Criminally Bad Elf | Ridgeway Brewing

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Criminally Bad ElfCriminally Bad Elf

Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by jwc215 on 11-08-2006

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Reviews: 201 | Ratings: 317
Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle into snifter, bottled on 9/16/2016. Pours fairly crystal clear deep orange/light 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 on the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big golden raisin, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, berry, orange, pear, apple, honey, brown sugar, caramel, toasted bread, light nuttiness/toffee, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, and light earthy hop notes; with great strength. Bit of diacetyl, but not overwhelming. Taste of big golden raisin, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, berry, orange, pear, apple, honey, brown sugar, caramel, toasted bread, light nuttiness/toffee, herbal, light pepper/pine, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light pine/herbal/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of golden raisin, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, berry, orange, pear, apple, honey, brown sugar, caramel, toasted bread, light nuttiness/toffee, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, and light earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance, and no cloying sweetness after the finish. Light dryness from bitterness, lightly increasing through the glass. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a smooth, creamy/silky, and lightly slick/sticky balanced mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden; a mild warmth, with zero booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is a very nice English barelywine. All around nice complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, and light earthy hop flavors; very smooth, clean, and easy to drink for the big ABV. Very well balanced with well rounded malt/yeast complexity for the style; without being bitter or boozy. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.28/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf, 10.5% ABV. Pours thin and light orange, just a little white head. Nose is alcohol, fruit, and sweetness. Taste follows, with a slight bitter close. Poor mouthfeel since it went flat quickly, and overall extremely meh. Actually better than expected and better than previous barleywines, though nothing to write home about.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
2.99/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

On tap at the Tap and Mallet in Rochester, NY.

This one pours a clear ruby red, with no head or lacing. Looks pretty still.

This smells like booze spoked cherries and raisins, caramel, more booze, and fruitcake.

This is quite boozy and sweet, with a lack of depth of flavor that I usually look for in barleywines. It's mainly fruity sweetness, just feel like liquid boozy fruitcake. I wish this had more malt complexity.

This is light bodied, a bit too thin for the style. There is very little carbonation..

This is a pretty poor example of the style.

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Photo of Pegasus
3.5/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Light amber in color,rather clear, with as modest white head, somewhat coarse, which soon fades to a coarse ring about the glass walls. The lacing is ultra-fine in character.

Aroma: Vinous alcohol and caramel dominate the aroma. Dark bread, bitter apple rind and raisins add to the aroma. The alcohol has a hot, solvent quality.

Taste: Begins with somewhat hot alcohol, caramel, and toasted dark bread. Soon after, dark fruits rise, particularly raisins and plums. Sweet alcohol is a persistent undercurrent throughout the taste.Late in the the taste, some earthy and herbal hop flavors appear, helping to bring the taste to a balanced close.

Mouth feel: Smooth, and pleasant, full and soft.

Drinkability/notes: A bit boozy, but not bad. Definitely a nightcap beer.

Presentation: Packaged in a custom sixteen ounce glass bottle with a pop-off crown, served in a standard pint tap glass.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.43/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best before 8/27/16.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy tan 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, caramel, candied fruit, honey, and slight nail polish remover aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, candied fruit, honey, and earthy hop flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of toast and hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that tastes solid, but the nail polish remover scent only dissipates somewhat as the beer warms up.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours brilliant crystal clear copper amber crowned by a clingy 1” white foam collar that dissipates quickly. S: raisin, dried fruit aroma T: Big mouthful of delicious malt with caramel, fruit and boozy alcoholic warmth and tastes on the end rounded out by a spicy hop bitterness. F: Medium body and medium low carbonation. O: Has big alcohol and flavor but is a little light for a barleywine.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.37/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

My beer store was clearing these out for 6 bucks. Seeing the reviews lacking I still will drink it.

A - The beer actually looks good bright clear amber brown deep hue with a 1/4 inch of head that doesn't fizz out super fast and actually makes for a good lace ring.
S - Slightly sour but loaded with sweet malts and little ethanol smell which is good. I am not expecting much.
T - Very little actual barley wine notes I agree with others it taste like a sweeter/maltier malt liquor. Slightly sour vinegar notes make it unpleasant.
M - Slightly smooth stingy alcohol notes but drinks light.

Overall I regret buying this but will finish it since I am not a pussy. Don't buy this unless you prefer craft malt liquor.

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Photo of hreb
3.03/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

50cl bottle served in a wine glass. Deep amber, tinged with brown, with minimal head formation, and crystal clear, revealing ultrafine carbonation. Aroma, however, is all apple juice. It smells like this is going to be way sweet. The flavor itself is not so much sweet as it is strong. If I were feeling charitable, I'd point out the flavors of fresh grape juice, lightly toasted white bread, and the off-dry finish. Or I could admit this is just overly strong, somewhat adjunct-y, and tastes of malt liquor, i.e. alcohol. Basically, this delivers all of the alcohol I want in an English Barleywine, but hits none of the flavor notes. Drinkable, but not recommended.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.7/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

A real impressive appearance. Crystal clear and shimmering, practically like glass isn't even full, but a nice golden bronze and amber body, with just enough ultra fine carbonation rising up. Head grows creamy to a nice easy two fingers, maybe taller, but a real bleach bright white top, maybe a hint of yellow to it, and creamy retention. Settles slowly, to a nice thin puck, and wide top. Gorgeous looker.

