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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

413 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 413
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: 413 | Reviews: 141 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of david131


4.18/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage

A- Pours a deep, dark leathery brown liquid with some ruby red highlights. The mocha head is thick and creamy and has good retention.

S- Very complex with hints of mint, black cherry, citrus, and caramel. No alcohol is detected in the nose. Intriguing.

T- Sweet and smooth malt flavors hit first. Some smoke and black cherry flavors are present. No alcohol is apparent.

M- Very smooth and creamy body with a nice amount of carbonation. The flavors linger for quite some time.

D- This is astoundingly drinkable for the alcohol content. The flavors are mild enough to keep it form becoming too rich. This has aged nicely.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2011 06:00:53 | More by david131
Photo of BMoney575


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

Sampled on 2-2-11
2010 Vintage

Pours completely opaque and very dark. A tiny bit of red filters through on the edges. A filmy tan head leaves a a thick ring around the outside.

Smell is strong, roasted malt, with aromas of coffee, anise and earthy hops. The booze is there, adding a deepness to accent the earthy tones.

Taste is all dark fruit at first, giving way to flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. The roasted coffee flavors come next, with a sweet, slightly bitter finish. Very good.

Mouthfeel is thick, slick, and very creamy. Just right for the big malty character.

Drinkability is very good, considering the big flavors and big abv.

Overall, a very good beer that will probably age very well.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2011 21:57:21 | More by BMoney575
Photo of MbpBugeye


3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2011 04:25:43 | More by MbpBugeye
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 mdfb79

New York

3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2011 03:52:06 | More by mdfb79
Photo of emmasdad


3.25/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2010 02:40:20 | More by emmasdad
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2010 19:38:41 | More by Sammy
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 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.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2010 02:45:28 | More by ThaBobfather
Photo of degerbah


3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2010 02:40:18 | More by degerbah
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 alleykatking


4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
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!

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2010 01:36:21 | More by alleykatking
Photo of joepais


4/5  rDev +5.5%
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

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2010 18:40:14 | More by joepais
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 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.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2010 19:54:02 | More by nickd717
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 mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2010 22:56:57 | More by mothman
Photo of darklordlager


3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2010 05:51:31 | More by darklordlager
Photo of claminat420


3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2010 02:42:40 | More by claminat420
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 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 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 mikey711

New Jersey

4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
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

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2009 00:41:15 | More by mikey711
Photo of mjl21


3.33/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2009 00:27:28 | More by mjl21
Photo of younger35


3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2009 21:52:34 | More by younger35
Dark Horse 4 Elf from Dark Horse Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 413 ratings.