Dark Horse 4 Elf - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Horse 4 ElfDark Horse 4 Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

171 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 171
Hads: 699
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 24.09%
Wants: 53
Gots: 114 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  8.75% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: granger10 on 11-27-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 171 | Hads: 699
Photo of alarmclock314
4.37/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I've bought several 4-packs of this beer and decided to write a review. Pours somewhat opaque brown with a medium-sized tan head which quickly recedes. Some yeast is leftover in the bottom of the bottle, but it doesn't carry into the glass when poured. Smells of malt, clove, and ginger with some allspice, caramel, and mild hops. The taste follows closely with a fantastic combination of malt and spice. I really like how the flavors are bold but not overpowering. Not the thickest mouthfeel, but it's got some creaminess. The alcohol is well hidden. It's great cold and at room temperature. This is a fantastic Winter Warmer. Buy this beer if you like malt, spice, and a little alcohol kick. I find BA reviews to be pretty accurate, but I'm surprised this is rated an 86; it deserves at least a 90.

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Photo of Warren2621
2.81/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Too bland for me. Nothing holds this beer together. The spices, while ok, arent complimented by many other flavors. Too thin of a body. To me it was water with spices added. Could be the style, I dont know. I dont enjoy Christmas Ales much

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with an eighth of a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Nice aromas of toasted malt and spices, such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, star anise and licorice. I also get notes of brown sugar, dark molasses, toffee, and roasted nuts. Smells great!

Taste: Really, really good! Lots of roasted malt flavor up front, flowed by lots of dark chocolate, clove, nutmeg, brown sugar and a touch of dark cherry. Very interesting and delicious.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and nicely effervescent as there’s quite a bit of carbonation. With an ABV of 8.75%, there is surprisingly, no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a delicious beer! I love the spices, dark chocolate and dark cherry! I see why this has an exalted reputation! If it’s available next year, I’ll certainly get a few bottles to enjoy over the holidays!

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Scent of rich nutmeg, cinnamon, dark fruit, brown sugar and bread with a touch of clove. More cinnamon in the flavor, but the rest lines up pretty well. The body is a little thin, but it's an easy beer to drink and one of the better beers for the style.

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Photo of tigg924
3.57/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Taste is cinnamon, clove, and dark roasted malt. This one hits all of the expected notes in a winter warmer. While I have others I prefer in the style, I certainly would not pass this up.

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Photo of majorbase2
3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color with a huge foamy off white head. Good retention. Leaves a lumpy, uneven head with spotty lacing.

Aroma is heavy on spices, ginger, molasses, graham cracker, cinnamon, and a hint of caramel. Very pleasant.

Tastes like a porter. Lightly roasted chocolate and nuts. Brown sugar. A small amount of hops. Gingerbread is still there, though not as strong. Very faint cinnamon. A little too heavy on the spice, though. There's really not much going on in the taste, unfortunately. It just kind of lacks character, if that makes sense. A little more hop bitterness than expected here.

Medium bodied. LIttle carbonation. More of a sipper at 8.75%.

Overall, started out with good potential, even after the first sip, but really faltered from there. Still a solid brew, but not DH's best, so don't go out of your way for this one.

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Photo of MaximalC
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark cola color with a thin head of coarse, khaki bubbles that are gone in a flash. The aroma is a sweet, wintery funk comprised of molasses, gingerbread, lebkuchen, caramel, and allspice.

The taste is spicy up front with a big kick of allspice, nutmeg, and warming alcohol that dominates the subtler flavors. Some caramel, gingerbread, and hints of roasted malt comprise the sweeter side of the beer. A pleasant toffee aftertaste finally manages to find its way through on the back end. The surprisingly prickly carbonation amplifies the spiciness, while the medium-heavy body provides an appropriate foundation for the vibrant flavors.

Overall, this is an aggressively spicy, flavorful brew that could only be appropriate for the season. I’m not especially keen on allspice to begin with, and in this case it’s far from balanced. I had this on tap a couple months ago and recall a much mellower brew, so I’m not sure which experience is more representative of the brewers’ intention.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a Haw River Farmhouse Ales teku glass. Bottleneck says 260-13.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/4 inch tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a small center patch of bubbly surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a jagged ring behind.

S- Earthy spices such as clove, allspice and anise.

T- Has this kind of umami flavor where there's a savory, beefy quality on top of the spices. Alcohol is very well-concealed and there's a hint of brown sugar but, other than that, isn't particularly bitter or sweet.

M- Creamy and slick with medium-low carbonation and a full body.

O- A very unique take on a winter warmer which has me scratching my head on whether I truly like it or not. In the end, I dig it for the plain fact that it's so smooth for how strong it is. Also, there's a complexity to it that you don't find in most winter warmers. Truly its own unique beer.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.41/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Deep dark mahogany red, a bit opaque with not too much hues and slightly muddy looking. Manages a tan very creamed two finger head, that easily sinks to a simple one finger puck very slowly.

