subtleties of a fine EBW.

Mouthfeel – This is light for a BW, just barely medium-bodied, but no alcohol sting.

Drinkability – The lack of a big boozy kick makes this quite quaffable for a 10+ ABV ale.

Photo of hopsleeroy
2.83/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle shared with the girlfrieng
A-Clear Copper, with some lacing after quick dissipating head. Farily average look.
S-Kind of sweet citrus flavors, smell improves while warming but overall nondescript, girlfiend thought weak lager
T-Sweet toffee and orange, Overall very sweet with alcohol bite at the end that has slight copper taste, Not so fantastic, Medicinal flavor throughout
M-Coating and and medium to full in mouth, nice mouthfell.
D-Didn't subject my liver to the whole bottle so wouldn't drink again

Photo of SIRIUS2
3.96/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lighter than expected golden yellow color with a decent head of about 1-2 fingers. Reasonable head retention that lasts a few minutes.

Aromas release some caramel malts, some sweet esters, and that's about it. I was impressed with the light color on the pour and then wasn't sure after taking a good sniff. What will this have to offer??

Flavors are solid - as in a single flavor, not something that falls apart as it rolls over the tongue. A bit on the heavy side, you can certainly pick out the alcohol, but it seems rather balanced to me when you take into account that this comes in at a whopping 10.5%. Pretty smooth overall.

Carbonation is appropriate for this brew and seems to enhance the mouthfeel a bit as you are not fighting it in any way. Smooth, deliciousness and a really enjoyable brew for a high octane barleywine style of brew.

Recommended to anyone that enjoys a good strong brew that doesn't come across as strong. This is a great barleywine style brew.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.27/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A 50cl bottle, nice clear amber color with a small head that nevertheless leaves some decent lacing. A sweet, caramel aroma, with some hints of bread. I thought the taste was somewhat underassuming. Some alcohol, a little hops, not much else there. Thin and mild in the mouth. At 10%ABV, this is a beer to sip.

Photo of Wespatrick
3.55/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500 ml bottle poured into my Duvel snifter.
This ale is much lighter in color than I expexcted for a barleywine. Deep orange with a quickly dissapating head.
Aroma is sweet malts, caramel, noticeable alchohol and some yeaty esters. Maybe a little astingent.
I let this warm up for quite a while and it really helped. Flavor is mainly sweet malt and toffee/ caramel. Alchohol is very prominent in the finish and at over 10% I guess this is understandable.
Mouthfeel is too thin for me. Needs alot more body to balance the alchohol heat and bready malt sweetness.
Drinkability is hurt by the lack of body/mouthfeel. Warming alcohol is present for several minutes after swallowing. I love barleywines, but this one is average.

Photo of Mora2000
3.57/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours orange with basically no head. What head is visible is a white color. The aroma is very fruity with some caramel malt. The flavor is strongly fruity with lots of pineapple as well as some malty sweetness. You also get a ton of alcohol in the flavor. There is a slight amount of hop bitterness as well. The booziness hurts the drinkability but it is still a decent beer. Thin-medium mouthfeel and low carbonation. The alcohol is warming.

Of the five Ridgeway Christmas beers I tried (Bad Elf, Reindeer Revolt, Criminally Bad Elf, Santa's Butt and Warm Welcome) this was easily the best. It is the only one I would even consider having again, although I doubt I will see this one out again.

Photo of magictrokini
2.54/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Another bust from Ridgeway. Pours light brown with red highlights. Small white head with partial lacing. Vanilla, bubblegum, caramel, and peaches. Sickeningly sweet, spicy flavor, with molasses, dates, and something like a cigarette in the finish. This beer is a mess. This one got me to quit Ridgeway, permanently.

Photo of WVbeergeek
2.61/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep orange copper hue into my chalice glass with an off white head forming thick and even with fine detailed lacing. Aromatics offer up some fusel alcohol notes with a light citrus booze character going on. Hops have a creamy floral and citric aspect coating the whole experience. Some sweet dark fruit notes blend in as well, they just seem to take a back seat next to the rest of the party going on. Flavor provides a deep sweet cereal honey tone with slight syrup notes and deep raisin and caramel malts wafting in. Big bitter backing from the English perspective the citrus and tobacco toned hop profile adds a good amount of bitterness to a typically hoppy American style. Mouthfeel is a bit cloying with thick layers of residual sugars sitting around on the palate carbonation is mellow but it doesn't carry the big body around too well. Drinkability overall is pretty poor in both body and flavor characteristics, maybe next time I will dig the beers from this seasonal brewery.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.48/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a crystal clear deep copper body with a thin bubbles that creep up to a creamy beige head of sticky foam.

