Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale
Ridgeway Brewing

Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red AleInsanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale
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Strong Ale - English
Ranked #92
Ranked #47,642
3.43 | pDev: 19.24%
Ridgeway Brewing
England, United Kingdom
Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red AleInsanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale
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Reviews: 188 | Ratings: 315 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Greywulfken
Greywulfken from New York

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

A bully of a beer - says "imperial red ale" on the label - pours a clear deep amber, bold and brash with chewy sweet fruits, a bit of tack, and a sweet brown bread malt back... Fairly full-bodied, smooth but dense and shellacky... Got that mildly bitter English hop profile... Carbonation is low despite a something of a persistent cap of ivory bubbles and film... Doesn't seem as well-received as I'd have thought... I think it fits the bill for the style quite well - maybe the high abv is a turn-off for some...

Nov 26, 2020
Photo of DrDemento456
DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

2.37/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

May have made a mistake picking this beer up have no idea when it was brewed but it says on the label best before September 28th 2020 so I guess it's still... Good? For a murky Brown decent bubbles and very mild carbonation if any. was lucky to see no sediment which is always nice. Smells of ethanol mild toffee and just a hint of raisins. Taste it's pretty rough you get mild candy malt some hints of malt liquor and some stale cardboard. Body is okay for 11% it doesn't have a super strong warming feeling but that taste is pretty present of alcohol. Overall I'm pretty sure I'm going to dump this beer out it was a mistake to pick it up especially at $5 a single

Jul 06, 2020
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Retroman40 from Florida

2.8/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

A clear amber/orange with a wispy but lasting head. Smell is of some malt but you can definitely sense the rather high alcohol. The taste is malty with some hop bitterness but again the alcoholic heat is quite noticeable. Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin considering the high alcohol. The finish is a little rough. Overall this is a very strong beer but at least to me it doesn't have enough flavor to back up the higher alcoholic strength.

Dec 03, 2018
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler from Pennsylvania

3.56/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am continuing my 2017 Christmas in July celebration, inspired by the good peeps at The FGBS who held Christmas in July on Tuesday. I had meant to drink these on Christmas day 2016, but I got rather blotto early on & set them aside as part of The Bottle Backlog at Chez Woody. Today is my series of entries for New Elf Christmas Beer in July Sunday (Week 649).

From the bottle: "One of our range of very special Christmas beers brewed in England for the USA. We all know of course, that Santa is really from Lapland!"; "'My goodness,' muttered Claus recalling his visit to the Institute, 'the restrictive outerwear, the padded room - even padded Christmas tree ornaments. Horrifying! Yet the little chap seems happier than he's ever been,' Claus took a thoughtful sip of a most warming red ale. 'Perhaps sanity is over-rated ... Ho, ho, ho!' [undersigned] Peter Scholey (Brewer)".

A Pop! of the cap and the Insanity was released & had begun! I was as gentle on my pour as Mrs. Bates was with the fly that showed up at the end of "Psycho". I am not insane, just misunderstood! My in-glass swirl raised a finger of light, foamy, tawny head that seemed to run off in fear, quickly becoming mere wisps. Color was a solid Amber (SRM = > 7, < 9) with NE-quality clarity. Ah, those visits to my beloved Midwest ... It is that intense, insane cold that gives rise to such doings as "Fargo" & my old running mate from WI, Ed Gein. What fun! Visits to Iowa farms with my "In Cold Blood" pals are the stuff of dreams. The nose on this one should have been cut off when we had the chance, I mean, smelled like ripe berries in the summertime. It was actually quite sweet with the scent of mixed berries. Mouthfeel was thin-to-medium, not watery, but not many steps above. Speaking of steps, have you ever been in Francis Dolarhyde's basement? He has it arranged so that you do not experience the deliciousness of his setup on the descent of the cellar stairs, but once down there, it is magnificent! I only wish that the taste was equally magnificent. It was sweet, but undefined, rather hot and boozy & perhaps needing additional time to smooth out like one of Hannibal Lecter's chiantis. My, but that fellow is a gourmet cook & a gourmand! On my last visit, we supped on this lovely kidney, liver & fava bean dish that he had simmered in a crock pot. He gets the freshest ingredients & I am always envious. Finish remained hot & dry, still quite boozy, lacking refinement. I think that I may try to score an extra bottle on my next opportunity to set aside for some aging. In the meantime, the lovely attendant is summoning me to don my evening apparel, a close-fitting I-Love-Me jacket with my name embroidered above the left breast. It makes for an intimate meal as I hug myself while they spoon feed me, but what can you do when you have been judged Insanely Bad? "There is a pleasure, sure, in being mad, that none but madmen know." John Dryden, The Spanish Friar (II.i). Sleep well!

