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Dark Horse 4 Elf - Dark Horse Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Horse 4 ElfDark Horse 4 Elf

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

460 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 460
Reviews: 144
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 12.43%
Wants: 50
Gots: 48 | FT: 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: 460 | Reviews: 144 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very tasty winter warmer picked up last December in Detroit. Pours dark brown, without a noticeable head, yet some carbonation still there. Conifers and cinammon dominate the smell, ginger predominates the taste, a bit of nutmeg. Spicy sweetness, though not too sweet. Tasty. Average mouthfeel.

Sammy, Oct 03, 2010
Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

t0rin0, Sep 18, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.54/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

2013 vintage.

Pours a hazy dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, and spice aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and spice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with some interesting aromas and flavors.

UCLABrewN84, Jan 21, 2014
Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

djrn2, Nov 28, 2013
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

zestar, Jan 21, 2014
Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

spycow, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

acurtis, Nov 28, 2013
Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +5.8%

nmann08, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of metter98
4/5  rDev +5.8%

metter98, Nov 20, 2013
Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +15.9%
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

brentk56, Jul 18, 2009
Photo of BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of the fun in Christmas Ales is seeing what variety crawls out of the bottle next. Where other seasonal beers are rather predictable in their general taste, these holiday ales are anything but.. Dark Horse jumps out of the gate with an overall taste of toasted gingerbread!

Dark like porter, its brown body is just a shade off of stout. Complete opaqueness reinforces the notion of haze as no ribbons of light are able to pierce through. 4 Elf builds a dense lather of foam that prominently sits on top with strong staying power and trailing with broken lace.

Bold aromas of earthy sweetness and decadent spice intertwine into a toasted bread base with suggestions of molasses, coffee and chocolate. Its "Christmas-type" spices hold elements of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and allspice- all in equal parts, not letting any one to stand out over the other. A hint of campfire rises as the beer warms and highlights a scotch ale note.

Its succulent sweetness is full and rounded with those molasses and brown sugar flavors. Not left alone, other malt flavors resemble the taste of fresh ground espresso, bittersweet chocolates, roasted walnuts, and an earthen peat taste. As the holiday spices sprinkle about, the culminated taste is of fresh-baked ginger snaps. But once the ale opens up, even more savory flavors of rum-drunken stone fruits and coffee cake come alive in very adult fashion.

Medium-full in body, the beer's robust taste is nearly interpreted as complete fullness, but its creamy carbonation pulls from the beer's residual sweetness and pushes the malt off the tongue for a lightened effect. This ushers in a casual fade toward malty-dryness in the beer's waning moments. With the spice dryness and sweet alcohols rising, a taste of spiced rum persists in aftertaste.

I absolutely love the balance of 4 Elf as its spices are restrained enough so that no one type stands out. Also the ratio of sweet to spice is spot on as I go back and forth with each sip about which pulls ahead. This Dark Horse offering will likely be a standout of this holiday season. So, what's up with Dark Horse and random numbers during this time of year?

BEERchitect, Dec 04, 2013
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep brown color ale with large foamy head with good retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of spices (nutmeg and light cinnamon) with a well balanced sweet roasty malt body. Taste is also very well balance between some sweet malt with notes of nutmeg and light cinnamon and maybe some white pepper? Body is about average with good carbonation and a nice creamy body and no apparent alcohol. Very well done with great balance while being easily drinkable.

Phyl21ca, Apr 15, 2009
Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

GRG1313, Jan 02, 2012
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

ygtbsm94, Jan 30, 2012
Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2009 courtesy of Derek. Thanks!

A: The beer pours a dark brown/amber color with a small khaki head.

S: Sort of reminiscent of the Anchor Christmas beers. Light roasted malt character followed by spices, especially pumpkin pie type spices. There are mild herb notes that give this one a bit of a woody note. Some toasted malt, chocolate, caramel, and toffee are also there.

T: There is a bit more chocolate to the flavor than let on by the aroma. Still a lot of the pumpkin pie spices with a mild woodiness of herbs. A restrained roasted malt character with a touch of bitterness and different dark fruits.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O: This was one of the better spicy/herbal winter beers I've had.

womencantsail, Sep 09, 2011
Photo of Knapp85
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Knapp85, Dec 29, 2013
Photo of oberon
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours into a becker a deep roasted walnut brown with a creamy half finger tan colored head atop,great color and love the creamy head.Winter mulling spice and sweet alcohol in the nose,alot of nutmeg is detected.Lower carbonation with a creamy feel,it slides down easy.Spicy to the hilt on the palate with some cake-like notes,like a CHRISTmas spiced cake,the alcohol sweetness gets bigger as it warms.This a winter sipper,like others have noted, you can't drink to much of it,a full on spicy winter warmer here.

oberon, Nov 17, 2013
Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

emerge077, Jan 19, 2009
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark porter-esque appearance light khaki tan head, fine speckled lacing sporadic yet satisfying in it's look. Aroma has a dark cola like sweetness, blended with candy cane and other assorted spices, honey, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. Flavor dark chocolate creamy lactose, a barrage of spices, provides bitterness and balance it's like pureed candy cane and Christmas tree pine in an imperial cream stout form. Mouthfeel is fuller bodied carbonation is creamy smooth with lingering spices between sips, overall the type of winter warmer that is so different it's actually a joy to experience.

