Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale | Ridgeway Brewing

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Very Bad Elf Special Reserve AleVery Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale
321 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

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 321 |  Reviews: 178
Reviews by TheHoppiest:
Photo of TheHoppiest
3.88/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 50 cl bottle into a pint glass. Pours a clear copper, with a 1" sticky white head that collapses leaving nice lacing retention.

Smells like a German lager, with plenty of grassy, grainy aroma. Some clove and banana spice hints as well.

Piney hops mix with sweet banana, spice, and nutty notes. Hints of cherries and honey as well. Ends rather bitter.

Medium bodied, with a burn down to the belly. Mild astringency dries out the tongue.

Rather drinkable, I'm finding that I'm liking the Ridgeway offerings.

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More User Reviews:
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.

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Photo of jakester
3.92/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got this as a single from UJ's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a goblet. Couldn't find a date anywhere, but with this beer, it probably doesn't matter.

Pours a very clear reddish orange with a short lived head of off-white foam. Head falls to tiny islands and a ring, with scant lacing. Looks fairly well carbonated.

Aroma is fruity and spicy, with notes of apples, pears, and spices like nutmeg and pepper, and maybe vanilla. Caramelly malt comes through late. Hop smell is very muted.

The first flavor is apples and pears, only very slightly sweet, with spices like above, and alcohol late. I expected more flavor from the malt because of the malt aroma. Still, there is a good caramel malt flavor. This beer is very fruity and warm. Aftertaste is semi-sweet, with warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel is medium, with soft to medium carbonation. The finish is slightly sticky from residual sweetness.

This is an odd, but interesting, beer. Very fruity, slightly sweet, with strong notes of apples and raisins. A pretty good alcohol kick finishes off this good holiday beer. Recommended.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
3.12/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

served into a nonic glass from a stubby looking 16.9oz. brown bottle,crimped cap

Clear,light copper with reddish hue,1" thick creamy,white head,dissapating quickly to a coating of foam. A few tiny strings of bubbles rising to the top with some spotty lacing.

A very moderate nose with complex fruitty aromas,light carmell malt aromas with a perfumy/floral fragarance. Clean and pleasing aroma

Very fruitty tasting, sour apple taste,the alcohol presence is felt,sweet carmelly flavors,very tart, a clean finish,a bit tart with hints of alcohol,a tangy feel,no real hop presence to taste.

Medium body,some cloyingness,a bit on the grainy side.
Good drinkability,would be more drinkable if not for the tart,sour taste,which wasn't real appealing to me. Not a bad beer, just nothing special.

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Photo of xdefeatsy
3/5  rDev -13.8%

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +22.1%
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 GOBLIN
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of ADR
3.68/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear darker amber color. Pale head of about 1/4 of an inch in height and with a white hue to it. Dripping lace, attractive. Aroma seems fairly hopped with some apple skin qualities. Mouthfeel is in the medium range, carbonation on the understated side but still with some life. The taste doesn't match the aroma, it exhibits sweet pumpkin and squash, with maple, rather broad from front to back. Flattens at the back with some chalky bitterness and a light pine sense. Alcohol is decently hidden but asserts by the end of the Imperial pint glass. For all the fuss about Bad Elf labels for these beers, they really aren't particularly notable in defining characters for me.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Last Christmas I got to try the Bad Elf so I figured I'd give the big brother a try this Christmas beer season. Appearance: Pours amber orange hue forms a decent sized head not very resilient leaves specks of lacing down my pint. Aroma: Caramel malt base with some warm biscuit notes as well, herbal flowery hops thrown in the mix doesn't strike me as really hoppy. Taste: Good mix definitely one of the hoppier English pales I've tried pine and flower flavors come of through the English hop dose nice malt presence pretty balanced for being Very Bad. Mouthfeel: Mild carbonation medium to light bodied. Drinkability: This one was worth a try glad I had a chance to imbibe not a beer that blew me away but solid hoppy English Pale.

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Photo of stereosforgeeks
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%

Photo of rhoadsrage
2.66/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

(Served in a nonic)
A- This beer has a hazy deep apricot body with strands of microbubbles with a thin wispy head.
S- There is a soft tart note that leads to an herbal green note in the finish.
T- The flavor of dish soap and pale malt lead to a soft green note and some watery flavor in the finish. As the beer opened up there was a lemon note to the dish soap.
M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with no alcohol heat and an airy texture.
D- This beer didn't have much flavor at all and the dish soap flavor was very off-putting and made it hard to sip. The other flavors were very watery and just didn't see the point in finishing this beer.

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Photo of justme
4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of caddybuyer
3.47/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Medium Amber with extreme clarity. Virtually no head or lacing, but nice coloration.

S: Mostly malt, as would be expected.

