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Insanely Bad Elf - Ridgeway Brewing

Not Rated.
Insanely Bad ElfInsanely Bad Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.

177 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 177
Hads: 286
Avg: 3.41
pDev: 24.63%
Wants: 6
Gots: 17 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  11.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: fartingdog on 11-18-2007

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (29) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 177 | Hads: 286
Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.98/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2015 vintage ale. Best before 8/12/25.

Pours a clear golden-orange with a foamy beige head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. A foamy curtain of lace coats the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, rye, earth, alcohol, and skunk aromas. Taste is much the same with malt, fruit, honey, and earth flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth and hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an average beer that is fairly drinkable, but the aroma is pretty poor and doesn't make me want to drink much of this one.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours garnet amber with a slight chill haze under a thin white film of foam. S: fruit and alcohol. T: Rich malt, plum, light fruit, light dose of hops, alcohol. F: Chewy, medium low carbonation, alcohol warming. O: A potent little beer.

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Photo of damndirtyape
3.66/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle, 2013 vintage. Served in a Gordon Highland Scotch Ale thistle glass.

Appearance: Bright coppery amber, very thin skin of foam across the top and ring at the edge. Some occasional fine strands of lacing that slowly slid down the glass.

Smell: Some fruity notes, a hint of toffee, and some hints of alcohol. Surprisingly mild in aroma intensity.

Taste: Toffee and then a strong hit of alcohol that lingers from right after the sip to well after the finish. The finish also has some hoppy notes, mostly English style bittering Kent Golding but there is a hint of pine at the finish as well.

Mouthfeel: Light carbonation, and what at first feels like it would be a nice thickness that gets ruined a bit by the alcohol burn.

Overall / Drinkability: A very slow sipper and the alcohol shows up right away, not at all hidden. I let this warm up quite a bit to see if it would get better, and it is still unbalanced. The alcohol is potent and dominates the flavors, aroma, and mouthfeel of this beer. It's an okay sipping beer, and maybe if it was colder outside I would appreciate it more. Otherwise it's just okay because of the unbalancing. If the toffee and hops were more prominent and the alcohol tamped down a bit, I think this beer would be much better. I can see why the beer doesn't get very high ratings. I also think it fits better into the English Barleywine style due to the high ABV rather than English Strong Ale. But that's my opinion anyway.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.88/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 vintage enjoyed in a snifter, this interesting English imperial red pours a bright reddish amber with a thick, big bubbled white head that lingers with light lacing. Nose of toffee, caramel, ripe peaches, cherries, and strong booze. Flavors are intense to say the least. Rich caramel and spicy rye like flavors come through on the front and sides with a mild toffee background. Fruit flavors roar on the aftertaste and back with peach and cherry notes being tamed by spicy hops. Booze runs rampant through this rather big ale with considerable heat. Reminds me of some of the Russian alcohol forward dopplebocks, yet with more depth and character. Very nice indeed.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.04/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 ounce bottle, 2013 vintage, label stamp says best before 16 09 23. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a clear orange/amber color with maybe a quarter inch off-white head that didn't stay around for very long. There's a decent amount of lacing. The aroma starts off boozy, with some toffee, candied oranges, stone fruit and some caramel malt noticeable. The taste is mainly sweet and boozy, it tastes like dried fruit (stone fruit and dark fruit), booze, and bready malt. The booziness just seems worse the longer I drink this, and unfortunately so does the overall flavor of this brew. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's syrupy and coating with moderate carbonation. This isn't bad, but it wasn't exactly good either. Maybe it needs more age on it, who knows. It's worth trying once, but I likely wouldn't buy this again.

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Photo of ScentedHeathen
3.87/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

a nice and dry English Ale, a little booze taste but considering the 11.8% abv not bad at all. the Rye malt is very pleasant and strong. I should mention that the bottle I purchased in December of 2014 is from 2010 so maybe this beer needs some time to mature before it's true potential is reached

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Photo of vinicole
3.2/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Lovely orange marmalade. Crystal clear. Fine bubbles.
Little aroma, alcohol and lightly fruited sponge cake.
Thick, sweet and boozy. Hint of caramel. Alcohol burn.

Two years old and still undercooked. Needs at least five I reckon.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.4/5  rDev -0.3%

Pours a half finger of head on a clear straw body.
The aroma is malty, a little boozy, and some lemon.
The taste is super sweet across the board. There's some plum and other ripe fruits.
The texture is soft.
My wife likes it but I'm not too fond of the sweetness.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
2.99/5  rDev -12.3%

Pours a bright orange with an off white head. The smell is all alcohol with only some light fruit smells coming through in the end. The taste is very sweet in the beginning before giving in to a lot of burn from the booze. It was very heavy and boozy but drinkable. If nothing else it gets you drunk really fast.

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Photo of TruePerception
4.07/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Insanely Bad Elf, imperial red ale. 11.2% ABV

A: Interesting. There isn't really a head. Just a thin layer of bubbles, that I wouldn't say is densely packed enough to qualify. Lacing is thing, but holds in multiple layers along the glass. VERY tiny bubbles stream up the inside of the glass as it is tilted. I'm kinda of curious what causes all of these differences...

Solid plum red in color, yellow-grey in the dimple.

S: Deep molasses aroma. Cereal grain. No hops coming through, so it seems like more of an Irish-style red. I seem to be getting some oaky caramels, though the bottle doesn't say it's seen oak. Very slight muskiness.

T/MF: There is a very deep, roasted caramel note; somewhere between deeply charred oak and molasses. I don't have a name for that yet in my repertoire. Some char. Quite a bit more cereal grain. Hay. Slight smokiness. I feel like this beer needs a food pairing, but I couldn't say what. Maybe fruited breads. Creamy cheeses, perhaps. Unfortunately, I have neither on hand. For some reason, I'm thinking pepper jelly with that creamy cheese. Dammit, now I'm hungry!

Poured from a 11.2 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

Edit: 2007 Vintage.

Notes of raisin and tobacco coming forward on the palate, as the beer warms.

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

2010 Vintage : A Cellar Claim

LOOK: A medium bronze colored ale with a white soapy head that laces the glass well. The bottle poured free from sediment and clarity is above average.

SMELL: Raisin, buttery toffee, malts, and alcohol. Aged any hop notes out, it finishes sweet and hot really.

TASTE: The flavor has honey like malt, toffee, faint to no bitterness and a hefty alcohol presence. Has the echos of a euro strong ale, or cheap english barleywine, but the thinnish base beer really doesn't hide the alcohol too well.

Even after four years in the cellar, this can use about 10 years further before I would consider revisiting it.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.37/5  rDev +28.2%
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!


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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.26/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

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Photo of chilidog
4.07/5  rDev +19.4%
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

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Photo of JimTeal
3.39/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

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Photo of kvnstfrd
4.17/5  rDev +22.3%
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.

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Photo of rundocrun
3.21/5  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.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.79/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.4/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

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Photo of Mora2000
2.06/5  rDev -39.6%
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.

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Photo of KajII
3.94/5  rDev +15.5%
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...

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
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.

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Photo of TMoney2591
2.88/5  rDev -15.5%
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).

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Photo of doucmehu
3.1/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of LittleDon
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
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.

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Insanely Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
78 out of 100 based on 177 ratings.