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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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Ranked #143
Ranked #15,826
3.88 | pDev: 14.95%
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: 103 | Ratings: 225 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by sprackops:
Photo of sprackops
3.57/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12oz brown bottle with no freshness date. Poured this one into a chalice.

Appearance: Hazy brown with red highlights. Low head, not much more than a thin film.

Smell: Orange, banana, clove, and nutmeg come together as the pleasant scent of spiced fruit. Dark molasses and alcohol round it out.

Taste: Quite sweet with brown sugar, cinnamon, and the usual array of holiday spices coming through loud and clear. Phenols come to the party in the form of alcoholic bananas. Quite sweet finish with a lasting aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Nearly flat, slick body. Some residual sugar stickiness.

Drinkability/comments: One of the better nearly local spiced up high ABV beers I've had recently. Not outstanding, but worth trying.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Bighuge
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brilliant orange color. Thin beige head receded to a thin film rather quickly. This beer has spice written all over it. Just a plethora of spices for the nose to detect. Orange peel, cinamon, nutmeg and allspice come to mind for me. The taste is almost overwhelming at first. The spices hit pretty hard, but there is some substance beneath. And I am not averse to heavily spiced beers as long as it agrees with my palate. I pick up almost more of a dry corriander or marjoram like spiciness on the tongue.....very herbal. The Belgian-like biscuit malt and alcohol mingle together nicely to add depth. Some slight bitter and dry properties linger after the sip and beg another of you. At 9% a/v, this is very drinkable and tasty.

Hats off to Davo for this treat. What a surprise.

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Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very nice ruby reddish color / garnet, the head is a off-white color, leaves a lace around the glass and thin sheet till the end. On the nose the aroma is of spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and coriander. On the palate more of the same, spices, sweetness / sugary, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and coriander, slight alcohol, emm this gets better as it is warming up, flavors are becoming more pronounced. The 10%abv creates a little warming feeling (feels like your glowing.) Overall this is a great seasonal christmas brew…IMO second only to Slyfox's xmas brew.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had no idea this was nearly 10% ABV whilst I was drinking it, but that would explain that really warm feeling. Hazy tannish brown in color thin lace of a head. Has a wonderful spicy aroma with notes of coriander, cinnamon, apple, brown sugar, and a basil-like herbal quality.

This brew reminds me of Sam Adams' Old Fez, but this is hoppier, spicier, more alcoholic, and a tad less drinkable, most likely do to the not-well-hidden alcohol character. It really shows up strong. The spiciness is nice, balanced with a crisp hoppy bite, and of course the very warming alcohol finish. A true winter warmer for sure.

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Photo of goindownsouth
4.62/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This holiday brew from the Bethlehem Brew Works is probably the best "seasonal" brew I have tasted in quite a while. This aromatic beer is very pleasant to the nose, bursting with hints of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and candied sugar. This beer is in a class of its own. It is light, yet distinctive in quality. It has an earthy, warm amber color. This beer is also available in 6 packs to take home.

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark amber color brew topped in a massive head of off-white foam. This one had a much larger head than the others I had tried from BBW. The nose was loaded with holiday cheer including cinnamon and clove aromas. Some roasty notes were in there as well.

It has a pretty big body, and a whole lot of flavor. The 9.5% is very well hidden, but it will certainly warm you. This brew would have really hit the spot if it were not still 57 degrees in late December. The spices are all there and they start you out with a big blast. The cinnamon was a little much at first, but with some warming, the balance came. Fruits made their presence known later on as well as just a touch of alcohol before some roasty flavor in the aftertaste. This is a nice drinkable brew that is great for the season. I really appreciated this beer more on draught than I remember from the bottle.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance is quite nice with a slightly hazy, deep chestnut body that displays crimson highlights topped by a short and creamy light tan head. The head drops shortly but maintains a nice collar and leaves some spotty lace throughout the glass. The nose is sweet and fruity with the clove standing out amongst the various spices. Upon further investigation the cinnamon and nutmeg are also notable. The full body is enhanced by a very fine carbonation that's at first gently crisp on the tongue, but becomes creamy as it warms across the palate. The flavor is quite rich and extravagant. It's impressively vivid with a sweet, juicy malt that's drenched in soft, swirling spice flavors. The bitterness is well restrained for obvious reasons. The complexity of the spicing is astounding, with each of the many spices appearing seperately as you progress through the serving. With one sip the nutmeg may appear clear as day, but on the next it's all about cinnamon. I'm honestly not sure about the sweet gale, but the coriander/clove seem to have a constant presence. If you hold it in your mouth for long enough you may be able to note several of the spices in a row; and yet they never overpower the palate. Exceptional, and very well balanced! As might be expected, the finish is dry with a variety of lingering spices and a light touch of softly fruity and gently caramelish malt. The alcohol is completely cloaked, which is surprising for a beer of 9.5%! Quite impressive! I've never tasted a beer that can take so much spice and wrap it up so nicely in one small package. Of course, it is still limited in it's drinkability as the bold spicing will tend to build on the palate beyond one glass - but it makes an exceptional after-dinner drink or nightcap! This is one to enjoy from a brandy snifter on a cold night in front of the fireplace with a well-worn leather-bound copy of Dicken's.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.44/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Sampled at the Bethlehem Brew Works.

