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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Ratings: 317 |  Reviews: 201
Photo of humanawho
3.75/5  rDev +9.3%
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

 301 characters

Photo of rye726
3.73/5  rDev +8.7%
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 scottoale
3.58/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500ml. funky shaped brown bottle with a code on the left side of the label that was mis-stamped something like: P19 xx5...the xx is totally un-readable. The beer pours a deep medium gold, with a small off-white head and some decent carbonation streaming from the bottom.

The aroma is fully sweet, very fruity and somewhat floral with not much notable hops coming through. Doesn't really smell like a barleywine...English or American per se. Way to sweet to the nose for my liking.

The flavor of this big 10.5% is much sweeter than what I was expecting and really didn't have the qualities of any English BW that I've ever tried before. I don't think I've had a brew as sweet as this from Ridgeway in the past, but who am I to judge as far as style goes? Just different from what I've tried in the past of English Barleywines, that's all.

Medium body with a smooth, creamish feel to it and a well hidden potency that lay beneath (the sweetnss mostly). Easy drinker for the size of this beast, just be's criminal!

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Photo of paco1029384756
2.16/5  rDev -37%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Pours a golden brown color with a decent head.

Scent of honey, cinnamon, and copper. One of the more offensive scents I have come across, even compared to an American Macro Lager.

Taste is no better, strong sweetness with more cinnamon and copper. Finishes with a strong presence of alcohol, too much for me.

Mouthfeel is crisp, at least there is one redeeming quality of this beer.

This was very hard for me to drink.

I will never purchase this beer again, but if offered I may try it to see if the bottle I purchased was bad.

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Photo of sauron681
2.8/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours a reddish orange color, clear and clean. Good head with thick lacing, but not much carbonation. Smells of Snapple tea, quite fruity, but also very alcoholy.
Taste starts out sweet and light, but ends very dry, potent and bitter. A very light and creamy in the mouth. This beer leads to a promising brew, but finishes fairly disapointing, it is true to its style, but to me barleywine is an acquired taste and I just cant come to terms with it yet.

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Photo of tgbljb
3.18/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a deep copper color with modest off-white head.

Smell is loaded with dark sweet fruit (cherries, plums), along with alcohol

Taste is also very fruity, but somewhat overpowered by the alcohol.

The alcohol really comes through at the finish, drowning out all other tastes.

A bit too much for me.

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Photo of Onslow
4/5  rDev +16.6%
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 brewdlyhooked13
2.84/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - a reddish-orange honey colored beer. Two fingers of cream white foam melt down quickly, leaving a swiss cheese pattern of lace behind.

Aroma - lightly grainy, fruity smell and vapory alcohol. Malt liquor-like.

Taste - hot grain, basically. Decent grain base I suppose, however the dominant alcohol makes this an elegant but heavy malt liquor. Not very dynamic or interesting. The swallow has a brief kick of bitterness, maybe a bit of cinnamon, followed by plenty of abv warmth. Finishes the same - dry and warm.

Mouthfeel - good thickness and smoothness. Combined with a lower carbnation level, easily the most impressive part of the beer.

Drinkability - a sipper more due to abv than flavor. No trouble finishing this but not one I'd redo.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.43/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle poured into a snifter.

A = Clear orange liquid, forms small foamy white head on pour which quickly dissipates leaving light lacing on surface and negligible lacing on glass.

S = Slight plastic notes underneath, primary smells are of honey, slightly wet hay.

T = Honey mead, white pepper, bitter green tea, good balance between sweetness and bitterness, mild floral hops flavors.

M = Medium-heavy, enough carbonation to tease the tongue and very good mouthcoating.

D = This is a good enough beer which is worth drinking, but there are a lot of other similar barleywines and I do not think this one stands too far above the majority.

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Photo of Shiredave
3.58/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Taken from the cellar @ 58 deg F and poured into a snifter. A huge off white head billowed up - big foamy, soapy bubbles with some specks of lace. Head receeds slowly to a glass hugging ring and whispy film. Very clear with an occasional bubble rising.
Aroma is all english hop up front - wet leaves and crushed herbs with some faint banana notes and some whiskey like alcohol.
Fruity flavors at the start - apple and pear with some sugary toffee. Alcohol heats things up from midway on pushing everything else to the side, leaving a smoldering boozy aftertaste.
Body is full but not heavy with a smooth and silky viscocity.
Flavors are not well rounded or overly complex, unless you find alcohol complex. An okay sipper but not even close to my favorite barleywine. Maybe it would have been best to let this sit for a year or more.

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Photo of bashiba
2.96/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a coppery gold color with a thick and creamy long lasting head, great lacing.

