I don't really like strong hops... at least most of the time they just seem to add bitterness for the sake of being bitter. In other words, most brew masters -- when they venture into the realm of the heavy-hops brew -- tend to be heavy handed and indiscriminate about adding hops. Which is probably why I've been putting off sampling Bad Elf Winter's Ale.
Ridgeway Brewing in Oxfordshire produces this seasonal ale, and it was a pleasant surprise. I fully expected the hops to dominate the ale and give me a serious case of "bitter beer face," but it didn't. It has an understated hoppy flavor and hoppier aroma. Considering what it says on the label, this was a VERY pleasant surprise:
"'Tis a heavy hand what adds the hop to this festive golden ale.Truth be told, there's near to three pounds of hops in every barrel of this treasured brew. Pull up a sturdy chair, let's fill up yer best flagonwith the season's finest natural ale, and I'll tell you a dark tale of elf and woe. 'Ere's to your elf!"
Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Color: Cloudy copper
Aroma: Complex Hops with a faint hint of citrus
Taste: Lighter than expected, especially after smelling all the hops. The hopes seem to deliver a nice, layed flavor that is more sophisticated than I expected.
Head: Thin and just barely average
Lace: Thicker than expected, considering the weak head
Carbonation: Light: dissipated quickly
Despite the lightness of the color, this is a hearty brew that is probably best suited for winter.
I give this a 7.5 out of 10.
Other reviews worth a sip: