A Holiday Ale with Attitude
After being harassed by elves in the toy workshop and the reindeer in the stables, Rudy found his true calling in Santa’s brew house. Keeping his edge and focusing his talents, this elf created a spicy holiday brew that became a Christmas legend of its own.
A Holiday Ale with History
This fabulous holiday ale was first developed and brewed in 1999 at the Bethlehem Brew Works under original head brewer (and co-owner) Jeff Fegley. The Fegley family thought it was appropriate to create a spiced beer to help us celebrate in the City of Bethlehem, which is considered “Christmas City, USA.” It was dubbed “Rudolph’s Reserve” because the recipe required a copious amount of malt that would result in a smaller, limited batch of beer. We proudly offered it on draft exclusively in our 250 seat brewpub in the historic downtown.
Ruldolf’s Reserve returned each year in limited batches as Jeff continued to develop the (originally 9% ABV) holiday recipe, and the release of the ale became a longed-for tradition by our regulars & the tourists that flock to our popular Christmas shopping district.
In 2002, when the Reserve won the Silver medal in the World Beer Championships, the family decided to bottle a limited edition of the ale to celebrate the success of the brewpub. They turned to friend Dan Weirback, owner of Weyerbacher Brewing Co., the Easton craft brewery, and contract brewed an initial run of 250 cases of 12oz bottles.
For the original art for the beer label, we turned to another friend, R.C. Matteson of Dragon Studios, who says of his design, for the It was a great success and a quick sellout. Many a stocking was stuffed that year with bottle of the Reserve!
In 2003, we began the lengthy process of trade marking the name of our award-winning beer.
Meanwhile, Jeff tweaked the recipe to produce a slightly drier (better) finish, and we contract brewed another batch of 500 cases to establish a seasonal tradition. The limited edition bottles began to sell out at a record pace, when suddenly well into the holiday season that year, the Brew Works received a ‘Cease & Desist’ letter from Classic Media, who claimed ownership of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. (Note: The concern does have a trademark on our favorite four hoofed hero – and Lassie & Frosty the Snowman as well!)
After discussing it politely, we agreed to withdraw our application for registering the name and agreed to discontinue use of the moniker going forward. But despite losing the name, there was reason to celebrate again – the incident received national attention as the story was picked up by the Associated Press.
We lifted our glasses in a toast as a now curious public drove sales and we watched the Reserve cases …dash away, dash away, dash away all.”
Read the article – Rudolph’s ale brews up trademark dilemma, Tuesday, December 23, 2003, The Morning Call
In 2004, we conducted a ‘renaming contest’, which resulted in a winner of a new name – “Rude Elf’s Reserve,” and again hired Dragon Studios to design a new ‘Rudolf-free’ label. With further perfection, the Reserve was now a “Belgian style holiday spiced ale with attitude,” coming in at over 10% ABV, and the number of distributors that wanted to carry the ale continued to grow.
The Brew Works attempted to get the ale to the thirsty drinkers of NYC with American Beer Distributors, Inc., in August, 2005… but WHOA! Hold your horse-like antlered sleighpullers! The State of New York would not approve distribution of the Reserve because it’s label was ‘too appealing to children’ (imagine what they would have thought of the version with Santa and you-know-who)! Once again, our story was picked up by the AP for national news. Soon, emails from around the country (even from Hawaii) were coming in asking how to taste the Rude Elf’s Reserve!
In 2006, under new Brewmaster Beau Baden, the brewery began milling whole grains (which further improved the quality of all the beers of the Brew Works) and the number of cases for Rude Elf’s Reserve continued to grow.
With the opening of the Allentown Brew Works in 2007, the company began to experiment with bottling in house.
For the 2008 season, Fegley’s Brew Works began packaging a 25.4oz(750ml) corked & caged bottle-conditioned version of the Rude Elf’s Reserve in addition to it’s limited draft offering at the restaurant locations.
The following year, 2009, at the largest beer competition of earth, Rude Elf’s Reserve garnered another prestigious award when it brought the Bronze Medal back to the Lehigh Valley from the Great American Beer Festival. 750 cases of Rude Elf’s Reserve were distributed throughout eastern Pennsylvania that season, but the increased demand resulted in an early sell out…
With the introduction of a new 12oz bottling line, and building on the success that our seasonal beers had gained, the Rude Elf’s Reserve had 1,400 cases sell out.
The elves in our workshop are very busy, but just like Santa this ale comes once a year, and once its gone… HO! HO! HO!
- Passion Beer
- Eating in South Jersey – A Rude Dude But Oh So Smooth
- Don’t be Rude, sip on Fegley’s Brew Works’ Elf’s Reserve – Beer Columnist Ed Sieger
Great American Beer Festival
- Bronze Medal Winner – 2009
World Beer Championships
- Silver Medal Winner – 2002
|Malts||2-Row, Pale, Caramel|
Serve in a Tulip Glass. This big beer needs something to cut through like hot wings, BBQ, sharp bleu cheese, grilled meats. Perfect as a stand alone after-dinner drink, or nightcap.
Pours a deep chestnut ruby with a creamy tan head. The aroma is sweet with harmonic spices led by clove, then cinnamon and nutmeg. The rich body has a fine carbonation that smooths and hides the high ABV, wrapping up oh, so much holiday spice. Finishes very dry, leaving a lingering gingerbread cookie note.
Available seasonally on draft at Allentown and Bethlehem Brew Works, in 12oz and 750ml bottles, 1/2 and 1/6 bbls at select distributors. Late October through December.