Very Bad Elf | Ridgeway Brewing

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Very Bad ElfVery Bad Elf

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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Reviews: 171 | Ratings: 302
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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Photo of superspak
3.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 9/10/2011. Pours slightly hazy/cloudy deep orange/copper color with a 1 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, light nuttiness, plum, pear, herbal, floral, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and earthy hop notes; with solid strength. Taste of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, light nuttiness, plum, pear, apple, herbal, floral, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate herbal/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, light nuttiness, light fruits, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Good complexity, balance, and solid robustness of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and earthy hop flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth and lightly creamy/silky/buttery mouthfeel that is okay. Feels too thin for an English ale of this ABV. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a solid English strong ale style. All around good complexity, balance, and solid robustness of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink for the ABV. A pleasantly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: A brilliant garnet tinted amber liquid fills the glass crowned by a thin, clingy, sudsy dirty white foam collar. S: Biscuit and fruit aromas with a dash of spice. T: Moderate hops, biscuit, toffee and a surprisingly dry finish. F: Medium body and medium light carbonation O: A very easy to drink, satisfying beer.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.23/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Wow, just perfection. Deep perfect bronze dark and golden looking body, super bright and crystal clear with some faint carbonation. Thick creamy three finger head, with whipped up retention and light lacing, and a soft white appearance. Just a gorgeous looking beer, and looks like a superior English Pale Ale.

Big aroma. Creamy sensing malts and some light toasty notes. Lots of thick cream aromas, with this incredibly sense of dense biscuit like malts. Slight sweetness but not overboard, and a mild floral hop sense. Very inviting.

Palate subdues a bit but gives way to much sweet notes but in control. BIg blast of honey on the front, with a bit of bile bitterness which quickly disappears. Mid palate just loads with a honey coating feel but not a huge syrup rush. Light hop pine to herbal like finish, but tiny, through a thick malt backbone. Hint of mixing biscuit, hop, and liquid sweetness.

A fun brew, and certainly one to keep in mind every year.

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Photo of arizcards
3.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Da Boss picked up a bottle for me at Cost Plus for $5.99. Bottling code F16 - 225 - whatever that is.

Beer poured golden orange with a nice white head upon the initial pour.

Nose is light pear and apple with some toasted grains.

Taste is a bit uneven, nice notes of pear and apple with toasted grains. Initially I was thinking this is like Fat Tire's big brother. Finish is odd, an abrasive toasted pine lingers on the palate long after the sip.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, not overly smooth nor refreshing.

Overall not a bad beer, just that aftertaste that throws the balance of the beer off.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.43/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, earth, pepper, and herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, caramel, nut, and herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with solid caramel and nut qualities that are interesting along with the herbal hop aspects.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.77/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle marked F16 226 B at 50 degrees into imperial pint
Aroma of faint apples, grain
Head large (6.5 cm, aggressive pour), off white, frothy, slooowly diminishing to 4 mm ring with plateaued layer
Lacing good – partial rings of moderately thick foam
Body golden yellow, clear
Flavor slightly grainy; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate light to medium, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 4, Aroma 3.75, Flavor 3.75, Palate 3.75, Overall 3.75

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Photo of Darkmagus82
2.91/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a golden amber color with a big three finger head of white foam. The head has a great level of retention, slowly fading to leave a tons of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is rather strong of a more grainy and wheat like aroma with some other smells of a light sugar sweetness. Along with these smells are some notes of a lighter fruit nature as well as a light hop smell of an earthy aroma.

Taste – The taste begins quite bready and doughty with a moderate level of sweetness upfront. The sweetness is mainly of a caramel flavor but contains flavors of some light fruits of pear and peach. As the taste advances the sweeter flavor fade some, with an even greater doughy taste developing. All while the doughy taste builds some spice flavors come to the tongue. Some grassy and herbal hop tastes come at the end of the taste, and with the loss of fruit, the increase in doughy and bready tastes, and bit of spice, one is left with a sorta odd and slightly unbalanced taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the thicker and creamier side with a carbonation level that is very low. The thick feel was rather nice, but the lack of carbonation was a poor for the spice and herbal and grassy tastes, giving them too much potency and making them somewhat overwhelming for the tastes.

Overall – The look was fantastic, but other than that, this was a fairly unbalanced and slightly off putting brew. Not one I will go to again.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%

Pours a light orange color with a little bit of lacing. The smell had a lot of spice such as pepper to it as well as pear and apple scents. The taste starts off strong with dark fruits like plum and apple with pepper and vanilla flavors coming in at the end. The alcohol flavor was definitely there but was not overpowering to the rest of the beer. A little forgettable but not a bad beer by any means.

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Photo of seedyone
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

01/02/13 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Definitely like Aventinus' little sibling. Less sweet & a tad more toasty, but having seen the light it reflects a bit dim.

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Photo of Chico1985
3.56/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pour is very pale, dull orange; full clarity. White head retains pretty well while leaving bits of lace.

Lots of herbal/earthy hops with some light grapefruit perhaps. Toffee malts and buttered bread. Decent overall. Definitely English stuff goin' on.