Jul 31, 2017
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superspak from Ohio

3.63/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle into snifter, bottled on 9/21/2016. Pours fairly crystal clear medium orange/amber color with a small dense white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin spotty lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of raisin, plum, peach, cherry, orange, melon, apricot, pear, apple, honey, light caramel, toasted rye bread, pepper, herbal, tea, floral, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity yeast, earthy hops, and moderate bready malt sweetness; with solid strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, peach, cherry, orange, melon, apricot, pear, apple, honey, light caramel, toasted rye bread, pepper, herbal, tea, floral, and yeast earthiness. Moderate herbal/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, peach, cherry, orange, melon, apricot, pear, apple, honey, toasted rye bread, pepper, herbal, tea, floral, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Nice complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, earthy hops, and moderate bready malt sweetness; with a nice malt/bitterness balance; and light lingering hop astringency after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from bitterness, increasing through the glass. Light carbonation and medium-full body; with a smooth, creamy/bready/grainy/sticky, and lightly slick/syrupy balanced mouthfeel that is good. A little rough from the lingering bitterness. Alcohol is fairly well hidden; a small warming and a touch of booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is a pretty nice English strong ale. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, earthy hops, and moderate bready malt sweetness; smooth and easy to sip on for the big ABV. A little rough and astringent going down, but otherwise had some nice balanced complexities; and was nicely enjoyable all around.

Mar 04, 2017
Photo of dcotom
dcotom from Iowa

3.71/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Based on the description of the English Strong Ale, this one seems to be on target. Clear, deep coppery color. Aromas and flavors of bready malt, orange, citrus zest, and banana. Alcohol is very prominent ont he nose and the palate. Moderately bitter finish, with some oily citrus zest lingering on the aftertaste. Not a stand-alone sipper in my book. Would be a good pairing with foods like cheese or fatty meats, which would mitigate the extreme alcoholic character of this beer.

Jan 04, 2017
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BlackBeerPirate from Illinois

3.71/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Taste: had a big boozy barley malts with some hops. Golden in color, clear, with a nice delicate lattice. Medium to full body, big alcohol warm finish.

May 18, 2016
Photo of BeerSamurai34
BeerSamurai34 from Texas

3.52/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

THis might just be because it's not my favorite style, but I just really did not enjoy this. It drinks super boozy, and the flavor profile just doesn't seem to work.

May 09, 2016
Photo of TheStoutLord
TheStoutLord from Oklahoma

2.8/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

L: Brownish red, but I wouldn't exactly call it copper quite yet. Lacey head, some bubbling. Looks thin and clear.

S: Faint smell, a little malty. You can get a hint of the high ABV.

T: There dominant flavor is the alcohol. No holding punches, not really any supporting flavors besides the maltiness of the beer. Its in your face and kind of drowning out any subtle or seasonal spices that may have tried to make an appearance in this beer.

F: I hate the feel. Its a thick kind of sticky that keeps the potent alcohol texture. Very characteristic of an Imperial Ale, especially a Red.

O: Not something I'd buy again. It was on sale as the season ended so I grabbed it. Nice for high ABV, but definitely not something I'm a huge fan of.

Feb 03, 2016
Photo of BeerBobber
BeerBobber from Nevada

2.24/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This one poured a copper color with some bubbles and a head that just quickly dissipated.

The smell was just a very sugary sweet smell.

Taste was just freaking awful. Sorry but at this point I could not continue my review! This had the most awful sickly treacly taste that in my mind screamed, "Steel Reserve High Gravity!!!" Now I know that all taste buds are different but I really could not continue at this point. Drain pour or shotgun and God Pray For My Soul!

I went for the shotgun. Now that got some laughs from the kids, watching Dad crying in pain that is. Seriously this may be for some folks but I am so sorry to say this is one damned Elf I wish to beat his sorry ass into submission and send him back to Santa for a proper spanking.

Jan 24, 2016
Photo of Chico1985
Chico1985 from Massachusetts

2.62/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Oooo baby, you know Xmas is around the corner when the Ridgeway elves come out to play. This is the 2013 vintage, so a bit over 2 years old at this point. Best by date is 9-16-23. Calls itself an 'imperial red ale' on the label.

A - 330ml bottle pour to a snifter, color leans more towards an orangey-amber than red. A small off-white head forms, by the end a thin ring and some lace-bits remain.

S - Honey, toffee, vague fruitiness, bread, touch of fusel alcohol. Obviously malt-centric but really not a whole lot going on, surprisingly faint as well given the ABV.

T - Taste seems a bit more potent flavor-wise but still quite bland on the whole. Sweet malt doesn't even necessarily bring to mind caramel/toffee/molasses/whathaveyou, it's kinda just like. Sweet Malt, Inc. An odd green grape presence, weak orange marmalade, underwhelming liqueur, generic graininess.