WVbeergeek, Nov 13, 2013
Photo of MasterSki
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got a few of these from Scott (heliosphann) in an in-person trade. Served in my Pisgah pint glass.

A - A half-finger of tan foam that dissipates quickly and leaves a nice ring. Attractive dark cherry wood color, although there's some white sediment at the bottom of the glass.

S - Cinnamon, nutmeg, graham cracker - it doesn't seem that far from some of the pumpkin beers I've tried (not surprising considering the similar spices). There are also some berry and milk chocolate notes. For a spiced beer it's pretty good - nice balance.

T - The taste is less good - there's some serious spice and it leaves a really bitter aftertaste (and not in the hoppy or roasty sense). There are a few notes of sweetness and cinnamon but they're on the periphery.

M - Medium body with lively carbonation that tingles the lips and tongue. Goes down pretty smoothly. Nothing special, but pretty solid. Really dries out my mouth.

D - I don't think I could have more than one of these, and even one was a struggle. There's just way too much spice.

Glad I got to try this, but it's not really my kind of thing.

MasterSki, May 05, 2009
Photo of jlindros
3.81/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Definitely the season for winter warmers, it's frigid cold outside, Pats game on, lazy Sunday afternoon.

The pours started nicely, with a tan colored foamy small head, light lacing, very dakr pretty much black beer, then came the plop of hte huge slimy snot like yeast chunks... not even sure if it's yeast. it is pretty slimy and snot like as it settles on the bottom in blob form.

Nose is nice, lots of holiday spices but not too much, hint of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice maybe, hard to tell but typical holiday spices mostly, under that is a big malt, dark malts but not black malts, brown sugar, caramel, some cocoa and a little creamy milk chocolate, nutty toffee and mild biscuit, and a hint of warming tingly booze.

Taste brings some more malts mainly, lots of sweet flavors, a little nutty, toffee, caramel, candy syrup, chewy nougat, etc. Also some mild biscuit and increasing toffee as it goes, little syrupy. Spices there too, hint of nutmeg perhaps, possibly little allspice, ginger, etc, but again hard to pick specifics for spices, just holiday baking spices. A very light cocoa powder in there too with a slight earthy root like nutty character. Mild booze warmth. Mild bitterness too with a hint of hop character but more from the spices I think. Finish is syrupy and sticky, a bit of a spicy hop coming through this time with more bitterness, little bit of the spices lingering, long nutty toffee and candy flavors mostly linger.

Mouth is fuller bod, little syrupy, decent carb, mild warming booze.

Overall not bad, I'm glad most breweries are keeping the spices in check this year, and not going overboard. The slimy yeast sludge is the only real issue I have with it, also maybe a little too syrupy overall.

jlindros, Dec 08, 2013
Photo of oline73
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany color with a finger of light tan head that goes away quickly.

Smell: Stong smell of sweet malt with some mild roast, molasses, an lots of dark fruit. Mild spice, this bottle has been cellared for a year. Some alcohol as well.

Taste: Really sweet malt with dark fruit and some chocolate. Chalked full of molasses. Some spices and warming alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side with smooth carbonation and a slick finish.

Overall: The age did this beer well. Still warming, but much smoother. I'd have another.

oline73, Dec 24, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle shared by baybum at a March '13 tasting. Thanks, Ray!

Sampled this in a very interesting vertical line after One Oatmeal, Too Cream, and Tres Blueberry.

I honestly never heard of this one, but I quite liked it. Dark brown pour with a small tan head that left a bit of lacing on the glass. Nice spicy aroma, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, with a touch of icing-like sweetness. In the taste, all the spices that were there in the aroma, plus rich caramel maltiness, and a little vanilla icing; light herbal hops and roasty bitterness for balance. Medium body, smooth mouthfeel, quite enjoyable overall.

Rifugium, Mar 30, 2013
Photo of mdfb79
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 01/02/11 notes.

a - Pours a dark brown color with one inch of off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of spices, cinnamon, ginger bread cookies, and nutmeg. Pretty nice.

t - Tastes of spices, ginger bread, cinnamon, nutmeg, alcohol, and bready malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation, smooth body.

d - A nice spiced beer. I really enjoyed the smell, but the high ABV definitely comes through a bit in the taste. Would have again.

mdfb79, Jan 07, 2011
Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

DrunkinYogi, Apr 12, 2014
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Dark Horse 4 Elf from Dark Horse Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 460 ratings.