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

Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve)Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve)
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Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #160
Ranked #21,161
3.87 | pDev: 14.73%
Fegley's Bethlehem Brew Works
Pennsylvania, United States
Very Good
Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve)Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve)
Reviews: 104 | Ratings: 230 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Bouleboubier
Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

(16 oz can, canned on 100920; purchased single off shelf... poured into a fat tulip)

L: crystal-clear, deep reddish-tawny liquid; head fizzes out during the pour, spitty collar holds then releases... no lace; looks like some still shade of sherry by the end

S: cherry juice, pumpkin(?) spice (nutmeg, ginger, allspice)... a hybrid of a Belgian noel ale and a pumpkin quad... good overall potency; little apparent booze aside from exhaust fumes

T: doubly malty, semi-sweet, near soft-drink foundation, with a slick, stone-fruity layer enveloping; fair nugget of a nutty spice-yeast bite speckled in the fruit brandy soup; hint of cherry cough drop in the aftertaste, as well as that nutty, earthy musk... relatively little residual syrup essence; gradual presence of caramelized, almost toasty sugar flavors... aftertaste on the drier side of what it should/could be?; alcohol doesn't cut through, merely melding with(in) the candy colors

F: in spite of its flaccid, near non-perceptible carbonation, its not bulbous, syrupy, or hot, having a strange, pleasing balance and levity, allowing dangerous ease toward slugging... still, it's rather boring in texture; a vehicle for booze

O: it's flavorful and balanced enough to satisfy that base Belgian, 'holiday' ale craving, but it's not to be taken seriously as a dynamic, nuanced brew (much like any other red Belgian noel malt/sugar liquor)... I could certainly see having one again, and only one in a sitting, and not discussing it, just enjoying the company... this was suggested to me as a more flavorful alternative to Mad Elf; hard to argue? (1715)

Nov 15, 2020
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tigg924 from Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours clear, copper in color with 1/4 inch head. Taste is cherry, gingersnap, clove, and a touch of cinnamon. Heavy bodied, sweet, with high carbonation. Makes for an excellent winter warmer. Would be on my yearly get list if distributed here. Really tasty beer.

Jan 26, 2019
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rudiecantfail from Pennsylvania

4.06/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a "snulip" glass.

L---Ever so slightly hazy, deep amber color. Medium off-white head with minimal retention, but surprisingly good lacing.

S---Cinnamon, first & foremost. Loads of cinnamon. Also a lot of other spices. I'll try, but probably fail to get them all right. Nutmeg, coriander, ginger (or at least gingerbread) and maybe(?) all-spice. Spices really overpower anything else, but there might be some candy sugar there as well.

T---Spices dominate in the taste even more than in the nose. But that's ok. It's true to style and is coming through as advertised. Tastes just like you'd imagine a christmas beer to taste. Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger. There might be other things there, but's that's going to be for someone better than me to detect. All christmas/winter spices all the time.

F---Remarkably smooth for ABV. No real burn/booziness. Feels full with medium carbonation. Could be dangerous if I'd gotten a sixer.

O---A damn fine christmas beer. It's what you'd expect, and in large amounts, but that's exactly what it says it is, so props for being on point.

Jan 09, 2019
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haines710 from Delaware

3.57/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I wanted to like this. Picked up a bottle before the holidays and now enjoying it late night watching some football. Smell is clovey. Taste also starts with cloves and other spices. Very spicy but very little malt. Not much depth. Just a warm burning sensation. Glad I tried it. Won’t get more

Dec 29, 2018
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Fatheroftoomany from Pennsylvania

3.36/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Festive deep color with a spicy winter smell of cinnamon. Very strong taste and heavy finish.Bites hard and it will get you drunk. I prefer to have another beer before this one to loosen up my palate.

Dec 14, 2018
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HellsRanger from Pennsylvania

3.81/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Come out with nice amber color and nice full off white/tan foam...decent lacing.
The aroma is full of holiday spiciness and the Belgian brew coming thru.
As for the follows the nose to the "T"...with nice spice and Belgium ABV along for the ride. Very nice touch...
The feel is a smooth with a lil' bite in the end, but still well balanced.
Overall a great brew for the holidays.

Nov 26, 2018
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Mooglytonkers from Pennsylvania

4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Spicy without being cloyingly sweet. It's liquid xmas. Pours ruby red, bubbles pop little spice bursts in your nasal passages. Overall it's great, the booziness is just enough to remind you that this will inevitably lead to holiday party-mode.

Jan 12, 2018
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mdfb79 from New York

4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Really nice beer; lots of apples and fruit fruits, light spices and coriander. Does not taste as strong as it is which is great/dangerous.

