Insanely Bad Elf | Ridgeway Brewing

183 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 183 | Ratings: 301
Photo of DarthKostrizer
1.8/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Vintage 2010

Look: Candy orange color with no head on a hard pour

Smell: The nose has some caramel malt and some alcohol

Taste: Weird orange candy flavor with quite a bit of alcohol on the back end

Mouthfeel: Thin body and no carbonation

Overall: This beer is honestly a hot mess

 284 characters

Photo of KCHopHead
1.9/5  rDev -44.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Appearance - Interesting. Completely transparent amber with almost no head.
Smell - Alcohol and candy.
Taste - Very sweet. Tastes like wine with a mix of hard alcohol and beer.
Mouthfeel - Very thin and flat.
Drinkability - Poop. This "beer" needs an overhaul.

 261 characters

Photo of jgap
1.94/5  rDev -42.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Consumed on 12/18/08. This beer is insanely bad! So bad, in fact, that after joining BA almost a year ago without any motivation for reviewing, it motivated me to start simply to warn my fellow beer connoisseurs. I almost grabbed the barleywine from this series and i wish i had instead of this one because i doubt it could be worse than this. I'll be the first to say, 'to each his own' and there are plenty of things I do contrary to popular opinion on this site (ie aging maharaja) but in my personal opinion, this beer is simply really bad. The appearance is dark brown-red with virtually no head. The smell is nothing particularly unique, rich in malt and alcohol. But the taste is simple, flat, and completely unimaginative. I'll admit the alcohol burn was very slight which is pretty impressive for something this big. But the complete and utter lack of carbonation (which I didn't even think I would care about) and the foul aftertaste of stale beer are quite enough to motivate me to write this review. I truly hope this is helpful and while I have not tried the other beers from this brewer, I'm willing to bet that they are better than this. Moral of the story: get the barleywine.

 1,192 characters

Photo of dnichols
1.98/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I poured a 12 ounce capped bottle into a chilled chalice.

A: It poured a clear red hue with barely any head that produced no lacing.

S: It had a yeasty aroma with a strong almost sticky cherry fruit aroma. Quite frankly it reminded me of children's cough medicine more than a fine barley wine.

T: It is all about the sticky sweet cherry and ripe fruit flavors. It has a strong medicine flavor that is high in alcohol and sticky syrup.

M: A moderate bodied brew dominated by sticky sweet mouth feel. It had a fairly clean and warm finish but it was hard to shake the cherry syrup flavor that lingered long after the drink was finished.

D: Good marketing that is pushing a beer that is difficult to tolerate even as a sipper and never more than one in a holiday season. It is insanely bad...I'd almost prefer a health dose of cough syrup.

 844 characters

Photo of beerwolf77
1.99/5  rDev -41.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Time to notch another style of the list. Picked this up during the holidays. 2010 vintage. Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A: Crystal clear golden amber. Solid three finger off white head. Good retention. Thick sticky lace clings to the glass.

S: Sweet spicy malt greets me initially. Once past that the booze comes on strong. Hints of dark fruit and bread crusts.

T: Sharp bitterness is only cut by the full on hot alcohol burn. This must be what wood stain tastes like. Maybe a touch of dark fruit in the finish. Although it's awfully hard to pick out.

M: Thin and lightly carbonated body.

O: I would like to try another beer in this style to see if this is what it should taste like. Something tells me this is just a very poor representation.

 764 characters

Photo of Mora2000
2.06/5  rDev -39.4%
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.

 350 characters

Photo of TAMU99
2.06/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a reddish/amber with a thin head. Had a bit of a syrupy appearance on the pour. Thin to no head, minimal lace. Smell is non-existent, maybe some alcohol in there. Taste is slap-yo-mama alcohol. Whoa. Astringent and bitter, but not a good hop bitter. Kinda chemically. As for mouthfeel, remember that syrupy pour? It kinda coats your mouth. There are malt and hops in there, but the thick mouthfeel and overpowering alcohol make this red difficult to drink, so in the end you just don't care about the rest.

 512 characters

Photo of aasher
2.1/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This beer pours a bright amber in color with a light white lacing around my snifter and is very translucent. The nose is of cinnamon, nutmeg, and I initially got some smoke. The alcohol isn't present at all but the aromas themselves are muted. It tastes of watered down spices mixed with honey tea. It is just a weird mix. The alcohol again isn't present at all and I'm hard pressed to believe that this is really 11.2%. It drinks light in body and is overly sweet. This beer just isn't worth my time. It's a drain pour, just an overmalted simple winter warmer.

