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Insanely Bad Elf | Ridgeway Brewing

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Insanely Bad ElfInsanely Bad Elf

Brewed by:
Ridgeway Brewing
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by fartingdog on 11-18-2007

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Reviews: 182 | Ratings: 297
Photo of Blakaeris
4.52/5  rDev +32.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours clear red-copper with only slight carbonation. Head is crisp and white with decent lacing.

Aroma is sweet, bready caramel malt. Juicy with light fruit, and understated earthy nuttiness and only a mild alcohol sting.

Taste is sticky sweet. Brown sugar and toasted malt. Light fruit bathed in rum. Mild earthy hops bring balance. Finish is a little spicy with a pleasant alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Soft and smooth.

This beer really surprised me. Great quality. Flavors are unified with no harshness at all. The alcohol is amazingly well hidden making this one so easy to drink. This is a winner.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.47/5  rDev +31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The latest in the 'Bad Elf' series, and likely the best. The previous Elf's became more cluttered and rough as the alcohol increased and the flavors intensified. But this one is different. A sweet, bready, toasty aroma shows no hint of higher alcohols or abrasion. Flavors are malty sweet, but the toasty character keeps the beer from cloying sweetness. Hopped for a bitter balance and little sweetness -- but never competes with the complex malt profile. As the beer warms, a sweet rum-like alcohols adds to the mix in favorable light. Well melded fruitiness complement the heavy malts well. Never fusal, phenolic, and moderately estery. Smoothly textured, but not without strong malt textures, and alcohol warming. Finishes toasty-sweet and warm. A very good beer, despite the intimidating namesake.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.41/5  rDev +29.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a two finger cream head that fades slowly to a ring leaving some lace. Nice crystal clear reddish amber color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Caramel nose. Flavor is sweet caramel but it is balanced with hops, not cloying, clean finish. High ABV is hidden but is warming. Best before Sep 2020. $5.00 for a 330ml bottle from Tully's Beer and Wine Wells, ME.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.37/5  rDev +28.5%
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!


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Photo of scruffwhor
4.37/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Looks medium brown from the top f the beer, when held to the light it looks like a syrupy amber with a little ruby mixed in. Loomkssort of a barley wine The aroma has lots of dark, deep fruits. Figs, brown sugar, and plums. The first sip gives off notes of plums, prunes, and frozen grapes. Lots of carmelized malts and sweet syrup. The alcohol intgrates very well with the sweet flavors in this beer. A little nutty sweet on the finish with a very smooth warmth. Great sipping beer.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +27.9%
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 BeerManDan
4.35/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite Christmas Ale's. The color was a reddish mahogany color with no foam and not a drop of lace. But, the roasted malty caramel flavor made up for it. Along with a hint of sour apple and just a well balanced strong ale. It didn't have that alcohol bite even with the 11 plus percent alcohol content. Expesensive, but well worth the price.

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Photo of becktone
4.35/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes 12-22-08

Eye: As I smell the beer I look at the pillow on my bed...created by wrinkles and a stain (beer, sweat, I dunno) it looks like the Daredevil....interesting. Bottle states vintage 2007. Real nice on the eyes. Perfectly clear and lively looking as bubbles continusously race to the top of this amber/red ale. Head formation was nice, but retention could use some work. It has settled to a thin blanket over the brew. Lacing is a solid wall, thicker where the beer rests for a minute between sips.

Nose: Spicy, malty and sweet. This one has a great aroma. Very nice aroma, something very familiar, yet I can't put a finger on it. Candy like almost, like candied apples. I'll wager that some kind of sugar was used to brew this, only that can give a beer this aroma...plus its logical, high abv, good aroma. Damn, it right there, on the front of my brain, can't nail down that aroma, some fruity tones in there as well. Maybe the aroma of Queen Anne's chocolate covered cherries, though toned down a bit, less chocolate more cherry, well pretty much no chocolate. Really nice though, pretty potent, don't have to work to get anything out of this one. Very pleasing and appetizing.

Tongue: Sweet malt character is dominant, that aroma I can't identify is in the flavor as well. Alcohol is noticable and helps to balance the brew. Hop bitterness is noticable and helps along with alcohol to balance the huge malt profile of this brew. Hop flavor is in here as well. Citrusy and grapefruit are what I get, however their flavor plays behind the alcohol flavor when it comes to balancing. This is a really nice brew. Can't get enough of it. Some diacetyl in there, but its taken me half the glass to pick up, just a hint, which adds some depth to the brew, slight notes of butterscotch.

