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Dark Horse 4 Elf - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Dark Horse 4 ElfDark Horse 4 Elf

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

414 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 414
Reviews: 141
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 12.4%

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  8.75% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: granger10 on 11-27-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 414 | Reviews: 141 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of paxtonthegreat


5/5  rDev +31.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Easily my favorite winter beer ever along with Samichlaus. This strong winter warmer packs in tons of flavors reminiscent of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and allspice. Every winter I frequent dark horse a lot to get my hands on lots of this. Like I said, best winter beer. ever.

Serving type: on-tap

11-07-2011 18:16:47 | More by paxtonthegreat
Photo of GordonQuid


4.95/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Ommegang Tulip glass.

Jet black with a one inch creamy head and thick lace.

Smells of black currant, mulling spice, chocolate and debittered black patent malts rolled up in pine needles.

Taste is a creamy blend of chocolate and dark malts with just the right amount of mulling spice and piney hops; creamy and silky smooth. The alcohol is not at all apparent in the taste. BE FORWARNED that this is 11.50%! The bottle does not indicate the ABV. After I quaffed this offering down in a matter of ten minutes (because this stuff is deliscious!) I noticed the buzz was hitting me hard. DAMN! I am in the holiday season now! This reminds me of the 2009 Anchor Steam Merry Christmas Ale but on steroids.... The A-Rod of Christmas Ales!

This is extremely drinkable and satisfying. Complex yet quaffable. If you like holiday offerings than this is Christmas in a bottle. If you can't stand the in-laws buy a four pack of this stuff and their your new best friends.
Slap your Mother-in-law on the ass! Hell yeah! Blame it on the Elf....

An extreme offering by Dark Horse. I love you guys! Big shout out to Marshal Michigan!

Happy Holidaze!

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2009 01:00:26 | More by GordonQuid
Photo of TheBlackMallard


4.72/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black into my snifter with about an inch of off white head.

Smell: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Allspice, Vanilla, and Ginger.

Taste: Aforementioned spices along with Chocolate malt. Full bodied with medium carbonation. Alcohol shows up a bit as it warms, I have a hard time believing it's only 9%.

Absolutely amazing and everything I'd want from a Winter Warmer. I wish I could've picked up more of this, it's on par with 3 guys if you ask me. Definitely one of my favorite beers. I hope they keep brewing it.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2009 06:45:20 | More by TheBlackMallard
Photo of mentor


4.65/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle provided by Eyedrinkale, ala BIF20. Thanks for the opportunity! Hard pour to get a thin layer of light brown head over a dark brown liquid. Can't see through, even when held to light. Smells wet sweet and of chocolate, ginger, molasses, nutmeg, and perhaps coriander (coriander is a spice I have limited experience with). Very enticing. Taste is equally complex and the flavors bound through numerous transitions. Wow. Starts nutmeg while drawn in the mouth, then a very aromatic ginger as the liquid settles across the tongue. The ginger sting settles, but never quite disappears. The next flavors to dance across my palette are chocolate and a gentle nutty. The nutmeg then re-appears along with a sweeter herb, which I think is coriander (sweet with rounded esters, but still a bit of a woody quality about it) as part of the swallow/aftertaste. The aftertaste is a touch bitter, no maybe sour, consisting of a mix of alcohol hot and ginger yow-za...but, also tastes vanilla and smooth. Also, as I ponder another aftertaste, I taste some orange zest...no white pith, it's pure orange skin. Lots going on here...this beer is a wonderful challenge. Burps are sweet chocolate. Medium body and moderately (and sharply) carbonated. The numerous flavors in this beer 'play nice' with each other and also do not 'talk too loud'. I get a sniff each time I take a sip and I wind up being so intrigued by the smell that I steal another whiff before I pull it away.

Near the end of the glass, I'm getting an overall impression of a complex and woody character that's similar to the burned cask character of some whiskies. The ginger in the beer is like a bit of pixie dust to keep me from thinking this could be an oak-aged product. I think, what really makes this beer, is the chocolate. With searching, I find it from draw to swallow, with varying intensities. It lays a nice backbone that the diffferent spices can whirl away from, but then step to the safety of.

I feel like a sod, having drank this in July. It *really* would be a great sipping beer in front of my fireplace on a dark winter night.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2005 08:00:15 | More by mentor
Photo of dgugliuzza


4.47/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a large snifter

Opaque brown color that looks pitch black in the glass. Thin tan head with large bubbles spread throughout.

An array of spices delightfully inhibit the nostrils. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice are dominant. Nice layer of candy sweet malt. Smells like freshly baked gingerbread cookies.

Just as the smell indicates. The warming spices are delectable and perfectly incorporated. Cinnamon and nutmeg stand out to make this taste like liquid gingerbread. No alcohol burn whatsoever.

Medium-thick and creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is low, but adequate for the style. Very smooth and easy to drink. I would have never guessed the double digit ABV quantity.

4 Elf is nothing short of outstanding. The most flavorful winter warmer I've had to date. If you like gingerbread cookies, then you will love this beer. It truly tastes and feels like a snowy winter night. Well worth seeking out.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2011 04:26:05 | More by dgugliuzza
Photo of aforbes10


4.45/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle procured somehow by kkulacki (he got engaged across the state the day this was released, so i have no idea how he got this) and generously sent to me. Pours surprisingly dark with a short brown head. Laces slowly and tightly. Smells magnificent...strong nutmeg and allspice with well-brewed coffee and dark chocolate. Flavor great too, big holiday spiced front (again, nutmeg and allspice, with a hint of hot cinnamon). Spices very strong, but supported well by a chocolate malt body and well balanced but warming alcohol. Full bodied. A bigger than life but extremely enjoyable winter warmer. Thanks again, Konrad!

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2008 00:53:12 | More by aforbes10
Photo of mwa423


4.45/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A - Dark brown and murky. Once the yeast hits the glass it quickly turns into the color and clarity of pond water.

S - Strong sweet spice aroma, along with some caramelized malt, this reminds me of a belgian strong dark ale.

T - Wow, heavy spice fills the mouth and is the prominent flavor but bitter and sweet malt is in the aftertaste. Again, reminds me more of a Belgian strong dark ale.

M/D - Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I would like but not bad. This is exceptionally drinkable and will be looking for this next winter.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2010 02:28:13 | More by mwa423
Photo of Extrajoker00


4.45/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

4 Elf by Tröegs
poured from a 12 oz.bottle into a beer mug

A : deep deep amber/ brown 4.0

S : clove, prune and spice, wonderful 4.5

T : toasted malt, dark fruit, spices 4.5

M :Full bodied but crisp, full flavored 4.25

D : a little heavy for day to day

O: very very good holiday beer 4.5

Great Holiday Beer, Thanks

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2013 02:11:39 | More by Extrajoker00
Photo of FrognutUnl


4.43/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - dark brown with an off-white head.
S - The nose is of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice with very little hop character to speak of.
T - Very similar to the nose with the addition of some chocolate malt. The alcohol begins to poke through as the glass warms.
M - Medium bodied.

Overall, this is what every winter warmer should be. Another hit from Darkhorse.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2009 05:38:32 | More by FrognutUnl
Photo of SaucyA


4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours an incredibly deep, almost black, brown. The head is a tan crown that lasts about as long as the pour itself. It retreats back into it's deep mahogany base as quickly as it appeared. Retention, lacing, and legs aren't it's strong suit.

S - The smell of this brew is just killer. Lots of cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, allspice. Perfumey. Smells a lot like the same spices as Screaming Pumpkin from MBC, except doubled. The chocolatey malty background is a great stage for everything to play around on.

T - Wow, this is like nothing I've ever had before. My dad just drank a sip and said "It tastes like Christmas." And it does. It starts off rather sweet at first, with an almost tea-like quality. Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg are all big players, with the spices leaving a nice aftertaste. It seems the malt has just enough "umph" to keep everything together and even out the backend. This is good on both an "extreme" level, and a well-brewed-beer level.

M - A little thinner bodied than I might prefer, but it works with the spices. Carbonation is fine, if a little subdued.

D - Y'know, for being a total spice-bomb, this shit is second to none. Far and away the best spiced beer I've ever had. Glad I have a few more bottles.

Notes: Thanks to Craig for this, because I am a bitch.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2009 01:31:41 | More by SaucyA
Photo of Shumista


4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stumbled upon a 4 pack of this at my local beer store. I didn't even know this beer existed and hadn't seen it before so I was pretty excited about the find. Good thing dark horse beers are easy to recognize in the store or I may have missed it.

A- Dark brown with some highlights. Small light brown fizzy head.

S- Smells like christmas. Gingerbread, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove. Some chocolate and toasted malt.

T- Delicious. Gingerbread is the first thing I thought of. The other holiday spices are there too from the smell...nutmeg, clove, allspice etc. There's a bit of chocolate in the background. Aftertaste is all holiday spice.

M- Medium to thick bodied. A little bit syrupy.

D- What, What, What!? This is 11.5%? I would have thought more like 6-8. I actually think its pretty funny that nowhere on the bottle or 4 pack does Dark Horse bother mentioning how potent this beer is.

The warmest and most satisfying winter warmer I have had yet. Great beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2010 09:20:52 | More by Shumista
Photo of prototypic


4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to hoppy for this wonderful surprise.

Appearance: It's a dark mahogany color and is very close to opaque. There's a little light slicing through at the edges giving it dark garnet highlights. The head is caramel colored and reaches about a finger deep. It was quick to recede and left light lace behind.

