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Criminally Bad Elf Barleywine-Style Ale | Ridgeway Brewing

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Criminally Bad Elf Barleywine-Style AleCriminally Bad Elf Barleywine-Style Ale
333 Ratings
Criminally Bad Elf Barleywine-Style AleCriminally Bad Elf Barleywine-Style Ale

Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing
England, United Kingdom

Style: British Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 333 |  Reviews: 208
Reviews by charlesw:
Photo of charlesw
3.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I see everything now...

Anyway. Yeah. Straw colored. Micro head. They've used one of the bottles that forces glug-glugs. They did this on purpose, seems to me, to make it appear to have carbonation when it doesn't... Well, too light in the color/opacity. Not enough head (none???).

Refreshing and light smell. Ah. Right. Shouldn't score so high since it's not to style. Flowery and sweet. Not sweet like caramel - sweet like sugar water...

Sweet, bitter, twang, sweet. Weird. Yeah... A little oxidation going on, here. Interesting and different. Not an English Barleywine - much more American in the hop aroma and bitterness to it. But not a good example of the style - a little off.

Not thick enough to be a barleywine of any kind.

Seems like it's almost an America DIPA. It would certainly score higher as such - the color wouldn't be a problem and the body is a lot closer. You might want to ramp the bitterness up a little for that, but it is really close. For a barleywine, well, I'll pass.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of scottfrie
3.68/5  rDev +7%
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 BuckeyeNation
2.76/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bright pumpkin with butterscotch borders, beneath a beautifully bubbly cap of pastel orange tinted bone. This is, without a doubt, the lightest barleywine that I've ever laid eyes on. I'll be interested to see if the color has implications for the flavor. I'm fine with the look, but it certainly doesn't qualify as special.

The aroma is lacking in... well... aroma. No hint of alcohol is a plus, but I need something to go on here. Pale malt (maybe), along with mild English hops (possibly), and that's about it. I don't usually go lower than average when a beer has no trace of offensiveness, but this one is so weak it's pathetic. I'm not holding my breath that it'll open up with warming either.

I liked Bad Elf and I liked Very Bad Elf at least as much. Criminally Bad Elf is a whole nother story. One sip is all it takes to tell me that this is the lightest and least flavorful barleywine that I've ever had, by a fairly wide margin. Let me get used to that fact before I slam it mercilessly for being the wussiest big ale in the history of wussy big ales.

The malt backbone is as spindly as they come for a beer of this style. Since there's very little malty flavor transfer, I have to believe that nothing darker than pale malt was used. Maybe a hint of caramel, but that's a stretch. Hops contribute almost no flavor and very little bitterness. Alcohol, unsurprisingly, is the most generous member of an ungenerous flavor profile. This is not good beer by any measure.

Strangely enough, the mouthfeel is acceptable. It's light-medium for the style and has a silky slickness that may be the best part of the whole damn shootin' match. An incredibly mellow feel to the carbonation is just how I'd have drawn it up.

It looks like I missed Seriously Bad Elf somewhere along the way. When I finally manage to locate a bottle, I hope it's closer to the earlier beers in the series rather than this most recent one. What's next Ridgeway, a 13.0% Russian Imperial Stout called Thoroughly Evil Elf? What the hell, despite the fact that this beer is anything but the dog's bollocks, I'd give it a go.

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Photo of jrodvog148
1.51/5  rDev -56.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Has a cool bottle with an elf behind bars is what first caught my attention. Has an alcohol percent of 10.5 which lets you know this is no push over drink.

Upon opening I was not fond of the strong smell. Had good amberish color going into glass. Taste was fruity and a little bit of oats. Like cereal with bananas. Has a bit of an after taste that didn't sit well in my mouth.

If you never tried a barleywine ale before, i would not start with this one. I wouldn't buy it again, but at least I got a cool bottle for my collection.