 561 characters

Photo of IHC
2.15/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Appearance- For a red ale it certainly didn't pour very red. It had a slight red hue, but it was more of a golden or amber color.
Smell- right off the bat you can smell the booze, when you sniff this beer the alcohol is immediately present and the taste follows the aroma.
Taste-very heavy on the booze and I feel that it heavly takes away from what could have been a great beer.
Mouthfeel/drinkability- while I still managed to finish the bottle I would not recommend this beer to anyone who wasn't a big beer drinker. I love all kinds of beer especially strong ones but this beer was just too much, its not very drinkable and its mouthfeel is not that enjoyable. Disappointed for the first time by ridgeway

 709 characters

Photo of xsists
2.15/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

A - Deep dark amber color. Small amount of head that dissipates quickly.

S - Sweet alcoholly scent. I get a lot of grape smell, almost like champagne.

T - Very sweet. Loads of malt in this one. I get a grapey citruis taste and it follows through to the finish.

M - Thick and sugary. Carbonation is present as well.

D - I did not like this. I actually did not drink it all the way through. Will not look this direction again.

 429 characters

Photo of stcules
2.21/5  rDev -35%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Deep red color, bright. It has an average white foam.
In the smell it tends to be malty, and oily. Sunflower seeds, too!
Overall, heavy and boring.
Ok, it has 11.2 ABV, yes, but it is too alcoholic, with fusels, pear. In the end, quite boring, and not easy too drink.
Winter beer, yes, it warms, yes. But not too pleasantly.

 336 characters

Photo of Overlord
2.23/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Drain pour. Only the third or fourth time that's happened with the hundreds of beers I've purchased with the intent to review.

Pours a moderately attractive deeply reddish amber. No real head, just half an inch or so of white foam.

Smells okay, sweet malt and a sweet, sweet fruit smell. Almost like cherry extract. The taste is horridly sweet. Overly cloying with syrupy grenadine-esque cherry flavoring and/or plums, malt that reminds me of candy caramel, and a raw booze background. The mouthfeel was decently thick.

This beer needed carbonation and some balance to it.

 577 characters

Photo of BeerBobber
2.24/5  rDev -34.1%
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.

 749 characters

Photo of jbphoto88
2.26/5  rDev -33.5%
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.

 868 characters

Photo of RedneckBeerz
2.3/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Amazingly high abv., higher than most Barleywines that I am use to. Trying this one in between a comparison of Founder's Breakfast Stout and Old Rasputin (yeah I KNOW, they are different styles).

Label stamped 33F06 C9 2!

Poured a 12 oz. bottle into a Lagunitas mason jar/pint glass and the brew was a clear reddish amber color with a small off white head producing a slippery lacing on the glass.

The smell is amber malts and rye, a nice aroma.

Cough, hack, cough !! Syrupy, alcoholy, medicinal, harsh, thick. This is waaay out of bounds for this style and perhaps outside the bounds of Beer in general.

It reminds me of a nasty cough medicine that had harsh herbs and a couple of tablespoons of kerosene added to it.

The mouthfeel is harsh, thick and cloying.

After 6 sips I will bury this one into the depths of the Greensboro Water Treatment Plant. This is a solid D brew for me, and hoping that I never walk this way again.

 946 characters

Photo of donmonkey1
2.32/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Appearance: Nice clear amber But the head dissapears in no time.

Smell: Molasses

Taste: Unbelievably sweet. Like molasses, but not nearly as strong. Kind of like really sweet caramel.

Mouthfeel: Water

Drinkability: Too sweet.

This is a crappy beer. It isn't terribly offensive, but definately sucks.

 304 characters

Photo of harrymel
2.34/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Reviewed from notes: 12/20/10
12oz bottle for $4 at Huck's in Spokane, WA

Vintage 2007

Poured from bottle to Sam Adams signature glass.

A: Orange, red ale with excellent clarity. No head - as expected. No yeast in glass or bottle - must have been micro-filtered and forced carbonated.

S: Cherries, malt, orange, orange pekoe tea dominate the nose on this one. Not bad. Reminiscent of Imperial Red style. Sweeter malt background.

T: The sweetness of the malt is painted with herbal hop notes, earthy. Unfortunate copper, iron, chemical flavors seem to dominate this beer. Little to no hop flavor.

M: Medium body, low carbonation. Standard aged ale feel here.