Appearance: Dark amber-orange ruby body with a yellow-white head that fizzles splurts and spots a little but manages to cling on to the surface throughout, at least on draft.

Nose: Immensely complex nose, everything and his Uncle is in here, lots of spices but if you take time and care you can discern and at least try to unravel them. Lots of fruit too, spiceeee oranges especially. Unbelievable nose.

Taste: It does exactly what the nose says. Lots of warming spices set against Belgian malts and Candy Sugar, a little Digestive biscuit lays the base nicely. Sweet yet not cloying, spicy but not a mess, rather a nice complex mélange of traditional spices interlaced with cloves and lots of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Mouthfeel: Warming and lovable, it caresses the oral cavity and massages all the senses, drink this one warm to get the best from the nose, taste and mouthfeel. Utterly impressive on draft.

Drinkability: At 9.5% this one drinks well below its specified strength. Bloody dangerous and a few of these on Xmas Eve could well mean that you may not wake until Boxing Day. No problems with Drinkability.

Overall: All the aspects of a truly Victorian Christmas wrapped into a beer. It immediately reminded me of a souped up Xmas version of the Pumpkin Ale, which I liked. Definitely a winner from BBW, I loved the Rudolph’s Reserve, oh I’m sorry, I mean Rude Elf’s Reserve…..

Also available from behind the Bar in Bottles I noticed during my latest visit here, I am not sure if that “W” brewery just bottle this, or brew and bottle, and for that matter whether the Draft version is made at BBW or not, but the label on the bottled version is rather cool and pokes fun at the stupid lame copyright laws in the US….how the f**k can someone lay claim to copyrighting Rudolph!?!?

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Photo of Shiredave
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cartoon label with Santa attempting to steal Rudolphs bottle states this is a Belgian style ale brewed with spices; allspice, corriander, nutmeg, cinnimon.... maybe more. Deep amber color with slow streams of carbonation. Light aroma develops as it warms, light raspberry and lemon with hints of nutmeg and vanilla. Flavor is a surprising blend of subtle spices, more nutmeg and vanilla but not over done. The rich malt taste dominates but strong hop flavors work thier way in, blending and balancing this beer quite well. Body is medium to full, mouth feel is initially light but the flavor explosion then sits heavy on the tongue. Finish is firmly bitter but not so strong as to overwhelm the caramel and spice flavors that linger with the alcohol presence that works its way in at the end. Nicely spiced and balanced Winter Warmer.

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Photo of HopheadEd
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is my first Bethlehem Brew Works beer. Wow. Pours a very nice dark ruby red, garnet color with a nice head, stays for a while, then fades to a 1/4 inch with a little lace to last the glass. The lable says a Belgian style ale with spices, so I had it in a Chimay glass. Very nice. Aroma of coriander and nutmeg off the top with a nice first taste of what to me appears to be a spicey ale with hints of licorace and pepper. Very drinkable and does not taste like 9.5%. Nice fairly smooth mouthfeel with a crisp, dry, somewhat hoppy finish.You know what, I like it. I like it a lot. This is a very nice seasonal that is worth trying.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Nice bright amber body with a thin cream head leavs specks of scattered lacing, not bad. Aroma: Ginger, nutmeg with copious amounts of citrus toned hops mild alcohol but well hiddent tone thrown in there. Much more complex than your average Xmas inspired spiced strong ale, thanks to francisweizen for the sample. Taste: Mmm... Christmas in July... well almost. Loads of spices a bit weird and non beer like but the tasty caramel malts and mellowed alcohol come together nicely along with a decent hop bitterness to form one nice brew. Mouthfeel: Fluffy medium bodied evenly carbonated no complaints in this department. Drinkability: Wow, great and enjoyed a nice sized sample but I couldn't session with this one too much going on.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

