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Insanely Bad Elf - Ridgeway Brewing

Insanely Bad ElfInsanely Bad Elf

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249 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 249
Reviews: 166
rAvg: 3.38
pDev: 20.41%

Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  11.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: fartingdog on 11-18-2007)
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Ratings: 249 | Reviews: 166 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of RonaldTheriot


4.38/5  rDev +29.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ridgeway Insanely Bad Elf has a somewhat thinnish, off-white head, a mostly clear, brilliant, amber appearance, a few bubble streams, and not really any lacing. The aroma is of toffee, booze, sweetness, and a touch of fruit. Taste is of sweetness, a nice, peppery bitterness, syrup, fruit, candi sugar, and bread. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Ridgeway Insanely Bad Elf finishes on the dry side, rich, and quite drinkable. It’s another winner from Ridgeway!


Serving type: bottle

12-21-2013 15:22:50 | More by RonaldTheriot
Photo of WVbeergeek


3.21/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Wow 11.2 Insanely Bad Elf, I've had too many variations of Bad Elf. Pours an amber color, crystal clear off white head, dwindles rather quickly understandable with the abv. Aroma has fruits all day, sharp cherry, dark fruits even some pear, alcohol evident but not rocket fuel. Super sweet on the palate, cloying sweetness caramel sugars with dark fruits and a bit of hot alcohol in the backend...it definitely warms the chest with each sip. Sorry folks not my cup of tea you may need to age this for a bit, too hot and unrefined for this 2013 vintage. Syrup texture pretty much kills the drinkability, cloying soft carbonation full bodied bitter earthy finish stays on with an alcohol burn. Overall if your buying this novelty brew, put some age on it before cracking it, I've seen some good reviews on bottles a year and older.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2013 02:36:20 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of chilidog


4.1/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked up one of these on clearance after the holidays, enjoyed it so I went back and got the remaining last bottle, would of taken a couple more.
This is the 2012 vintage. I like the bottle is stamped with a best before date of 2022.

Poured into a snifter, clear golden, not much carbonation, so very little tan tinted head. No lace. It does look like apple juice as noted by another review.

Aroma is malted, alcohol marinated dark cored fruit.

Taste is somewhat sweet, malty, cored fruit of apple and pear. The finish follows up with caramel and a fine brandy, stoned fruit like plum and cognac.

Mouthfeel is really smooth, easy to drink.

Overall a good special, high abv beer to enjoy when all is said and done. Oh ya, did I mention the holidays are over, oh ya, cheers

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2013 16:24:41 | More by chilidog
Photo of JimTeal


3.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2012 Vintage

Unique in many respects, it almost wants to be sweet, but ends up smooth and goes down with a caramel malt finish with hints of cognac. The higher ABV makes this one an attention getter, as in pay attention or it will kick your tail. I really appreciate the Brits giving a go to such a different beer. The head is almost non-existent upon pouring, and the hops are left way in the background, barely noticeable. What does that say, the aim, I believe for Ridgeway, was to create a good seasonal, able to stand up to the holiday beverage lists, and yet smooth enough to keep one's interest? So Insanely Bad Elf is not an everyday, but certainly way above average for special occasions.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2013 23:22:39 | More by JimTeal
Photo of kvnstfrd


4.2/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a 12 oz. snifter.
Deep copper color with a 1 finger head on the pour. Some lacing, but not much. Aroma has notes of fruit preserves or maybe fruit liqueur. Big, malty flavor with hints of fruity liqueur, then it mellows on your palette to a dry, clean hop finish with noticeable alcohol. Mouth-feel is thick and full bodied; very lightly carbonated. This beer really fits an English Barleywine flavor profile more so than an English Strong Ale. Whatever the intended style, this is an amazing beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2013 17:51:56 | More by kvnstfrd
Photo of rundocrun


3.18/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - body is the color of crystal clear apple juice. 1 1/2 fingers of white foam on top with great retention. Tons of lacing.

S - tons of malt an caramel aroma. Not much in the way of hops except a faint whiff of earthy English hops.

T - malts take the day here. Tons of light caramel and pale malt flavor. Minimal undertones of herbal hops and alcohol bitterness.

M - medium-to-thick body with smooth carbonation. Very drinkable for 12%, but also strays toward the cloying side. Tone down the malt or tone up the hops and this would be much better.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2012 02:34:58 | More by rundocrun
Photo of WastingFreetime


3.8/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

2011 Vintage.
Pours out the same transparent bright orange color as Criminally Bad Elf, with the same fizzle of a head and no lacing as well unfortunately. Lighter side of medium body and low carbonation levels, somewhat of a thin feel to the texture.