D: I'm glad I only picked up one of these. Doesn't meet my expectations for a well aged beer. Quite the let down.

 778 characters

Photo of Wespatrick
2.35/5  rDev -30.9%
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.

 629 characters

Photo of DawnL
2.46/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Nice brown color with minimal head that dissipated at first to sticky lace and then nothing. It was a 2007 vintage, so I figured the carbonation would be a little less on top of the high abv.

The aroma was heavily alcohol driven with a sweet backdrop that was hard to discern.

The taste was of caramel or butterscotch mixed with cherry cola. It was very sweet with equally sweet cherry character.

The mouthfeel was pretty average. Not too much carbonation, but definitely not flat.

The drinkability was poor. It was tough getting through the 6oz pour. Good thing I shared the bottle - there was no way I could have finished 12oz.

I would not purchase this beer again.

 672 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.47/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from an 11.5 oz bottle into a pint glass. Emerges clear and amber in color. A decent sized white head forms put is quite thin and disappears abruptly, becoming small bubbles on the surface.

Aroma is sweet and alcoholic. Smells like a cheap malt liquor. Malt liquor with more caramel and more fruitiness. Bleh.

More malt liquor on the flavor. Very sweet and very fruity. Not overly hot as far as the alcohol is concerned. Definitely taste the alcohol and it is quite warming.

If you like sweet and alcoholic, thin feeling beers, this is up your alley. Thin on the mouthfeel and the alcohol is very evident. Think Fruit punch with everclear and a touch of "caramel sweetness". Really didnt like this one.

 715 characters

Photo of budgood1
2.52/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

pours out of the 33cl. bottle a clear, vibrant bronze colour, with pretty thin fizzy head. sweet malty aroma...a bit leathery, medicinal, and fruity. taste is of sweet ripened fruitcake with subtle woody hints. a hint of spice, maybe some rye notes. it's boozy sweet with a hint of some herbal hop leaf bitterness. the mouthfeel is slick and sticky sweet, like liquid candy. the overall body seems lacking for an ale of this ABV, but if this really an imperial red ale, i suppose this could pass. i think. for an english strong ale, i think one could expect more body and soul. regardless, the fact that this concoction seems raw and too sweet, without any bottle conditioning, makes for an out of balance sticky mess. one bottle of this and my curiousity has been satisfied.

maybe some cellaring would smooth it out? i dunno.

can't recommend, but i suppose it's worth trying once. and maybe worth cellaring just to see what happens.

oh yeah, and you get another x-mas themed bottle with a disturbed looking elf in a straightjacket. awesome.

 1,045 characters

Photo of FrognutUnl
2.57/5  rDev -24.4%
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.

 748 characters

Photo of SuperSpy
2.57/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz brown bottle with a best before date of 20 September 2020. The bottle also says vintage 2010, so yes it's a little young. I'll revisit this in another year or two.

A - The beer is a crystal clear copper with a three-finger head that dies rather quickly but clings to everything it passes.

S - This is an incredibly weak aroma for the style. There is plenty of alcohol in the aroma but the only other smells are a little bit of sweet malt and a hint of toffee. They're there but they're almost undetectable.

T/M - Incredibly sweet, fruity and bready. I taste cherry, apple, pear, white grape and fig. The sweet fruit flavors dominate, but sit atop bready, biscuity malt and a warming alcohol flavor/sensation. All of the sweetness is followed by a bit of bitterness from the hops, but the hops stand no chance against this much sweet malt. The full bodied beer has so much unfermented sugar that my lips keep sticking together like I've been chugging syrup. Ridiculously sweet and the alcohol is stronger than most of the other flavors.

D - Not so sure this is worth the price. However, I think this will be much better in a year or two. I will keep a few bottles of the 2010 batch around and try to open one around Christmas 2011 and 2012.

 1,282 characters

Photo of joepais
2.58/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Enron for this one. Bottle poured into a strait pint glass produced a short lived white head on a clear red body brew. The head left no lacing at all it just went away to nothing.

This this smelled like sweet malts right out of the gate no hop profile at all.the flavor matched the nose just sweet and sugary. I was wished there was even some alcohol heat on this to off set it. There was little carbonation after the initial pour and the feel was a solid medium in my mouth.

This brew was very one definitional sweet. I think it was to coy to drink more than one. This one was a one and done for me

 611 characters

Photo of Chico1985
2.62/5  rDev -22.9%
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.

 1,320 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Insanely Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
3.4 out of 5 based on 301 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.