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 beer2day
3.36/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours clear medium copper gold with an impressive unforced 2-finger head. Retains and laces well.

Nose is fairly unimpressive. I'm getting twizzler strawberry licorice, cough syrup and tart fruit. As the glass warms I'm getting more alcohol drifting off.

Fleeting sweet hit with lots of candy sugar. Tart fruit comes in behind that (more of that cough syrup, though) and finishes with a medium heavy alcohol burn.

Feel is decently syrupy for a barleywine.

The cough syrup aroma and taste is too off-putting to mark this very high on the drinkability scale.

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Photo of edchicma
3.97/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light copper with very little head. Smell is a nice blend of malt fruit and subdued alcohol presence.Taste is tart, but with a distinct malt presence that gives a good blance. Alcohol is there but no way resembles 10.5abv. Mouthfeeli is very good for the style. AAlmost slightly chewy but with a nice warming presence. This lends itself to an easy drinkability factor for a barleywine.

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Photo of wangbruins
3.47/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Light copper color, a bit thick, with an almost non-existent head

S- My girlfriend thinks I'm crazy, but I smell plums and grapes, flowers and sugar

T- Strong grape and citrus taste, very tart, with a bitter aftertaste

M- Thick and syrupy but smooth at the end...very sugary

D- One at a's a sipper

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Photo of jeffjeff1
3.82/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was another christmas present.

Appearance- reddish amber color, thin head

Smell- sweet, malt, citrus, very nice

Taste- strong flavor, caramel, toffee, some bitterness in there, warm

Mouthfeel- medium to full bodied

Drinkability- It was pretty good.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.67/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

50 cl bottle, 10.5% abv. Pours a lighter copper color, which seems a bit light for the style. White head disappears pretty quickly, leaving no spots of lace at all.

A good amount of fruity notes come out at first. Maybe some berries and apricot. Some notes of figs, caramel and alcohol. Pretty interesting aroma here, and layered nicely.

A bit of sweetness up front. A good mix of fruity flavors, very similar to the nose. Not much fig flavor. There is certainly a good amount of warming alcohol, which combines with some earthy bitterness at the end. Long lingering warmth here.

Medium body, carbonation is on the lower side, which works for the style. Alcohol warmth hurts the drinkability a bit, but also keeps this as a nice winter sipper. Not bad. Nice example of the English style.

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Photo of adamette
4.22/5  rDev +23%
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 Mora2000
3.57/5  rDev +4.1%
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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Photo of WVbeergeek
2.61/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep orange copper hue into my chalice glass with an off white head forming thick and even with fine detailed lacing. Aromatics offer up some fusel alcohol notes with a light citrus booze character going on. Hops have a creamy floral and citric aspect coating the whole experience. Some sweet dark fruit notes blend in as well, they just seem to take a back seat next to the rest of the party going on. Flavor provides a deep sweet cereal honey tone with slight syrup notes and deep raisin and caramel malts wafting in. Big bitter backing from the English perspective the citrus and tobacco toned hop profile adds a good amount of bitterness to a typically hoppy American style. Mouthfeel is a bit cloying with thick layers of residual sugars sitting around on the palate carbonation is mellow but it doesn't carry the big body around too well. Drinkability overall is pretty poor in both body and flavor characteristics, maybe next time I will dig the beers from this seasonal brewery.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.69/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

served into several glasses by a midget.
dark orange pouru, looks pretty good, and by that, i mean, it looks like its gonna be mellow. banana comes out first, some other malt sweetness and a bit of hop flavor earthiness in the aroma. again, flavor profile dominated by a dry banana flavor. dry banana, though, way better than wet banana. an unexpected estery flavor from this beer, but not bad in the context it was had in. i'm gonna give this beer the benefit of being on the tail end of two great imperial stouts (choklat and dark horizon) which may have actually improved the flavor profile of this beer. i don't know that it would've worked as well, but maybe the same flavors wouldn't have shown through the same way. this beer may've been in the right place at the right time, but i will certainly have it again, perhaps same set and setting.

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Photo of Wespatrick
3.55/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500 ml bottle poured into my Duvel snifter.
This ale is much lighter in color than I expexcted for a barleywine. Deep orange with a quickly dissapating head.
Aroma is sweet malts, caramel, noticeable alchohol and some yeaty esters. Maybe a little astingent.
I let this warm up for quite a while and it really helped. Flavor is mainly sweet malt and toffee/ caramel. Alchohol is very prominent in the finish and at over 10% I guess this is understandable.
Mouthfeel is too thin for me. Needs alot more body to balance the alchohol heat and bready malt sweetness.
Drinkability is hurt by the lack of body/mouthfeel. Warming alcohol is present for several minutes after swallowing. I love barleywines, but this one is average.