Taste is similar, a bit hoppier maybe, surprisingly so for its non-IPA categorization. Mostly herbal and leafy flavors and light fruitiness there along with a tea-like presence. Bread, diacetyl, toffee-like sweetness and grains provide a big malty finish. Seems to be some minor off-flavors in there.

Smooth mouthfeel with light bitterness and lower-end carbonation. Just a bit of booze there.

A decent English pale, it's big on the herbal hops and buttery malts which is always kind of an 'eh' flavor combo for me, but really not a bad beer.

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Photo of Captain_Komamura
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - a light amber color, with not much of a head.

Smell - it is a piney/hops smell, with a bit of sweetness.

Taste - like the smell, pine/hops bitterness.

Mouthfeel - perfect carbonation and a good body.

Overall - It is a pretty decent English pale ale.

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Photo of beertunes
3.73/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to OKComputer for this one. Poured into flute. Poured a lightly hazy honey-gold color, with just a thin cap of white head that almost immediately dissipated into a thin ring.

The aroma was mostly sweet malts, with just a bit of gentle, earthy hops in the background. The flavors mostly featured the same components, but the hops were a bit spicier towards the end of the tongue.

The body was full and even, and not quite full. Drinkability was very good, I could easily drain a couple bottles of this. Overall, a very good beer, certainly worth grabbingif you see it, perhaps even a bit of effort to find.

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Photo of rand
4.05/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From 500mL bottle to nonic pint glass

The brew reveals a medium complexion on the pour, copper-tan in color and forms a tiny, wispy head that never fully recedes. A malty, bready bouquet is quite easily detected, followed by touches of of honey-sweetness and a citrus snap. Earthy, tea-like scents are noted. The flavors are malt-forward as well, but just barely, as tones of floral and earthy hops quickly balance the profile. A little boozier than expected, the warming alcohol works to accent the ripe fruit notes detected toward the end of the sip. Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation, the brew finishes quickly with lingering bitterness.

Very Bad Elf is actually Very Easy to Drink. Subtle layers of citrus and toffee sweetness without the chalkiness you might expect from an English pale. Quite balanced and smooth, but I noticed the tightly wrapped layers loosen up a bit as the beer warms. Drink cold.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours a clear, golden orange with a white, finger width head. Average retention. Leaves behind spotty lacing with fair stick.

Smell - Aroma hits on strong toffee and lesser notes of caramel, with some fruity esters, red apple and slight citrus, lingering off in the distance.

Taste - Follows the nose. Malts are upfront, ranging from bread to sweet toffee and caramel character. Hops come through near the finish, delivering a grassy and slightly citric bite with modest bitterness. Moderate apple note in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with fair carbonation. Tingles more down the esophagus than it does on the tongue. Smooth, with a touch of buttery creaminess.

Overall - Classic English pale. Solid all-around. It's not worth the high asking price ($7-8 for approx. 17 ounces) considering it is, at best, a very good but not remarkable EPA. I got it at closeout for $2.99 though, so I can't be too miffed.

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

We split one of these three ways over Thanksgiving. it looks like ginger ale with bubbles on the bottom.

It has a unique skunky aroma. It's bitter but not too dark.

It had a fresh taste and was very drinkable. We will be sampling several other elves soon including A well aged barleywine. Based on this I really look forward to that treat.

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Photo of kaufmaal
3.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Honey amber color, some bready, yeasty aromas. The initial taste was sweetened grapefruit, then a bit of fruity anise. Perhaps a bit too sweet for an English IPA as it approached a dubbel-like quality. It didn't warm well - the flavors became muddled. Still, a good tasting beer at a decent price.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.83/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

50 cl

Pours a clear deep golden with a white film of a head.

Mild pine hops and caramel with a hint of citrus in the aroma.

Bready caramel malts with some coppery elements and moderate element of slightly bitter piney hops.

Medium to full body with light tingles of carbonation.

A pretty decent ale, nothing spectacular but I have no problems with it. Glad to have it, wouldn't turn it down in the future. Drinks pretty easy given it's slightly above-average abv.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.38/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Amber Candi sugar colored, near white head that leaves quickly. Little spotty cling lace.

S - Light Tropical fruits, sugary malt, bittering spicy surroundings.

T - Lighter than expected. Almost like Belgian yeast meets Pale ale hops. Some fruitiness and spiciness.

M - Creamy, fat in the center, bittering at finish. Good carb.

D - Not my favorite, but an interesting beer for sure.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours out a lightly hazed orangish-amber color with a single finger of white foamy head that lasts for several minutes and leaves behind fairly nice lacing patterns on the glass. Lighter side of medium carbonation levels and body thickness, a touch of creamy texture.

Wouldn't you know it, Very Bad Elf is pretty much exactly what you'd think a higher gravity version of Bad Elf would be. It has aromas of pithy, citric, and spicy hopping over a medium leveled booze and caramel / toffee malt component which also shows up in the flavor teamed up with some stone fruits (reds and purples) and the same noble hopping finish teamed up with some mildly rising boozey warmth for a nice level of dryness.

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Very Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
3.52 out of 5 based on 302 ratings.
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