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

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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: 94 | Ratings: 203
Photo of magine
3.27/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Duvel glass.

Pours a dark caramel color with a fast to fade light tan head. Head is nearly non existent. Lace settles to a rim around the glass. No lace remains to speak of. Very average looks.

Brew smells very fruity; dark fruits, yeasts. Very sweet smelling brew. The brew borders on candy like sweetness in the nose. Potent nose, doesn't smell like beer. Decent nose.

This brew is sweet and smooth. Has a peppery bite and finishes dry and bitter. Big alcohol presence tasted. The brew has dark fruits in there as well; cherries, berries etc., This brew has a decent taste, not among the better half of brews of this style for me though. The cadny like sweetness and booze are too overpowering. This brew would have done better with a more yeasty flavor. OK taste.

This is a decent Strong Belgian, but unfortunately the brew lacks the mouthfeel and is too sweet and boozy for me. There are just two many better examples of the style to go to this one.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
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 confer
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Brown and clear, no head.
S- The smell is sweet and boozy.
T- Taste is the same as the smell. The sweet is like cherry cough drops. There is a boozy burn following.
MD-This beer has a very creamy feel. It is cerainaly a sipping beer. Nice for the colder months.

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Photo of cooch69
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This Elf poured a deep amber with mahoganey hues. It has a two finger white head that settles to scattered gobs on top.

The nose is very spicy and bready. Alcohol also shows throught in the nose(even though this beer is really cold). Cherries, figs, cloves, cinnamon and caramel are dominant in the nose.
The spices carry over into the taste as front row players as well. Liquroce(don't spell good) and cloves come first. I get at least one or two gingerbread cookies in the mid sip. This ties in well with the caramel and fruit bread which features predominantly raisins and fig.
And the finish shows a fair amount of biterness but it is short term at that.

Wow I'm getting exausted with all of these flavors. This beer is awesomely complex and pretty tasty at that.

Nice amount of pinpoint carbonation adds a crispness but the body overall is pretty creamy.

The only thing that held back this beer was the bit of harshness. Maybe it's just me but I had lots of Christmas ales before and it seems to me that for what it is, it's a bit too harsh. Not very strong though, even though it is on the full bodied scale.

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Photo of BigMike
3.2/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Orange with a reddish tint. Clear with a small of bubbles. Head is soapy and pretty white.

S: lots of spice on the nose. Cinnamon, nutmeg, Ginger. Not sure if this is brewed with cherries or not but I get a sour cherry smell. Almost smells like it's going to be sour.

T: Ok so nothing sour about this beer. In fact it's almost cloyingly sweet. All the spices from the nose are present and counted for. Also a strong alcohol note. Some banana in the background.

M: Full bodied and thick. Very sweet and almost syrupy. This knocks drinkability down.

Overall: not as enjoyable as Tröegs Mad Elf. This one is too sweet and heavy.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
3.19/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into wine-style glass.

Pours with a short, tan head the fizzles quickly to a film. Body is clear, like a dark iced tea.

Aromas are heavy on the banana, with some clove, allspice, and sort of cordial-like as it warmed. Lots of caramel sweetness.

Flavors were dominated by ripe banana peel, a fair amount of spice (but not thick), and a lite citrus in the way back. Very one-dimentional.

Pretty creamy mouthfeel at first, but lack of carbonation causes it to become pretty cloying. Becomes a bit harsh as it warms to around 60 degrees.

Little too thick and cloying for the style which brings down the drinkability score.

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Photo of philbe311
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A fingers worth of audibly fizzy egg nog colored head fades in rapid fashion leaving a very faint veil on uneven lacing... A warm completely translucent medium brown color... Minimal touches of lacing clings to the glass after each sip before receding... A moderate bit of mixed paced carbonation, some sluggish, most moderate to quick paced...

S - Spiced wafers... Ginger... Cinnamon... Nutmeg... Hints of caramel... Hints of vanilla... Hints of brown sugar... Hints of dark fruit... Undertones of Belgian yeast... A bit of nuttiness... Warming and intoxicating boozy undertones... Rich, deep, and complex...

T - Much of the complexity from the nose disappears on the palette, but there is still a lot good stuff going on... At the forefront are the spices and the booze... Buried beneath is a wide array of malts... Some dark fruits... Some caramel... Some bready malts...

M - On the lighter side of full bodied... A perfect amount of carbonation that packs a powerful bite... A nice warming effect from the booze... Sleek and slightly sticky...

D - An enjoyable sipper... A bit more sweetness would go a long way to making this a world class seasonal offering... Not withstanding this is still a very solid offering and one that I'll continue to sip on and enjoy through out the season...

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

Served in a tulip glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is rich, clear, dark mahogany color with a ½" light tan or off white head that recedes slowly leaving some modest lacing. By mid-way through the beer the lacing is pretty much gone. There is a ring of foam for most of the glass and sipping leaves some speckled lacing.

Smell: The aroma is definite and full. It is fruity with some holiday spices sharply present. There seem to be some clove, cinnamon and nutmeg here and may be something more. No real presence of hop or alcohol shows in the nose.

Taste: The flavors are much as predicted by the nose. There are the spices mentioned above along with some fruity character from the malt. Some sweetness is here but it's hard to tell if it is the malt, the alcohol or both. The ABV is well concealed in this one.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is full to medium bodied and carbonation is both soft and adequate. The finish is moderately long and spicy with some hop showing toward the end,

Drinkability: With this ABV (which creeps up on you quickly) this is a one glass a night beer and a good choice to follow dinner while reading a good book or sitting by the fire. That said, this is an aggressive, take no prisoners beer, that leaves a lasting impression. At first I didn't think I'd like it and that I'd have trouble finishing it. But then as tried more of it I found more in it to like, so I'm expecting that folks will either like it or hate it. While I'm on the fence about whether I'll have another, I expect I'll revisit this beer just to spend more time sorting out the complexity of the aromas and flavors.

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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.

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

Grabbed a sixer today to stash away for Christmas, but was eager to crack one open as I've never had this before.

Poured into a large chalice, Rude Elf has a nice dark amber / cola colored body with 2 fingers of of white head that lingers for a couple minutes before settling down to a thin creamy layer on the surface. The nose consists of dark fruits, sweet Belgian candy, and caramel malts. The taste is right in line with the aromas, sweet from start to finish, fruits and malts with a nice spiciness rounding out the flavor profile. Medium bodied, and for as fresh as this bottle is, its not that hot.

I like this holiday BSDA, I just like the Mad Elf a bit more - I am curious how this ages, maybe I'll lay one of these down for a year and give this review and edit in 2011.

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Photo of ujsplace
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice.

Brew is a deep brownish-ruby in color with a mild fluffy, white lace that leaves some lacing.

Very aromatic; smells of sweet candy, rasins and dark fruit with some spice.

Big sweet candied-sugar malt up front that gives way to rasins and dark, over-ripened cherries and some figs. Faint, earthy hops, along with a solid alcohol presence, which is most evident in the finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth and well carbonated.

Overall, this is another very nice brew from Fegley's. I'll admit, I am a sucker for the seasonals - tis the season for this type of brew...this is not for everyone and the abv may mute it's sessionability, but this is good on a brisk fall or winter night.

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Photo of bbeane
4.01/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009-2010 Edition... I remember having this last winter at the Brew Works and enjoying it though it was very boozy. Lets see if it's mellowed after almost a year in the cellar...

A- Poured into my PALM snifter... dark amber in color with some fine sediment. Has a weak fizzy head that appears and disappears quickly

S- First wiff gives off a nice sweet aroma, belgian candied sugars, malts, and spices... still smells a bit boozy. After some swirls of the snifter, the belgian sugars and spices intensify... smells delicious

T- Still a very tasty brew, though it's still got some heat... starts out and finishes with a very sweet malty taste with healthy amounts of spices and sugar, and hints of dark fruits evident. Still has a hot boozy finish

M- Medium/full body with light carbonation

D- Still pretty intense alcohol taste, though still quite tasty. I'll definitely be buying a couple more bottles this year to sample and compare as well as some to cellar...


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Photo of mattgreger
3.79/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a sniffer, poured a deep redish/brown color. With little head, with no lacing present

Aroma hit me as soon as I opened the bottle. A wonderful spicy, smell hits the nose. I was excited to try this brew at that point. There was some strong nods of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and other spices mixed in. The finish of this aroma has some banana and caramel and maybe the hint of figs as well.

The flavor here is exactly what I expected after smelling the spices from the bottle. There is a strong flavor of some bready yeast. Followed with some great mixtures of spices that give this brew a wonderful flavor. The finish has some great fruit flavors that round this brew out. Though the alcohol is high on this one...these flavors mead together to make a great brew without the alcohol hit.

The mouthful is medium bodied and smooth. Wonderful flavors hit all the taste buds of the mouth. Very low carbination on this one, that allows for it to be such an easy mouthful.

Drinkability on this one depends on the drinker. Anyone not big into brews heavy on spices might dislike this brew. The ABV on this one is high as well, so some people may or maybe be able to handle this brew. I do have to say this is another excellent brew by Brewworks and I have found now a great winter seasonal brew to consume.