Nose smells very candy fruit like. Nice herbality going on with some spice cinnamon hop like angles. Muted caramel and a sense of thick pine spruce to match with a big bitterness. Very interesting.

Palate actually comes much more lighter and subdued than expected. Lots of honey coating and similar textures and flavors but with a lighter feel. Treacle and honey with a big soft pine blast at the end. A little wet tasting which makes some of the flavors not really last on the tongue. Hints of leafy green tea come out in some aromatic ways also.

A nice simple barleywine, which also forgoes some of the big heaviness, but sacrifices a little bit of flavor and texture. Not bad, memorable at least with a good honey angle.

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Photo of mdcrouser
2.87/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I received this for Christmas two years ago and it's been in the basement fridge since - at the time, I had a beer from the same brewery and wasn't impressed, so have been less willing to enjoy this one. Never a better Saturday to give it a shot than this one.

A previous review says "apricot" of the color - I'd add "dried" to that description and it's spot on. Deep orange, very little head - strange for a barleywine, as it looks more like a big IPA.

Caramel, biscuit malts - little else though. Tough to pull out anything more than what's immediately apparent.

More herbal than most barleywines with fairly hot alcohol, some caramel, but little else. Disappointing to even have"barleywine" on the label. More like a malty pale ale.

Decent mouthfeel, but with nothing supporting it, it doesn't truly resonate.

Meh - criminally bad barleywine.

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Photo of vinicole
3.8/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Lovely burnt marmalade colour.
Smells of candied peel and rum. A little like my rumtopf.
Candy floss and fruit cake taste. Boozy.
I quite liked this and was glad I have left it to mellow for a couple of years.
Really getting ready for xmas now.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.23/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

(on cask 2 nights ago at Victoria Freehouse - served at about room temp in a snifter)

L: clear amber-garnet liquid, holds a thick 1/2" head till the end... very minimal lacing, however

S: spicy, pleasant mild phenols... fruit jam atop a huge bed of caramel... lovely, overall, though not a waking intensity even in a snifter

T: caramel and fruit brandy, with its booze trailing on the end as well... brute malt, with a soft side... lil bit of hop and phenol bitter in the finish

F: smooth and still... pillow soft... delicate boozy flare in the finish, comforting warmth in the belly

O: it took me sitting down at the computer and looking at the specs here to realize this was 10.5%... had no idea - one would never know... quite nice, but now I feel like I have to try a bottle of it to compare... it never ends...

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.57/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle. More often then not I end up buying some of these cheesy Christmas beers, and this one I bought last weekend. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a mostly clear reddish/copper color with about a half inch light tan head that didn't stay around for too long. The brew smells like raisins, bananas, caramel, dried fruit and a bit of sweet spiciness. It tastes like dried fruit, raisins, caramel, over-ripened bananas, plums, and apple/apple skins. The 10.5% ABV is hidden pretty well. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and coating with low/moderate carbonation. It's OK overall, but not one of the better barleywines I've had. With that being said, it's certainly worth a try at least once. $6.49 a bottle.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3/5  rDev -12.5%

Pours a bright translucent orange with a thin head. The scent is full of sour fruits such as raspberry and cherry with the alcohol coming through on the nose in the end. The taste was more spicy than I was expecting with pepper and all spice in the beginning before mellowing into dark fruits and tobacco flavors. I was expecting more of a burn but this was surprisingly drinkable for 10.5%.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

500ml bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a glowing apricot with a finger of thick off-white head that faded to an oily film.
S: Candied fruits, sweet caramel, tootsie rolls, and a bit of cream come through. Sweet and fruity but not cloying. Touch of fruit punch.
T: Creamy flavors of vanilla, candied dates, stone fruits, mild cocoa, cinnamon, all spice, leafy herbal hops, tobacco, slight butter, wood, vegetables and fruit juice.
M: Extremely thick and chewy carbonation, frothy and velvety mouthfeel, soft fully body, low bitterness. Fuzzy, soft and creamy overall. Slight tingly alcohol.
O: Better than I expected, but a bit too sweet and fruity to be my favorite. Not cloying though, but the fruit punch flavor is a bit strange. The mouthfeel and body are just right. Would drink again but wouldn't be my first choice.

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Photo of Guinnesslover
3.54/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Purchased as part of Christmas celebration. The label is pretty amusing and sells the beer even before tasting.

it looks quite nice, caramel-colored with a light tan head.

Smells a bit bitter, more so than other barley wines I've had.

