Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale | Ridgeway Brewing

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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: 306 |  Reviews: 172
Photo of woodychandler
3.67/5  rDev +4.3%
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 -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of csurowiec
3.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of macrosmatic
3.58/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

 777 characters

Photo of Zazzi82
3.25/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of tomb_ride
3.6/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Jodio
3.6/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of wpreynolds
3/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of Brutaltruth
3.71/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed form the bottle in a snifter. This nice pale pours a lightly chill hazed yellowish amber with a moderate head of white foam that dies down to a thick ring, thick layer, and very nice lacing. Nose of light citrus, light grains, and sweet honey. Flavors follow the nose with honey touched malts on all sides, medium bittering hops and a moderate herbal note of spice on the middle to back that is reminiscent of coriander with a touch of crisp apples and pears on the back. Nice mouth feel, warming and crisp with a medium mouth feel with very nice crisp carbonation. An excellent example of the English pale that is more beefy on the warming booze. Overall a great experience.


 699 characters

Photo of StoutAtTheDevil
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of JonSchwartz
3.53/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of DrMullet
3.75/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a pale yellow amber.
Very faint sweet fruit aroma.
Taste is a strong pear/apple up front. Some alcohol and hop bitterness.
Bit of spice on the finish. Fairly complex, almost an ESB taste.

 196 characters

Photo of dannycohen62
2.13/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Photo of FaradayUncaged
3.35/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of BeerBobber
3.93/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This one poured from a tall bottle, just over a pint. A very nice copper color with amber tones and a fluffy off white head.

The smell was very bready, yeasty and malty.

The taste was of a little toasted malt with toffee and caramel. Also mix of sweet caramel and toffee. The balance of hops and the barley's and malt's was very nice.

 336 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
2.93/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

3.75/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

My wife's cousin brought this beer over my mother-in-law's house during Christmas 2015. I've been wanting to have this for a while, so I jumped at trying it. Neat bottle! Nice drawn out notes while drinking this. It looked and smelled great. Felt heavy in the mouth but light going down the hatch. Overall, a nice holiday, cold weather drinking beer. Would love to have another!

 378 characters

Photo of hdtrice
3.46/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Jaysauras
3.44/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

L: Deep bronze color with a thin soapy head. Plenty of carbonation, exceptional lace.

S: Sugar, molasses, maple, slight hint of maybe a dark fruit of some kind. Maybe raspberries or fig. very sweet smell.

T: There is a very good blend going on here, but it is a bit sweet up front for my liking. Nevertheless, the malt balance on the aftertaste is very good when mixed with the sweet, sugary, fruity flavor up front. The fruit flavor is somewhere between maple syrup and the unmistakable flavor of dried figs. Bit of a boozey and smokey kind of flavor to it as well. Almost like a whiskey or bourbon barrel aged ale. It's a good flavor, not anything outstanding but pretty good overall.

F: The sugary sweetness can be a bit much to deal with right up front. It soured my face up real quick. It blends exceptionally well though. RIght to the last taste. The malt balance on the backend saves it from being an altogether too sweet, too much to drink beer.

O: It's a decent beer. Good. Not outstanding. Not bad. I found it easy to drink once I got into the complexity of the sweet versus malt balance. The fruity mixture of fig and maple worked well with the bready backend, and altogether it makes for a pretty good and warming holiday drink. It is not the best English Pale out there (Fullers makes a fine one), but it is certainly worth picking up for a winter availability only beer. Looking forward to trying some of Ridgeway's other efforts as well.

 1,458 characters

Photo of jjd315
3.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of hopazoid
3.36/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of justme
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BcOneSeven
2.82/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

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Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale from Ridgeway Brewing
3.52 out of 5 based on 306 ratings.
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