Excellent classic winter warmer aroma. Hints of nutmeg, big sweet brown spices of clove and cinnamon. Excellent bready tones very much like a fruitcake going on, just excellent.

Palate is just full of classic balanced flavors. Huge gingerbread notes on this thing, with great dry nutmeg and cinnamon character. Simple malt backbone with a moderate feel. Aftertaste leaves a great dry hint of fig and spice. Warm ginger comes with

This is an excellent warmer, nailing all those classic spices and bringing more to the palate than just a sugar rush and a mess.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a nice tan and creamy head that does not dissipate very quickly and takes a while to dissipate. The beer itself is a dark and opaque black with little bits of sediment and a very nice bubble presence.

The beer smell has the usual sugar and spice and everything nice note to it in addition to a little boozy smell. The spices are sugar, clove, cinnamon, and gingerbread. The beer also has a roasty coffee note to it and sweet malt smell.

The beer taste has the gingerbread, cinnamon, clove, and sugar notes as well as a sweet malty taste. The taste also has the roasted coffee notes from the smell. The end result is a slightly roasty gingerbread beer, which is pretty good. In addition, the beer also has a slightly boozy note that does not detract from the other flavors.

The mouthfeel is pretty heavy bodied and vscous. The beer has a very thick texture like liquidated gingerbread cookies. The feel is pretty good and the carbonation is enough that it adds a bit more texture. However, it can fell a bit dull and sometimes off.

Overall, a pretty good winter warmer and worth getting.

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Photo of secondtooth
3.49/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very dark chestnut/black, with ruby highlights. Average head of tan bubbles, and a fair, loopy lace.

Aroma: Ah, the spices! Cinnamon, clove, and others providing a rich and strong olfactory experience right off the bat. Easy to detect the Xmas theme here.

Taste: Heavy on the palate, with that potent dose of winter spice. I also get a little chocolate undertone happening, and a bittersweet finish that definitely packs some heat. Overall, a solid and enjoyable winter warmer.

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Photo of Stezz420
4.84/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1st beer from dark horse. Probably the best winter warmer I've had to date.

Dark stout looking beer. Decent head with good retention.

Smells like christmas popery, surprisingly very citrusy also.

Tastes like how it smells. A little bit of dark malt and chocolate come through also.

Perfect amount of carbonation goes down very smooth.

Over all im glad I tired this beer while it was around. Would love to try the barrel aged version if I can find a bottle.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.31/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle into a teku glass (HA! I bet you guys didn't think I had one of these! Merry freakin' Christmas, everyone!!!)

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color with lots of ugly, chunky sediment at the bottom of the glass. The head is a finger high, with a khaki shade. Retention is good and the texture is creamy, also. A bit of lacing is left on the glass. Typical of many Dark Horse brews, it's not exactly pretty to look at (no thanks to its unfiltered nature). (2.75)

Smell: This is around a 7/10 as far as Christmas spicing goes. I'm picking up plenty of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. There are also additional notes of graham cracker, caramel, and dark chocolate. While this is a nice aroma altogether, there isn't much here to separate it from other winter warmers. (3.5)

Taste: Okay, but THIS does. It opens up with a surprising amount of roast, coalescing with the notes of allspice and caramel. Appropriately for the style, a hoppy touch finishes it off. The back end is also a touch acidic - it's hardly to the tomato-esque levels of Sapient Trip, though. While the spices are nicely restrained, it seems more chaotic than balanced in its complexity. Still, there's no hint of the alcohol whatsoever. (3.25)

Mouthfeel: Really crisp and light - this is where the unfiltered nature really shines. While it becomes slightly warming when it properly warms up, it conceals the alcohol extremely well. Carbonation is middling. (3.5)

Overall: The aroma revealed a fairly standard winter warmer. The taste, however, showed off a roasty, almost crisp wassail that's practically dangerous. It isn't my favorite winter warmer, but hey, it's still well worth a look. (3.25)

3.3/5: Far from perfect, but it's definitely not boring, either

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Photo of lilsmizzul1225
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very particular about winter Warmers the idea of a gingerbread flavored beer sounds great and it smelled wonderful but it was a little overpowering on the taste. I feel like the strong sugary flavor needs to be a tad more subtle like in Lagunita's Brown Shugga. Still a pretty good and festive beer though.

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Photo of dhannes
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L=Very dark brown, hint of red, with large, ecru colored foam head.
S=Nutmeg and other spices.
T=Like a stout with nutmeg/pumpkin spice/egg nog in the background.
F=Modest carbonation...but rather thick/not a session beer.
O=Unique change of pace...recommend as an after dinner desert beer. I am going to cellar the other 3 bottles until next year.

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Photo of DonovanD
4.01/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

The only thing questionable to me, was the aroma... Will have to test more from different glasses and places. Taste is very holiday, scotch ale / mild stout.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.

Pours stout black, light yellowish lacing for a head.

