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Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale | Ridgeway Brewing

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Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red AleInsanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale
304 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:
No notes at this time.

Added by fartingdog on 11-18-2007

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 304 |  Reviews: 185
Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.98/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

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Photo of spycow
3.41/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Found a line of Ridgeway Beers visiting my family over the holiday which is surprising. Drank from a american pint glass.

A - Nice amber/copper color. Poors easy. Very little carbonation or head.

S - Tries to smell like a brandy but more of molasses and sweet.

T - Starts off well. Taste like many of the strong ales I've had. Definitely a sweet taste with a hint of fruit. Even though you can taste the alcohol in the finish it still wasn't harsh on your palette.

M - Feels heavy but drinkable. Leaves an aftertaste of the alcohol but doesn't stay long. Closer to a full body finish.

D - Drinkable for this type of ale. Better than some I've had before.

Would try it again and recommend if you like english strong ales.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of metter98
3.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is crystal clear reddish amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high dense off white head that died down quickly and left a thin film covering the surfaced and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are aromas of brandy, caramel, raisins, tea and toffee in the nose.
T: The overall taste is similar to the smell and has malty sweetness along with hints of alcohol.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied, smooth and a bit syrupy on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. The beer really coats your mouth well and leaves some warming from the alcohol.
O: The beer definitely tastes strong but a good part of the alcohol is masked from the taste.

Note: 2011 Vintage

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.47/5  rDev +31.9%
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 dmorgan310
4/5  rDev +18%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of zeff80
3.33/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Poured out a clear, orange/amber color with a small, tan, foamy head. It left some lace.

S - It smelled very boozy and full of alcohol. There was a biscuity caramel maltiness in the nose, too.

T - It tasted of alcohol and very sweet caramel malt. There were some notes of vanilla and oak.

M - It was soft and very smooth. It was medium-bodied and surprisingly easy drinking despite the high ABV.

D - This comes across just too sweet and boozy to rank much higher on the drinkability scale. It was worth a try one, but I don't think I'll need another.

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Photo of superspak
3.63/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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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 dbrauneis
3.4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 Vintage

A: Pours a crystal clear deep golden copper to reddish amber in color with some light to moderate amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a quarter finger tall dense off-white head that reduces to a thin medium sized patch of larger bubbles, a very thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer, and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of brandy with some lighter notes of caramel and toffee malt sweetness. There is an underlying aroma of dark fruits (raisin) and just a hint of alcohol.

T: The taste is similar to the smell with a strong malt body made up of caramel and toffee malt sweetness. There is a definite taste of brandy and the alcohol is present. Light notes of dark fruit sweetness that is mostly raisin.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly sticky/syrupy with a moderately dry finish.

O: This is a big beer with a high ABV and it is not very well hidden - this is definitely a beer you need to sip slowly. Not the easiest beer to drink due to the strong flavors and high ABV. Glad that I got the chance to try it and it was a great deal as it was a freebie thrown in from a beer store when purchasing a bunch of others.

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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 smcolw
2.89/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Big bubbled head that dies to nothing--no bubbles and no lace. The color is an attractive dirty copper and is crystal clear.

Oily alcohol aroma; lots of caramel sweetness.

The taste of maple syrup--very sweet. Overwhelmingly cloy; it's like a drinking the beverage, Malta with two or three shots of vodka. The body is very rich and the carbonation is low.

Egads, it's too much alcohol, too much sugar, too much richness. I find it difficult to finish.

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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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Photo of woodychandler
3.56/5  rDev +5%
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!

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Photo of duceswild
2/5  rDev -41%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2013 vintage, amber color, heazy unbalanced booze, drain pour

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane."

--Oscar Wilde

Vintage 2007. This Imperial Red Ale is actually dark apricot in color. It's also glassy clear with a handful of slow bubble streams rising within. The sawdust colored head doesn't have the greatest texture, but then 11.2% alcohol tends to be a foam and lace killer.

The aroma suffers from a lack of both power and personality. Unfortunately, there's no malt-derived or hop-derived hook that makes me want to start drinking. The beer smells brandy-like (fruity), without the fusel alcohols. I'm sure it will be a different story on the palate, but there isn't much alcohol in the nose.

Insanely Bad Elf isn't crazy good and it isn't dementedly good. It's actually way too safe and way too sane. There aren't a whole lot of flavors zipping around, and the ones that are present are just okay. One positive is that it's better than the two 'Elf' beers that preceded it. Another is that the alcohol is masked exceptionally well.

Flavors include sugary grains that have been lightly toasted, white grapes and apricots in heavy syrup... and very little else. There's no hint of the rye malt that's supposed to be present. I'm reminded of a big bock more than anything else. This isn't bad beer, it's just incredibly simple beer that packs high-ABV power.

Mouthfeel is probably IBE's best feature. Having said that, it isn't good enough to earn the next highest score. Solidly medium in size, it delivers a finishing slickness that is pleasant enough. Gentle carbonation helps as well.

Hopefully, Ridgeway is finished with increasingly alcoholic variations on this theme. As far as I'm concerned, they peaked with Bad Elf and Very Bad Elf. Everything that followed has been either abysmal (Seriously Bad and Criminally Bad) or barely above average (Insanely Bad). Best to stick with Fuller's 1845 or J.W. Lees Harvest Ale if you want to experience big English ale done right.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle that was purchased around January and stored in my fridge since. Consumer on 07/10/2008.

I picked up a couple of these about six months ago on clearance as I had never had a chance to try them and it really looked quite interesting. I have had pleasant results from the rest of the elves, so why not right. Poured a very nice, deep, dark brown with lots of ruby tones mixed in throughout. A nice sized two finger head of light tan came up through the top and settled down quickly, leaving behind a nice film across the top and a good amount of side glass lace. The aroma was rich, candy sweet and mixed with a touch of alcohol. Light bready aroma lying underneath gave way to a very pronounced candied sugar like malt in the middle. Some light touches of fruit, but this was a caramel malt driven monster. Hints of alcohol in the finish, but a really nice medium body that was more then adequately carbonated was the real treat here. A very nice evening sipper that I would have no issue with repeating in the future.

Overall I thought this was excellent. Really quite different from the rest of the lineup and that was really what I was hoping for. I would have no issue with trying this one again any day. Really a top notch beer that is worth every penny.

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Photo of TMoney2591
2.88/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

Christmas never ends if you don't let it... This stuff pours a dark auburn garnet topped by a finger of dirty white foam. The nose comprises caramel, buttercream, buttery toffee, light cocoa powder, and a touch of booze. Things seem strangely clashy for such usually matching scents. The taste brings in more of the same, with the booze coming through and clashing a bit with an even stronger sweetness than before. It's an overly roasted sweetness, at that. Just odd. The body is a stolid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a lightly syrupy feel. Overall, a muddle of a beer, one that seems like it just wants to be strong for the sake of it (like a pretentious, holiday-themed British malt likkah).

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Photo of krome
4.25/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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 backend...it 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 Hopheadjeffery
3.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of ejimhof
3/5  rDev -11.5%

Photo of imbibehour
4.32/5  rDev +27.4%
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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Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale from Ridgeway Brewing
Beer rating: 3.39 out of 5 with 304 ratings
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