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Advent Calendar Window 8 - Seriously Bad Elf

"But who here would ever understand, 
That the pumpkin King with the skeleton grin, 
Would tire of his crown, if they only understood
He'd give it all up if he only could."

The series of “Bad Elf” brews from Ridgeway Brewery have appeared in this calendar every year since its inception, this being the final beer I haven’t tried. Appearing like the uglier version of Wychwood’s Hobgoblin, I’ve never held out much hope for the taste of these. But these elves have been more Legolas than Azog the Defiler so far. So far…

Ridgeway still remain under the eye of former Brakspear brewer Peter Scholey. Scholey has long had a love/hate relationship with beer – I assume. Whilst he’s happy to insult you with his Ridgeway IPA and Bad King John, he is happy to give you his Ridgeway Barley Wine, to remind you that he has actually tasted beer and sometimes likes it.

The Christmas collection from Ridgeway is no acception. Whislt Scholey wants you to burn your Christmas tree to the ground with Santa’s Butt and take a flamethrower to the Christmas markets with Reindeer’s Revolt, the series of Bad Elf beers have shown that he may have once had a visit from three beer spirits, determined to show the world there was good in beer in the past, present and future.

It is with that we hope that Seriosuly Bad Elf, behind Window 8 in this Advent Calendar will be more Band Aid 30 than Band Aid II. 

Pouring like your least favourite Wetherspoon's lager, the constant bubbling over the golden hue in your glass reminds me more of a cheap Prosecco, than big beer. The nose is beer. There's wafts of aged sherry and mincemeat coming from the depths, but on the whole there's this supermarket shelf whiff of teenage ale that's been harshly subjected to severe light. The taste follows from this. This is something Ridgeway were drinking in the flashbacks with the ghosts of Christmas Beers past. It tastes old, tired and like it's been sat on a dusty back shelf in a Nicholson's run pub for many a year. There's a lot of sawdust, grass, rich tea biscuits and the ever lingering taste of bar towels. It's certainly boozy and is rescued a little by a Christmas pudding aftertaste that at least brings some festive joy to this Ould Aile. But mostly this beer is Bad. Where the other beers in this series were Bob Crockett, this is Scrooge. Where the others were Lucy-Lou, this was the Grinch. Where the others were Jack Skellington, this was Oogie Boogie. Where the other's were pigs in blankets, this is the sprout you kicked around the plate before deciding that life's too short to eat such shit. Seriously Bad Elf is not seriously bad, but it isn't very good either. "We've got a rather serious elf problem here," the label reads, just above the brewer's name. Yes, you have.

Christmas Spirit Rating: 14% BURN IT. BURN IT ALL

The terrific but lively Santa's Private Reserve from last year


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