This time the aroma most strongly resembles a Calvados blended with a dash of raspberry fruit juice and curacao... No really, I'm serious. Tastes of candied apples and tea-like herbal bittering with sugar-cured orange peel and cherry-prune compote. Happily, the booze level on a year-old bottle seems quite manageable, it is only really noticeable as an amplifying effect upon all the fruitiness and as a warming in the throat after each sip.

So far, this one, Very Bad Elf, and Bad Elf are the Ridgeway Brews that I feel are worthwhile. The others... somewhat less so.

Serving type: bottle

09-08-2012 05:52:06 | More by WastingFreetime
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.4/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 Vintage

A: Pours a crystal clear deep golden copper to reddish amber in color with some light to moderate amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a quarter finger tall dense off-white head that reduces to a thin medium sized patch of larger bubbles, a very thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer, and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of brandy with some lighter notes of caramel and toffee malt sweetness. There is an underlying aroma of dark fruits (raisin) and just a hint of alcohol.

T: The taste is similar to the smell with a strong malt body made up of caramel and toffee malt sweetness. There is a definite taste of brandy and the alcohol is present. Light notes of dark fruit sweetness that is mostly raisin.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly sticky/syrupy with a moderately dry finish.

O: This is a big beer with a high ABV and it is not very well hidden - this is definitely a beer you need to sip slowly. Not the easiest beer to drink due to the strong flavors and high ABV. Glad that I got the chance to try it and it was a great deal as it was a freebie thrown in from a beer store when purchasing a bunch of others.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2012 21:53:20 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of Mora2000


2.05/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The beer pours a yellow-gold color with a white head. The aroma is full of grain and something that resembles dirty socks. Not a nice combination. The flavor is not any better. There is some grain and malt sweetness, as well as some grass from the hops. Unfortunately, the dirty sock quality is still present. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

05-13-2012 02:58:13 | More by Mora2000
Photo of KajII

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

[Best served in a Snifter]

The pour was a medium brownish red with a small (less than 1 finger) off white creamy head that was mostly diminishing, reducing to a few foamy puddles and a small collar of residue producing excellent sheets of lacing.

The aroma was of a strong biscuit malt and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of caramel, toffee, dark fruit (plums and raisins), a bit of apple and had a decent alcohol scent.

The taste was sweetly malty with notes of caramel and toffee early on with the dark fruit, apple and moderate alcohol presence taking over towards the finish. The flavor lasted and average duration with a pronounced fruity alcohol flavor being most dominant.
Mouthfeel was medium in body and had a creamy-syrupy texture with a mild carbonation.

Overall a sweet and fruity brew with a good dose of alcohol, which took the edge off of the sweetness...

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2012 15:21:30 | More by KajII
Photo of jmdrpi


3.13/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

330mL bottle, year old 2010 vintage

clear reddish copper color. bone-white head of fine bubbles. boozey aroma, with some butterscotch and toffee. tastes of sweet malt, no hops. similar flavors as the smell. sweetness is just below cloying level. a bit syrupy, medium body. coats the tongue.

overall - not bad, the best of the elf series.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2012 04:37:05 | More by jmdrpi
Photo of TMoney2591


2.85/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

Christmas never ends if you don't let it... This stuff pours a dark auburn garnet topped by a finger of dirty white foam. The nose comprises caramel, buttercream, buttery toffee, light cocoa powder, and a touch of booze. Things seem strangely clashy for such usually matching scents. The taste brings in more of the same, with the booze coming through and clashing a bit with an even stronger sweetness than before. It's an overly roasted sweetness, at that. Just odd. The body is a stolid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a lightly syrupy feel. Overall, a muddle of a beer, one that seems like it just wants to be strong for the sake of it (like a pretentious, holiday-themed British malt likkah).

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2012 04:12:38 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of doucmehu


3.08/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2010 vintage, bottle has a best before date of 9/28/2020... This is the second one I have had, first was last winter and it was average at best. Maybe I should have waited? Review to follow. Enjoying this one with a homemade red velvet cupcake w/ buttercream frosting (thanks babe)!

A: Pours a viscous, deep golden caramel with a small off-white head. Some significant lacing.

S: Sweet toffee, caramel, burnt sugar dominate. There is a hint of phenolic alcohol.

T: Very sweet all the way through, but with a belgian yeast funk and a bit of tartness in the finish. A ton of caramel clashes with dark fruity esters for an over-the-top, almost dessert-like beer.

M: Very thick and syrupy, coats the mouth to the point of needing a glass of water to wash it down. Carbonation is adequate, this is just plain sticky. Some significant alcohol burn rounds things out.

