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: 183 | Ratings: 301
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.

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

[Best served in a Snifter]

The pour was a medium brownish red with a small (less than 1 finger) off white creamy head that was mostly diminishing, reducing to a few foamy puddles and a small collar of residue producing excellent sheets of lacing.

The aroma was of a strong biscuit malt and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of caramel, toffee, dark fruit (plums and raisins), a bit of apple and had a decent alcohol scent.

The taste was sweetly malty with notes of caramel and toffee early on with the dark fruit, apple and moderate alcohol presence taking over towards the finish. The flavor lasted and average duration with a pronounced fruity alcohol flavor being most dominant.
Mouthfeel was medium in body and had a creamy-syrupy texture with a mild carbonation.

Overall a sweet and fruity brew with a good dose of alcohol, which took the edge off of the sweetness...

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.15/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

330mL bottle, year old 2010 vintage

clear reddish copper color. bone-white head of fine bubbles. boozey aroma, with some butterscotch and toffee. tastes of sweet malt, no hops. similar flavors as the smell. sweetness is just below cloying level. a bit syrupy, medium body. coats the tongue.

overall - not bad, the best of the elf series.

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Photo of TMoney2591
2.88/5  rDev -15.3%
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 doucmehu
3.1/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2010 vintage, bottle has a best before date of 9/28/2020... This is the second one I have had, first was last winter and it was average at best. Maybe I should have waited? Review to follow. Enjoying this one with a homemade red velvet cupcake w/ buttercream frosting (thanks babe)!

A: Pours a viscous, deep golden caramel with a small off-white head. Some significant lacing.

S: Sweet toffee, caramel, burnt sugar dominate. There is a hint of phenolic alcohol.

T: Very sweet all the way through, but with a belgian yeast funk and a bit of tartness in the finish. A ton of caramel clashes with dark fruity esters for an over-the-top, almost dessert-like beer.

M: Very thick and syrupy, coats the mouth to the point of needing a glass of water to wash it down. Carbonation is adequate, this is just plain sticky. Some significant alcohol burn rounds things out.

O: This makes me think of an English Barleywine blended with a Quad. In a blind tasting I would have guessed a poorly executed Quad. Its parts are decent, but they do not work well together for some reason. Something is just a bit off on this beer, and it is such a big beer that it is very noticeable and makes the beer a bit undrinkable. Fun for a try but really not something I will have again.

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Photo of LittleDon
3.73/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Crystal clear with a beautiful deep amber color. Off white head with a decent amount of lace. Honey and pears in the aroma with a hint of bourbon. Lots of residual sugars, almost candy like. Alcohol is well hidden and only shows up slightly at the finish. Medium body and light carbonation. Vintage 2011. Could have used time to develop.

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Photo of ummswimmin
3.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a single bottle of the Elf to work on rating every style on BA. I didn't know much more about this beer other than an article online mentioning that people wait in line for the release of this beer.

Insanely pours a ruddy orange, orange with a decent brown tint. I used a snifter to smell the sour, cherry, and tobacco smell.

The flavor is pretty rich. You get more of the sour and cherry. There is a lot of vineous characteristics present. There is very little subtlety in this beer.

Insanely Bad Elf was an interesting experience. I recommend trying a single bottle over picking up a six pack.

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Photo of atr2605
3.5/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours amber with a decent white head with pretty good retention that forms a small lace
S-some sweet/fruity aroma with a mixed with an earthy peat characteristic
T-Wow. tons of flavor. Starts super sweet with honey dominating the palate then combines with citrus hop bitterness that finishes with the earthy peat flavor
O-Very interesting beer with a ton of flavor. Wouldn't drink it all the time but would seek it out again

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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 whatthehull
3.64/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


A - beautiful translucent red, one finger off white head and nice sticky lacing

S - flowers, sugar, earth, pine, sweet and toasted malt, funky yeast, booze and marciano cherries

T - tons of crazy bitter hops, peat, booze, sugar, flowers, purfume, Marciano cherries, soil, bitter, malts both sweet and toasted and more boozy sweet goodness

M - full bodied, medium minis balance, tons of complexity, low acidity and long sweet boozy finish

D - this is a huge ale! Don't try if you don't like big, boozy and sweet beers. Also, a bit funky. A winter warmer/hoppy red ale extravaganza! Haha. This is a wild beer, beware

Final thought - I love this ale! $2 a pop and close to 12 percent with weird crazy and fun flavors! Wish I had a six!

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Photo of metter98
3.45/5  rDev +1.5%
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 Hopdaemon39
3.47/5  rDev +2.1%
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 Scotchboy
3.68/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Vintage, 33cl bottle poured into a New Belgium globe.

A: Pours a brilliantly clear darker gold, with a wispy bright white head that dissipates at a medium speed...good lace and alcohol legs. Very attractive beer.

S: Lots of sweetness, light toasted caramel malt, residual sugars, breadyness, floral notes, rum soaked apple skins, and some rose wine characters. A bit boozy.

T: More sweet and dry on the palette, like a thin liqueur or white wine. Fruity, dry, sugary, slightly herbal and spicy...a bit buttery. Not overly alcoholic but pretty warming.

MF: Medium thin, hot mouthfeel.

O: Reminds me a lot of Big Worst and 120 Minute, a very warming, thin malty/fruity winter brew.

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Photo of crhensel
2.8/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a light copper, with no noticeable head. The taste of the alcohol overpowered almost all other flavors. It hits you in the nose right our of the bottle and is very prevalent throughout the drink.. No real balance to speak of, but I was able to detect a little bit of a toffee and molasses flavor. Warming brought the alcohol out even more. I expected a bit of the bold flavor from an 11.2, but would have loved to see this aspect toned down a bit to let some of the other flavors shine. It is a rather sweet tasting beer, however and as a sipper spread over an evening might have some merit.

