Criminally Bad Elf Barleywine-Style Ale | Ridgeway Brewing

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

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: 326 |  Reviews: 204
Photo of SMark
3.53/5  rDev +2.6%
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 +10.5%
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 +20.3%
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 +4.7%
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 +15.7%
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 -30.8%
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 stcules
3.63/5  rDev +5.5%
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 +1.7%
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 -5.5%
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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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
2.86/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Once again we revisit the same tastes of ridgeway. This could be the most mediocre english barleywine i have ever tried. It pours very transparent and a bit darker than the other bad elves but not much. no head whatsoever. Thick and soupy with extra ridgeway funk. gnarly malts and sugar taste like cheap candy thats been sitting in a bowl at the doctors office for eight years. the residue left on the lips is kind of unpleasant. Mouthfeel is decent but thin for a barleywine. Alcohol slaps you in the face on the finish. drinkability is similar to that of bacon grease.

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Photo of brentk56
2.89/5  rDev -16%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber without much of a head and what does appear fails to retain or lace

Smell: There is a bit of toffee and some alcohol

Taste: We start out with a toffee liqueur flavor that builds in toffee character by mid-palate; after the swallow, the disappears and is replaced by a repugnant hot alcohol flavor

Mouthfeel: Medium body and low carbonation

Drinkability: This isn't awful but it sure is criminal to put a barleywine of this quality on the shelf under the Shelton Brothers name; I guess this series is the craft beer equivalent Nutcracker ballets that dance companies use for their moneymakers this time of year;

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Photo of Romulus141
2.95/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with a fluffy white layer of foam on the top of the brew. It leaves behind some light lacing on the edges of the glass.

Smell: A fruity scent is the dominating characteristic here. I can detect plums, blueberry, and behind that, a faint alcohol smell. The aroma is strong, and I can detect it from the glass, even though it is about 3 feet away from me.

Taste: Surprisingly, the taste is weaker than I was expecting. There is a faint fruit taste, which is followed by a hop-like bitterness, and is rounded out by a warming trace of alcohol. It's interesting, but I expected a bit more given the smell.

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy, and not a whole lot of carbonation. Since it's a barleywine, this is to be expected. However, there is nothing amazing here.

Drinkability: Given the weak flavor and strong ABV, I can't see myself drinking more than one large bottle of this.

This was an interesting experience, and was the first barleywine I've ever had. Unfortunately, it wasn't anything to write home about. I probably need to try some other beers within the style in order to get a better impression of what to expect.

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Photo of TheBierBand
3.65/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 1 pint 0.9 fl. oz. brown bomber (Freshness code F09 257) into a pint glass to form about a 1" head of nearly white foam that fell after about two minutes to a thick cap leaving minor lacing. The beer is a crystal clear light amber in color.

The smell is a malty/fruity aroma. Light toasty malt smell coupled with a subtile orange and mixed fruit.

Taste: Well, I feel that I may have been ruined.... My last English Barleywine was Weyerbacher Insanity. That has become my REFERENCE for what an EBW should be. Criminally Bad Elf didn't match up well to Insanity. This barleywine is not as rich tasting as Insanity.... and not as pleasant. The first thing to hit your tastebuds is a bit of a bitter sensation, not so much of a hoppy bitterness but more like an alcohol-like solvent sensation. There is a sweet component here but it is way in the background. A little bit smokey.

The Mouthfeel is thinner than I'd like.... not neary as robust as Insanity. Perhaps a touch too high on carbonation for my taste.

Drinkability: Well, I'll power down this bomber, but I don't think I will go out of my way to have this one again. Like I said.... I've probably been ruined for EBW's forever.... Insanity was so good.... everything else will probably pale in comparison. This, I'm sure is a solid EBW... It's strong and powerful.

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.42/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It poured semi thick and the color was a reddish copper with very little foam that disapated within seconds. The smell had an aroma of roasted malts, candy, spice and fruit too! A complex ale with all the sweet smells.

The taste was of a mild bitter/sweet, roasted malts, spice and fruit on the palate. Fruit as in rasins and spice as in coriander and candy as in caramel. Nice pleasant surprise for this Ridgeway Barleywine Ale.

Also, the warmer you leave it get, the more the complex flavor. I finding this out with most British Ales!