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Photo of jordanmills
3.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a show bottle into a pint glass. Comes out amber with a light but thick head. Not much smell to it, not even alcohol. Taste more than makes up for it - spicy sweet with lots pale malt kick. Feels fairly thick on the tongue with a sweet finish. I wouldn't mind drinking more of this one.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.23/5  rDev +23%
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 Cyberkedi
3.1/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a nice clear coppery amber; head is sort of thick and does not stick around. Aroma is strong and more fruity than hoppy, like a cider. Flavor is rather cider-ish with a fierce alcohol bite, about what I expect from a barleywine. There is a harsh, smoky undertone and a bit of unpleasant bitterness in the aftertaste. Still, worth a try if barleywines are to your liking.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of snpub540
3.45/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear pale orangish hue. Small white head leaves hardly any lacing on the glass.

Smells bready with some caramel sweetness.

Taste is sweet upfront with some raisins and some nice fruity esters. Quite boozy but I like it.

Mouthfeel is slightly thin. Taste is mostly boozy but not harsh. I enjoyed this beer very much. Not a complex barleywine but it had enough to keep me interested.

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Photo of Stoneman78
4.09/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass
A- Pours a clear light orange hue, head is a thinner layer of creamy white bubbles that dissipate, very slight lacing on the glass
S- Nose is mostly dark fruits, sweet bread malts, alcohol, and apples, some slighter tones of brown sugar, caramel, oak, and winter spices
T- Initial taste is sweet malts and apples, interesting transition to a creamy, fluffy light chocolate marshmallow in concert with some dark fruits, finishes with a stiff alcohol warming
M- Medium-bodied, creamy texture is very pleasant, prickly carbonation
D- This is one interesting barleywine that has a very unique creamy texture, the alcohol is present but not overwhelming, this is an interesting one-shot but I am luke warm about a possible repeat performance
Buy again? Undecided
Personal score- 80/100

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Photo of Onslow
4/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nicely balanced ... wow! crazy well hidden alcohol ... a wad of cookie dough ... pleasing aroma, makes me want to trounce a maitre de ... dark maple syrup smell .. one of those beers that makes you wonder if the abv is truly what they say .. sweet plum, sugar flavours .. not a bad effort!

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.69/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clean orange-ish color with a white head. In the aroma, dark fruit, plums and alcohol. In the taste, a watery plummish taste and alcohol. A big body, yet somewhat watery in the mouthfeel and alcohol and a nice plum in the the aftertaste. Somewhat watery, yet big in alcohol and flavor.

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Photo of mdm46410
2.78/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from a 500ml bottle and served in a snifter. This beer poured a clear copper hue with a thick head of creamy beige foam that resulted from an aggressive pour. Great retention and lacing. The aroma consisted of oranges, apricot, sugary toffee, and a bit of perfumey alcohol. The flavor included sticky sweet caramel, biting dull alcohol, and a bit of astringent orange. A lingering finish of metallic orange makes this one increasingly hard to choke down. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and had light carbonation. Definately not one of the better examples of the style.

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Photo of rye726
3.73/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is a bit light for the style. A medium brown with a thin tan head. The is also a bit light. Subtle hops, fruity malts and residual sugars. The taste is richer and more complex than the nose. Nice balance between sweet malts and the fruity hops. Medium body drinks well. Coming from the UK, I espected this to be a little more towards the English Barleywine side than it is. A nice brew, but way overpriced.

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Photo of brantadid
3.74/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have to admit, I bought this beer for gimic quality. I am glad I did.

Poured a beautiful amber color. Solid 2 inch head formed. Wonderful lacing. Just a beautiful beer.

Smelled very sweet, like cherries. Hits of malt and some very faint pine. Some alcohol came through as it warmed.

Nice balance to this beer. Not overly hopped. Nice barley sweetness. Seasonal spices and some fruit. Alcohol is present but not overpowering.

Low carbonation and creamy, yet crisp mouthfeel. This is a nice beer.

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Photo of humanawho
3.75/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - very light amber color with a light head

S - interesting smell; kind of caramely, and a little carry aroma

T - very caramely, syrupy, very light earthy flavor and some slight bitterness on the finish

M - very sticky and think

D - suprizingly good its not too crazy on the mouth just very sweet

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Photo of beerpadawan
3.5/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of adamette
4.22/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Live review. Poured from the 50 cl bottle that I bought at Reider's in Painesville last week. This is the second of four in a series from Ridgeway Brewing Company focusing on Christmas that I will be tasting and rating. Poured into my Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale goblet glass. F11 223 stamped on bottom of back label.

