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

690 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 690
Reviews: 180
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 11.87%
Wants: 54
Gots: 111 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 690 | Reviews: 180
Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

These mouthy servers! the party bus put them in a foul mood and made them mouthy. I like it.

They pour me a shaker pint of this muddy brown beer with a slight tan head. The pour is short but so is her temper so I don't say anything. A nice spice, thick chewy caramel and dark fruit. this is like a sexy fruit cake, the kind you eat instead of set in the back of the fridge until the next year.

I drink it too fast though, far too fast. Holy crap, this thing is 11.5%? shit. This is good and dangerous, a great combination for the evening.

Thank you ladies of Dark Horse, you entertained us well.

DH- Keep it up.

Photo of MbpBugeye
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice bottle from normyk. Poured into a snifter.

The beer pours out very dark, much darker than I expected. It has nightlights if chestnut and mahogany. Not much of a head. The spices are sweetand aromatic. Up close it smells like a malty rich strong ale. Lots of ginger bread, Nutmeg, cherries and light cinnamon. Spices are pretty big, but quite unique. Equally as big is a deep maltiness. Gingerbread, dried cherries, toffee, cocoa, raisin. It starts strong but the finish is lackluster. Carbonation is pretty high and the body leaves me wanting more heft. This its almost like a fruitcake in a glass. One of the more interesting winter warmers.

Photo of Drinkin4Two
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at The French Laundry in Fenton, MI

A: Very dark brown, almost black. One finger, off white head that lasted throuhgout

S: Spice and dark fruits. Not as much spice as I was expecting

T: Fruits, malts, and spices. Much more spice than the smell. Cinnamon, nutmeg, very good for a spiced brew.

M: Very smooth. Good carbonation, not too much.

D: Very good. Don't have a ton of experience with spiced brews but I really liked this one. Went well with my meal and would be a great Christmas brew

Photo of Urbancaver
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
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

Photo of mdfb79
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at the Dark Horse 4elf party. I approached with caution, thinking this is gonna be a spiced ale and probably not compatible with my palate. But it's Dark Horse so probably it's well done.

A 10oz pour into a plstic cup, dark brown and murky, translucent with a thick tan head. First whiff and oh shit, this is a spiced ale. VERY spiced, the stuff of Christmas cookies and pumkin pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe ginger, that type of thing.

The spices are all I taste, maybe some caramel malts, definitely no hops. This probably hits the winter warmer style, it's just not my style. Long linger of spices on the tongue. Not recommended for me to try ever again, but probably those who like spiced beers will like it.

Photo of malty
3.33/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Looks to be as dark brown as you can get before black. Dense, settled 1/4" khaki head. Lovely spotted sheets of elegant lace all the way down.

Smells of cinnamon, dark baker's chocolate, cloves & figs. A bit of ginger slips under the radar as it warms a bit. Reminds me of Jagermeister, but much less licorice. Dark, earthy spices and definitely mysterious.

Cinnamon and a touch of fusal alcohol make for the initial taste. Boozy masurated figs dominate the middle, while dusty dark chocolate comfy things up a bit.

Mouthfeel is between medium and full with a lovely creaminess. The carbonation is tame but still playful and cheery. The finish has a chalky element that makes for a nice bitter feel, somewhat offsetting the alcohol punch.

Drinkability is pretty decent. For a 11.4% brew, it drinks well enough.

Overall a beer I'm glad I tried, but I would choose other holiday spiced ales for my liking. As this beer warms, the flavors do open up and get rounder - less cinnamon and more dark roasted malts. The body is very nice, very creamy and soothing. Definitely a cold weather beer. A nice winter warmer but too much cinnamon and heat for my taste.

Photo of Giggy
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had a mug on draft at Crunchy's in East Lansing, MI

A: Dark brown wo almost black. Could not see through the mug. Small off white head that stuck around for a while.

S: Very strong clove aroma mixed with a little dark fruit. Reminded me of Jagermeister.

T: Fruits, Roots, & Spices- citrus peel, liquorice, anise, poppy seeds, saffron, ginger, juniper berries and ginseng.

M: Creamy and smooth

D: Very tasty. What I drank really filled me up so I wouldn't want more than 1 in a sitting but would drink again

Photo of emmasdad
3.26/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks again to Dan for bringing this one on Saturday. I have been a Dark Horse fan for a while now, but this is my first time trying this one. Poured a dark brown color with a bit of off-white head. Very reminiscent of Christmas, with a big clove aromas, which leads to a bunch of other holiday spices. On the palate, this one is medium bodied and smooth, with tons of clove, a little vanilla and caramel.

Photo of Sammy
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
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?

Photo of BARFLYB
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Photo of oglmcdgl
4/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

Photo of Lukafer
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
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.

Photo of ThaBobfather
4.18/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

Photo of degerbah
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

Photo of mwa423
4.44/5  rDev +17.2%
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.

Photo of alleykatking
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
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!

Photo of joepais
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
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

Photo of gford217
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

Photo of nickd717
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

Photo of tpd975
4.32/5  rDev +14%
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.

Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

Photo of darklordlager
3.94/5  rDev +4%
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.

Photo of claminat420
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Dark Horse 4 Elf from Dark Horse Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 690 ratings.