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Photo of FightingEntropy
3.2/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: bottle from Village Bottle Shoppe in W. Lafayette, IN poured into a Sam Adams glass.

A: a briefly perceptible head, off white, that disappeared almost as rapidly as it form. Amber to copperish color, but golden in where the light is stronger, thin and somewhat watery looking for a barleywine, almost a muddy river quality about it. Light legs when swirled, so alcohol apparent.

S: nose is not very strong. Malty base, biscuity and slightly but not smoke or other strong malt smell, light fruity esters, especially prune, maybe currant, raisin, some cherry, but all very understated. Molasses as well but light. A bit of spicness as well, but seems to be peppery from the alcohol or yeast, but may also be a bit of flowery hop in there as well--either way, relatively low.

T: astringent but not really a dry finish--more of a lingering spiciness that's not altogether pleasant. Solid malty spine that sweet with caramel and molasses, and there's a bit of hop flavor but not much bitterness. Lingering mineral or saltiness as well. Forecasted fruitiness of the nose not as apparent in the taste, though some dried fruit esters.

M: a bit thin for the style, and the carbonation seems too high as well. Not the luscious or velvety, nor mouthfilling chewiness.

Overall: an overhyped beer with a cool name that is a perfectly fine English Barleywine, but has some balance issues that don't necesdary add up to a great beer. The mineral character, which may be a result of the Oxforshire water, doesn't sit well with me, though it may be a quality other prefer.

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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 lackenhauser
3.42/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pale orange/amber in color. Very soapy looking head. Moderate aroma of malt and caramel. Heavy malt flavor with a heavy treacle like flavor. Touch of hop bite and a tinge of alcohol burn. Ok mouthfeel-somewhat alcoholic. A notch above average. Maybe too big a beer for a UK barleywine. Most I have had are lower in abv.

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

Well, I've tried all the other beers in the bad elf series (except for insanely bad elf), so figured I might as well give this one a shot as well. I still think the very bad elf the best, but this one wasn't bad.

The beer pours an attractive amber brown color with good head retention and lacing. The beer is pretty malty on the nose, but there is also some underlying citrus from hops as well. While not particularly complex, the beer does smell pretty good. On the palate this beer is not bad at all. The flavors replicate the nose, but what surprises me is how light this beer comes across given the abv. It's not heavy at all and there's enough hoppy bitterness to counter the sweet malt, keeping it from becoming tiring to drink. The beer is surprisingly drinkable, though I wouldn't be crazy enough to try more then one bottle at a sitting.

A nice enough beer. Need to try insanely bad elf next I guess.

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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 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 Gmann
3.26/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a crystal clear amber color with a nice off white head, some real nice lacing on the side of the glass. The smell is pretty non-existant, pale malt. The taste is a pale malt background, caramel, cherries, fusel slcohol, not much of a hop presence to balance it out. The feel is light but not watery, sweet and slick, finishes with a slight alcohol burn. Not a bad brew, a tad slick and on the sweet side. The alcohol will keep you from wanting to drink more than one.

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

Into a pint glass, this is a crystal clear gold color with a small but persistent head. Fruity aroma with a strong fusel alcohol scent underlying it. Very sweet malt followed by a hugely alcoholic bite. Fruity as well, but the alcohol makes it quite unpleasant.

Bleagh, I couldn't finish it. A poor beer.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clean/clear dark golden orange color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, not much sticky lacing. The nose is malty and lots of caramel. The taste is slightly sweet at first, then lots of malts and caramel. The alcohol is hidden very very well though for a 10.5 ABV brew. Medium body. Very Drinkable, this is a tasty English Barley Wine, recommended.

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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 goochpunch
2.16/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Pours out a honey-caramel with lots of bubbles racing to the thinnish head. Leaves some streaks of lace on the glass. Smells of vague sweet, bubblegum, spicy alcohol, and not much else. Flavor is a yawn. Big, sweet, syrupy malts with an odd bitter finish. This is like simple syrup mixed with booze and weird esters/phenols/whatever. Mouthfeel is a little thin, considering the sweet and booze. This is weak. Drain pour.

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Criminally Bad Elf Barleywine-Style Ale from Ridgeway Brewing
Beer rating: 3.44 out of 5 with 326 ratings