A Golden orange translucent body glows even without being held up to direct light. Nice light brown creamy head that sticks around for about 3 minutes. 3.5

S Nice, gentle sweetness hit me first. Repeated sniffs reveal a nice, earthy malt sweetness with a near absence of hop smell. I like the smell of this English Barleywine. I do not smell any alcohol. 4.0

T The nice malt sweetness carries right over into the taste. I certainly pick up the alcohol in the taste where I did not perceive it in the smell but it is not at levels suggested by the ABV on the label of 10.5%. Very nicely hidden. Tastes like maybe a 7.0%. There are, of course, more tastes than just malt sweetness and a bit of alcohol. There is a nearly sugar like sweetness that stays on the lips well after the last sip. I do pick up some distant hops too and some barley as well. This is simply a really good tasting beer. 4.5

M The Candy sugar sweetness that stays on my lips, the very well hidden ABV and a slight syrupy stickiness make this feel very good indeed. 4.5

D Good for the style, great for the 10.5% ABV. 4.0

Notes: This is a nicely done English beer. The Christmas themed bottle is very gimmicky but inside is a finely crafted beer. I would certainly pick this one up again and it is my favorite from The Ridgeway Brewing Company.

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Photo of Pauly2X
3.9/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Deep reddish gold, thin wispy head.

S- Clean malty aroma with hints of toast and a faint alcohol note.

T- Tons of caramel sweetness held in check by just enough herbal hops. Finish is clean with a slight alcohol taste.

M- Rich but not too heavy.

D- I sure wouldn't turn it down, but I'd check for others.

Nothing fantastic, but still a good example. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of JamesS
3.95/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an orangish copper color with some nice initial head, a bit of lasting head, and a bit of nice lacing. Wicked mixed scent, a very strong malt (although not as deep as many barley wines I've had) with an interesting English hop aroma (odd for an English style). Interesting taste, as well; same as the scent, very malty but with a higher than usual hop characteristic, although the aftertaste is still a strong, semi-bittersweet, malt. Goes down fine, if not overly smooth. A nice Christmas barley wine!

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Photo of claspada
3.25/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of tbeq00
4/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
3.67/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A - Decent head, but no lacing. Orangish-brown body. Not bad...

S - An interesting fruit (papaya) aroma mixes with standard, balenced barleywine aromas. Nice.

T - Alcohol does make itself known in this beer. After the initial bite, the malt sweetness takes you to the lightly citric and bitter finish. Nice and balenced, an enjoyable drink.

M - Very light body... I feel like this part could use some work.

D - Was it great? Not really, but was it a balenced, enjoyable barleywine? Yes.

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Photo of Jerzdevil1116
2.38/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

1 pt. .9 oz bottle. Purchased at joe Canal's on Fire Rd. In E.H.T., NJ.

Appearance: Very pale copper. Clear, with minimal carbonation. fluffy white head disiipated after a few minutes. Lacing left on the height of the glass.

Smell: Very sweet and malty with some alcohol.

Taste: Sweet maltiness, hints of toffee and apples. Strong alcohol in the finish and brief after taste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied. Alcohol fueled warmth.

Drinkability: Very average. Not sure i'd drink this one again.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.57/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours orange with basically no head. What head is visible is a white color. The aroma is very fruity with some caramel malt. The flavor is strongly fruity with lots of pineapple as well as some malty sweetness. You also get a ton of alcohol in the flavor. There is a slight amount of hop bitterness as well. The booziness hurts the drinkability but it is still a decent beer. Thin-medium mouthfeel and low carbonation. The alcohol is warming.

Of the five Ridgeway Christmas beers I tried (Bad Elf, Reindeer Revolt, Criminally Bad Elf, Santa's Butt and Warm Welcome) this was easily the best. It is the only one I would even consider having again, although I doubt I will see this one out again.

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Criminally Bad Elf Barleywine-Style Ale from Ridgeway Brewing
Beer rating: 3.44 out of 5 with 333 ratings