Smells of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, roasted coffee, and toast.

Flavor is of mesquite, burnt toast, cinnamon, and cloves. Light dry hops in the finish.

Medium body with minimal carbonation.

An interesting and aromatic winter brew that tastes more like a bland imperial stout than a winter warmer. It's not bad, just slightly uninteresting in the flavor. Otherwise, it'd be a great stout. Worth a try but probably not a revisit.

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Photo of Chaney
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into an Elysian glass.

A: Poured a dark, burnt wood color with some little yeasties floating around.

S: Loads of caramel and the thing just screams holidays with it's candy-like disposition. Sure the nutmeg and cinnamon were both present, but I got more Payday candy bar than anything. Sexy!

T: Much more cinnamon and less sugar on the taste. The nutmeg pretty much shot up through my nose as I was tasting it. Seriously, the more sips I took, this became quite the spice bomb. Holiday through and through with some traces of Coca-Cola on about the 3-4th sip or so.

M: Some lacing left on the glass, but most of it pretty much dropped back down into the vat below. A good amount of carbonation and to be honest, I wish there was just a tinge more.

O: It is pretty much what it claimed to be: A big, holiday, spice beer. Cheers!

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Photo of Trooper92292
4.88/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Great for the holidays by a warm fireplace. I originally gave this a lower rating but I just had it on tap at one of my favorite bars and it's even better. A great winter beer from Dark Horse.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.53/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - mostly opaque, a hint of brownish red around the edge. Light mocha head settles and holds at a thin cover. Lace on the glass is thin, sticky.

Aroma - a lightly smoked, peaty malt sitting under a blanket of anise and perhaps some ginger and/or clove.

Taste - malty, lots of cinnamon. Chocolate on the swallow and loads of cloves. The swallow is all cinnamon and clove, super spicy, I dig it.

Mouthfeel - slightly heavier than average, nice for this style. Carbonation is just a bit fluffy to help counter.

Overall - a delicious warmer, darker style with lots of spiciness.

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Photo of daddycard
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

Pours burnt caramel and very cloudy. The low head is a light tan and dissapated quickly. Once in the chilled imperial pint glass its medium body is almost opeque, you can only see light through the edges of the glass. The spices really come out in the aroma. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice mix in with molasses making me think of sitting in front of a fireplace with a cigar in my favorite holiday sweater during a week long blizzard. The spices stand out from the first gulp. Nutmeg is almost overpowering but the other spices come through and combine richly with the molasses in the end. The beer does have a bit of a medicinal or alcoholic taste but overall it balances nicely and isn't a real hard drink. Overall I would recommend buying it in singles but a definite must try.

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Photo of Billolick
3.99/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle w/o bottling/vintage dating.

Pours dark and murky, slight darker head, leaves fine scattered lace bits.

Dark chocolate nose.

Flavorful. with more chocolate, dark caramel malty notes.

Pleasant and warming winter warmer.

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L - Clear dark brown, with some red highlights. Thin creamy beige head leave rings of lace.

A - Smells like a tin of assorted Christmas cookies. Lots of clove-crusted orange.

T - Holiday spice overwhelms this beer. Pick a rich holiday spice, it's in there. Some medicinal flavors, and a long chemical finish.

M - Full body, satin texture, soft carbonation, light alcohol.

O - Anyone who relishes the supper spicy holiday beers will enjoy this offering. For me it is just a jumble of spices. A subtle hand would server this beer better.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

$2.19 for a 12oz single @ Siciliano's. Pours out to a murky deep brown, forming a small head with poor retention and minimal lacing. The nose is peculiar...pink bubble gum, carob, fruity soap, , spices (cinnamon and nutmeg, big time), bourbon, molasses. The mouthfeel is round, a touch cloying, with a big chewy body and medium-low carbonation. Sediment in the bottle. The taste is interesting...pink bubblegum, spices, leather and moist pipe tobacco, walnut, and lots of cinnamon and nutmeg in the aftertaste. Bitterness is medium to mild, very earthy. Reminds me a little bit of constant comment tea...orange peel?

Hrmm, interesting, but one bottle is enough for me, probably better to split this with someone special. A nice beer.
L=3.0, A=3.5, T=-4.0, MF=3.75, D=3.5

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Photo of RoamingGnome
3.03/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Dark Horse 4 Elf Winter Ale

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Capital Brewery snifter. Served chilled.

A) Dark brown with a small off white head that dissipated quickly. Bit of a cola look...

S) I don't get much besides a variety of spices. I'd say it was heavy on the clove.

T) Again, heavy on the spices. Some sugary sweetness as it transitioned to room temp. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M) Medium body with moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is dominated by tingling spices start to finish.

O) I'm sure it's a well crafted brew, but the spice blend here was just not enjoyable for me. It was like my mouth was trapped in a candle shop.

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Dark Horse 4 Elf from Dark Horse Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 171 ratings.