O: This makes me think of an English Barleywine blended with a Quad. In a blind tasting I would have guessed a poorly executed Quad. Its parts are decent, but they do not work well together for some reason. Something is just a bit off on this beer, and it is such a big beer that it is very noticeable and makes the beer a bit undrinkable. Fun for a try but really not something I will have again.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2012 05:57:22 | More by doucmehu
Photo of LittleDon


3.7/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Crystal clear with a beautiful deep amber color. Off white head with a decent amount of lace. Honey and pears in the aroma with a hint of bourbon. Lots of residual sugars, almost candy like. Alcohol is well hidden and only shows up slightly at the finish. Medium body and light carbonation. Vintage 2011. Could have used time to develop.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2012 03:18:05 | More by LittleDon
Photo of ummswimmin

New Jersey

3.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a single bottle of the Elf to work on rating every style on BA. I didn't know much more about this beer other than an article online mentioning that people wait in line for the release of this beer.

Insanely pours a ruddy orange, orange with a decent brown tint. I used a snifter to smell the sour, cherry, and tobacco smell.

The flavor is pretty rich. You get more of the sour and cherry. There is a lot of vineous characteristics present. There is very little subtlety in this beer.

Insanely Bad Elf was an interesting experience. I recommend trying a single bottle over picking up a six pack.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2012 00:44:19 | More by ummswimmin
Photo of atr2605

New York

3.5/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours amber with a decent white head with pretty good retention that forms a small lace
S-some sweet/fruity aroma with a mixed with an earthy peat characteristic
T-Wow. tons of flavor. Starts super sweet with honey dominating the palate then combines with citrus hop bitterness that finishes with the earthy peat flavor
O-Very interesting beer with a ton of flavor. Wouldn't drink it all the time but would seek it out again

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2012 02:36:22 | More by atr2605
Photo of smakawhat


4.35/5  rDev +28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Bottle marked as Vintage 2010.

A two finger head off white, kind of small, foamy, sits on a simple dark amber body. Some rising carbonation, crystal clear pretty straightforward looking.

Bouquet is a sweet a little sugared soft apple (red). Cherries, and strong malt presence. Clove spices and a bit of heat. Very nice.

Taste brings a real juicy palate. Nicely big cherry palate, chewy bursting fruit juice. Heat of barleywine sense, and rich malts also. Texture is almost velvety, rich and silky with no sense of carbonation it seems. Honey on the finish sweetness but nothing cloying.

A very good English strong ale, very enjoyable hope the others in the series are just as good.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2012 00:52:18 | More by smakawhat
Photo of whatthehull


3.63/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


A - beautiful translucent red, one finger off white head and nice sticky lacing

S - flowers, sugar, earth, pine, sweet and toasted malt, funky yeast, booze and marciano cherries

T - tons of crazy bitter hops, peat, booze, sugar, flowers, purfume, Marciano cherries, soil, bitter, malts both sweet and toasted and more boozy sweet goodness

M - full bodied, medium minis balance, tons of complexity, low acidity and long sweet boozy finish

D - this is a huge ale! Don't try if you don't like big, boozy and sweet beers. Also, a bit funky. A winter warmer/hoppy red ale extravaganza! Haha. This is a wild beer, beware

Final thought - I love this ale! $2 a pop and close to 12 percent with weird crazy and fun flavors! Wish I had a six!

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2012 04:42:25 | More by whatthehull
Photo of metter98

New York

3.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is crystal clear reddish amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high dense off white head that died down quickly and left a thin film covering the surfaced and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are aromas of brandy, caramel, raisins, tea and toffee in the nose.
T: The overall taste is similar to the smell and has malty sweetness along with hints of alcohol.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied, smooth and a bit syrupy on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. The beer really coats your mouth well and leaves some warming from the alcohol.
O: The beer definitely tastes strong but a good part of the alcohol is masked from the taste.

Note: 2011 Vintage

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2012 03:40:33 | More by metter98
Photo of Hopdaemon39

New York

3.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a reddish copper color with very little head- barely any retention and no lacing. That however does not prevent it from having decent carbonation. This brew smells very strongly of light malts; there's something else there that's a little more pungent but it's hard to decipher. The taste and mouthfeel are too intricately related to me to describe separately- the first thing I notice is a wave of carbonation washing over my tongue which then dissolves into a very sweet malty alcohol taste. Certainly not something I would purchase again but it's interesting.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2012 03:24:51 | More by Hopdaemon39
Photo of Scotchboy


3.65/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Vintage, 33cl bottle poured into a New Belgium globe.

A: Pours a brilliantly clear darker gold, with a wispy bright white head that dissipates at a medium speed...good lace and alcohol legs. Very attractive beer.

