Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
94 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve)Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve)

Brewed by:
Fegley's Bethlehem Brew Works
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by goindownsouth on 12-08-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 94 | Ratings: 205
Photo of dmamiano
4.78/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this beer at the sister brewery, Allentown Brew works.
Color was dark brown, virtually no head wth minimal lacing.
Served in a chalice.
Smell was reat, belgian malts, yeasts highly noticeable. Fruity in the nose, figs, dates and some peppery notes as well.
Taste was awesome. Smooth, yeasty and full. Very spicey wit ha big peppery finish.
Very good beer.

 360 characters

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.

 398 characters

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!

 925 characters

Photo of vette2006c5r
4.56/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark deep amber color with very little head. The smell is Christmas eve, lots of spices and a strong nutmeg. The taste is sweet and strong. Lots of nutmeg flavors and cinnamon as well. Easy to drink with such a strong flavor. Overall a really good Christmas beer. Good balance of flavors and warms you up.

 323 characters

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.

 568 characters

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.

 1,896 characters

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

I really dug this stuff.
Smell/flavor wise it struck me as a combination between traditional belgian strong dark and strong pale ales. The yeastyness was definately belgian.
There were notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander that you find in some strong pale ales, and some dark fruit notes that you find in the strong dark ales.
Dense and chewy in the mouthfeel... on the luxurious side.
Not quite so rude as the name would lead you to believe.
The alcohol is sneaky; well masked and well exploited.
Top shelf stuff.

 523 characters

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

This is one complex brew! Man you pop the bottle open and it fills the room with aroma. Christmas in a bottle. I guess holiday beers don't really have a style since some are hoppy beers, others fruit beers and ones like this that are spiced. So you really can't say much about style. It is it's own i suppose. I was told to try this brew two ways...cold and room temperature. So I bought two bottles from the pub. I must say room temp is the way to go. I pourd it into a brandy glass. The carbonation was a bit high for a big beer like this. I prefer light carbonation on the spiced beers and high ABV's. The head was pure white on a crystal clear ruby red beer. Did I mention the aroma..oh yeah...awesome. The head died quick, but I enjoyed every small sip over the course of about an hour while I watched Lost on TV. The Belgian yeast give it almost a trappist taste. This is not a beer I could have more than one of per session. The spices are to big for that. I don't think I am going to put the other one in the cooler. I liked it right out of the bottle room temp. Maybe I'll keep it in the basement to bring it down to cellar temp next time. Worth a try if you like complexity. I think it will age well too. I will have to get a case next year to give as gifts to my friends.

 1,282 characters

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!?!?

 1,866 characters

Photo of jdg204
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one at the Bethlehem Brew Works itself, luckily they still had 24 oz. 4 Packs left. You need to let it warm up a bit to let the alcohol calm (it could probably use a little aging too), but this is the best Winter Warmer I've had yet! This one will leave you feeling nice and warm during those long winter nights!

Appearance - Beautiful deep red color with small head. You need to let it warm up a bit to let the alcohol calm (it could probably use a little aging too), but this is the best Winter Warmer I've had yet!

Smell - All the wonderful fruits and spices come through in the odor. The nutmeg and cinnamon come through the strongest

Taste - Fantastic! Everything you'd expect from a Holiday Warmer, a very deep flavor. Cherry is the most evident fruit flavor while nutmeg, cinnamon, and corriander come through strong too. This is basically a nice Holiday Spiced Wine in beer form.

Mouthfeel - Wonderful warming sensation, good carbonation, and maybe just a bit too much alcohol (probably the only fault).

Drinkability - This beer rules the holiday season! While you're drinking it you can just feel the Christmas Season within you. It has all the wonderful smells and flavors all wrapped up into a great brew.

 1,240 characters

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.

 782 characters

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!

 841 characters

Photo of jscottku21
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I must admit, this style is growing on me. After having the Corsendonk Christmas Ale recently, this provides a nice comparison. Slightly spicier than the Corsendonk, this Brew Works seasonal is an excellent brew for those cold winter nights. Surprisingly drinkable for the style and ABV, I would certainly return to this fantastic effort from BBW.

 347 characters

Photo of ctylinebeer
4.36/5  rDev +12.4%
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!!

 598 characters

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

This beer pours a cloudy, orangish brown color, with a very light tan head. The head fades quickly, leaving a good lacing.

This beer has a sour fruit aroma. It also smells spicy. It smells of nutmeg, and coriander. A slight clove aroma is also present. It has a citrus aroma as well.

