Monday, February 7, 2011

Beereview: Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ale

I was in Heart's Homebrew the other day dropping off some competition entries for The Best Florida Beer Competition (hosted by the Tampa Bay BEERS). Met some guy, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, purchasing his first homebrew kit. Nice guy, I wished him the best of luck. He asked me if I had any tips to make anything easier, I made sure he got an autosiphon, and asked if he had a turkey fryer (he did). I told him he was all set to go, and to watch out, cause it's a slippery slope after your first beer . I might have also, maybe, given him a shameless plug to go to ataleoftwobrewers to read up on homebrewing stories. That's right, I have no shame.

In the meantime I also managed to pick up a couple of beers to try out for future beereviews, this being one of them. Today's beer comes all the way from Ridgeway Brewing, in Oxfordshire England. It might have been hand delivered too, because I have a strong hunch it's left over from Christmas. "Very Bad Elf" is a special seasonal ale weighing it at a lower heavyweight 7.5% ABV. The message on the back of the bottle is a reflection of ol' Saint Nick, badmouthing his elf. What's going to happen to my elf next year? Is he going to be a seriously bad elf?

That's funny.

Crazy Brits.

Anywhooo I am excited to dive in as the label describes the beer as a "rich, hardy, and flavorful" ale brewed with rare pale amber malts, with a dose of fuggles for aroma. Lets dive on in.

This beer pours a beautiful golden amber color that frankly I've never seen before. It's a very bold, and golden hue, much like a golden sunset of some amber waves of grain (I can hear the patriotic music playing now). The head is white, and quickly diminishing. The aroma smells sweetly of malt with a hint of hop flavor lingering in the nose after the sweet malt aroma recedes. It's interesting because you don't notice the hop smell at first, but after you put down the glass, a little tickle is left in your nose (maybe that's where the bad elf is playing around).

The ale is rich, with a great body (like you mo... nevermind, family environment). The presence of hops is not really noticeable, but what's really on the stage here is the malt. The malt is very sweet, it warms you up inside. After a few consecutive sips, I even notice a little alcohol heat to the beer. Very rich. I have to say I didn't buy the statement of the rare pale malts being used that was put forth on the back of the bottle. However the beer does have a very unique flavor that I'm not quite used to. I wouldn't say this beer is unbalanced, it's not overpoweringly sweet. After many more sips I almost want to say the beer has a maple syrup flavor, but not nearly that sweet.

This beer is a surprising pleasure. I haven't had a real unique beer like this to review in some time now. It's also a nice diversion from your standard spiced Christmas ale which takes it's own reindeer trodden path down a street I haven't been before. I almost forgot about the level of alcohol as well, dangerous. With an extra large 25oz bottle, I'll be enjoying this beer in front of the fire for a good portion of the afternoon. Yes, we do have fireplaces here in Florida.

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