Feel and Drinkability: Low carbonation and a medium body, a bit warming as it goes down. Very nice brew, well crafted and well drunk. The finish doesn't last that long, whole lot of nothing after its swallowed, it leaves the palate feeling empty and dry, there is very little if any flavor that lasts after it is swallowed. The finish isn't dry, but the lack of any lasting flavor gives a weird sensation that I've not encountered before-maybe a swollen tongue but not swollen because its parched, a full throat, like all the muscles are a bit larger...this isn't a bad thing, it just makes me want to take another drink. This is one that I'll most definitely buy again, a great beer, give it a shot.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.32/5  rDev +27.1%
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 smakawhat
4.32/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Bottle marked as Vintage 2010.

A two finger head off white, kind of small, foamy, sits on a simple dark amber body. Some rising carbonation, crystal clear pretty straightforward looking.

Bouquet is a sweet a little sugared soft apple (red). Cherries, and strong malt presence. Clove spices and a bit of heat. Very nice.

Taste brings a real juicy palate. Nicely big cherry palate, chewy bursting fruit juice. Heat of barleywine sense, and rich malts also. Texture is almost velvety, rich and silky with no sense of carbonation it seems. Honey on the finish sweetness but nothing cloying.

A very good English strong ale, very enjoyable hope the others in the series are just as good.

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Photo of bitterthebetter
4.3/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage

pours a light reddish brown with off white head, notes of good lacing

aromas of spice, hops, caramel, mild fruit (raisins?) barleywine-esque

good malty body upfront with caramel, slight spices like cloves and faint nutmeg, slight piney hops on the finish, slight sweet fruit finish as well

a bit sugary but seems that lot is going on, kinda hard to pick through it all. Really quite smooth for the 11.2 ABV, albeit a bit sugary, but not hot on the mouth. finish quietly lingers pleasantly. nice warming effect as well

really quite smooth, id say its more like a barleywine than a red, not dry or hoppy like most American red ales, but there's a lot going on and its fun to try to decipher it all. good malty body, interesting spices, good fruit, definitely original. Overall, smooth but it could still use a bit more time for the sugars to die down, but I would drink another in a flash, 3.99 for 11.2ABV and I look forward to putting a few away.

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Photo of baos
4.25/5  rDev +25%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

TGS bought this for EEK for Christmas!!
12 ounce bottle into Falstaff goblet.

A: Nice deep copper color with a 1 finger head on the pour. That dwindles down the slightest little film. Bits of lacing here and there but not much.

S: Nice malty and dark fruit preserves notes. Maybe a hint of fruit liqueur.

T: Lots of malts in there with a yeasty cherry pie spice to it at the get go then it goes to hints of cherry liqueur then if you sit a bit and let it mellow on your palette it dries out and you get a bit of hops and a nice dry finish. A really enjoyable robust beer!

M: Nice medium to full body on this bad little elf.

D: At almost 12%, one warmed me up rather nicely, but I could muster four or five if a celebration was in order!

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.23/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

appearance: Very nice red, absolutely clear with a reasonable creamy head (for a +11%). Not sure what an 'Imperial Red' is but it ought to look like this.
smell: malty, spicy, that buttery edge a good barleywine or aged ale sometimes has.
taste: As the nose advertised, but...surprisingly (given the creepy nutso elf and the Santa visiting the asylum read on the bottle) it's a little subdued.
mouthfeel: medium creamy with moderate carbonation.
drinkability: Amazing here. Alcohol is really masked. Maybe the insanity starts after downing a few.

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Photo of warmstorage
4.23/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 ounce bottle, $5.99 (I think?) from Brown Jug Warehouse, Anchorage, Alaska. Bottle states Vintage 2007.

Appearance: bright clear deep orange with visible small carbonation bubbles.

Aroma: caramel sweetness and sugary candy sweet. Very slightly metallic.

Taste: deep tangy sweet fruity, and sweet, and candy, and sweet caramel. Full and spicy and tangy and sweet all at the same time, an delicious.