The smell had a light cotton candy and banana sweetness along with a hint of yeast and spices, like nutmeg and cloves.

The taste was even sweeter than the smell with a strong taste of alcohol, apricots, and a cedary wood quality. Finishes with a slightly musty bitterness that almost evens out the sweetness, but not quite.

Mouthfeel is very warm and sticky with a bit of a dry finish.

Overall a bit to sweet for me, I won't be worried about drinking this one again.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.32/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A reasonably vigorous pour produces a scant, one-finger thick, tan colored head. The beer is a light amber color and shows a hazed, light copper hue when held up to the light; this is definitely pale colored for a beer of this strength. The aroma smells of slightly sticky, almost unfermented malt, golden raisins, brandy, concentrated apples, somehow slightly tart and it has a fair amount of hop character under the more noticeable malt notes. Hop notes that lean towards herbal, perhaps a touch of menthol, clean citrus and a bit of a green note towards the end. Not a bad nose, it is a clean mix of malt and hop notes.

Sweet with notes of golden raisins up front, but then a herbal hop character kicks in that then moves to a solid, though slightly astringent, bitterness in the finish. Thick and chewy, though this is certainly not sticky. It has a certain viciousness and heft that makes it a sipping brew, but not overly heavy. Somehow the simple malt character can actually disappear underneath the fairly mild hop character; at these times the beer tastes too green and astringent. This is actually quite hoppy for an exported English beer (especially the ones usually exported to the states). It has a touch of hot alcohol to it in the finish, though is actually fairly mild for a beer of this strength.

Not nearly as bad as I expected for some reason, but then it is not all that great either. I have a feeling that the bland malt character will pick up some character with some age. This could age for quite some time (though the lack of bottle conditioning is disappointing), but the fresher hop notes will certainly fade).

Purchased: Plaza Liquors; Tucson AZ

 1,675 characters

Photo of beerking1
3.36/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep gold with a nice white head that leaves a decent lace all the way down the bottle. Malty aroma with some earthy hops, but marred by a significant fusel nose, with notes of green apple and some hints of solvent. Flavor is better, with malt up front, some hops, but still with some higher alcohols. Not extreme, but off-putting. Some alcoholic astringence in the mouthfeel.

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Photo of acrawf6
4.1/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours out a clear dark orange amber with a thick white head.

Smell. Has a potent malty sweetness thats nice. Has a very strong apple fruityness in the aroma with a nice hint of a honey character.

Taste. The apples stick through nicely from the aroma. Has a strong sweetness like a light brown sugar that leaves my lips quite sticky after each sip. Balanced well with the hops for being more of a malt bomb. Leaves my mouth warm after each swallow.

Mouthfeel. I really like this aspect of the beer a whole bunch. Body is quite full, with a presence of carbonation that really struggles to make it known in the beer. Because of this, it leaves the body with a very thick and creamy texture, which i thought was very nice.

Overall, I really enjoy this beer. I liked their other 2 Christmas beers, but this one i think stands out very well. Certainly one to look out for next season.

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Photo of tonistruth
3.26/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- clear and active copper with a good holding 1 finger white head, attractive

S- fruity, toasted malts

T- malt favored balance, lots of fruit characters including raisins and dates, toasted grains, leafy hop toward finish, some alcohol as well, hops become more pronounced with warmth

M- full body with a hot bite at the finish and a sticky after

D- best at warmer temps, drinkable and somewhat enjoyable, complex, one of the best in the elf series, which is as far as I'll recommend it

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Photo of dac
3.56/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Half liter bottle, cellar temp.

Crystal clear copper color. Nice thin head that turns into a loose lacing.

Aroma of caramel & crystal malts, treacle and candied apples.

Flavor showcases an intense malt profile with caramel and crystalized sugars. Barely detectable diacetyl level and apparent high mineral content lend a distinctive Brittish flavor profile. Very sweet and stickey on the tongue, but with just enough hop bitterness to keep it from being sickening. The hops helps keep the flavors crisp and there is relatively litte after taste, just a sugary coating on the teeth.

A pretty decent English style barley wine. Gives a nice glow about half way through the bottle and pairs well with stinky cheese like Royal Blue Stilton.

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Photo of SMark
3.53/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was poured from a 500ml bottle into an Imperial pint glass. The beer poured with a haze as compared to the Very Bad Elf and was slightly darker in color but I hesitate to say brown rather than orange amber. There was approximately a one finger head. Slight lacing was also evident with the subsiding head.

There was a caramel malt aroma with what seemed to be butterscotch in the background. This was an interesting bouquet.

