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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: 205
Photo of KA3WXV
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First let me start by saying I like darker beers with good mouthfeel.
Not watery "want a bees"

A - Came in a 12 oz goblet, great ruby red color with a small head
S - Nice malt taste with hint of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.
T - I liked this spiced beer. Spiced is not my favorite type. This was "on Tap" but nicely aged for a dark beer and very pleasant with low hops and lots of malt.
M - medium body, medium carbonation, pleasant aftertaste.
D - Started this before the meal came. I liked it.
Stood up well to Blue cheese hamburger- it has enough character of its own not to get lost with tasty food - unlike so many beers.
The second was as good as the first!

A better "Mad elf" which I buy by the case

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

in fairness, this is a review of last years winter release.

A - Pours a wonderful crystal clear ruby red color with a solid offwhite head
S - Nice sweet malts rounded out with a solid nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.
T - I often find spiced beers change dramatically over time. I don't know how this was fresh but I can say as of this tasting it was quite pleasing. NIce light caramel / biscuit malts weave between spicy belgian yeasts, nutmeg, cinammon and clove. Apparent but not overdone.
M - medium bodied, medium carbonation, crisp with a nice aftertaste.
D - I had this as a standalone after dinner drink. It's current flavor makes me think I should've had this with an apple pie or apple desert variation.

Happy to have tried this one.

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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 froggyfrog
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5


Consumed this beer outdoors in May as part of a spring cleaning effort.

You can smell the spices on this one from a mile away. We're talking Yankee-Candle-strength bottled Christmas.

This beer smells and tastes like cinnamon and nutmeg. Also there is a resinous wintergreen-like quality (perhaps from the sweet gale). The beer is crunchy as if large granules of sugar are suspended in the liquid.

All I can say is spices, spices, spices. It is actually kind of pleasing in a ridiculously overdone, I-have-no-idea-what-the-actual-underlying-beer-tastes-like sort-of-way.

This sweet monster would be best paired with Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps you could serve it with a fat dollop of whipped cream. That would be awesome.

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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.

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Photo of flexabull
3.61/5  rDev -7%
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 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.

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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.

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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.

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

06 version

Color is deep brown with an orange tint. Minimal head and just some wispy foam on the top. The bottle list cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet gale,cloves, coriander and allspice and I can believe they are all in there. The smell hits you with a wallop of spice but somehow manages to not go over the top. The cinnamon spice sticks out as most noticable for me in the taste but it is an interesting blend that you can ponder on each sip and pick up something different. The finish is a little cloying and the high abv comes through with a little burn. Overall a nice holiday beer.

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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.

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Photo of ppoitras
2.91/5  rDev -25%
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 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!.

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Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +3.1%
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 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 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 MaltyGoodness
3.35/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle.

Pours a clear copper color with wome reddish highlights. Has a thin tan head that thins even more. Spottly lacing on the glass.

Very spicy aroma on top of a fruity Belgian backdrop. Nice aromas of sweet malt and bread are woven to make this smell like a holiday treat.

Sweet malt upfront with a nice Belgian yeasty flavor. The spices quickly rush in and dominate and a slight hop bitterness becomes present. Washes away sweet with a lingering spice aftertaste. A bit cloying.

Carbonation is good, body is well rounded.

Eh. It's drinkable, but just not very balanced.

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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 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 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 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.

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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.

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Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
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 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 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.

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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 205 ratings.
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