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Photo of BostonBrewins
3.49/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I received bottles of this as a Christmas gift from two different people. Who says BAs are hard to buy for?

A - Pours a crystal clear copper, slightly off white head. Good head retention. A bit of white lace.

S - Lots of fusel alcohol in the nose that overpowers everything else. Notes of toffee and molasses.

T - Very boozy, this is a big 11% beer and it doesn't pretend to be otherwise. Lots of residual sugars, tastes like a very high percentage of crystal malt; sweet toffee and caramel. Not quite fruity although there are some notes of raisins and dates. Some slick, buttery diacetyl is a welcome presence although it's very subtle. Undertones of biscuit.

M - Full bodied and too syrupy but not as much as one would expect from an 11% beer. High amounts of dextrins give it a smooth pleasant feel. Carbonation level is higher than I expected from an English brewery.

O - Might be too sweet for some, however for many this would be a nice sipper for a cold winter's eve. Very tasty but I can't help but think about how the flavors could really shine if the alcohol was dialed back a few degrees.

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Photo of teromous
3.08/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: It has a very nice overall appearance. The beer is a clear amber color, with a pink rose-like tint to it. The head is about a finger's width thick and is very fluffy. The head is white and leaves light lacing on the glass.

S: It has a very fruity smell to it. I pick up berry notes, such as raspberry and strawberry. There's a light scent of malt that has more of a toasted smell to it as well. It's hard to tell what smell they were going for, but it smells good in any case.

T: I don't get the fruity flavors that I smelled. It has a very sweet flavor, similar to sucking on raw sugar cane. The alcohol flavor stands out, overpowering some of the other flavors. It's pretty lacking on flavor in general...I get some notes of dates and even a very very light roasted flavor...but it's watered down. It's not bad...but...I don't know it just reminds me of sweet tea.

M: The mouthfeel is medium-light, with alcohol warmth. It's a very light and airy beer.

O: Overall it was very hard to decide where I stood on the beer. I like the flavor and color, but it seems very light and airy. I would drink it again but it would be on the rare occasion and I probably wouldn't stock this one.

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Photo of nitro0292
2.85/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2010 vintage. I have aged this bottle about a year. I just finished a Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot, so I have a little bit of a frame of reference for this brew.

A - Label states this as an "Imperial Red Ale." The color is not red (or even amber) so I'm guessing that despite the labeling this beer was not intended to be red. Easy pour produced a half finger of head sitting upon a transparent golden-amber body. Head fizzled out quite quickly, leaving minimal lacing. A ring of bubbles remains behind.

A - Aroma is of sweet fruity malts. Actually smells quite a bit like Blithering Idiot and Old Horizontal. Candied fruits soaked in alcohol, a mixture of apricots and dates.

T - Follows the aroma, sweet and fruity malts greet then coat the tongue. Taste drys out on the finish leaving a baby's touch of hops. Weird drying and medicinal aftertaste. I feel like I just had better-tasting cough medicine.

M - On the initial pour there was significant carbonation, but that has not held up, there is light carbonation. Mouthfeel is definitely heavy, but with almost a port-wine like syrupy and creamy quality.

Overall, this is not bad for what it is. I wouldn't but again though as your much better served by a SN Bigfoot or even a Brooklyn Monster.

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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.

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Photo of bjohn84
3.24/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - 1 finger of loose head that dissipates quickly, medium transparency. Medium brown head with reddish tint

S - Booze comes through, but brings a nice wine and raisin aroma with it

T - Booze hits slightly upfront, but really comes through on the back end with each swallow. Biscuity malts. Sweet candied dark fruit raisins and figs. No sort of hops really come through.

M - Average body and slightly sticky in the mouth

O - To sum it up on this one: alcohol, candied fruits, medium heavy stickiness in the mouth

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Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
3.15/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours deep gold into my snifter with reddish hues, less than a finger of head that had minimal retention and minimal lacing.

S - Very sweet and boozy, caramel malts, candied sugar, spice, apple, pear, and some other dark fruit.

T - Sweet caramel and biscuit malts, fermented apples, kind of like a boozy caramel or candied apple.

M - Medium, really sticky and could use some more carbonation.

O - Nothing really too exciting about this one, worth a try for something different if you don't mind the booze.

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Photo of dankster
2.96/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Clear reddish with almost no head but has carbanation

S-Holy Booze balls. Alcohol is very presant and sherry wine cask comes to me.

T-Booze Booze and Malted sherry. you can tell this one packs a punch.

M- crisp and dry with alcohol burn noted on roof of mouth.

O- Interesting beer but not for the weak. This stuff could put you in the puzzle factory after more than 1 or 2. Glad to try but a rare treat when you have nothing to do but stare at the wall. Laughing!

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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

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Photo of endincolorado
3.48/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a deep gold color with a fairly thick, bubbly white head that settles at an average rate. The body is clear and without a lot of visible carbonation. A little lacing clings to the glass.

Aroma is one of decent bready malt, with a nice, caramel sweetness. A slight bitterness is noted in the background.

Flavor is a welcome surprise after the somewhat underwhelming scent. Lots of sweet, biscuitty malt, accompanied by a great, slightly boozy bite. Some sort of sweetness lingers on the tongue and reminds me of christmas cookies (maybe it's the label).

Mouthfeel is pretty average- medium-bodied (could be a litter heavier). Carbonation is pleasant.

A pretty high ABV, though it's delivered without an overwhelming flavor of alcohol. If it came cheaper, I would buy more to sip (knowing that I will end up drooling and sitting on the floor like the elf on this label).

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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.

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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.

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Insanely Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
3.4 out of 5 based on 301 ratings.
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