S: Lots of sweetness, light toasted caramel malt, residual sugars, breadyness, floral notes, rum soaked apple skins, and some rose wine characters. A bit boozy.

T: More sweet and dry on the palette, like a thin liqueur or white wine. Fruity, dry, sugary, slightly herbal and spicy...a bit buttery. Not overly alcoholic but pretty warming.

MF: Medium thin, hot mouthfeel.

O: Reminds me a lot of Big Worst and 120 Minute, a very warming, thin malty/fruity winter brew.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2011 15:07:38 | More by Scotchboy
Photo of crhensel

New Jersey

2.75/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a light copper, with no noticeable head. The taste of the alcohol overpowered almost all other flavors. It hits you in the nose right our of the bottle and is very prevalent throughout the drink.. No real balance to speak of, but I was able to detect a little bit of a toffee and molasses flavor. Warming brought the alcohol out even more. I expected a bit of the bold flavor from an 11.2, but would have loved to see this aspect toned down a bit to let some of the other flavors shine. It is a rather sweet tasting beer, however and as a sipper spread over an evening might have some merit.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2011 01:26:51 | More by crhensel
Photo of BostonBrewins


3.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I received bottles of this as a Christmas gift from two different people. Who says BAs are hard to buy for?

A - Pours a crystal clear copper, slightly off white head. Good head retention. A bit of white lace.

S - Lots of fusel alcohol in the nose that overpowers everything else. Notes of toffee and molasses.

T - Very boozy, this is a big 11% beer and it doesn't pretend to be otherwise. Lots of residual sugars, tastes like a very high percentage of crystal malt; sweet toffee and caramel. Not quite fruity although there are some notes of raisins and dates. Some slick, buttery diacetyl is a welcome presence although it's very subtle. Undertones of biscuit.

M - Full bodied and too syrupy but not as much as one would expect from an 11% beer. High amounts of dextrins give it a smooth pleasant feel. Carbonation level is higher than I expected from an English brewery.

O - Might be too sweet for some, however for many this would be a nice sipper for a cold winter's eve. Very tasty but I can't help but think about how the flavors could really shine if the alcohol was dialed back a few degrees.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2011 16:53:50 | More by BostonBrewins
Photo of teromous


3/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: It has a very nice overall appearance. The beer is a clear amber color, with a pink rose-like tint to it. The head is about a finger's width thick and is very fluffy. The head is white and leaves light lacing on the glass.

S: It has a very fruity smell to it. I pick up berry notes, such as raspberry and strawberry. There's a light scent of malt that has more of a toasted smell to it as well. It's hard to tell what smell they were going for, but it smells good in any case.

T: I don't get the fruity flavors that I smelled. It has a very sweet flavor, similar to sucking on raw sugar cane. The alcohol flavor stands out, overpowering some of the other flavors. It's pretty lacking on flavor in general...I get some notes of dates and even a very very light roasted flavor...but it's watered down. It's not bad...but...I don't know it just reminds me of sweet tea.

M: The mouthfeel is medium-light, with alcohol warmth. It's a very light and airy beer.

O: Overall it was very hard to decide where I stood on the beer. I like the flavor and color, but it seems very light and airy. I would drink it again but it would be on the rare occasion and I probably wouldn't stock this one.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2011 01:33:08 | More by teromous
Photo of nitro0292

New York

2.83/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2010 vintage. I have aged this bottle about a year. I just finished a Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot, so I have a little bit of a frame of reference for this brew.

A - Label states this as an "Imperial Red Ale." The color is not red (or even amber) so I'm guessing that despite the labeling this beer was not intended to be red. Easy pour produced a half finger of head sitting upon a transparent golden-amber body. Head fizzled out quite quickly, leaving minimal lacing. A ring of bubbles remains behind.

A - Aroma is of sweet fruity malts. Actually smells quite a bit like Blithering Idiot and Old Horizontal. Candied fruits soaked in alcohol, a mixture of apricots and dates.

T - Follows the aroma, sweet and fruity malts greet then coat the tongue. Taste drys out on the finish leaving a baby's touch of hops. Weird drying and medicinal aftertaste. I feel like I just had better-tasting cough medicine.

M - On the initial pour there was significant carbonation, but that has not held up, there is light carbonation. Mouthfeel is definitely heavy, but with almost a port-wine like syrupy and creamy quality.

Overall, this is not bad for what it is. I wouldn't but again though as your much better served by a SN Bigfoot or even a Brooklyn Monster.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2011 05:05:59 | More by nitro0292
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Insanely Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
77 out of 100 based on 249 ratings.