I don’t know what Fegley’s Brew Works was going for with Rude Elf’s
Reserve, but they definitely nailed it. A lot of people might scoff at
this as being a hot mess, but I think that’s what makes it so good: a
robust, complex palate that tastes delicious despite the low
I received a 12oz bottle as a gift from friends (thanks Alex and Marissa!). I poured it into a tulip glass.
Appearance: Gorgeous shade of clear burgundy/orange. Forms a fairly
small, off-white, soapy head that almost completely dissipates but not
before leaving some lacing on the glass.
Smell: Strong banana, clove, and cinnamon notes as soon as the cap is popped.
Taste: Sometimes I don’t even understand my own palate. Normally I
dislike "spice rack bombs" that are so many Christmas beers, but for
whatever reason, Rude Elf’s Reserve is a shining exception. It does have
the usual flavors of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove, but they’re in
the "proper" ratio here (whatever that may be). The beer is also brewed
using three Belgian yeast strains which definitely imparts a classic
banana and dark fruit flavor as well. It’s Chimay White meets Scaldis
Right away there’s a strong warmth of ginger and cinnamon as soon as it
hits the tongue. Followed by spicy clove, nutmeg, hot apple cider, and a
banana sweetness towards the end. Because it’s such a big beer the
alcohol is a major flavor component, but it works wonderfully with the
palate. Slightly spiced rum with a hint of vanilla complements the
natural Belgian character well. It finishes with a cinnamon bread or
gingersnap cookie malty aftertaste, though it’s not cloying. This is a
spicy palate I can really get behind.
Drinkability: The only thing holding Rude Elf’s Reserve back is the fact
it’s a sipper. The tastes are very strong and the alcohol is prominent
as well, so it’s not a beer for newbies. There’s distinct warmth in the
mouth and in the throat, but it’s tolerable. The mouthfeel is not
spastic, though, in fact it’s on the tepid side which is interesting
considering its use of Belgian yeast. At 10.5% ABV it’s best enjoyed as a
nightcap or on a special occasion. A vintage bottle with some age could
only make it better.