This beer tastes just like it smells. It has a sour flavor with some fruity notes. It is also quite spicy, with a mostly nutmeg flavor. Some cinimon is also present. The alcohol content is well hidden in the flavor and the aroma of this beer.

This beer goes down smooth, leaving a nutmeg like aftertaste. It is a little undercarbonated, I think, for the style.

Although this beer tastes great, I think it might not be the worlds best session beer. It is a little high in alcohol. Also, the flavor might get a little overbearing after a few.

Overall: Thanks go out to ggaughan for hooking me up with this one. It is great. I could drink it all year. Too bad I have no access to it in San Diego.

 992 characters

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

WOW! Now this is a seasonal beer - if ever I have had one. It is *loaded up* with spices and just shy of the threshold that would be considered cloying (quite close though) but it is full of fun intense flavors making it a pleasure to analyze. mmm.

Appearance: Pours and amber orange golden copper color with a big beige head.

Smell: What a nose full. My – goodness. This is the ’05 winter version and still it is packed with nutmeg and cinnamon, coriander, clove, allspice, sweet caramel malts and fruity esters. It is extremely enticing.

Taste: The taste follows the nose with a sweetness (caramel malt) that acts as a binding thread holding together the exorbitant flavors of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel and a slight hint of booze. It has a perfect dry finish as well.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and well carbonated, crisp and dry in the finish.

Drinkability: I really enjoyed this beer. I did share it with others. Still, I am certain one will make and enjoyable spiced beer sipper. But I would not want to drink it all evening long. Make this a desert beer and you’ll be doing just fine.

Hope this is helpful.

 1,154 characters

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...

 877 characters

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!!!!!

 1,159 characters

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

Quite a nice brew! Only drawback was that I had this out on the deck in 90 degree temps! I thought it was kicking my arse, and I see on BA that it’s a 9.5% abv !! But it would be quite a winter brew.

Great beer – amber / brown w/a foamy tan head, nice lacing too! Nutmeg and clove in the aroma, and just power packed with winter spices along with a strong backbone of Belgium yeast and sugar cane. Very full bodied, strong and sturdy. Yup, would luv these on a snowy day – but still very nice by the pool (gotta be in the shade).

Another great one from Beerbeing!.

 574 characters

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+!

 696 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark orange russet hues containing into a Hennepin tulip with a cake like ½” head cap that quickly settles to a frothy wafer thin coating.

Cornucopia of aromas here. A nose like a spice cake. I think a spicerack fell in beer again. Nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, clove and fruity aromatic bouquet of cherry vanilla ice cream. This is dessert in a glass.

First swigs: Dry biscuit and spice wafer. Many aromatic spices are reflected in the flavor. Dark cake and cocoa. Nutmeg is so pronounced it’s as if it was poured in. Notes of cherry and cinnamon and licorice with a kiss of brandy towards the end.

Smooth medium body with a perfect carbonation and feel that never gets cloying. Quite drinkable and enjoyable. A few of these could easily go down the gullet.

Last Swigs: Cherry bunt cake in a glass. Reminds me of Anchor’s OSA 2003.
9.5% is completely hidden 100%. Quite simply an impressive brew with massive spice quality. BBW makes pleasant artesian offerings. Too bad there are only a few bottles here or another would go back tonite. Special thanks to fellow BA Stingo for the trade for this Winter brew, my favorite of the year thus far.

Beer is good. Happy regional beering.

 1,200 characters

Photo of brewnut11
4.26/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is one of the nicest looking beers I've ever seen. A brilliantly clear ruby redish tint with a white foamy head. It has an aroma of a belgian style beer. The taste screams out Holiday Cheer. It has a sweet up front taste with holiday like spices and finished off with a fairly strong alcohol taste. A very nice mixture of flavors and it is balanced nicely. You can tell by the first taste that this beer is strong and must be drank in moderation. This is my favorite "Holiday Beer" and I must have a case or two when the holidays come up.

 548 characters

Photo of scooter231
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not only is the name cool, the beer is pretty tasty too. This guy reminded me a lot of a Christmasy/Winter Warmer type brew. Tons of flavor, lots of spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, hazlenut and corriander came rushing to the surface at first sniff and taste, and refused to go away. Also some fruityness near the end to sort of balance everything out.

Very very smooth and drinkable, slightly chewy, and extremely sneaky. This one will knock you on your bum without you even realizing it. Overall a yummy Belgian brew I'd try again. And again.

 541 characters

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.

 678 characters

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.

 635 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) from Fegley's Bethlehem Brew Works
3.88 out of 5 based on 205 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!