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Photo of mdwalsh
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 2-3 finger head of light tan, bown/red, lot's of active carbonation. Could be darker. No lace. (I wrote "purple" on the side)

S: Belgian yeast and caramel dominate. No hops.

T: Similar to the smell, less Belgiany. More toffee, cooked caramel, cooked fruit. No hops, not much for roast. Maybe a mild vanilla.

M: Smooth, low carbonation. Too low? no.

D: Very good with curry!

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Photo of number1bum
3.17/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Purv's in Peckville. Comes in a pint glass, reddish copper color with absolutely no head whatsoever. Completely still.

Smell is extremely spicy with lots of cinnamon and clove. It's also sweet and quite boozy. Some dark fruits peek in. Smells like an overspiced winter warmer so far...and those aren't really my thing...

Taste is also exceptionally spicy and boozy. Wow are there a lot of spices in this beer. Cinnamon, clove, and not sure what else. Some caramel too and a lot of sweetness. As it warms some dark fruit, cherries especially, come in, as does some vanilla which is actually the flavor I am enjoying most. Some good flavors here but this beer is all over the place. I wouldn't call it complex; I'd call it messy.

Mouthfeel is a medium-full body but is very flat. Sticky sweetness to the beer, but needs some creamy carbonation.

Eh, this beer has some potential but it's all over the place. Lots of components but they don't mesh. It's a mess to be honest. I really like the vanilla actually, but the spices need to be toned down a bit and it all needs to meld a bit more. At the end of the glass I feel tipsy and nothing more...

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Photo of Minotaur
4.09/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft, and in bottle available at the Brew Works.

A very dark ale with a one finger head that leaves very little lacing, but a nice ring of tan foam around rim of the glass.

The aroma is rich in plumb, cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and mostly - banana. The over-riding impression is of something luscious and desert-like.

The flavor follows this up. It is a thick and warm tasting beer that is rich in layers of sweet flavor. The most predominant taste is that of a fruitcake laced with christmas spices. It is perhaps one of the most pronounced and deliberately flavored holiday ales. There is some alcohol aftertaste but it is not disruptive to the sweet palate.

The mouthfeel has a molasses like quality but is not actually thick. Here is where the alcohol becomes stronger and leaves a whiskey like feeling in the stomach. The beer is very drinkable despite its high alcohol and strong tastes.

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Photo of psujesus
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

notes from 11/25/2009
on-tap poured into a 12oz tulip at the brewpub

first Belgian ive had on tap, poured a ruby red color with a decent head, as other Belgians ive had this tastes a little bit like a wine with nutmeg and cinnamon, it did drink nice and smooth

not exactly my cup of tea as its a little high in abv% to be a constant order but worth a try at least once a season

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle poured into a nonic pint glass. The ale appears a hazed deep chestnut color with about a finger of tan head. Nose and flavor are dominated by spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, spicy pepper, and a touch of clove, hints of banana, figs, and caramel. Maybe a notch better than medium bodied and amply carbonated. A tad heavy on the spice, but if you dig that type of thing, certainly check this one out.

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Photo of tempest
2.95/5  rDev -24%
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 hopdog
4.15/5  rDev +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 maddogruss
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12 ounce bottle of this into a glass mug.

A: Pours a dark amber body with a tan head with nice retention and decent lacing along the sides of the glass until the finish.

S: Banana esters were very evident in the smell with hints of alcohol and sweet malts in the undertones.

T: Hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and coriander in the th taste with banana esters evident in the aftertaste. Could not really taste the alcohol at all.

M: A nice, smooth mouthfeel that was pleasant on the palette.

D: Overall, a nice drinking beer with a nice taste and mouthfeel. Cannot drink too many of them without getting a little tipsy, but, if you do not care about that, this is a nice beer to do it with. You will not taste the alcohol too much, it tastes great, and it goes down real smooth.

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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.

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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 yourefragile
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
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 coalcracker
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark ruby color. Head retention stands up well initially, though falls away fairly quickly.

Smell: Very interesting. The spices are quite evident- clove, cinnamon are obvious. The spices mute out any malt aroma.

Taste: Good lord! Spices jump out right at you. Sweet malt is there but is really overwhelmed by the the cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg (among others. An alcohol presence is also evident, though not overpowering.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied brew.

Drinkability: Between the strength of the beer and its character, I would only have one of these boys at a time, pairing with food would also be a challenge.

Overall: An interesting and different strong ale. Will cellar these guys for a while to see if these spicy tones mellow out a bit.

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Rude Elf's Reserve (formerly Rudolph's Reserve) from Fegley's Bethlehem Brew Works
3.88 out of 5 based on 203 ratings.
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