STRONG. This spicy, sugary, monstrosity of a beer is a real treat, and a sight to behold. This poured a dark, dark blood red, with almost no head to be talked about. This smells very strongly of belgian candy sugar, spices, and fruity esters. Man, oh man is this some strong brew. A good brew to sip slowly and leisurely at night, when I had it in that setting it was great! When i poured it in a 20oz pint glass after a hard day at school and work and paired it with my lunch, it was sub-par for that purpose. but as it is this is an incredible brew. The mouthfeel is extremely full and the drinkability may be lacking but this brew rules right now at the BBW. this and a double on tap at the same time...we are lucky people! This is MUCH better on tap directly from BBW in a growler than it is in bottles, which are contract brewed at Wyerbacher brewery in PA under the supervision of Mr. Fegley himself. A six pack and a growler cost about the same, so if you are going to pick some up, go for a growler.
I have some bottles for trade, and some aging right now, so drop me a line if you want to sample this hardcore beverage!!!!!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tawny, auburn hue, under a thick slab of cocoa foam. Quite nice looking.

Aroma: spice aplenty. Nutmeg and cinnamon, coriander and clove, probably more...heck, I bet they're listed on the label. Soft and sensuous, tickling the nose with intriquing aromatics. Double nice.

Taste: Bold, hoppy feel blasts into the mouth, spreads fresh, fierce flavor before fading back slowly. Spices remain in the fore of the flavor, sip after sip, hovering above a very full-bodied and complex ale. 9.5%? It's starting to creep up there...
yup, it's making an impression. Not halfway into the bomber. I know I've got a wicked ride yet to go...

Very nice spiced ale, this. Yummy yummers. wish I'd shared it with someone, though...such a chore to tackle on one's own...delicious, but damned daunting.

Spiced beer is good. Happy spiced elf-based beery Christmas-y, blah, blah, blah...

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Photo of Dantes
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Package: 12oz. brown, longneck, crowned bottle. Label depicts Santa astride a somewhat fearful reindeer, with saddlebags filled with beer. Blurb describes beer as a “Belgian style ale brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet gale (?), cloves, coriander and allspice.” No date or ABV information, but I just bought this directly from BBW and their website confirms it at 9.5%.

Cost: $10 per 6-pack; $30 per case at Shangy’s

Presentation: Snifter at ~50º

Appearance: An absolutely beautiful beer with a densely creamy bonewhite head and clear, coppery, auburn body. Rita Hayworth, eat your heart out! Super-fine beads replenished the head continually, which left nice lacing. Instantly evoked Autumn.

Smell: A wonderfully complex aroma topped by a definite whiff of alcohol. There’s a lot happening on the nose, but it combines well and is reminiscent of baking cinnamon buns or stöllen. Cinnamon is prominent but not dominating, with the other spicy notes mixing well with the bready bouquet and fruitiness.

Taste: Similar to the nose, alcohol warms the mouth first, but is backed up by the cinnamon and other spices. The Belgian candi-sugar is also detectable, but I think this also shares some similarities to British winter warmers, with its malty, bready body. Despite all of the malt, spices, and candi-sugar, this has a pretty nutty, dry, finish lengthened by the alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel: Although I’m pretty sure this isn’t bottle-conditioned, it has a fine carbonation. Very mouthwarming and comfortingly “heavy.”

Drinkability: I think this is pretty drinkable, although the alcohol is apparent and the spices can be a bit rough, at least when fresh. Something that I think will be even more pleasant with age.

I first had the opportunity to try a few samples of this at Shangy’s. At the time, it seemed on the sweet side to me, which someone who worked there echoed, comparing it to “Coke,” which I thought went too far. Because I didn’t want to commit to a case, I didn’t buy any. However, a friend had some business not far from Bethlehem, so I went a long for a ride and we stopped at BBW, where I tried some on draught and picked up a 6-pack. I’m glad I did. Neither the draft nor these bottles were cloyingly sweet. It makes a great after-dinner beer as ammunition against the Winter chill.

Backwash: Worth seeking out or trading for. An interesting take on a winter warmer style beer that comes off well.

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Photo of nomad
2.53/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured a deep red with a wonderful glow and luster. Had a sliver of a bubbly off-white head, showing not much lace or stain. Smelled of cherries, peppery cinnamon, and a strange banana-like scent. Opened to a slew of spices that were muddled together. Also, some sweet estery alcohol scents wafted about, but not endearing ones to my nose. Tasted of a big mess of spices on top of creamy hops and a large cherry-like flavored smooth but face-curling alcohol. This was a train wreck of flavors to get through with an unappealing finish, mostly from the smash of not-so-tasty cream accents, cherry alcohol flavors, and the mess of spices.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a reddish toned amber with a 1 finger off white head that retains nicely. Scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of cinnamon, sweet malt, nutmeg, coriander, and a blast of Belgian yeast making for an interesting one.
Taste is of the same aromas with a Belgian backbone and brown sugar.
Mouthfeel is sugary and medium bodied with a slightly fizzy ending reminding me of a rum coated ginger snap cookie.