Overall a really nice beer.

Dec 30, 2017
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DaveinFF from Pennsylvania

4.46/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear ruby color with white head that collapses quickly with no lacing. Aroma is winter spices...cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, ginger. Light carbonation and relatively light body. Nice malt sweetness with notes of caramel, raisin, burnt sugar. Dark stone fruits. Not much in the way of hop bitterness here. Not really boozy despite the high ABV but grows as the temp rises.

Feb 26, 2017
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Whey2Hoppy from New Jersey

4.58/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pours a beautiful ruby red, with just a faint head that fades fairly quickly, but that's to be expected for the style/ABV.

Smell- HUGE cinnamon dominance. Like, you can smell the cinnamon enveloping your senses as soon as you pop the bottle top.Tons of other spices that make this almost smell like potpourri, and as a sucker for both of those things, I absolutely love it.

Taste- You definitely get a huge kick of all the spices that are in the nose, but the ample amounts of sugary malt sweetness really balance it out, making it taste almost like a gingersnap cookie. Perfect holiday taste.

Feel- Medium bodied, about what you'd expect for a quad, or something comparable.

Overall- This literally tastes like Christmas in a glass. When I think holiday season, THIS is what I think of. Truly a spectacular beer, and from a brewery I've never heard of/tried before. I'd take this over Mad Elf, my previous favorite holiday beer, any day.

Feb 14, 2017
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ctylinebeer from Pennsylvania

4.36/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a teku glass. Christmas present from a co-worker, glass from the mom =)

L - ruby red color with a hint of amber. Half finger of head with a thin ring around the glass. Loose lacing on the glass.

S - Cherries, cinnamon, nut meg. Dried fruit in the back end.

T - fresh cherries, cloves, cinnamon as an after taste.

F - syrup strong feel. Fizzy gulp finish. Light carbonation

O - I like this much more than the Mad Elf. First time using a teku glass and the aromatics are fantastic. Love this beer, wish I got the bourbon barrel aged bottle as well. Merry Cheersmas!!

Dec 26, 2015
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Shade1951 from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +3.4%

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.

Nov 19, 2014
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57md from Pennsylvania

3.89/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brownish copper with a finger of off-white head. The head dissipates rather quickly. The most pronounced note in the nose is nutmeg. Spices and malt blend together in the flavor profile. This offering finishes with a definite and not altogether pleasant essence of alcohol. The alcohol becomes more pronounced as the beer warms. The body is a touch light for the style.

I have sampled this offering over many Christmas seasons and it has seemed to have gotten lighter with a slightly muted flavor profile as the years go by. This is still a good holiday treat, but certainly not the best Christmas ale available.

December 2016 update: Sampled a vertical of 2013, 2014 & 2015 versions (3, 2 & 1 year(s) old respectively). The flavors on the 2013 vintage were fairly dull and the finish was surprisingly bitter considering. The 2015 vintage was still a touch hot in the alcohol department. The sweet spot for me was the 2014 vintage which still had a solid malt backbone as well as the traditional candied sweetness. The spices had dissipated but that did not detract from the drinking experience too much. The alcohol was totally smoothed out and the drinkability was optimum.

Dec 26, 2013
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ColdWaffles from Pennsylvania

3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed from notes of stuff I've had over the past month or so.

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint.

Appearance: Deep red ale with a nice but short lived head.

Smell: Clove, cinnamon, all spice and icing. "Sugar, spice and everything nice." Back of the package recipe gingerbread cookies. Cheap holiday cookies. Smells good, if a little... cheesy. (And not like actual cheese.)

Taste: This seems like they made all of their baked goods for the season and then brewed up a decent Belgian strong ale and dumped all of the leftover spices into the ale. How they mix with the ale isn't bad, but it's not exquisite either.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodies with appropriate carbonation. Lightly sticky afterward.

This isn't a BAD beer. In fact, I didn't mind my experience with it at all. However, I wouldn't want it again for an entire year and a single 12 oz will do. The fruit cake of beer.

Feb 01, 2013
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Darkmagus82 from Texas

3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – The beer is served a ruby red color with a small white head. The head fades very fast to leave a lingering film and a small level of lacing.

Smell- The aroma is heaviest of spice notes mixed with some fruit and sugar. Cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom are all prevalent and mix nicely with a candied sugar and light dark fruit aroma.

Taste – The spices make their presence known upfront in the taste as they did in the nose. Cinnamon and cardamom mix with a dark fruit and malty base of the brew. Soon other spices of nutmeg enter as well as some flavors of a brown sugar and apple. A light yeast taste enters the tongue, more toward the end, along with a light alcohol and citrus flavor. From the mix of the spice and alcohol, a pleasant warming taste is left to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel- The body of the beer is on the medium side in terms of its thickness with a carbonation level that is slightly on the higher side. The high carbonation is god for the drinkability while the medium body is a good compromise from keeping it too easy to drink, but yet still being god for the spice and the fruit flavors.

Overall – A tasty spiced Belgian style ale. A very drinkable (and dangerous at 10.5 % abv.) and wonderful winter style brew to sit back and sip in the company of friends. A good on to try if you get the chance.

Dec 10, 2012
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FickleBeast from New Jersey

3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at George street alehouse in new Brunswick. Arrives in a pint glass with a finger of foam with nice lacing. Aroma is moderate with holiday spices like Clove and cinnamon.

This is much better than what I had in the bottle last year. Decently sweet with a strong spice profile. A touch boozy but to be expected in a beer this size. A bit too spiced for my preference but not overpowering.

This is a bargain at 6 bucks for a pint of this high octane beer at the GS alehouse. I'm glad I gave this another shot, as it is head and shoulders better than the bottle I had previously.

Nov 21, 2012
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chefhatt from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When i poured this beer into a pint glass, it has a dark reddish color body with a little head that layed down to a thin lace. The smell is of cinnamon, nutmeg.
The taste is malty and spicy,of cinnamon, nutmeg and some allspice, then the hops come on the back of the tongue. Very nice mouth feel, and overall a really good beer.

Jan 27, 2012
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TheFightfan1 from Pennsylvania

3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

Jan 08, 2012
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UDbeernut from Florida

3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Part of the mixed case from my sister. Pours a glorious red amber hue into my snifter capped by a foamy head with very little retention. Nose is strong with banana. Taste is trending sweet with burnt sugar, banana, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Alcohol is banging down the front door and emjoyably warming on this cold day. Mouth is think and syrupy, a true sipping beer .

Jan 04, 2012
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turnstile from Pennsylvania

3.48/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours reddish-brown with orange and ruby highlights. Only a ring of carbonation to stand in as the head; two thin strips of lacing are visible.

Smell: Cinnamon, Belgian yeast spiciness, brown sugar, molasses, and a bit of clove and orange zest. Alcohol aroma noticeable.

Taste: Alcohol-forward; spicing carries through to the palate with cinnamon and nutmeg apparent. Fairly clean with caramel malt flavors and Belgian yeast lingering in the finish. Mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with little carbonations; sort of flat. Way too syrupy for my liking.

Overall: I'm not really impressed. It's fairly one-dimensional and kind of a struggle to finish.

Dec 28, 2011
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happy4hoppybeer from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at restaurant.

From notes:

Luscious ruby-red, fairly dark. With very thin, minimal head. Almost no lacing to speak of.

Notes of spice, a little cinnamon and a dominant alcoholic component. A little malt sweetness here and there.

Medium mouth, light carbonation with flavors of spice, sweetness and alcohol. Not bad.

Dec 27, 2011
Photo of VaTechHopHead

4.02/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - medium red with a thin head. Not much lacing and crystal clear

S - Very spicy with hints of cinnamon and clove. Not much hop profile and a nice caramel sweet aroma

T - Follows the aroma with spices, mostly cinnamon. Sweet tang in the middle and an alcohol presence towards the end. Finishes spicy and a warm boost flavor.

M - medium body and good carbonation. Palate finishes semi dry with a hint of alcohol

O - a very nice Christmas beer and the spices are blended very well. Definitely a seeker over the holidays

Dec 23, 2011
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BuxMontBeerLover from Pennsylvania

3.87/5  rDev 0%
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.


Dec 22, 2011
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oline73 from Maryland

3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

Dec 16, 2011
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muletrane from Pennsylvania

3.37/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2010 Vintage

Poured from a 12oz bottle (no dates) into a snifter.

A: Pours a deep plum colour with red/orange hues. 1 finger of ivory head dissapates quickly leaving some lace.

S: The highlight of this beer. Lots of spiciness in the nose. Spices don't seem to have faded at all. Nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, clove, yeast. Very nice, smells like Xmas.

T: Didn't quite deliver from the great nose. Some spiciness up front and Belgian yeast notes on the backend. Finishes dry with some lingering spicy notes.

M: Not alot of carbonation here. Moderate body. Slick feel overall. Not the most pleasant mouthfeel here. Maybe do to the age.

Overall this beer is all about the nose. It smells fantastic! It just doesn't deliver in the flavor category. I wasn't a fan of it fresh and the aged bottle is only slightly better IMO.

Dec 03, 2011
Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) from Fegley's Bethlehem Brew Works
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 230 ratings