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: 184 | Ratings: 302
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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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.

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Photo of samie85
3.4/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

"Vintage 2007"

A-Pours a brilliant copper color with a barely there white head.

S-Smells of deep caramel and toffee notes with some mild dark fruit.

T-Really sweet caramel and dark fruit notes with some floral hints on the finish.

M-The lowest possible amount of carbonation without being flat, with a sticky, full- bodied feel.

D-I'm not surprised that the carbonation is scarce since this is a 3+ year old beer. Drinks surprisingly well and the only indication of the ABV is in a slight warming feel in the throat.

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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

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Photo of nickthetick
3.85/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured a copper red into my duvel tulip with a finger of white head. The head doesn't leave a whole lot of head but after it slims down a little it hangs around.

S: a lot of malt sweetness right up front. The alcohol hits hard at the end.

T: once again the sweet malt is there first. There is some hoppy bitterness but its mostly overpowered by the malt and alcohol.

MF: defiantly warm and full bodied.

D: can't wait to have this next year.

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Photo of JayS2629
3.82/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark orange-red color with thin white head that fades quickly and leaves little rings of lace.

S- Sweet dark fruits, plums and cherries, caramels, spices, and citrus hops

T- Tart and sweet, bitter balanced, tart on the front with citrus notes, sweet fruit middle with cherries, plums and other dark fruits, underlying caramel background.

M- Medium balanced, slight booze burn.

D- Very sweet, but very drinkable and well masked on the alcohol for an 11% beer.

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Photo of Ghenna
3.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber in color. No head shortly after pouring

Dark fruits in the nose, a bit of alcohol, a wee bit of spice.

Taste: big malt, caramel, dark fruit, bit spice and coffee at the end of the taste. Big in terms of body, which limits drinkability, doesn't linger on the palate awful long though,

Interesting beer. Definitely more imperial than other imperial reds that I have had before. The malt equivalent of a hop bomb- malt massacre? big, complex, definitely best enjoyed while sipping. Decent beer though, I'd say a solid B despite what the above denotes.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

#16. Insanely Bad Elf. Ridgeway Brewing Company. My First English Strong Ale. I'm hoping that the intensity of this beer will bring out good flavor. 2009 vintage season.

Poured from a 12oz. bottle to a goblet at room temperature.

(Appearance) Pours a very thin head that clears within seconds. Surface is shrouded with a thin residue. Lacing is light, but there. Two tone color ranges from a light amber at the surface to a medium gold at the bottom. Beer lets light through, but is cloudy. It is very interesting. 3.5

(Smell) Interesting. Not much hops or malts present here, but a bitterness from perhaps some bitter fruits, like sour apple cider or grapes is present. I can smell alcohol and some nutty tones. Beer smells crisp and clean but light beyond the alcohol scents. 3.5

(Taste) Powerful. I get a fair balance of malts and some hoppy aftertaste, neither dominate the beer. The alcohol is not well masked, and the finish includes a heavy alcohol kick, along with some bitterness from cider, perhaps some licorice. Balance is fair, but on the bitter end. It's a curious beer. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Less carbonation than in the usual beer, but enough to give a crisp finish. Finish is dry, but not overly so. It makes it easy enough to drink. 4

(Drinkability) It's hard drinking due to being a strong ale, and the alcohol is high, but a second serving is possible as the beer is enjoyable and high enough on flavor to enjoy another. It is filling, but flavorful and exciting. 3.5

Verdict: Like strong ales? This one has a good deal of strength, but isn't overwhelming for the average run-of-the-mill drinker who is looking for something different. Heavy on the alcohol side, but a fair balance of sweets and bitters rounds out this beer well. I thought it was a pretty good strong ale for my first review. Give it a shot. B (3.55)

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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.

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Photo of Erish
3.87/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured this 11.2 oz. bottle into a Nonic pint glass.

A: clear reddish amber, an aggressive pour produced a thin one-finger head, the cap and lacing are above average.

S: raisin bread, ester-like yeast aroma, port-like oaky aroma.

T: the raisin bread, cherry, brown sugar, and a strong alcohol note are up front, loads of caramel, vanilla, and estery yeast are in the middle, and the finish has dried fruit, nuttiness, a hint of nutmeg, and and just a kiss of hop bitterness.

M: full bodied, almost syrupy, light-moderate carbonation, mouth-coating.

D: This is a full-bodied, warming, and quite delicious English Ale. Top-notch! Does that make me insane? Maybe.

[edit] after allowing this beer to warm up to proper ale temperature, it has taken on a VERY boozy character. It is still good, but this does affect my impression of taste and drinkability negatively.

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Photo of jhammel01
3.59/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a caramel goldish color. Head quickly dissipates with some lacing.

Scent is pretty interesting; grapes, hops, grain, cereal and something that is very sweet..almost like green apple.

