Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale | Ridgeway Brewing

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Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red AleInsanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale
312 Ratings
Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red AleInsanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale

Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

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Ratings: 312 |  Reviews: 186
Reviews by JimTeal:
Photo of JimTeal
3.39/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2012 Vintage

Unique in many respects, it almost wants to be sweet, but ends up smooth and goes down with a caramel malt finish with hints of cognac. The higher ABV makes this one an attention getter, as in pay attention or it will kick your tail. I really appreciate the Brits giving a go to such a different beer. The head is almost non-existent upon pouring, and the hops are left way in the background, barely noticeable. What does that say, the aim, I believe for Ridgeway, was to create a good seasonal, able to stand up to the holiday beverage lists, and yet smooth enough to keep one's interest? So Insanely Bad Elf is not an everyday, but certainly way above average for special occasions.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerBobber
2.24/5  rDev -33.9%
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.

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Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another in the line of "Elf" brews from Ridgeway.Poured into a snifter a orange infused copper with a well formed one finger head that is gone quickly leaving no lace as it settled quickly,big English malt aromas very cakey with alcohol infused dark fruit,undertones of buttery caramel and a whiff of leafy hop lingers.A great cold evening sipping brew it warms the inside with somewhat sweet malt profile,it starts out with that dark fruit element like raisins and prunes in a holiday cake a hint of vanilla-like rum as well all overtop of a caramel base light bittering keeps it from becoming overly cloying.A great seasonal sipper it will likely help put me to bed pretty early tonight.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.32/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - This is a bright but thick orangish-brown in color with a very modest head, not surprisingly.

Smell - The rotten prunes, overripe dates, and mashed raisins are huge at the nose. I can get some light orange and cherry along with a touch of the caramel malt base, but mostly it's those dates, prunes, and maybe figs.

Taste - The dark, fruity flavors explode in the mouth. Just a few drops on the tongue are enough to make you say "wow". This has a very heavy, rotten fruit taste and is totally awesome.

Mouthfeel - This medium-bodied ESA is dead in the mouth but so flavorful that you just can't stop salivating.

Drinkability - This sipping ale is so big and flavorful that it might even be too much for the novice. The biggest ESA I've had to date.

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Photo of Wespatrick
2.35/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle 2009 vintage
Label says Imperial Red. Color is a little lighter than I expected. Nice orange color, but no red highlights even.
Smell is boozy. I definitely get the imperial part. Not very interesting or complex in the nose. Really just some malt sweetness and alchohol.
Taste is not good! Insanely bad in fact. Something in the finish is foul: kinda sour or astringent.
I am afraid I am going to have to drain pour this one. At over $4 for a 11.2 oz beer this is a major disappointment.
The elf beers may be fun stocking stuffers or holiday novelties, but if you're buying it for the beer inside, they are a waste.

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Photo of Mora2000
2.06/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The beer pours a yellow-gold color with a white head. The aroma is full of grain and something that resembles dirty socks. Not a nice combination. The flavor is not any better. There is some grain and malt sweetness, as well as some grass from the hops. Unfortunately, the dirty sock quality is still present. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +18%
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.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.26/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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Photo of FrognutUnl
2.57/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - Deep amber in color. Crystal clear with ½ inch white head. No lacing

S - Smells citrusy, somewhat floral and a little sour. The smell kind of makes me excited

T - Not much of the nose makes its way into my mouth, which is a shame as I was kind of excited. Taste is very syrupy sweet and the alcohol is extremely present. There is also a slight spiciness in the finish.

M - Syrupy thick.

D - Not terribly fond of this. It is extremely out of balance. Way to sweet, almost no hops, and an alcoholic burning that might have been ok except for my first two complaints.

EDIT: I let my wife have a sip, her reaction was that of a cat that just ate the most terrible thing ever followed by "Who killed a bison an threw it in a beer". Priceless.

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Photo of stereosforgeeks
3.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.1/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)
Vintage 2007
A- This beer has a mahogany red body that is clear but dense. There is a thick light tan head light whipped cream with larger bubbles pushing through. There is a sea of tine bubbles that glide up through the sides of the glass.

S- The soft dark malt aroma has a faint horehound note to it with a soft fusel alcohol hint in the finish.

T- This beer has a rich malt flavor that is mostly dry but as it warms the roasted notes come through. There is a dry toffee malt flavor with a faint sweetness as it finishes. The finish has a soft green note with a cinnamon quality and a softer malt bitterness to it. There softer alcohol fusel note comes through as well.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel as long as the head lingers and not much alcohol heat until it warms a bit. Even though it smells and taste a bit fusel it is warming in the mouthfeel.

D- This beer is well blended in flavor and smooth, making it a good sipper with just a right bit of alcohol to take the chill of the winter. I couldn't tell it was 11% until I looked at the bottle. Nothing extreme in this bottle just a tasty solid English Strong ale.

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Photo of richkrull
3.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of jbphoto88
2.26/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Insanely bad elf (vintage 2010) pours very clear with a nonexistent head. The beer is apricot in color and has some fizzy bubbles working their way up from the bottom.

The nose is like a cheap white wine. Crisp, fruity with barely a hint of grain or hop. In fact there is nothing here that really inspires me to take a sip. Hopefully the taste will brighten thing up.

Disappointing. The same crisp and fruity flavors in the nose compound themselves in the taste. A mix of apple cider and white grape juice bludgeon any flavor presence from the booze soaked grains. It's overly sweet and has a finish like a dessert wine. Yuck.

The mouthfeel is very slick and doesn't add any plesure to the drinking experience. This beer is a boozy wine flavored mess and the only insane thing about it is someone calling it a good beer. This one is a pass and almost drain pour.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.71/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice golden amber with a half finger of white that melts quickly leaving little to nothing in it's wake.

Aromas are dark candied well as a light alcohol aroma.

Flavor is sugary amber malt with dark fruits as in the aroma, finishing to an alcohol flavor and warmth.

Aftertaste is slightly sweet sugary malts as in the original taste but with nothing else to muddle the flavors.

Nice mouthfeel...this one works as an Imperial Red as advertised....too sweet and sugary to pass as an American Strong Ale....way too much syrup to pass as an English Strong Ale.

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Photo of Retroman40
2.8/5  rDev -17.4%
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.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.33/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I guess i have to go insane to enjoy the bad elf series. I beleive this one to be the best by far of the series. Pours ruby red and tranparent with a decent head. The nose does have the ridgeway funk, but its not as prominent. You can actually taste things in this one. It is quite a bit nuttier than the other elves. Strong nut flavors, and i can actually taste some hops on the finish in this one! sugary residue on the lips isnt as rotten as the other elves. A decent brew. worth a try, but i wouldnt keep one in my cellar.

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Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After having had the other bad elf beers, I had to try this one. As it turns out, it's my favorite one; and it's reminded me of how much I enjoy English ales (I've been drinking mainly hoppy American ales lately).

I opened it on a chilly night (20F) after returning home from work. It poured a clear copper body with a reddish cast and orange highlights beneath a short head of creamy white froth. The head retention was good, and it left a thick ring of creamy lace at the outset of the pint.

In the nose it's got a delightful fruitiness that includes juicy red apples and hints of soft berries. There's a rich, lightly caramelish maltiness to it, and a delicate bit of spiciness as well.

In the mouth it's full bodied and creamy smooth with lots of dextrins and just a delicate caress from the very-fine bubbled moderate carbonation.

The flavor is just as the nose suggests, with a sugary fruitiness atop a soft, sweet maltiness. The yeasty fruitiness helps give an edge to the malt, cutting through it in a way, and it's got a tickle of spiciness that helps as well. Behind that there's a flutter of leafy and softly grassy hops, and a moderate bitterness that's not really perceived until the swallow when the huge maltiness has gone. Surprisingly, it never becomes cloying. There's so much malt there, but then it fades and the earthy and leafy hop flavor remains. Of course it is also a sipper, so you're leaving the palate some time to clear before you go back for more. And that leads me to...

Drinkability. I really enjoyed the Insanely Bad Elf, and I'm going to go pick up another few bottles for the holidays (it is kind of pricey). I'm not sure I'd have two in a row, but I might. I certainly enjoyed it enough that I'd consider doing so. That said, for me, the drinkability was high. It's the kind of beer that I love to nip at while reading before bed. Quite enjoyable!

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Photo of ElGordo
4.22/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12oz bottle into a Maudite snifter. Body is a reddish orange color topped by a thin ring of off-white head, with light yet persistent carbonation. Aroma of sweet, biscuity malt, fruity hops, and faint notes of tropical fruit and bubble gum. Palate is rich and sweet up front, with notes of fruity hops and bready malt. The fruitiness lingers all the way through the finish, which is also full of nice warming - but not burning - alcohol.
Body is smooth and full, not too dense and not too foamy. This is a complex yet approachable beer, and certainly a pleasure to drink. Possibly my favorite of the holiday "Elf" series.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.4/5  rDev +0.3%

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.

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Photo of Atyoungberg
2.5/5  rDev -26.3%

Photo of blknikon
2.75/5  rDev -18.9%

Photo of aztraz
2.75/5  rDev -18.9%

Photo of Hopdaemon39
3.47/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a reddish copper color with very little head- barely any retention and no lacing. That however does not prevent it from having decent carbonation. This brew smells very strongly of light malts; there's something else there that's a little more pungent but it's hard to decipher. The taste and mouthfeel are too intricately related to me to describe separately- the first thing I notice is a wave of carbonation washing over my tongue which then dissolves into a very sweet malty alcohol taste. Certainly not something I would purchase again but it's interesting.

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Photo of russpowell
4.22/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an effervescent copper with 1 pinky of off-white head. Head vanishes quickly, viscous & just a trace of lacing

S: Some fruitty & bready notes

T: Honey, dryness, oranges & passion fruit up front. A bit of black cherry, plums & a little peach as this warms along with some leafy hops & a whisper of booze. Finishes dry with treacle, pineapple & more honey (orange blossom) & bit of scotch whiskey (peatyness & sweetness)

MF: Syrupy & chewy, reminds me of mead

Drinks pretty easy for the abv. I could see sucking back a few by the fire or with my dessert or cheese course. Solid English strong ale

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Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale from Ridgeway Brewing
Beer rating: 3.39 out of 5 with 312 ratings