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

very good
96 Reviews
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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

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Reviews: 96 | Ratings: 213
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle from the brewery. ABV not listed on the label. Initially from fridge with a cloudy yeasty peach colour, soap bubble head. Good kitchen spice cabinet aroma. Initially creamy good medium mouthfeel, and spices refreshed.Like a good Begium, yet hint of metallic finish. As glass warmed, mouthfeel felt thinner and spices Ok but not delicious, more like an American Winter warmer.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rude elf pours out as a reddish orange color. The head is a creamy white color with a decent lacing. The smell is of Christmas spices and berries, some Belgian yeast and some booze. The taste has some strong cinnamon there with a boozey Belgian yeast flavor and some berries in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a little bubbly and dry. Overall it's a pretty good holiday brew. I enjoy it during the season.

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Photo of oline73
3.5/5  rDev -10%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
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 WVbeergeek
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
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 feloniousmonk
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
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 Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, pours orange amber, clear with an off white head and leaving just so so lacing. Nose here is initially just of alcohol, then some warm spicing comes along. This is a large, bold, spicy, strong brew. Lots of Belgian yeasty phenolics and bubblegum notes, yum, did I mention the warming alcoholic sensations?, the whiskey notes? The vanilla and coconut flavors? double yum. This is a fine, complex and very BA worthy brew, nice job BBC. Go and get some of this stuff! A few bottles on Christmas eve and I'll be seeing Santa's sled floating over my house...

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Photo of Gavage
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
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 tempest
2.95/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap at the Allentown Brew Works. Maybe it was brewed in Allentown, but its the same beer. Served in a goblet it appears a dark brown.

This beer has a lot of good flavors, but frankly it's a mess. They don't work. Nutmeg and cinnamon compete with dried cherries and a strong clove taste. This beer would be okay without the clove phenols, but they really throw a wrench into the works. For the strength, the body is otherwise drinkable, but I won't be returning to this beer. No thanks.

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Photo of WesWes
3.77/5  rDev -3.1%
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 Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
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 yourefragile
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006/07 12 oz bottle

A: Pours a cloudy, dark amber/reddish color with a thick off white head that quickly dissipates with little lacing.
S: Very strong and spicy, nutmeg, cinnamon, a little vanilla, some alcohol coming through too.
T: This brew isn't as spicy as it was a year ago, as the flavor and the alcohol have mellowed out a lot. I enjoy this more a year later as I thought it had a little too much going on when it was fresh and the alcohol was a little too potent.
M: Medium body, high carbonation and very smooth (much more so than I remembered). Much smoother and creamier than I remembered.
D: Much better than it was a year ago, before you knew you were drinking a 9% abv and it has now mellowed out nicely. However, this is still very spicy and sweet and difficult to drink more than one at a time. I also had the 2007 on tap a few times, though I haven't reviewed it, I personally prefer the 2006 (fresh or aged) more so.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev +2.8%
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 akorsak
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
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 ppoitras
2.91/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle from BeerBeing as part of UTBIF. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" beige head above the clear copper brew. Dense head lasts well, with lots of doughy lacing everywhere. Aroma is spiced so much, it reminds me of those specialty ginger beers that kick your taste buds, not usually what I'm looking for in a beer. Taste starts with over the top spicing, lets a bit of the bready malt flavor through for a moment, and then the spices take over again. I know this is advertised as a spiced brew, but this is just doesn't leave enough room for the beer flavors to come through. Glad I tried it, won't be back.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber, very clear, cap of small off-white head, decent lacing. Scent is filled with all sorts of seasonal whiffs... cinamon, nutmeg, ginger, brown sugar, vanilla, grahmn cracker... touches of citrus and watery fruit, with a presence of crusty dark bread and belgian yeasts in the background. Taste brings the spice profile to the front with notes of fruit lingering with brown sugar sweetness and bready yeasts, faint booze notes in the back end. Medium bodied, perfectly carbonated. A true suprise and one of the better holiday seasonals in my opinion.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
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 Darkmagus82
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
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 TheLongBeachBum
4.44/5  rDev +14.1%
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 hopdog
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. On multiple occasions.

Poured a dark and cloudy brown color with a smaller sized off white head. Aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves (and I'm sure I'm missing a couple other spices in there), and on the fruity side. Closely reminded me of a stick of gum that's been chewed on for a while. Tastes of the same. Spices are there in the tastes but not overpowering. Tastes like a spiced cake of some sort. Alcohol content well hidden. Lacing left on the glass.

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Photo of 57md
3.89/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of Vancer
4.28/5  rDev +10%
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!.

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Photo of flexabull
3.61/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle is really ridiculous looking. Label could use a redesign... an elf looking right at me, with earrings, a big nose, and sticking his tounge out? Looks really amature hour to me.

Anyways, on to the beer. The brew is a nice clear dark amber color with a good looking head, and nice carbonation noted.

Aromas reek of nutmeg. I notice it from foot away while pouring the beer. When I stick my nose really close, I notice more nutmeg, and a very distinct bubble gum like smell. Kind of odd... not sure if I like it.

Flavors are interesting. Taste is clean up front, settles in with some alcohol notes, and then finishes with the spices... nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander are all noticed, but none are too overpowering.

Mouthfeel is lighter than I expected, but still decent.

You certainly can't judge a beer by it's label. This is pretty good. I don't think I could sit around and drink more than one of these. But this one bottle was definitely interesting and enjoyable enough.

Thanks for sending this aprilluvsbeer!

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Photo of CRJMellor
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours light brown with red highlights. Small head with lots of lace. Aroma is malty yets shows signs of ginger, orange peel and maybe cherries. Vey interesting flavors, very well-psiced with nothing dominant but just all working together. Cinnamon and ginger give it a little bit of a ginger ale kick but the malt prevent it from straying too far. Very nice mouthfeel and dry finish.
Can only imagine how good this could be on draught.

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Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) from Fegley's Bethlehem Brew Works
3.89 out of 5 based on 213 ratings.
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