The beer tasted of more malt and hop than the Very Bad and went together quite well. There was a bit of apple cider with the caramel malt. I did not notice any butterscotch in the taste.

It was quite smooth with a bit of tangy sensation on the tongue. The caramel seemed to be more noticeable at the back of the mouth while the hops played well along the top.

This was a better offering than the Very Bad Elf and very adequate. However, I will probably stick with some of the more mundane named beverages for Christmas time with my next purchases.

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

It pours a characteristically clear glinting golden amber. A finger of rumpled beige head sinks soon to a fine surface froth. Hooks of lacing barb the inside of the glass.

The aroma has an understated, classy malt sweetness, ripe with raisin, dried cherry, and brown sugar. A fleeting hop spiciness is undone by an edge of airy alcohol.

Upon sipping, the sticky sweet syrup of dense malt is joined by pear, currant, and a measure of molasses. The hops are present but distant, straining to lay out a spate of slick spice across a pool of alcohol. A slightly doughy sweet graininess is crisped away by a burgeoning bitterness in the finish. It's comely, but not especially dimensional.

Between medium and full bodied, it creeps with a slick nature that crisps just enough.

I expected something more conservative, but it came in a touch below that, even. Simply, the flavor takes a stab at good but hits adequate instead. There's a muscular ABV that never hides, but despite a flavor challenge, it doesn't inhibit too terribly much. So it could have more depth and complexity, but it's a decent fireside companion as-is.

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Photo of russpowell
4.14/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber with 1/2" of of off-white head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Fruitty, bready with dry candied fruits & honey

T: Fruitty, bready & boozey up front. A bit of smokeyness as this warms along with plums, apricots, honey & much sweetness & dryness. Finishes with loads of honey taste & touch of lemony hops

MF: Syruppy, chewy with low carbonation & a bit too much dryness

Drinks a bit slow because of the intense dryness, but a solid winter warmer

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Photo of jasonjlewis
3.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice head and retention, clear amber color. Notes taken on my cell phone so they are not in depth.

Smell is of caramel malts with some light citrusy hops, smell of alcohol comes through. apple phenol comes out.

Thick barley and alcohol astringency. A little bit too boozy. The hopping is nice and balancing, but the booziness takes away from this beer.

The mouthfeel is a little bit astringent and dry.

A decent brew that sufferes from a little bit too much booziness.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.98/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear amber with some head. Nose is minimal really with very little coming up except a slight sweet tone. There might even be just a wee bit of apple there. Flavor is very, very sweet with just a slightly noticeable alcohol presence. I also feel like I am getting a slight wooden edge to it in the back of my mouth. Mouth-feel slightly thin with a slightly thick carbonation on the tongue. This one masks the 10.5% very well, which makes it very drinkable. I just get the feeling that if this one were laid down for a year, or many more, it would be even more well rounded and even better.

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Photo of Jerzdevil1116
2.38/5  rDev -30.6%
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 stcules
3.63/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very clean copper color. Like a pale ale. One finger of foam. Beautiful perlage.
In the smell it seems a 5 ABV pale ale. Alcohol not perceptible. Orange marmelade notes. Ang good hop.
The taste is warm, and bitter. But, it doen't seem a barley winr. It lacks of complexity and interest. Drinkable, yes, too much, too.
But not interesting.
The beer itself it's not bad, but we expect some more from a barley wine.

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

Pours very light orange-copper with a frothy head that leaves sheets of sticky lacing.

Aroma is candy-like sweetness, caramel malt, and light fruit bathed in generous alcohol.

Taste is sweet malt, brown sugar, and light fruit (apple and pear) up front. The finish has spicy earthy hop bitterness, and the malt takes on a toasted quality. Definite strong alcohol presence.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with only a slight resinous hop quality.

This is not the bitter hop monster I have come to associate with American Barley Wines. The flavor is very light, sweet, and fruity but with intense alcohol. Lots of Malt, and understated hops. Alcohol borders on being harsh, cellaring would probably do wonders to smooth this one out.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.25/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle Inspection: 10.5% abv. 50cl brown bottle. Cellared one year (vintage 2006 sampled Christmas Eve 2007).

Aroma: Some toffee, a lot of alcohol, a slight butter note and a twist of orange rind.

Appearance: Excellent clarity in a light brown glass. Wispy traces of lace from tiny lazy carbonation streams.

Flavor: Earthy notes from English hops, with earthiness thrown in for good measure. Alcohol is still a bit hot, but there are a lot of nice toffee malt tastes. A bit of yeast bite in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium thin body accents the alcoholic nature of this naughty elf.

Overall Impression: It could stand from another year or two in the cellar if you’re holding one. Not a bad beer, but not outstanding either.

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