S- The smell is pretty clean with faint caramel malt notes and some green bitter notes to follow.

T- This soft herbal green bite comes through first. With more sipping comes the thin caramel sweetness of malt followed by a fusel note to finish the beer. The fusel note is soft enough that it cleans up the taste but doesn't linger.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a faint alcohol warming in the finish.

D- The malt flavors are softer that the hops which are already soft in flavor and the whole beer is pretty one dimensional.

Photo of IntriqKen
4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Distinctively different from the typical American Barley Wines I drink.
A golden orange liquid fills the glass with a half finger of white head that melts to top covering, side mapping lacing.
Aromas are not as fruit/malt intense as American versions I'm used to.
Still candied fruits and brown sugar fill the nose with a hint of red cherries.
Flavor is light brown sugar, over ripe banana, again with the cherries, a touch of red or baking apple, maybe a little bubble gum, alcohol ending.
Drying hops kills the sweetness nicely.

Photo of dac
3.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Half liter bottle, cellar temp.

Crystal clear copper color. Nice thin head that turns into a loose lacing.

Aroma of caramel & crystal malts, treacle and candied apples.

Flavor showcases an intense malt profile with caramel and crystalized sugars. Barely detectable diacetyl level and apparent high mineral content lend a distinctive Brittish flavor profile. Very sweet and stickey on the tongue, but with just enough hop bitterness to keep it from being sickening. The hops helps keep the flavors crisp and there is relatively litte after taste, just a sugary coating on the teeth.

A pretty decent English style barley wine. Gives a nice glow about half way through the bottle and pairs well with stinky cheese like Royal Blue Stilton.

Photo of SMark
3.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was poured from a 500ml bottle into an Imperial pint glass. The beer poured with a haze as compared to the Very Bad Elf and was slightly darker in color but I hesitate to say brown rather than orange amber. There was approximately a one finger head. Slight lacing was also evident with the subsiding head.

There was a caramel malt aroma with what seemed to be butterscotch in the background. This was an interesting bouquet.

The beer tasted of more malt and hop than the Very Bad and went together quite well. There was a bit of apple cider with the caramel malt. I did not notice any butterscotch in the taste.

It was quite smooth with a bit of tangy sensation on the tongue. The caramel seemed to be more noticeable at the back of the mouth while the hops played well along the top.

This was a better offering than the Very Bad Elf and very adequate. However, I will probably stick with some of the more mundane named beverages for Christmas time with my next purchases.

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.48/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a clear, entirely copper hue with a white, half finger head. Sub-par retention. Leaves behind no lacing.

Smell - Aroma consists of toffee and caramel character. Sweet, slightly boozy.

Taste - Sweet toffee and caramel upfront and throughout. Moderate booziness. Not much else.

Mouthfeel - Closer to medium than full in body, with low carbonation. Smooth. Drinkable. Does well to hide the 10 and a half. Fairly thin for a barleywine.

Overall - In a nutshell, caramel and booze. No hops to be found. Not a very impressive barleywine, though somewhat enjoyable nonetheless.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.2/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Interesting to see this get such a relatively low rating from a bunch of BAs who embrace most barleywines. But maybe this isn't most barleywines...

Pours a thin head on top of a rusty orange/brown that has excellent clarity and some bubbles that patiently swim their way to the top.

Aroma has a yeasty, doughy, light sweetness, some caramel, with a lightly smoked element coming in. Some grape comes in too, after huffing on it quite a bit. Weird aroma, nice one, but hard to put a finger on.

My first impression upon tasting is how sweet this is, and then that's immediately bowled over by another impression: tart. Like bitterly tart lemonade that makes your whole mouth pucker. And it leaves an aftertaste that, while I've never licked an ashtray, is what it must feel like to lick an ashtray.

Some nice flavors come through all this hardship, like grape, brown sugar, apple, cinnamon, and grapefruit rind. But geez, this thing is really weird. What's with the spearmint and Pinesol? I'm actually really glad I tried it, and melbatoast93 got a nasty Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat in trade for it, so thanks to him for putting up with that. Me, I prefer the Seriously Bad Elf.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
2.86/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Once again we revisit the same tastes of ridgeway. This could be the most mediocre english barleywine i have ever tried. It pours very transparent and a bit darker than the other bad elves but not much. no head whatsoever. Thick and soupy with extra ridgeway funk. gnarly malts and sugar taste like cheap candy thats been sitting in a bowl at the doctors office for eight years. the residue left on the lips is kind of unpleasant. Mouthfeel is decent but thin for a barleywine. Alcohol slaps you in the face on the finish. drinkability is similar to that of bacon grease.

Photo of hreb
3.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

50cl bottle served in a wine glass. Deep amber, tinged with brown, with minimal head formation, and crystal clear, revealing ultrafine carbonation. Aroma, however, is all apple juice. It smells like this is going to be way sweet. The flavor itself is not so much sweet as it is strong. If I were feeling charitable, I'd point out the flavors of fresh grape juice, lightly toasted white bread, and the off-dry finish. Or I could admit this is just overly strong, somewhat adjunct-y, and tastes of malt liquor, i.e. alcohol. Basically, this delivers all of the alcohol I want in an English Barleywine, but hits none of the flavor notes. Drinkable, but not recommended.

Photo of JoeAmerican77
4.25/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Copper colored off white head...

Smells of tums light cocoa brown sugar and malty yeast

Wow, on the tongue malt, belgian candy/yeast and booze all in a few seconds, some fruity ice pop flavors, grape, and dark cherry

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy, warmed by the alcohol

Overall this was a great purchase, huge flavor, not sure why the belgian elements have been so prominent from this brewery but then again i haven't checked their website or anything... only paid three bucks for the bomber

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.95/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear deep copper with an auburn cast, golden highlights at the base of the glass, and a spot of ruby more towards the center. Creamy, short white head. Maintains surface covering... a thin lace curtain. Short walls of lace rise up against the sides of the glass.

Smell: Malt. Fruit. Scorched caramel. Apple. Plum. Raisin. Cherries. Alcohol.

Taste: Caramel. Alcohol. Almost burnt sugar. Toast. Sharp fruit... dark skinned... juicy plum, cherry, raisin. Some dark berries and some minor Granny Smith. Spruce! Slather of alcohol. Solid bitterness, but the alcohol really does the work to dry it. A touch hot. Finishes dry with a note of cherry, then caramelish malt, and finally, sherry!?

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Dextrinous. Seemingly short on body. OK. Low-key carbonation leaves it really smooth. Silky, but not quite creamy.

Drinkability: is hindered by the alcohol.

Photo of ElGordo
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 500ml bottle into a Maudite snifter. Body is a reddish amber topped by a smallish white head that quickly recedes to a thin ring. Aroma of heady, slightly sweet, biscuity malt and a touch of brown sugar, along with a hint of sharp floral hops. Palate is mellow sweet malt up front, with some bittering hops joining in to provide balance mid-palate. The sweetness is offset by a flourish of pepper just before the swallow. Mildly sweet malt lingers on the finish, along with a good bit of warming alcohol.
The body is full and just a touch syrupy, just right for an English barleywine. Quite drinkable for such a strong beer, this is one of the better examples of this style I've had in a long time.

Photo of RickS95
3.75/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an almost orange color. There's almost no head and the beer is filtered.

It doesn't really look or smell like most barley wines I've had. This has an almost sweet smell to it. I'm not overwhelmed by flowery hoppy flavors, mostly I just pick up notes of alcohol, like it's a liqueur.

Really doesn't taste like a barley wine. If I didn't know what it was, I'd guess a strong port wine or an orange liqueur.

It's actually got a pretty sweet mouthfeel, at least initially. As it works it's way back to your throat, you'll get hit with some hoppy bitterness and finally some heat from the alcohol, but it's a bit unusual based on the previous barley wines I've had before.

Like all beers of this style, it's hard to consider it highly drinkable. It's very strong, from it's sweetness to it's heat. And with 10.5% ABV, you won't need much of this.

Photo of russpowell
4.14/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber with 1/2" of of off-white head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Fruitty, bready with dry candied fruits & honey

T: Fruitty, bready & boozey up front. A bit of smokeyness as this warms along with plums, apricots, honey & much sweetness & dryness. Finishes with loads of honey taste & touch of lemony hops

MF: Syruppy, chewy with low carbonation & a bit too much dryness

Drinks a bit slow because of the intense dryness, but a solid winter warmer

« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Criminally Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
78 out of 100 based on 300 ratings.