M - Big but smooth+malty feel with low-end carbonation and really not much alcohol warmth, maybe age has tamed it a bit. Mouthfeel is pretty decent other than the impressive lack of actual flavor.

O - This has gotta be one of the blandest strong ales/barleywines I've ever had. No offensive flavors per say, actually kinda easy-drinking for the style+ABV, but yeah. Just a real lack of flavors here. A faceless high-ABV malt bomb of mediocrity.

Dec 05, 2015
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84 from California

2.98/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2015 vintage ale. Best before 8/12/25.

Pours a clear golden-orange with a foamy beige head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. A foamy curtain of lace coats the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, rye, earth, alcohol, and skunk aromas. Taste is much the same with malt, fruit, honey, and earth flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth and hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an average beer that is fairly drinkable, but the aroma is pretty poor and doesn't make me want to drink much of this one.

Serving type: bottle.

Nov 26, 2015
Photo of pat61
pat61 from Minnesota

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

L: Pours garnet amber with a slight chill haze under a thin white film of foam. S: fruit and alcohol. T: Rich malt, plum, light fruit, light dose of hops, alcohol. F: Chewy, medium low carbonation, alcohol warming. O: A potent little beer.

Jul 22, 2015
Photo of damndirtyape
damndirtyape from Ohio

3.66/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle, 2013 vintage. Served in a Gordon Highland Scotch Ale thistle glass.

Appearance: Bright coppery amber, very thin skin of foam across the top and ring at the edge. Some occasional fine strands of lacing that slowly slid down the glass.

Smell: Some fruity notes, a hint of toffee, and some hints of alcohol. Surprisingly mild in aroma intensity.

Taste: Toffee and then a strong hit of alcohol that lingers from right after the sip to well after the finish. The finish also has some hoppy notes, mostly English style bittering Kent Golding but there is a hint of pine at the finish as well.

Mouthfeel: Light carbonation, and what at first feels like it would be a nice thickness that gets ruined a bit by the alcohol burn.

Overall / Drinkability: A very slow sipper and the alcohol shows up right away, not at all hidden. I let this warm up quite a bit to see if it would get better, and it is still unbalanced. The alcohol is potent and dominates the flavors, aroma, and mouthfeel of this beer. It's an okay sipping beer, and maybe if it was colder outside I would appreciate it more. Otherwise it's just okay because of the unbalancing. If the toffee and hops were more prominent and the alcohol tamped down a bit, I think this beer would be much better. I can see why the beer doesn't get very high ratings. I also think it fits better into the English Barleywine style due to the high ABV rather than English Strong Ale. But that's my opinion anyway.

Mar 21, 2015
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

3.88/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 vintage enjoyed in a snifter, this interesting English imperial red pours a bright reddish amber with a thick, big bubbled white head that lingers with light lacing. Nose of toffee, caramel, ripe peaches, cherries, and strong booze. Flavors are intense to say the least. Rich caramel and spicy rye like flavors come through on the front and sides with a mild toffee background. Fruit flavors roar on the aftertaste and back with peach and cherry notes being tamed by spicy hops. Booze runs rampant through this rather big ale with considerable heat. Reminds me of some of the Russian alcohol forward dopplebocks, yet with more depth and character. Very nice indeed.

Jan 16, 2015
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74 from Ohio

3.04/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 ounce bottle, 2013 vintage, label stamp says best before 16 09 23. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a clear orange/amber color with maybe a quarter inch off-white head that didn't stay around for very long. There's a decent amount of lacing. The aroma starts off boozy, with some toffee, candied oranges, stone fruit and some caramel malt noticeable. The taste is mainly sweet and boozy, it tastes like dried fruit (stone fruit and dark fruit), booze, and bready malt. The booziness just seems worse the longer I drink this, and unfortunately so does the overall flavor of this brew. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's syrupy and coating with moderate carbonation. This isn't bad, but it wasn't exactly good either. Maybe it needs more age on it, who knows. It's worth trying once, but I likely wouldn't buy this again.

Jan 06, 2015
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ScentedHeathen from Georgia

3.87/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

a nice and dry English Ale, a little booze taste but considering the 11.8% abv not bad at all. the Rye malt is very pleasant and strong. I should mention that the bottle I purchased in December of 2014 is from 2010 so maybe this beer needs some time to mature before it's true potential is reached

Dec 24, 2014
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vinicole from England

3.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Lovely orange marmalade. Crystal clear. Fine bubbles.
Little aroma, alcohol and lightly fruited sponge cake.
Thick, sweet and boozy. Hint of caramel. Alcohol burn.

Two years old and still undercooked. Needs at least five I reckon.

Dec 22, 2014
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Fatehunter from Oregon

3.4/5  rDev -0.9%

Pours a half finger of head on a clear straw body.
The aroma is malty, a little boozy, and some lemon.
The taste is super sweet across the board. There's some plum and other ripe fruits.
The texture is soft.
My wife likes it but I'm not too fond of the sweetness.

Dec 14, 2014
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WhiteHillsStore from Connecticut

2.99/5  rDev -12.8%

Pours a bright orange with an off white head. The smell is all alcohol with only some light fruit smells coming through in the end. The taste is very sweet in the beginning before giving in to a lot of burn from the booze. It was very heavy and boozy but drinkable. If nothing else it gets you drunk really fast.

Nov 14, 2014
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TruePerception from California

4.07/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Insanely Bad Elf, imperial red ale. 11.2% ABV

A: Interesting. There isn't really a head. Just a thin layer of bubbles, that I wouldn't say is densely packed enough to qualify. Lacing is thing, but holds in multiple layers along the glass. VERY tiny bubbles stream up the inside of the glass as it is tilted. I'm kinda of curious what causes all of these differences...

Solid plum red in color, yellow-grey in the dimple.

S: Deep molasses aroma. Cereal grain. No hops coming through, so it seems like more of an Irish-style red. I seem to be getting some oaky caramels, though the bottle doesn't say it's seen oak. Very slight muskiness.

T/MF: There is a very deep, roasted caramel note; somewhere between deeply charred oak and molasses. I don't have a name for that yet in my repertoire. Some char. Quite a bit more cereal grain. Hay. Slight smokiness. I feel like this beer needs a food pairing, but I couldn't say what. Maybe fruited breads. Creamy cheeses, perhaps. Unfortunately, I have neither on hand. For some reason, I'm thinking pepper jelly with that creamy cheese. Dammit, now I'm hungry!

Poured from a 11.2 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

Edit: 2007 Vintage.

Notes of raisin and tobacco coming forward on the palate, as the beer warms.

Sep 29, 2014
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Stinkypuss from Pennsylvania

3/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2010 Vintage : A Cellar Claim

LOOK: A medium bronze colored ale with a white soapy head that laces the glass well. The bottle poured free from sediment and clarity is above average.

SMELL: Raisin, buttery toffee, malts, and alcohol. Aged any hop notes out, it finishes sweet and hot really.

TASTE: The flavor has honey like malt, toffee, faint to no bitterness and a hefty alcohol presence. Has the echos of a euro strong ale, or cheap english barleywine, but the thinnish base beer really doesn't hide the alcohol too well.

Even after four years in the cellar, this can use about 10 years further before I would consider revisiting it.

Jun 26, 2014
Photo of RonaldTheriot
RonaldTheriot from Louisiana

4.37/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ridgeway Insanely Bad Elf has a somewhat thinnish, off-white head, a mostly clear, brilliant, amber appearance, a few bubble streams, and not really any lacing. The aroma is of toffee, booze, sweetness, and a touch of fruit. Taste is of sweetness, a nice, peppery bitterness, syrup, fruit, candi sugar, and bread. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Ridgeway Insanely Bad Elf finishes on the dry side, rich, and quite drinkable. It’s another winner from Ridgeway!


Dec 21, 2013
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WVbeergeek from West Virginia

3.26/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Wow 11.2 Insanely Bad Elf, I've had too many variations of Bad Elf. Pours an amber color, crystal clear off white head, dwindles rather quickly understandable with the abv. Aroma has fruits all day, sharp cherry, dark fruits even some pear, alcohol evident but not rocket fuel. Super sweet on the palate, cloying sweetness caramel sugars with dark fruits and a bit of hot alcohol in the definitely warms the chest with each sip. Sorry folks not my cup of tea you may need to age this for a bit, too hot and unrefined for this 2013 vintage. Syrup texture pretty much kills the drinkability, cloying soft carbonation full bodied bitter earthy finish stays on with an alcohol burn. Overall if your buying this novelty brew, put some age on it before cracking it, I've seen some good reviews on bottles a year and older.

Dec 10, 2013
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chilidog from Ohio

4.07/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked up one of these on clearance after the holidays, enjoyed it so I went back and got the remaining last bottle, would of taken a couple more.
This is the 2012 vintage. I like the bottle is stamped with a best before date of 2022.

Poured into a snifter, clear golden, not much carbonation, so very little tan tinted head. No lace. It does look like apple juice as noted by another review.

Aroma is malted, alcohol marinated dark cored fruit.

Taste is somewhat sweet, malty, cored fruit of apple and pear. The finish follows up with caramel and a fine brandy, stoned fruit like plum and cognac.

Mouthfeel is really smooth, easy to drink.

Overall a good special, high abv beer to enjoy when all is said and done. Oh ya, did I mention the holidays are over, oh ya, cheers

Feb 03, 2013
Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale from Ridgeway Brewing
Beer rating: 79 out of 100 with 315 ratings