T: Malts rules here, as one would expect from a British brewer, with a nice hop offset. Of all the pretentious "Bad whatever" series this is probably the best. I just wish that Ridgeway would release a "good" series of something...

M: Standard, well done

D: OK, I'll have another, but give me a reason why. British brewers, like British carmakers need to get past the quirks, and get with the program....

I'd love to drink a Ridgway instead of a Stone...I'd love to drive a Jaguar instead of a BMW...

...just give me a reason why....

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Photo of SMark
3.28/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer was poured from a 500ml bottle at 48° into an Imperial pint glass. The beer poured crystal clear with an orange amber color and slightly less than two fingers of head. A considerable amount of carbonation was noticeable at first with slight lacing.

There was a pleasant and nice clean aroma with a slight inference of citrus. These pleasant bouquets had carried over from the pour which of course did not allow all of the beer to be contained in the glass.

The beer seemed watery with a hint of sweet malt.

Some hops came through later with a bit of carbonation. Malt did not linger very long.

Not as impressed as I was hoping but at least I can say I tried it. There are other beverages I would much rather pay $5.31 for.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.8/5  rDev +9.2%
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 AKBelgianBeast
3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Hmmmm. This beer really reminds me of something...oh yeah, every ridgeway brew! Very bad elf = bad elf with more alcohol in it. Pours an identical color. The nose has the standard ridgeway funk to it. Taste is of maltiness and runky almost rotten hops. The alcohol is the dominant flavor. mouthfeel is really thick and warming. The drinkability is not what i would prefer, i had trouble finishing the glass when it warmed up. Not really impressed with this line of elves. I prefer the gnomes of the ardennes.

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Photo of cokes
4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Polished brass with a fleeting white top.
Nose of iron-spiked thyme, warm lemon-poppyseed muffins, toasted grain, and gin.
Begins with a maltiness that rest somewhere between dry toast and caramel. It's not really sweet, but it absolutely not dry. Fruitiness is manifest in pear and orange rinds. It turns a touch buttery in the middle parts, coupled with a sense of mineral-rich water. It migrates towards a floral hopping that initally mimics lilac, before turning more metallic, full of rusted tin, then rounds itself out with lemon pulp.
Some flairs of tanqueray and tonic-like booze are noted.
It's full bodied, sloshing toward syrupy at times, but (for the better) it never quite gets there.
I'm not quite sure how to call this one. It's not an Old Ale or English Vintage Ale (a la Fullers or the like). It seems most like a coked-up ESB.

Fair enough then.
This is pretty good, even is the non-"Very" version was superior.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.03/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pleasant, clear amber-copper body with an orange-chestnut cast and golden highlights. Frothy head of off-white holds well and maintains an almost solid surface covering. Walls of solid lace with a few holes here and there.

Smell: Malty/caramelish and fruity. Mildly nutty. Alcohol.

Taste: Rich and full. Malty with a cusp of scorched sugar and lots of cherries. Some other dark skinned fruit... apples, plum. Alcohol. Raspy bitterness. Dry, fruity, and alcoholic finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Smooth, lightly creamy.

Drinkability: is hindered by alcohol.

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Photo of cliff1066
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%

Photo of jwg782
4/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of russpowell
3.96/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours amber/copper with 1" of off white head. Pretty good lacing and just a little bit of head retention

S: A little bready malt

T: Chewy malt with some pine hop smack & dryness up front. I then get caramel, brown sugar & biscuitty malt. Intial hoppyness settles into the background as malt dominates. Finsihes bready, sweet & dry

MF: Medium bodied, almost chewy with low carbonation & pretty good balance

Drank pretty easy a very good ( and bigger) take on this style. Except for the price, $6.50. I really dig this

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Photo of dgallina
3.17/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

1 pint, 9 ounce brown bottle with no freshness dating.

Pours clear copper / orange with no head and thin lace. Smells gently herbal with sweet caramel & molasses undertones. A decent dose of bitter pine and grapefruit hops on the tongue, but rather overwhelmed by bitter metallic alcohol. Finish is leafy and green with lasting alcohol warming. Mouthfeel is a reasonable combination of small-bubble carbonation and malt heft. Not an altogether successful beer. Making this pale ale stronger doesn't particularly help its character.

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

Photo of tomb_ride
3.6/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Gmann
3.85/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper color with a small egg shell white head that dissipated into a light cap. The smell is of caramel malt and some light leafy hops. The taste is of strong caramel hops with woody characteristics, some light leafy hops to balance out the brew. The feel is light and well carbonated, finishes crisp and balanced. An excellent EPA, good malt and hop balance makes this beer quite easy to drink. I'm surprised that this ale is 7.5% abv.

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Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale from Ridgeway Brewing
Beer rating: 3.48 out of 5 with 321 ratings