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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Ratings: 303 |  Reviews: 184
Photo of BTPete
3.43/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle received during Mahar's Advent of Beer. Bottle poured to tulip.

A: See through, reddish hues. Light bubbles with a small head.

S: Boozy, spicy, and phenolic.

T: Similar to smell, starts smooth but has a big spicy alcoholic bite to it.

M: low carb, medium bodied. The carb seems to fit the ABV.

D: Not highly drinkable. Boozy and sweet. A combo that doesn't really appeal much to me.

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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.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.05/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz brown bottle. Poured copper in color with a red hue. Thin head as expected with no retention due to the high alcohol content. Aromas were sweet caramel and alcohol. Tastes were sweet also with notes of caramel and brown sugar with some spice and pepper on the finish. Alcohol is overly present here and takes away from any sort of enjoyment that this extreme ale offers. Mouth-feel was thin-to-medium bodied and was actually a little better than I expected after observing the pour. Overall, I was disappointed with this one and would not recommend it.

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Photo of froghop
3.05/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours a pale clear copper with a small beige head, and some lacing.

smell of caramel, malt, and spice.

taste is smooth, malt, caramel, brown sugar, and spice, ends creamy, and a tad bitter.

okay for an english strong ale, but more of a barleywine.

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Photo of bum732
3.78/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice burnt orange, head dissipates leaving a small white ring around the glass. Smells of sweet caramel and oxidized malt, some toffee, dark fruits, herbal hops. Tastes of sweet caramel malt with a strong dark fruit presence on the backbone. A slight herbal kiss of hops adds a bit of bitterness. Finishes quite sweet with a touch of alcohol. Nice slick body, low carbonation.

A fairly well put together beer. Very sweet without being too cloying, great full flavors. Wouldn't mind just a touch more hops to bring it all together. Definitely a sipper, but a good one at that.

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Photo of taez555
3.18/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Vintage 2007, sampled and purchased x-mas eve 2009.

This beer poured a crystal clear orange/amber body with an almost non existent head. Mostly some fine bubbles, but not abnormal at all for a beer over 11% abv.

Nose is extremely sweet and malty. Lots of candy and sugar smells along with an aged caramel malt smell. Very sugary and fruity, with a touch of apple giving it a very caramel apple sort of smell.

Taste is extremely thick and full bodied. After the initial sip it's rather depressing, not much to it at first. Big malt, but the flavors disappear quickly. A big earthy bitterness and taste, but again, sort of disappears quickly. As it warms it starts to take on more of the classic big malt flavors, but honestly it's not much more than that.

I love English beers, and I love big beers, but this just seems like a malt base waiting for something else to be added to it. I'm not really sure why I keep trying these Ridgeway Elf beers. Their novelty is just so attracting, but the taste is always lacking. Oh well.... it's only a 11.2oz. Still decent beer.

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Photo of dmamiano
3.35/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage...
no "hiss' as the bottle was opened. Oh. no?
Bright polished copper color, no head at all and slight carbonation noticed. Turned out to be ok when all said and done.
Ftuity in the nose, spicy with hints of alcohol.
Taste is much alcohol. Very sweet, no hops apparant but thats ok.
Very heavy and thick on the feel as expected.

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Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.38/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage. Cellar temp.

Poured an 11.2 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Dark amber color, tan head is short lived and quickly becomes just a ring of foam around the edges.

A bit of a cidery aroma, with some promise ripe dark fruits and a burnt caramel maltiness lurking behind. Taste starts out with apple, but quickly turns to a hop spice and bready malt, with a rush of warm alcohol and ripe fruits racing to the finish. Really none of this lingers as it finishes rather clean for a beer of this style.

Oh yeah big body and sipability is high. It's warm and inviting in appearance, not so much in aroma, but the taste is a bit redeeming. This is definitely in the Old Ale category for me, not sure how it could be listed as an English strong ale. The ABV alone is old ale/barleywine territory but it definitely has the taste of other old/stock ales I've had.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.92/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I drank this from a 12 oz bottle into a Rochefort chalice.

The beer pours a very watery, clear light amber with a white head that is gone instantly with no lacing.

The aroma is light but very sweet with lots of apricot, candy and a tinge of alcohol. There is slight touch of spice.

The taste is decent with lots of sweetness on the front but I can't totally place it, its kinda of like apricots but not entirely, maybe apricots mixed with apples and lots of candy. Sadly, the end of the beer has lots of alcohol which is a little offputting.

The feel is really light and too watery to be great.

Its decently drinkable for the abv.

I wasn't expecting much here but I was surprised. It has a unique sweet flavor and is pretty drinkable.

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Photo of MisterSH
2.97/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2007 vintage bottle into a tulip.
Pours amber red with the most minimal head that's gone in under 3 seconds.
Smell is wine-like, sugary sweet and alcoholic, bready malt in the background, perhaps some notes of caramel, no hops to speak of.
Taste is syrupy sweet with a lingering burn of alcohol on finish that mingles with a sort of sugary burn left on the back of the throat. Pretty heavy on the diacetyl, candy-like, also a slight earthiness offering a welcome break from the intense sweetness mid-sip, however it comes back full bore immediately after. The finish is quite strange, with an overwhelming artificial-tasting sugaryness reminiscent of candy, some rather unwelcome bitterness that is neither flavorful nor well integrated, and a fairly detectable alcohol presence that doesn't quite qualify as "hot".
Mouthfeel is chewy and syrupy, a trait exaggerated by this beer's near complete lack of carbonation.
Drinkability is certainly low. Uncomfortably sweet, with a high ABV and exceptionally viscous body...
Overall this is pretty poor. I suppose I wouldn't mind trying a fresh one, but frankly I can't imagine it was every too tasty. Far too sweet and syrupy for my liking.

