Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale | Ridgeway Brewing

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Very Bad Elf Special Reserve AleVery Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale
325 Ratings
Very Bad Elf Special Reserve AleVery Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale

Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Kookiekwan on 11-17-2004

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Ratings: 325 |  Reviews: 179
Photo of Yeldarb92
3.98/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of robotic_being
3.54/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of mmilyko
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Retroman40
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A brilliant clear copper color with a creamy white that is quite persistent. The smell is bready malt with just a hint of hops and the taste follows on. There is not the slightest hint of alcoholic heat in spite of the 7.5% ABV. The mouthfeel is smooth with very light carbonation. Overall this is a great easy drinking beer that was particularly nice on a chilly Florida night. Definitely worth a try. I was originally drawn to the Ridgeway seasonals by the very cool label artwork but the taste and quality keeps me coming back.

 536 characters

Photo of ScottyB515
3.68/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of HopsAreDaMan
3.49/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16.9 oz bottle, no bottling date, bought on sale at World Market.

Look: lots of sudsy, white head that clings nicely to glass when it settles, with a clear, copper color (and a few bubbles from the carbonation when swirled).

Smell: From what I know about English beers, this is what it is supposed to smell like: malty/bready, with a decent amount of hops, and perhaps a bit of yeast.

Taste: Lots of malt and sweetness, with mildly bitter bite in the finish, but that's about it; perhaps a bit more flavor than an industrialized "tasteless fizzy yellow beer".

Feel: light-bodied and reasonably carbonated.

Overall: Reasonably easy drinking. I can imagine really enjoying it while sitting in a traditional English pub. A beer worth checking out.

 749 characters

Photo of rudiecantfail
3.4/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Imperial pint bottle poured into an imperial pint glass.

A---This is a really good looking beer. Rich golden color (colour--it's an EPA after all). Clear as a bell. Pretty white head that stayed around and left good lacing.

S---Sweet & malty. Some toffee, but mostly bready/yeasty.

T---Follows the nose. Toffee is there, but sits behind the breadiness/biscuitiness. Malts dominate over hops.

F---A little thicker than I would've guessed. A little bit of astringency leaves a tiny bit of pucker.

O---Pretty good. Not as good as I was expecting/hoping for though.

 576 characters

Photo of 1971bernat
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of daliandragon
4.01/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up on a whim from State Line Liquors off I-95 while picking up some holiday growlers. This is a handsome beer, which pours clear and copper into my Sam Smith's pint glass with a wet off white head and a malty, biscuit and fruit nose.

Plenty of flavor up front, with broad notes of biscuit and earthy hops. Some outlying sweetness and sugars that kind of tag along in the flavor without being a real impediment. A little yeasty in the finish. Texture is nice but could stand to be a touch dryer.

Everyone likes Christmas themed beers. This one is really good if you like traditional English ales.

 613 characters

Photo of Nephilium
3.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Mild fruity aroma, with some hints of earthy hops. Pours a clear amber with a white head. A sweet beginning, and a full mouthfeel start this beer out, which fades out to a mild earthy/herbal hop note. Which then fades to a lingering bitter finish.

 250 characters

Photo of doktorhops
3.35/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

So it wouldn’t be Christmas if at some point I didn’t at least try reviewing a Christmas-themed beer, which this Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale is. My decision making process rested on finding the most interesting Christmas-themed beer I could without going out of my way. My local had this and the other Ridgeway Christmas beers and the things that really caught my eye were: 7.5% ABV English Pale Ale, using an original 1795 recipe, with a special pale amber malt that is rarely used now, and Fuggles hops. I just really like Fuggles hops, I even like saying it “Excuse me, do you have any Fuggles?” “We need more Fuggles.” “Where's the Fuggles? No Fuggles!?”... ahhh, Seinfeld references.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Classic EPA right here! Clear golden/amber body with a white head like the cliffs of Dover towering over the English channel sea. A good upstanding British ale, enough to make you want to hum “God save the Queen” whilst arranging dollies and lamenting the lack of a formidable English cricket team... “hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm-hmm”. 8/10.

S: It’s a toffee malt and tea Fuggle hop bonanza. Diacetyl, hells yeah! (perfectly acceptable if you’re an English beer) Herbal/floral/tobacco background notes round out a good upstanding British ale, as British as scones at high tea and awkward teeth. Jolly good stuff old chap... “hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm-hmm”. 8/10.

T: Then it takes a turn for the “holy Jesus, son of the big guy upstairs” and makes you realise why most English Pale Ales and English Bitters clock in at an odd 4-5% ABV - these flavours at 7.5% (toffee and butterscotch specifically!): they’re all too much. Too much toffee, too much butterscotch, too much herbal/floral/tobacco background notes. It’s a touch “assault on the senses” when it should be more like enjoying a pint whilst humming “God save the Queen” in your local English-themed pub whilst discussing the Brexit. That said the sweet edge dulls slightly as you press on, however it’s not an EPA as I know it. 6/10.

M: Mouthfeel is alright - mid to light (English beers usually are thinner than counterpart nations brews) with a reasonably flat yet prickly carbonation. 7/10.

D: Had a bit of challenge (due to the flavour) to finish this. It’s not a bad beer, just a bit too much with Diacetyl amped up to 11. Makes me want a lighter version of this very same brew, something around 4.4% would nail it I reckon. 6/10.

Food match: Man, got a mad “scones like my nan made them” craving right now.

 2,571 characters

Photo of Bear1964
3.86/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of Cpmitchno1
3.35/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of SiepJones
3.25/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of White_Whiskey
3.95/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BeerBeast
3.67/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.69/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the bottle, it pours a solid darker amber with a modest head. Sweetish scent overall. In the mouth, it tastes of crystal malt and a bit of toasted malt. Pleasant overall!

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Photo of RochefortChris
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of OzmanBey
5/5  rDev +43.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of woodychandler
3.67/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I am continuing my 2017 Christmas in July celebration, inspired by the good peeps at The FGBS who held Christmas in July on Tuesday. I had meant to drink these on Christmas day 2016, but I got rather blotto early on & set them aside as part of The Bottle Backlog at Chez Woody. Today is my series of entries for New Elf Christmas Beer in July Sunday (Week 649).

From the bottle: "One of our range of very special Christmas beers brewed in England for the USA. We all know of course, that Santa is really from Lapland!"; "'Is it just my imagination,' queried old Santa, surveying the scene, 'or is my Elf getting worse and worse every year? What's next? Seriously Bad Elf, I'll wager. Mark my words.' This Very Bad Elf is one fine ale - rich, hardy, and flavorful, brewed to an original 1795 Thames Valley recipe, with a very special pale amber malt that is rarely used nowadays, and balanced by a modest addition of English Fuggle aroma hops. 'Ere's to your elf! [undersigned] Peter Scholey (Brewer)".

I Pop!ped the cap & began a slow, gentle pour as dictated by my New Year's Resolution in high def to have a lighter touch with my bottled beers. Once sufficiently decanted, an in-glass swirl raised two-plus fingers of dense, foamy, tawny head with decent retention. Color was Amber to Deep Amber/Light Copper (SRM = > 9, < 13) with NE-quality clarity. Nose was all Fuggled up with a grassy earthiness that always puts me in mind of freshly-plowed fields in the spring. My maternal grandparents' house abutted a working farm when I was a kid & I often think of those relatively innocent days as I grow older. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste had a dry, grassy/hay-like bitterness along with an equally dry biscuity maltiness. It was very tasty and a nice change of pace from its American counterpart(s). I was finding it to be very drinkable, but perhaps too much so as at 7.5% ABV, it was going down rather easily! Finish was dry, but not overly bitter. Instead, it retained that grassy, crackery flavor that had been inherent in this beer since the outset. Once again, its price point really made it just that much better.

 2,127 characters

Photo of brittanylicious
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of heysuz
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of briancathy
3.33/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of csurowiec
3.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of macrosmatic
3.58/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes. Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into a Fat Head’s pint glass.

A: Nearly clear (i.e., barely hazy) gold, with fairly low visible carbonation and a finger’s worth of white head that lasts.

S: Crystal malts, lesser amounts of toasted toffee malts, and some grassy noble and English hop bitterness. Comes across as slightly biscuity sweet overall.

T: Malty sweetness - biscuits and toast – up front, with mild toffee. A light fruity (apple) flavor as well - almost like Belgian yeast. A light grassy hop bitterness in the hang, balanced with the sweet malts.

M: Light-bodied, average carbonation sensation, and more alcohol than expected but not overly hot.

O: Not great, but one of the more drinkable of the Ridgeway Christmas series that I’ve had.

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Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale from Ridgeway Brewing
Beer rating: 3.48 out of 5 with 325 ratings