Taste is clean, with no cloying aftertaste, but lacking in complexity: faint caramel and malt.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.71/5  rDev +37.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf has a very thick, frothy, cream-colored head, a somewhat hazy, yet brilliant, orange-amber appearance, and fairly significant lacing left on the glass. The aroma is strong, and I could smell it from a considerable distance. One will pick up a pungent, very sweet, syrupy, sugary, fruity, caramel. Taste is of rich, sweet, caramel, black pepper, unusual fruit components, bread, bread crust, celery, peanut butter, and even a shade of nuts. Mouthfeel is fairly light, and Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf finishes wet, rich, sweet, and delicious. I recommend this in the strongest way!


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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.48/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a clear, entirely copper hue with a white, half finger head. Sub-par retention. Leaves behind no lacing.

Smell - Aroma consists of toffee and caramel character. Sweet, slightly boozy.

Taste - Sweet toffee and caramel upfront and throughout. Moderate booziness. Not much else.

Mouthfeel - Closer to medium than full in body, with low carbonation. Smooth. Drinkable. Does well to hide the 10 and a half. Fairly thin for a barleywine.

Overall - In a nutshell, caramel and booze. No hops to be found. Not a very impressive barleywine, though somewhat enjoyable nonetheless.

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Photo of Hopswagger
2.48/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

P: Clear copper body with a short lives crown that rests to a nice thin white film.

S: Vanilla, French oak, booze, banana taffy, sweet toffee, acidic, candied malt, Christmas spices, barley is present but faint. Very malty and syrupy.

T/M: Heavy malt base with almost a dairy creamer taste. Super sweet candy, banana snow cone syrup, and toffee. Again barley is not really a player and faintly bitter apple peel hops. Thick chewy body with little carbonation and a spicy finish.

O: I see why they callbthis Criminally Bad Elf because IT IS crininally bad. Not what I expect from a barley wine style brew. This is more of a winter warmer with banana influence. A search and rescue team is required to find the barley and the overall delivery is not great. I think this beer is confused on what it wants to be. I can honestly say I would not purchase this again.

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Photo of kbnooshay
2.65/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a light copper-orange color with a think beige colored head. Aroma sweet with hints of bananas, booze, christmas spice and hard candy. This beer is wayyy to sweet, and I have had some great sweet barleywines. The sweetness helps in hiding some of the alcohol taste but it can't cover it all up. There is some hints of dark fruit and christmas spice. Body is kinda thin. Not impressed.

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Photo of Hex92
4/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm a big fan of barley wine and I think this is a good representative of the style.
T doesn't look like much in the glass, but I thin it smells great. The high alcohol content is we'll hidden. I wish it had a slightly thicker mouth feel, but the flavor is dead on.

I am surprised that it doesn't rate higher than it does. I would definitely pick this up again.

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Photo of FatTireGuy215
2.71/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - light bodied cranium, almost copperish color, clear
S - Strong alcohol smell, spicy
T - bourbon, spices, vanilla...
M - lot of carbonation
O - Good to try once... A lot going on and not sure that it all comes together quite like they hoped. Don't go out of your way to get some.

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

this to me is the quintessential holiday barleywine. its got all of the barleywine characteristics, and a little extra oomph in the abv department and some sweet and spice that make it perfect for the christmas season. it pours a whisley color with a bubbly slow tan head. the smell is alcohol and english malts, caramel, and walnuts. the flavor is about the same, with an oaky residue on the tongue after each sip. i like the upbeat feel if it too. its a little more carbonated and a little lighter in body than many of these, which make it frightfully quaffable. there is some vanilla and bourbon notes in the finish, and a touch of allspice or anise that resounds long after youve swallowed. i know its a little early in the season for a beer like this, but i cant help myself sometimes. its way underrated on BA, and is overall one of my favorite wintertime barleywines.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.62/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours out a bright orange color with jewel-like clarity and an unfortunate fizzle of a head that doesn't leave behind any lacing at all. Body and carbonation levels are once again on the thinner side of medium strength, texture has that same semi-creamy quality as Very Bad Elf did.

Smells very strongly at first of tropical mango and papaya, with medium amounts of mandarin oranges and a toffee / biscuit malt blend. The flavor is more centered around a burnt-sugar malt and booze-soaked orange peel and raisins. The tropical hopping from the nose is completely buried underneath the boozey rawness. Its... not put together quite as well as I'd hoped, it plays out like an American Barleywine with most of the hopping flavor truncated and slightly out of control astringent hotness. Even so, I've had far worse than this before.

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Photo of heygeebee
2.02/5  rDev -41.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

BB 10 13 - from Platinum

Pours a cloudy amber/copper. The one finger head dies to leave no film , no lace, no nothing.

Aromas or apricots, prunes and a whole lot of moonshine-like booze.

Taste is a booze-fuelled journey into bad and dulled malt-land. Some apricots cut thru but the whole is very dull and quite muddled. Dear dear.

Mouthfeel is watery, which is really quite some feat given the 10% plus ABV. Little carbonation.

Overall, quite clearly a bad bottle, and badly travelled.

I need a scotch! The only Criminally Bad element of this is what is in the bottle not on the label.

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Criminally Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
3.43 out of 5 based on 317 ratings.
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