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Photo of Troy518
2.97/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: Coppery, amber, orange, dark golden, with minimal head, clear

S: Alcohol, neutral malt, apple, slight yeast, candy, marischino cherries, juicy fruit

T: Candy apple, alcohol burn, grape, either not much else going on or the alcohol and candy taste is getting in the way, phenolic, pleasing bitterness on the finish

M: Thick, viscous, syrupy, low bite from the carbonation

D: One and done!

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Travlr
3.18/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is glow-in-the-dark orange, very clear, minimal head that evaporates in seconds, and scant lacing.
Smell is butterscotch and caramel.
Taste is strong alcohol, scotch, and sweet dark fruit. Slight edge of bitterness and a dryish finish.
Strength is too obvious, so drinking it is a bit of a chore.

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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.

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Photo of Dodo2step
3.28/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

P- Brass Rail

A- a clear amber pour with little carbonation and minimal head. No lacing, nothing.

S- strong plum aroma and other fruits. Dark candied fruit i should say. Malts and alcohol.

T- a dark fruity flavor and the plum comes out in the mouth as well. A strong presence of alcohol as well. Very boozy and fruit.

M- alcohol and sourness. A strong coating of alcohol and the plum.

D- this bad boy is strong. The strong overpowering presence of the alcohol takes away for me. It feels like im drinking a mixed drink of rum and beer.

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Photo of csmiley
3.44/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - This beer pours crystal clear and a bright amber color. Could be some orange in there as well. The off white head is practically non-existent. it tops out at a thin cap and sticks around for about fifteen to twenty seconds before settling to a fine ring around the top of the beer. Lacing is very light which is a surprise given the head. This category could use a tweak or two.

S - Dark fruit starts it all off. Dark cherry and plum are pretty easy to pick out. Very distinct saltine aroma come in about midway with a touch of alcohol that kind of rides the aroma til the end. Finishing it up is a deep bready aroma that has a little grain in with it.

T - Flavor has a big bread and alcohol bang pretty quick out of the gate. Could be somewhere between sweet bread and doughnut. Fruit comes in as well with hints of plum and date. Alcohol stops by midway and hangs out for a while. Light caramel and just a little bit of spice finishes it up along with some alcohol heat. Might be a good idea to tone down the heat to a level that is more warming.

M - Fuller bodied with next to no carbonation. Finish is very sweet at first and then the heat just takes over.

D - Drinkability is not all that great. Average...maybe. Some of the complex aromas and flavors are present in this beer that would make it a pretty solid brew but the 11.2% is a real kick in the teeth. Actually it just comes across as slightly out of balance. With a couple mild changes this could be aa very nice brew. Or maybe a couple years in the cellar would help too. At this point though, not a beer I would seek out again.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
3.22/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 2007 vintage label on the bottle. I got this at beer world in Largo FL.

Pours a clear amber color with an off white largely bubbled colored heading,that disapates to nothing.

Smell is big in maltiness with a heavy fruity aroma no hops present.

Taste is very fruity with a big boozy bite (definetly a sipping beer) very heavy like a syrup, some hops tasted but can't compete with the amount of alcohol.

Mouth is very smooth hardly any carbonation-medium bodied.

Drink is good but I surely couldn't handle more than a few.

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Photo of JMBSH
3.82/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Copper color. Pours about a finger of head that almost instantly disappears.

S - Sweet malt scent with a touch of fruitiness.

T - I expected the high alcohol to come forward right away but that is not the case. Oh, it does appear but not until I have had a few sips. First up is the malts. They are sweet but not as much as I had smelled. I am really having a hard to describing the balance between the malt character and the "afterburn" of the alcohol. It's alcohol hides the hop bitterness but for a holiday ale I like that. It reminds me of different liquors like brandy.

M - Smooth with the warming touch of the alcohol. Perfect for the cold winter nights.

D - Very drinkable. Not one to have more then one if you need to hit the road afterwards but if you are home for the evening... Well, I could be tempted to having another.

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Photo of morimech
3.8/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper color with minimal head and lacing. A thin layer of bubbles lingers on top. I get a lot of alcohol in the nose. Some sweet malt and fruit is also noted. This beer comes alive a little in the flavor. Instead of a hot, boozy affair, there is a solid sweet malt base with hints of apricot and pear. A definate alcohol warmth at the end. Solid body with a creamy texture. Low carbonation lets of flavors soak in the mouth. Too much alcohol for a regular drink but a good beer if looking for something with a kick.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.4/5  rDev 0%
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 williamherbert
3.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is clear, glassy triaminic orange. Head blooms early, then shinks. Looks almost immotile.

The aroma is of sour cherries. Heavy, grainy barley. Dark grapes. A little bitterness with warmth, like cranberry juice. A little flowery, like a rose.

Heavy dark cherry and grape. Maple syrup and vanilla. Heavy grainy barley. Sweet grenadine liqueur. Some honey.

The feel is thick and slippery. Oily and slick like honey. Very strong, thick, sweet and decent. Too strong for repeats but a good one-off.

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Photo of GreatWeisseHope
3.94/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Used a Karmeliet goblet for the pour. No head over an orange-brown filtered ale. No foam to create any lacing.

Aroma shows evidence of the alcohol level here: big. Warm, rich dark fruit, malty-sweet, a bit oxidized.

Solid flavors. Big malt, plum, alcohol, fruity.

Medium to low carbonation. Good for the style. Quite caprylic--waxy on the tongue. Not cloying, which is nice for the strength of the beer. Definitely a kick in there!

A good brew for a mellow evening. Not something you can knock back more than two during a sitting. Pretty nice.

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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 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 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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Insanely Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
3.4 out of 5 based on 303 ratings.
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