Smell: The nose is good, bordering on excellent. I'm close to awarding a 4.5 here, but it's just a little too weak. It is very heavy on cinnamon throughout. That's the predominant aroma. To a lesser degree, other holiday spices are noted (vanilla, nutmeg, and ginger). Roasted and light chocolate malts are noted. I'm not picking up any alcohol here. I wish I knew what the abv was. Nice smelling beer, just needs a little more kick.

Taste: Dark Horse ramped it up here. Cinnamon is very strong throughout. I haven't encountered a beer with such a strong cinnamon taste before. Fear not, it's excellent. Nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla complement the cinnamon flavor nicely, and give it a very well-rounded taste of the holidays. Roasted and light chocolate malts add a little sweetness and a ton of character. 4 Elf has a great malty foundation. Hops weren't apparent on the nose, but they certainly are here. They're mostly floral, but add a really nice buzzy kick to round it out. I am picking up alcohol here. It isn't offensive, but does have a slight warming effect. Finishes a little sweet with a nice bitter bite.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: The body is on the lighter side of medium, but it has a very nice creamy feel. Carbonation is dialed down to just the right level. Drinkability is very high. I really like the flavor of 4 Elf and it doesn't come across as a big, badass beer. I'm unsure of the abv, but I wouldn't guess it's all that high.

4 Elf is an excellent holiday beer. It's absolutely loaded with holiday spice flavor. While it's not exactly novel in that sense, the spicy flavor is definitely unique. Cinnamon comes through very strong, but it works soooo well. I have only one slight complaint and that's that the nose is just a little weak. It wouldn't take much to work out that kink. It's a close call as it is. Nevertheless, 4 Elf is excellent beer. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2009 01:49:51 | More by prototypic
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark chocolate color with a tan head that leaves a few splashes of lace behind

Smell: Smells like mincemeat pie with a whole range of holiday spices - cinnamon, clove and allspice dominate

Taste: Rich caramel and spice flavors build into a boozy chocolate concoction by mid-palate; the clove, allspice and cinnamon are powerful; after the swallow, the booziness builds a bit and adds a holiday dessert element

Mouthfeel: Full body with moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: For those who like a nice spicy Winter Warmer, this beer is the real McCoy; a bit too high in alcohol to drink more than one

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2009 23:07:41 | More by brentk56
Photo of Lukafer


4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle into pint glass, thanks again Alleykatking!
From notes:

Pours dark with a tan head, when held up to light seems a really dark reddish color. Smells like delicious ginger snaps, cinnamon and some clove. I tasted ginger, cinnamon, allspice and some cloves with an alcohol finish. Delicious. It has a medium body with a good amount of carbonation. Definitely a sipper, but a very good sipper.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2010 05:17:24 | More by Lukafer
Photo of elNopalero


4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This pours an amber-cola color with thin foaming. It has a matly aroma with cloves and cinnamon prominent. The beer itself is spicy—not peppery spice, but holiday/pumpkin pie spice—with a heavy-handed shake of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice… mixed with some raisin and a touch of roastiness and a bitter finish. Strong, but it plays well and warms wonderfully.

The first bar I had this at had it listed in the 5% range. I was pretty sure it was a weee bit stronger… but at almost 9% I had no idea!

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2014 02:33:53 | More by elNopalero
Photo of Urbancaver


4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes in 2009

Pours brown and clean. Not much going on in the pour. A good amount of smooth white head with some nice lacing on the glass. Smells like spices... christmas in a bottle. But different from your average christmas ale. Much more spiced and herbal. Tastes strongly of herbs and nutmeg. Some other spices come through fairly strongly. Decent mouthfeel and very drinkable

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2011 06:21:32 | More by Urbancaver
Photo of brewcrew76


4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to emerge077 for sharing this one.

A - Blackish brown with ruby highlights and a thin tan head.

S - Gingerbread like aroma. Nutmeg, allspice, clove and cinnamon.

T - Clove, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon with some chocolate and malty notes to provide enough flavor to prevent the spices from being too powerful. A nice graham cracker gingerbread mix.

M - Medium body with light carbonation and some warming from the alcohol.

D - This is how a winter spiced beer should taste. Malty with good spice presence but not overwhelming. Perfect to sip by a warm fire.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2009 00:32:14 | More by brewcrew76
Photo of GbVDave


4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a DT tulip. Thanks to heliosphann for the trade!

A: Pours a murky, dark, cola-brown color with the tiniest whisp of tan foam on top that still managed to leave a few random specks of lace in the glass.

S: Heavenly aromas of holiday spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom rub shoulders with dark chocolate, dark fruit, and hints of roasted nuts, toffee and/or caramel.