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Photo of Dodo2step
4.02/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

P- Pittsburgh friend..thanks Ray.

1 pt 9 oz bottle

A- a shockingly bright amber pour in color. The bottle makes it look darker than what it is. A one and half finger head that runs off quickly and leaves lil lacing on my glass.

S- apples is the first aroma i notice. roasted caramel malts with a scent of some sort of tea. Sun tea type of smell or black tea.

T- sweet toffee caramel taste. Kind of like a werthers original candy. A roasted but quality also appears at the back end.

M-sweet and juicy, like biting into a piece of fruit. Not as creamy as you would want though, but good.

D-at 10.5 % you wouldnt know it, it goes down easy but im sure it will hit me in a matter of minutes.

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Photo of Rayek
3.67/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip.

A: Bright amber with nice clarity. A fizzy cream head comes and goes quickly. Leaves only hints of lace.

S: Sweet and very boozy. Caramel and toffee are the primary aromas. Some black tea is in the background. A healthy dose of alcohol rounds things out.

T: Very sweet and warm. Again, caramel and toffee dominate. Bitterness is extremely mild. It brings a black tea flavor to the table. A warm and healthy alcohol bite aids the bitterness along. It joins the malt sweetness into the finish.

M: The heavy body is syrupy and thick.

D: This was a nice compliment to a cold and snowy evening. A bit more complexity and a better masking of the alcohol would have made this more enjoyable to me, however.

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Photo of gdodd12
4/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an amber color. I really caught some apples and some sweet malts with the aroma. As far as taste, it was light and crisp with some maltyness and some citrus. Not very hoppy at all. The carbonation was not bad and neither was the alcohol. IMO, this is one of the easier drinking barleywines around.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.75/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A fair barleywine. Pleasing without much to make it remarkable.

Presentation: O.5L bottle. Blunt and a bit overdone illustration of an unpleasing elf behind bars clinging an aluminum cap against them. Tongue in cheek side narrative playing the idea of the name. Lacks an apparent date of bottling or freshness. Notes Alc. by Vol. (10.5%). Served in a snifter.

A - Medium amber pour with a good if short lived bubbly head. Little lacing and faint ring.

S - Sweet malt with fruity hoppiness and a faint boozy note.

T - Malty sweetness, nothing too rich or complex, with a good hoppy layer. Citrus and fair fruity hints. The alcoholic notes emerge a bit more as it warms up and towards the end of the tasting.

M - Medium bodied with fair carbonation. Smooth with a subtle crisp hint.

D - It´s a nice sipper. Not too remarkable but quite decent.

Notes: Neither deserves the bad or good press. The design and marketing defiance is relatively fun, but as an import from the UK probably comes too pricey compared to similar and far superior local US offerings. If, and when in the UK this has to be fairly decent, right?

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

I like the appearance of clear amber colored English Ales. Like This one. Light aroma of apples and candy sugar. Tastes a bit the same too. The candy sugar smell and taste is almost like a dark strong Belgian ale - almost.

The alcohol is up front, but the full soft body, and mildly sweet fruitiness keep it in check.

Very light hoppy finish that combines with the alcohol to curb the sweetness a little bit. Makes it easier to go back for more sips on this big beer. The weight is apparent, but well worn.

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

Part of Ridgeway's Christmas line.

Pours a nice orange with yellow hints. There is a nice white head that rises to a 2 finger height and leaves decent lacing behind. Light for a barleywine but looks good.

Smell is sweet with a faint kiss of hops, some fruitiness with a big whiff of alcohol drowning most of it out.

THe mouthfeel is thick and creamy and the taste is very sweet with tons of malt, though nothing particularity interesting. The hops in this taste very medicinal. I don't like the hops they used at all. The taste is a bit blunt and lacks refinement.

Overall it is the first English Barleywine I have had but it hasn't stood up to the American ones I have had. Not sure why.

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Photo of SShelly
3.67/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium amber color, crystal clear with zero head and a little visible carbonation.

yeasty/bready aroma off the back with a little bit of hops, way to subdued for a "imperial red"

Sweet malt upfront with a light hop bitterness, subtle hop flavor, leaves a sweet aftertaste in the mouth.

fairly smooth and easy drinking for 10.5%, a little bit of warming in my chest but really none in the mouth.

A decent beer, but not really an imperial red (yulesmith has ruined me) runs a little too far to the sweet side for my taste.

ADD- in further inspection of this bottle it is actually 11.2% and from 2007...didnt notice that before.

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

Poured from 50cl bottle into snifter.

A.1 finger head. Light brown color. Decent retention and lacing.

S. Smells of caramel malt. Alcohol, some fruit.

T. Sweet malt, alchol, some fruity taste, apples. Pretty sweet.

M. Medium bodied. Low carbonation. Pretty sweet aftertaste.

D. Drinkable. Heat isn't so bad for 10.5 % For a barleywine this is seriously lacking in smell and flavor. Overall it is pretty weak.

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Photo of ricke49
3.7/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had previously drank this product soon after receiving it as a Christmas present (i.e. in 2007, 2006, etc.)....and the results weren't all that pretty. I would have rated it in the B- to C range, like many of the reviews on this site.

Last year upon recieving a bottle, I decided to let it sit for about a year and try it. Wow! what a difference!! Particularly in regards to the sharp alcohol presence that I had experienced in other years' tastings. After letting this product mellow for a year I would put it almost on par with Old Foghorn or other high quality English style barleywines I've enjoyed. So! my advice: if you end up with a bottle of this stuff, let it sit for a year or so and you might be pleasantly surprised.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.08/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

10% ABV 50cL bottle @ $5.99 at Luekens. Seems a bit expensive. Light copper color with nice tan head. Sweet malty smell peppered with floral like noble hops, sweet refined sugar and alcohol. The first couple of tastes were a bit harsh until my taste buds had a chance to adjust. This beer has a moderately syrupy mouth feel. The alcohol flavor hits up front but doesn't impede the flavor all that much. Then some light pale, caramel and sugary malt sweetness kicks in as does the pine and floral hoppy bitterness. This beer definetly gets better the more you drink. Tastes like a big brother to Samuel Smiths IPA.

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Photo of cbutova
2.74/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked this one up because it was on sale at my local store. Pours a clear golden amber color with a one finger creamy tan head that retains fairly well and leaves good lacing down my glass. Smell starts out as malts and alcohol and slowly turns into total fruity raisins with alcohol. Tastes of malts, a slight bit of hops and some alcohol,Apples and lots of sweets in here as well, this taste also eventually becomes the fruity taste of a Belgian beer with alcohol, seems like the original flavors of the beer fade very quickly on this one. The mouthfeel is medium, alcohol warming the mouth and a taste of raisins is left on the tongue. Drinkability is low because the beers good flavors seem to fade out fast to straight dark fruits and raisins, alcohol taste gets bad before the bottle is finished, good to try, not very good to buy again. Aftertaste of fruits gets to me, taste became unberable after the first few sips, nothing really going on here, enjoyability ends after a few sips.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.05/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very clear amber hue with a thick, large-bubbled light yellow foam. Fades fairly rapidly and leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

Sweet, lightly caramely maltiness infused with light fruits and minerals. This is a smell that seems to be quite typical with Ridgeway beers.

Very fruity flavor - green apples, pears and maybe even some melon rinds. Dont think the malts support the high alcohol enough. There is some earthy hops in there, but not enough, even for an English BW. This one is pretty disappointing, especially considering that I really enjoyed the Bad Elf and Very Bad Elf. Maybe too many elves are a bad thing!

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.62/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

After pouring, a clear, dark amber ale with gold highlights into a Palm snifter glass, a quarter inch head of white foam provides a coating of lace. After swirling, a clear film is noticeable.

An aroma of fruit is carried aloft by white fumes of alcohol. Malts are presented with apples, raisins and eventually sweet white wine as it warms.

After laying down for two years, the alcohol is still very prominent. Generally, the flavors follow the nose, lacking complexity, yet still a barlywine with some hops. The malts still win out through a short finish including a last bite of alcohol. This one develops raisin flavors with warmth.

The sharpness of the alcohol does mellow as this medium-bodied beer warms.

A fine ale, however, Santa's little helper lacks the wow factor I have come to expect from barleywines. This said, it is still worth the wait and I'll finish this bottle with dinner tonight.

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Photo of beerdoc1
5/5  rDev +45.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a classic Abbott Ale, lower half dimpled, Plimsole lined, pint glass.

Clear amber; tight 1/4" head which lasted to the final sip. Good lace.

Dried vine fruit, background diacetyl and warming alcohol in the nose.

Full, rich, fruit, malt and appropriate alcohol for this big beer. Dangerously more-ish. This is my second "Elf" beer. Loved them both.

This reminds me not one whit of the justly famous and lauded Brakespeare Bitter. I was fortunate to have toured the brewery in a CAMRA guided, bicycle brewery and pub hejira many moons ago. Thrilled to see the spirit lives on!

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Photo of Foolmonkey
3.14/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This was my first Barleywine ale. It poured a bright red/orange color with a white and tan head that quickly dissipated. The smell was the best part of this one, hints of apple, grape, and sweet barley. You could also notice the alcohol.

The taste was overpowered by the alcohol. Most of the other flavors were masked by it. The mouthfeel was fairly thick and warming. I definitely would have liked this beer better on a cold night. Drinkability was not great, but of course these beers are meant to be sipped.

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