Tastes very yeasty, lots of green apple, belgian yeast, hops and white grape. Finishes very biscuity. Overall mouthfeel is a bit watery not thats not off putting in anyway. Very complex

A very nice ale from Ridgeway. I'd buy again! Perfect for the colder weather.

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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 scoobybrew
4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - clear deep golden color with a modest head that settles into a lacing

S - yeasty esters with sweet malt scents, faint earthy hop

T - very sweet malt up front followed quickly by yeast characteristics (mostly esters, but some mild phenols), hops are faint but present on the finish

M - full body, moderate-low carbonation, hop and alcohol astringency lingers in the finish

D - This a decent version of an English-style barleywine. It is complex, but not overly so. The yeast is probably the most prominent star here, but the pale malts are rich and have their own sort of complexity. Watch out though, this one will grab you quickly.

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Photo of smcolw
2.89/5  rDev -15%
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 despainmakesbeer
3.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage. Very thick in pouring, so head or any signs of bubbles to come at pour, microscopic ring at edge of glass; even looks syrupy when it moves in the glass. Has a bright sour aroma with malt immediately following and subtle hint of roasta little after the first sweeter malt aroma. Apple also in aroma. With warmth, alcohol becomes very very present, with almost a small roasty note. Thick brownish cider color. Heavy at start, moderate carbonation. Syrupy feel when sloshing it around, but doesn't sit as heavy as I was expecting. mild to medium dry finish, slightly appley aftertaste, but aftertaste doesn't have the alcohol I was expecting it to have. Warmth bring a metallic taste to the end of a drink, more alcohol on middle and end and a little more malty sweetness to the beginning. Did enjoy the smooth finish and the ability to hide the alcohol content.

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Photo of champ103
2.71/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Pours a perfectly clear red color. A one finger bubbly white head forms at first, but recedes in a second. Light lace.
S: Sweet malt, some raisins, and lots of alcohol.
T: Follows the nose. Really sweet. Caramel and sugar are a bit cloying. Some alcohol drenched raisins as well.
M/D: A medium body that is sticky and syrupy. Hard to drink, I could not finish the bottle without the help of a friend. Not something I am coming back to soon.

Sweet malt, alcohol, and raisins. There is nothing else here. The alcohol and sweetness gets to be really over barring as I get deeper into this. Not something I would recommend.

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Photo of lou50rp
3/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Amber colored brew with a white head that quickly dissipates.
A malty sweet smell with a touch of alcohol.
Taste is sweet, fruity, a bit syrupy with hints of alcohol and hops at the end.
Medium to syrupy feel.
A decent sipping beer, but one is definitely enough.

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Photo of SickPythons
3.72/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

So I picked up this beer because I don't have the cap in my collection.

Poured into a stemmed tulip glass (the wife broke my goblet)

A nice light colored head let out a sweet aroma of vanilla, wheat, and some fruitiness.

The taste is boosey but not over the top. I am surprised at how good they made alcohol taste. A bit of caramel and vanilla play with some hop bitterness. The alcohol lingers for a while giving you that warm fuzzy feeling all over.

As for drinkablity, its a little strong to chain them together. Overall though, I was pleased and would definitely enjoy another with a friend.

On a side note, my wife even said, "not horrible." Which is a huge step up from most beers.

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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.

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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.

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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 tone77
3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. Has an amber color with a small head. Smell is very fruity, somewhat sweet. Taste also has a mixture of fruits, alcohol is present, just a bit of sweetness. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has average drinkability. Overall this is a good quality beer.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a mug. 2007 vintage.

3.5 A: Clear orange amber color. A little more than one finger of fizzy/frothy off-white head. Average retention given the ABV and not really any lacing.

4.0 S: Brandy, apple juice, muscat grape. It's a bit like DFH Midas Touch in a way. Some cake frosting, plenty of fruitiness, and a bit of alcohol. I'd classify the malts as bready, but only slightly so.

3.5 T: The taste is too much like the nose in that it doesn't have enough "beer aspect" to it. Tastes like a mead or brandy. Apple brandy is plentiful with some underlying grape again. Light caramel and sugary with perhaps a bit too much sweetness overall. This could really benefit from a few more IBUs. Given the ABV, the alcohol is pretty well hidden.

3.5 M: Medium body, but a bit cloying. Carbonation is a bit low (not unlike a mead), but good enough. Average here.

3.5 D: Not bad, but you need to be in a certain type of mood to drink this beer. I wouldn't want one of these too often. Not really that complex in taste. This offers apple brandy and too much sugar. Worth a try, but not much else.

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Photo of david18
4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ive been hearing about these beers for a while and was glad to see it in my local bottle shop. I'm not sure what the difference is between an English Strong Ale and and English IPA but I liked this a lot. A lot of flavor character while not being to overwhelming in any area. Also a very good beer to mix with others. I look forward to getting this one again.

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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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Insanely Bad Elf from Ridgeway Brewing
3.4 out of 5 based on 302 ratings.
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