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 AKBelgianBeast
2.86/5  rDev -16.6%
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 -15.7%
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%
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 +6.4%
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 +28.9%
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 -6.7%
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 +7.6%
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 -0.3%
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 +16.6%
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 +9%
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 +7.9%
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%
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%
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 +11.7%
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 +19.2%
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%
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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Photo of fartingdog
3.43/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Rich amber with a thick white head.

S- Bready, estery.

T Malty, dark fruit, alcohol warming, slightly bitter.

M- Medium body, ocasionally sharp on the tongue and back of the throat- like an alcohol nip or carbonation bite.

D- Not bad, could use some age to mellow and balance the edge.

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Photo of ElGordo
3.65/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 500ml bottle into a Maudite snifter. Body is a reddish amber topped by a smallish white head that quickly recedes to a thin ring. Aroma of heady, slightly sweet, biscuity malt and a touch of brown sugar, along with a hint of sharp floral hops. Palate is mellow sweet malt up front, with some bittering hops joining in to provide balance mid-palate. The sweetness is offset by a flourish of pepper just before the swallow. Mildly sweet malt lingers on the finish, along with a good bit of warming alcohol.
The body is full and just a touch syrupy, just right for an English barleywine. Quite drinkable for such a strong beer, this is one of the better examples of this style I've had in a long time.

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Photo of kirok1999
3.85/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber copper with no head and just a touch of foam on the top. Smell is pretty sweet, stands out as an English barleywine. Fruity with banana, caramel, and mild malts.
Taste is super smooth and has almost no carbonation. This fits really well in a snifter to focus the malty smell. Taste is a bit more bitter than the smell. Not as sweet as JW Lees yet has some of the same characteristics. Fruitiness in the start, apple, banana, slight citrus hop note and lush malt aftertaste.
Feels slightly thin and doesn't coat the tongue like some do.
The alcohol is very well hidden on both the swallow and exhale. Something about the high ABV and how easily it's hidden hurts the drinkability a little.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.65/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer certainly shows the strength that you would expect from the name. But the beer has a lot of maturing to do in order to fall into balance. Very richly malty, sweet, alcoholic, and fruity in the nose. Flavors are malt-dominant, showing a lot of barly sweetness, estery fruits (peaches, cherries, plumbs, and pears), phenols, and fusal alcohols. These alcohols become more abrasive as the beer wears on. Finishes with a huge burst of sweetness, booze, and a little bitter and salty. Certainly some quality ingredients in here, just going to take more time to properly round out.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.85/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Criminally Bad Elf pours a clear copper color with a small white head on top. The foam dissolves quickly to a thin ring around the surface and leaves a few spots of lace on the glass as it disappears.

The aroma is sweet malt with notes of apples, oak and alcohol. Each sip of this medium bodied beer is very smooth and slightly chewy. The flavor also has a fair amount of sweet caramel malt. Mixed in are oak, vanilla, apple and a hint of cherry. It finishes tart with a medicine/alcohol taste.

Unlike American barleywines, this beer is more malt than hops. It's quite drinkable and tasty.

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Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer as it sets in the glass after the pour from the 500ml bottle appears as slightly hazy burnished copper with the head modest in size, off white and frothy, it vanishes rather quickly leaving the a patchy coating of lace. Nose is cotton candy sweet, hints of fusel alcohol, caramel, malt and a touch of spice, pumpkin like is what I’m trying say. Start is obnoxiously sweet, malt present adequate, alcohol bite noticeable, top is medium in feel. Finish continues the heavy sweetness, hops overwhelmed, a tummy warmer, and the aftertaste sticks to your palate like the “Peanut Butter From K Rations”, but as I’m “Abbynormal”, I like this beer? lol

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Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
3.67/5  rDev +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 RoyalT
3.92/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – This came out looking like orange liquid sugar with little head and a bit on the thin side.

Smell – The sugar is more like cane than anything else, which is nice to smell. There are also some lightly-toasted malts, which makes me think of morning cinnamon toast.

Taste – It's a little milder at the taste but the sugar and toasted Wonder bread come out pleasant. The flavor is nicely balanced, but its mild nature may disappoint some who have difficulty appreciating the subtleties of a fine EBW.

Mouthfeel – This is light for a BW, just barely medium-bodied, but no alcohol sting.

Drinkability – The lack of a big boozy kick makes this quite quaffable for a 10+ ABV ale.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.24/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This brew is a bright copper color with a medium white head that dissipates steadily. Minimal lacing is evident. Aroma of earthy malt and pungent fruit, as well as some citrusy hops. Medium-bodied (watery at times) with malt and spice flavors, along with touches of hops and alcohol. More hoppy in the finish, with a lingering alcohol aftertaste. As a Barley Wine I feel it should be more robust. Pretty average on everything except the aroma.

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