Mouth: Bright sharp warm alcohol, but not necessarily as hot as one might think for 11.2%. Almost syrup mouth competes with the tingly heat. Nice.

Overall: Delicious, full, warm, sweet English style barleywine with a strong sweetness. Very, very nice and something I'd absolutely buy again, even at a very high price per bottle.

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Photo of ElGordo
4.22/5  rDev +24.1%
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 russpowell
4.22/5  rDev +24.1%
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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Photo of mhewes
4.2/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A : Pours a nice reddish amber color with a nice little head

S : Fruity with some strong malt aroma

T : Good malt flavors, picked up some apple also. Don't really taste the alcohol that much

M : Creamy and smooth

D : I really liked this one and would drink it again.

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Photo of steve8robin
4.17/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this last year and loved it. Haven't done the official review yet. 2010 version, 12oz bottle...

A: A medium bronze iced tea color with a 1/2 white head that fades at a decent pace. It leaves a lace on top of the brew. Decent.

S: I get sweet sugary bready malt upfront with hints of caramel and vanilla followed. Good.

T: Tastes like a long island iced tea upfront. Very strong sugary tea flavors with a boozy bite. Some sweet malt sugars in the middle with some breadiness hidden on the backend. Very good.

M: Full bodied with a perfect carbonation balance. Ok finish. Good.

D: Once you get past the sweet booze bite, this goes down. Good.

All in all, this is a good brew. I'd definitely try it again. It's not perfect, but a good winter brew to have at least once every season. If you don't like sweet beers, then don't bother.

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Photo of kvnstfrd
4.17/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a 12 oz. snifter.
Deep copper color with a 1 finger head on the pour. Some lacing, but not much. Aroma has notes of fruit preserves or maybe fruit liqueur. Big, malty flavor with hints of fruity liqueur, then it mellows on your palette to a dry, clean hop finish with noticeable alcohol. Mouth-feel is thick and full bodied; very lightly carbonated. This beer really fits an English Barleywine flavor profile more so than an English Strong Ale. Whatever the intended style, this is an amazing beer.

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Photo of WorldWideStout
4.14/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance is like that of an amber ale, no head really.

Smell is very sweet and malty; you also notice the alcohol's presence, a bit of a medicinal smell like you get in some barleywines, and there's a bit of cherries in there as well.

Taste is fairly similar to the smell - sweet and malty. It is a bit tart right at the start, but that soons dissipates. The middle is all sweetness, and the finish is similar, with a bit of an alcoholic hint.

Mouthfeel is pretty regular, which is surprising considering the beer's strength.

For its alcohol level this beer is quite light and easy to drink.

I don't think I will buy this again if I have to spend $7, but I enjoyed it. It reminded me of the same brewery's beer Lump of Coal. Stay away from this beer if you don't like sweet!

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Photo of Gehrig
4.13/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Excellent presentation, with a finger of white head topping a ruby red body--tap three times and there's no place like home. Lots of English hops, cherry, spice, and other fruit dominate the nose, though none is too prominent to take control of this beast. This is smooth and flavorful, but needs something to step forward and set the tone. It could use a little more complexity.

For a very high ABV, this is smooth, delicious, and easy to drink at a fast clip. It's impressive, delicious, and a bit dangerous. I was hoping for a bit more character. Yet this is still very tasty, and well worth buying.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.12/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice clean/clear golden orange/amber color, nice carbonation, nice litte fizzy off-white head, which does leave some minimal sticky lacing. The nose is very nice, malty, some dark fruits especially cherries, slight spices, and caramel. The taste is sweet, malty, sour (cherries), and some caramel. Medium body. The alcohol is hidden very well for a brew this high in ABV, very well. Drinkable, this is a very tasty brew, recommended for sure.

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.12/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, dark amber-orange. Small head drops fairly quickly to a little film.
Smell is malt, oak, vanilla, spice, apple, raisin, hint of hops. Great balance.
Taste is malt, oak, vanilla, raisins, some alcohol & yeast. Wonderful balance.
Rich and creamy, smooth, light effervescence, full-bodied. Warms mouth and throat. An amazingly good beer.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.1/5  rDev +20.6%
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 TruePerception
4.07/5  rDev +19.7%
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.

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Insanely Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
3.4 out of 5 based on 297 ratings.
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