T: Wow! More of the same as above with additions of pumpkin pie spice, clove, gingerbread, cherry, spiced orange peel, and more chocolate. Tastes like German pfeffernusse cookies.

M: The spicing adds, well, a spicy quality to the mouthfeel. A little dry, ever so slightly bitter, but nice and prickly/peppery.

D: I didn't didn't look at the alcohol content until I started typing this paragraph. The 11.5% is hidden pretty well by all of the spice going on here. It started coming out a little as it began to warm. Pretty much a one and I'm done...but it was immensely enjoyable 'till the bottom of the glass.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2009 00:01:47 | More by GbVDave
Photo of edenm


4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a beautiful mahogany brown with a warm, spicy scent. I taste lots of nutmeg and probably some cinnamon, complimented by a nice malty base. The carbonation is light and the bubbles are small, giving this beer a smooth feel in the mouth. It's a higher alcohol content, but it's not the kind of thing you notice until it's too late -- it's very easy to drink.

It's one of the better and more satisfying winter beers I've had.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2010 01:35:32 | More by edenm
Photo of tpd975


4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice dark brown with a tall tan head. Nice retention and some lace noted.

S: This one is all about the spice. Tons of nutmeg with hints of cinnamon. Very light chocolate beneath the spice overload.

T: Tasty. Malty sweetness for sure, toffee and brown sugar mostly before the spice kicks in. Lots of nutmeg, with hints of cinnamon and ginger. Very xmas like, and very tasty.

M: Medium in body, smooth a damn good brew.

D: Drinkable as hell. I reallly liked this beer. Wish I had one to have on christmas morning.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2010 23:54:56 | More by tpd975
Photo of emerge077


4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to TheBlackMallard for this one...

Black body, thin cap of tan foam. Pleasing aroma of gingerbread cookies, vanilla, nutmeg, the usual holiday cookie medley. Full bodied, creamy, slightly lactic feel. More stout than anything, which Dark Horse excels at. Dry spice notes similar to the nose, dominant gingerbread and vanilla/nutmeg. Not overly sweet, it's well balanced and unique for a winter warmer.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2009 14:49:44 | More by emerge077
Photo of tmoneyba


4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft at Dark Horse.

Poured hazy reddish brown color with an average fizzy white head that was mostly lasting with good lacing. Moderate to heavy complex nutmeg sweet aroma. Medium to full body with a sticky texture and flat carbonation. Medium to heavy spicy balanced flavor with a medium sweet spicy finish of moderate to long duration.

This is good complex seasonal brew.

Serving type: on-tap

05-05-2009 01:50:02 | More by tmoneyba
Photo of gford217


4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, 2009 vintage, poured into a tulip.

Pours a very dark mahogany in the glass that shows deep copper when held up to light. There is a big creamy beige head that recedes to a small cap.

The aroma is very sweet but with lots of spices as well. There is an underlying brown sugar and molasses sweetness that has all kinds of different spices on top, especially nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin. Some milk chocolate in there as well maybe.

The taste is even spicier than the aroma with the pumpkin spices coming to the forefront - nutmeg, cinnamon and some ginger maybe. The caramel malt backbone and molasses are present but the spices are dominant on this one.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with smooth carbonation and definitely spicy in the finish.

This is an excellent spiced beer, very big for the style, almost reminds me of a pumpkin porter. Extremely tasty.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2010 03:48:10 | More by gford217
Photo of jwinship83


4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the bavarian lodge. excited to try this beer from one of my favorite breweries. served in a small snifter.

A- a very dark brown body with a small amount of ruby red highlights. a small khaki colored head on top. little to no lacing gets left behind.

S- the first thing i notice is roasted malts and chocolate. after that i get some spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. very christmas-y very stout like.

T- the taste mimics the nose. lots of roasted malts leads the way. it is closely followed by chocolate and spices. plenty of nutmeg and cinnamon. earthy hops at the end.

M- medium bodied, bordering on full. the alcohol is well hidden, and only noticeable by a slight warming.

D- as a fan of dark horse's stouts, i liked this one very much. one that i would pick up every year if the bottles were sold in my area. glad i had the chance to try this. very spicy, but well done and not too over the top.

Serving type: on-tap

03-06-2011 04:43:54 | More by jwinship83
Photo of hosehead83


4.26/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a "balloon" glass.
Cola/dark tea color, with a short cap of tan foam.
Aroma-Nice boquet of cinnamon, pine needles and spices.
Taste-Like a liquid Christmas cookie. Nutmeg, raisins, cinnamon,chocolate, vanilla and spice cake. Gently warming finish, nicely balanced, flavorfull and festive. A great match with holiday cookies while wrapping gifts.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2013 17:52:39 | More by hosehead83
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Dark Horse 4 Elf from Dark Horse Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 414 ratings.