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Photo of Gavage
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a clear copper color with a thick 3" off-white head. Spotty lacing develops.

Smell: huge amounts of spice like nutmeg, coriander, and allspice.

Taste: nice malty backbone as nut bread and yeast tones are nicely balanced with a strong spiciness of nutmeg, allspice, and coriander. Decent bitterness and soft alcohol rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: the start is smooth with a hint of crispness, and finishes smooth with a long spicy bread aftertaste. Medium to heavy in body.

Drinkability: Decent for a spicy brew, but one bottle is enough for a session. A definite must try for flavor, but you will want to try a different beer after the bottle is empty.

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Photo of Edwin
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a nice brownish/amber with a creamy white head that was on top from start to finish.

Smell - Smells of cherries and spices (cinnamon, etc). A nice aroma, very fit for the holidays.

Taste - I dare to say that this offering is eerily similar to the Troeg's Mad Elf, but with a tad more spiciness in lieu of the cherry flavor. It's a winner!

Mouthfeel - Very smooth and non-offensive.

Drinkability - Pretty good. I could have a few of these without flinching. The sweetness may become a tad overbearing at times if that's not what you're into.

Overall - A very nice holiday sampling. Nice spiciness and some complexity, but all in all reminds me of the Mad Elf. A+!

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Photo of WesWes
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

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Photo of ark57
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This dark belgian has a lot of spice going on. There is dark belgian candy sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, corriander, and allspice. It has a full malty body that compliments the use of the spices very well. It finishes with warming alcohol and one last taste of the spice. It is full of holiday cheer.

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Photo of 99bottles
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I tried this the other day while I was out with some friends at the Brew Works having dinner. It poured a deep brown-red with a thin lacing of tan. Cheers to BBW for serving it in a goblet, not a pint. The smell is of rich spices and warm alcohol. The first taste lends itself to sweet malts with fruity esters coming on at the end, much akin to a double or tripel wheat bock. The alcohol is present, but matches very well with the overall feel of the beer. I like the use of spices and sugar; there is a good balance of a variety of spices. It differentiates itself from the many winter beers that are glasses of nutmeg and nothing else. I think I must go back for a six pack or two, at only $10 per. Interesting note- the beer on tap is 9.5% whereas the bottles are 10% or better according to the brewmaster. Excellent beer for the season!

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Photo of soulfly967
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a reddish amber color with a thick white head that soon fell to a ring around the glass.

Smell of sweet bread, spices, ripe fruits, nuts, and bubble gum.

Taste is of banana nut bread, mild cinnamon, with a very soft hop bit and lingering sweetness at the end.

Mouthfeel is decent. Good carbonation, medium mouthfeel, and fairly smooth.

One of these is more than enough for one session. I love the fruity flavors, but the sweetness gets a little old. Overall, I enjoyed this one. Thanks to beerbeing for the hook up.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Fruity aromas of banana and peach waft from my glass as I pour this beer. The beer is a clear ruby color when held up to the light. It is topped by a frothy amber tan head. As I go in for a deeper sniff I get spicy notes of clove, allspice and cola. The aroma is spicily sweet. The taste is lightly sweet up front with fruity notes of juicy fruit, bananas and other tropical fruits. The finish is spicy with notes of cola, nutmeg, clove.

This beer is quite interesting, and though light in the body, is still quite rich and appropriate for a winter brew. I am definitely enjoying this beer, the spices are at just about the right level, they enhance the fruity character of this beer as well as adding a rich spice cake like note to it. Thanks to PisskeyNights for the opportunity to try this beer.

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Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of erica
4.58/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good one! I've been looking forward to this since I had last year's version! RR is definitely one of my faves, with basically nothing that i don't like about it. It smells like spices with a bit of banana in there, but i think less banana than last year, and lots less than the bottles (and thats a good thing), and also alcoholic . The color is a medium reddish brown, with a fair-sized head thats doesn't last too long. It tastes a lot like it smells, but doesn't taste as boozy as it smells, which can be bad for me when there's a growler sitting there... :) I think there's cloves, cinnamon, and some other spices that i'm not sure what they are, but they blend quite nicely together. It's not too thick either, another 'dangerous factor' because again, I could just drink it all night! Of course, with the 9.5%abv, I'd be feeling it the next day... All in all though, this is one good Christmas beer. highly recommended!

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Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) from Fegley's Bethlehem Brew Works
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 225 ratings