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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

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 171
Hads: 699
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 24.09%
Wants: 53
Gots: 115 | 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 Sammy
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on Draft at the pub for the Crawfish Boil.

A-pours a dark brown, almost black liquid with a dense creamy tan colored head leaving huge lace.

S-the nose has notes of christmas type spices and dark berries, cinnomon for sure, floral esters in the back.

T-the taste is sweet up front, dark berries, spice adds variety, cinnomon, nutmeg, floral hops in there with notes of pine tree. very christmasy flavors to it but bigger than your typical christmas beer.

M-smooth and creamy with low carbonation, its a little thin and probably needs to be served around room temperature.

D-this is very tasty, dark horse is "infamous" for making huge abv beers extremely drinkable and this falls right into that category. Where do they put 11.5% alcohol in this?

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glad to find this on tap in the middle of SUMMER at the Hulmeville Inn, great place give it a whirl if in the area. In a freaking pint glass, my god.

4 Elf looks very dark with a big 1/2 inch or more of a off white head with tannish glint to it. Some minor stickage to the glass. Smells sweet and spicy with holiday spices, malt background, some cinnamon and candycanes. Taste consist of dark fruit with some cherry as well backed by spices including nutmeg. Alot of sweetness with the candycanes and caramel, no toffee. Some minimal chocolate. Feel is medium and coating, spicy and sweet at the same time, a hint of alcohol. I would love to get ahold of more of this in the wintertime so I could enjoy it more, for sure something to warm up to. I had no doubt that this would be big considering the brewer but it is surprisingly drinkable, not cloying, well made.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at hulmeville inn. In a pint, christ that way to big for this beer in july.

A- a good finger of tan head sits atop a deep dark red brown brew.

S- fall spice and roasty toasty malts. Lots of dark raisin bread with cinnamon brown sugar on top. Cloves and nutmeg.

T- like really good fruit cake. Dried candied fruits and fall spice. Cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg on top of sweet money bread with dried cranberries, cherries and candied walnuts.

M- nice feel on this one. Slightly less then mid in the body department and a bit higher in carb.

D- nicely drinkable for the style and I'm not usually a fan. I like this one though, and in fucking july. I bet I'd like it more in the right season. Ill say this there is no sign of the abv. Ill be sure to keep my eye out for more in the fall.

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Photo of Lukafer
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

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Photo of ThaBobfather
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very solid brown with an opaque touch with some rings of tannish head.
Smell is well malted- some sweet spice on the nose.
Taste is solidly malted- a great spice note keeps the alcohol out of the bite.
Finish is great- dry with a fantastic lasting spiced after-taste.
Drinks amazingly- the spice covers the bite very well here.

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Photo of degerbah
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep cloudy brown with very little head. The aroma is very spicy with a quantity of cinnamon and maybe cloves. The taste us way spicier than the aroma would make me think. Extremely thick, I think that it might be better if I were to drink it in a colder clime. It just tastes overly thick and boozy for me.

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Photo of mwa423
4.44/5  rDev +15%
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.

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Photo of alleykatking
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from 12oz bottle. Review from notes.

A- Pours a deep dark brown almost a black color. One finger tan head which dies down rather quickly. Some light lacing on the sides of the glass that slides down back into the beer.

S- Tons of spice in the upfront of this. Cinnamon, nutmeg, some ginger, and some maple syrup undertones. Caramel malts in the undertones of this beer. A light almost chocolate presence as well in light tones but that's about it. This smells like how Christmas smells to me.

T- This tastes just like how it smells but with some added features like pumpkin and some more caramel malts in the front. Big spices in the front of this with some light caramel malts backing it up. Some darker roasted malts in the middle mix with ginger snapps. Just a overall great winter warmer tasting beer...like Christmas in a bottle.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Tons of spices with light caramel malts left on the palate with roasted malts left in the aftertaste. Clean overall even with all the flavors run about on the tongue.

D- This was a interesting beer that I seemed to really really love. I need to make sure that pick some more of this up next time I'm at the brewery. Dark Horse does no wrong yet once again!

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Photo of joepais
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Scoobydank for sending this my way. I cracked this one today seeing the weather was cold and damp and did really appreciate it. I poured it into a Sam Adams glass and I got a good two fingers worth of tan head with a nice amount of lacing. The body of the brew was chestnut brown in color.

Big spices came up from this one cinnamon, nutmeg and clove stood out to me. It did give me flashbacks of the holidays, quite enjoyable ones at that.
The flavor was like eating great warm holiday gingerbread with some vanilla ice cream it was dam yummy. It had a medium feel to it in my mouth with ok carbonation.

A good winter warmer but it would be hard to drink more than one of these in a sitting. Having said that I wouldn't mind having another of these for latter

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Photo of gford217
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

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Photo of nickd717
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle thanks to bring on BA.

Pours dark brown with a small off-white head that fades to light foam.

Aroma is lots of spice. A metric shitload of it. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove stand out, and that's about it.

Flavor is also loads of spice. Cloves are huge, and cinnamon and nutmeg are there too. Very balanced though nonetheless. A little roasty with some vanilla.

Smooth on the palate with medium body and a really spicy mouthfeel.

A very solid winter warmer, very drinkable, especially for the ABV. Others at the tasting didn't think much of it, saying it was overspiced, but I thought it was great.

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Photo of tpd975
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Randalld for this extra

Pours hardly and light khaki head. Leaves some slight splattered lace. Color is a deep caramel brown, pretty much black.

Aroma: TONS of spices. Nutmeg, cinnamon, maple syrup, molasse, and brown sugar. Then I get some caramel notes and ginger in the background.

Taste: First reaction is wow. This is a beast. Tons of spices again. It has a lot stronger taste then one would assume from the aroma. All the same spice notes are here, along with caramel malt. A very big beer. I also get pumpkin which I thought was there, then drank more and realized it was pumpkin.

Mouthfeel: Spiced and creamy. Medium to full bodied with a lower level of carbonation. Ends with a ton of spice and it dry.

Overall, this is a massive beer for the style. I can't believe the abv on this beer. I am really glad I got to try it. It was a good experience. I think this is a one and done however.

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Photo of darklordlager
3.94/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Holiday spices drift out of the bottle as it is poured...mmmm...
A: Pours a ruddy brown, with minimal head. Looks like an interesting liquid dessert.

S: Very nicely spiced! Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, clove. Brown sugar, malt, and a light "band-aid" smell lingering in back. Oatmeal cookies, pie crust. This smells: Really, really, good.

T: Delivers wave after wave of tasty spice that was seen in the smell--pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove), gingerbread cookies, brown sugar, pie crust. Malt provides a nice backing for the spice--I hope it comes out a bit more as it warms, as the spices might get a bit much if they don't. Alcohol can be noticed but is incorporated fairly well. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a good amount of rye in here as well, lending a spicy/sour character that mixes in well with the other spices. Maybe some darker/roasted malts, with a nice nutiness. The alcohol is a little much, and might mellow out with some age.

M: Medium-full bodied mouthfeel with medium carbonation.

D: The spice and alcohol get to you after a bit, but are still delicious. Adding a bit more body, and perhaps a little more sweetness would really turn this into a delightful brew. Still quite good by any measure.

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Photo of claminat420
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- poured a dark brown color like a stout. one finger tan head. little lacing.

S- gingerbread and a slight clove scent. alcohol is not noticable.

T- just how it smells except the alcohol hides in the back just a tad.

M- light bodied. nice carbonation.

D- could prolly drink 2 or 3 then the clove taste might be alil to much.

Overall- quite a different brew. this might be my first winter warmer and i can tolerate it. i recommend anyone to give this one a try.

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Photo of Shumista
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
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.

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Photo of edenm
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
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.

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Photo of GordonQuid
4.94/5  rDev +28%
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!

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Photo of mikey711
4.21/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received his as an extra recently.

A: Very dark brown with only a mild amount of head on top. No lacing present either which is dissappointing

S: Heavily spiced with gingerbread cloves nutmeg and cinnamon with a brown sugar and molasses note in the background.

T: Very much like the smell with the spices coming through pretty heavy. There is a good amount of brown sugar and molasses that are very pleasing.

M: It has a good amount of body and is very smooth. When I realized it was 11.5% I was shocked because it is much lighter than that.

D: Continuing on from my shock, I cant believe this beer is this big. It drinks like a 6% beer and is something I could have a few of in the night which would cause problems

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Photo of mjl21
3.37/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Acquired via trade...thanks Josh. 12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. No abv info or bottling info is given.

A-Pours a dark brown with some visible red coming through. It has a minimal tan head that goes to a small ring fairly quickly.

S-Super spiced is the best way to describe this beer. It reminds me in a lot of ways of a pumpkin beer because it has similair spicing. There is a lot of clove, cinammon, anise, and five spice. The aroma is not to my personal liking but when judged as a spiced beer it works.

T-Like the nose, there is lots of anise, clove, five spice, and other spices. It has a spicy finish and there is some noticeable bitterness. There is a little booze as it goes down and the flavor and aftertaste remind me of everyone's favorite Italian digestif, Fernet Branca.

M-It is thicker bodied and has light carbonation.

D-Too spiced for my taste.

This is a great beer for lovers of pumpkin beers. I think a lot of people will like this, but the spices just don't appease my palate.

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Photo of younger35
3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received this brew almost a year ago from eyebrews and I don't know why today seemed like a good day to drink. I've really only had 2 pumpkin brews this year so apparently come end of September it's time to get into the Christmas brews. Drank from my Stone India Pale Ale flute.

2008 version

Appearance- Pours a dark brownish copper with a fairly decent half finger tannish head and a boatload of thick chunky yeast pour out. The cap recedes to almost nothing leaving a super thin collar and a bit of thin random lacing.
Smell- Well funny enough it actually sort of smells like a pumpkin brew. Cinnamon and clove seem to dominate the nose along with some nutmeg and allspice. The spices mixed with the lightly toasted maltiness give a gingerbread likeness that is really nice. This might be the most highly spiced brew I've ever sniffed.
Taste- Holy shit, the nose translates to the taste. The spices are almost bitterly potent as the allspice and nutmeg are freaking intense. Loads of chocolate and cinnamon combine along with a bit of caramel giving an almost milky way like taste. The alcohol is also fairly prevalent even amongst the spices. I can imagine this was a crazy ABV bomb while fresh. Finishes with a bit of gingerbread and cocoa and of course allspice.
Mouthfeel- Fairly light body with a milky alcoholic feel and a tinge of warmth on the end.
Drinkability- Considering the size of the brew and the intensity of the spices it's actually really tasty. The chocolate and spices are intense and pretty much awesome. Nice change of pace this time of year and a good beer. That's saying something too considering Winter Warmers aren't my favorite.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 release. Deep murky opaque dark brown pour with a quarter inch of tan foam on top. Aromas start with roasted malts entwined with a bold mix of spices. Clove is upfront with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and holiday bread baking spices. Notes of chocolate and some fruit accents. Reminds me of baking Christmas cookies and of rich spice cakes.

First sip brings smooth semi-sweet roasted malts wrapped in a warm blanket of spices. Clove, nutmeg, ginger and some cinnamon. Tastes like a spiced dark rye bread. Flows down with a bit of sweetness and lots of lingering spice. I can see how some may find it overly spiced but to me it was very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy and smooth. The malt body here is well placed and the alcohol is never too much in the flavor. This ends up being quite warming in the end and the mix of spices really work. I personally enjoy the forward clove aspect. A stellar spiced brew from Dark Horse. Paired well with some Carr Valley Menage cheese and fun to drink in the summer. Thanks hoppymeal!

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled: 08/01/2009
12oz. bottle into tulip glass
Vintage: 2008

To start off, this was a very interesting brew that I am glad I sampled. Brew poured a black translucent color w/ a one finger cream head. Had the look of a black tea w/ carbonation. Laced the glass nicely and it pretty much stuck around for the remainder of the tasting. The nose was a real treat w/ the aromas of chai tea, vanilla, ginger, clove, and nutmeg. The taste was pretty much on par as expected w/ a finish of mild bittering hops. For 11% ABV this brew was surprisingly drinkable due to the herbs/spices masking well. The mouthfeel was a little thin for my taste - wanted this to be slightly creamier. Overall, this brew was very unique, interesting, and enjoyable. Glad I got the chance to sample, but don't think I will be seeking this one out again, due to it reminding me more of tea than beer. This brew was more of a mind expander than anything for me.

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Photo of brentk56
4.37/5  rDev +13.2%
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

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