Four Witches - New Holland Brewing Company

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Four WitchesFour Witches

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BA SCORE
78
okay

194 Ratings
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Ratings: 194
Reviews: 40
rAvg: 3.38
pDev: 17.75%
Wants: 3
Gots: 13 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
New Holland Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  7.30% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: DannyDan on 06-02-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 194 | Reviews: 40
Photo of Sammy
3.07/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Unique, but something I could not drink much of. Black, very dry. Like the base for something that had to be added, and it wasn't. Aroma was OK. Bottle from Steve. Some licorice. Low drinkability. Missing hop, mouthfeel, malt. I may cook with it though.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.73/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Perhaps mistaken for Porter, this "Black Saison has dry toasted character and creamy-sweetness from wheat, and then turning spicy with husk-like rye. Yet its earthy peppercorn, charred wood and burnt currant flavors rises from its calderon, just ahead of a semi-dry and effervescent finish.

Dark and creamy, Four Witches pours with an ominous brown hue. Showing off garnet low lights, the beer's dark clarity gives a rich and masculine look. Its creamy head floats above the beer with stubborn retention and spotty lace. Its a handsome ale, just less exuberant than more authentic Belgian-made saisons; preferring English-like foam and carbonation to that of champagne.

Fruity, spicy and chocolaty, the common balance of Saison is complicated by the toasty and slightly roasty characteristics. Its fruit shift from apple and pear to blackcurrant and faint raisin. Its spiciness shies from the soft coriander and white pepper to the sharpness of fresh-cracked peppercorn. All this lays firmly on a bead of dry toast, chocolate and coffee.

Medium-sweet, the beer holds on dearly to its malt flavor and never prefers a quick transition to dry malt taste. Seemingly creamy and lightly starchy, the taste of thin corn syrups, yogurt and semi-sweet chocolate before its toasted and ground coffee finish. Its sweetness waivers slightly after the middle palate to allow for a spicy finish of black peppercorn, rye grain spiciness, burnt toast and grape seeds.

Its creamy body keeps the beer mid-sweet as the residual malt sugars cling to the palate and lessens its drinkability just slightly. But the peppery bite comes from a few different directions- rye, pepper, alcohol, toast, and coffee-type bitterness.

What's old is new again, as many contemporary aficionados thing that these darker Saisons are a current phenomenon. Turns out that darker Farmhose Ales have been alive for centuries and only highlighted in recent craft beer attempts, like New Holland's version- perfectly suited for upcoming Halloween!

Photo of Knapp85
3.97/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a deep brown color, it's black in low lighting. There is a thin tan he's on top that settles into just a light ring of foam aroun the edge of the glass. The smell of the beer is really interesting! It's got some sweet nutty aromas with some spices and grains, not much roast though. It's a much brighter beer on the nose than the color suggests. The taste is quite nice too, the flavors of anise and sweet grains balance nicely with the hops in the finish. There is a very distant roasted note on the far back end of this beer. The mouthfeel is soft, gently carbonated and easy to drink. Overall I really enjoyed this crazy hybrid of a brew. I would drink again for sure!

Photo of oberon
3.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep dark chocolate brown with a nicely formed light beige head atop.alot of black licorice in the nose along with some sweet spiced cherries.First off the black licorice just seemed to overwhelm my palate,Iam not a fan of black licorice so that was a bit unpleasant,undereath the onslaught I picked up some earthiness and dark toast.Started off real well but for my taste I just got to much licorice to really enjoy,obviously alot of people like black licorice and may like this more than me.

Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, 2012 vintage. Pours fairly pitch black color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense khaki tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Some decent spotty lacing clings to the glass. Aromas of roasted malt, licorice, raisin, chocolate, caramel, molasses, cola, pepper, clove, herbal, earth, and yeast spices. Pretty nice and very unique aromas with good balance and complexity. Taste of chocolate, licorice, roasted malt, raisin, prune, caramel, molasses, herbal, clove, earth, biscuit, rye, nuttiness, toast, and yeast spices. Light roast and fruity tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt, biscuit, toast, clove, earth, rye, and yeast spices on the finish for a good bit. Nice flavor complexity and balance; with no cloying flavor notes at all, very well blended. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very good black saison. This was certainly an interesting and unique experience as I expected. It turned out to be nicely complex and balanced; and quite enjoyable stuff.

Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - black with a reddish hut; big foamy brown head that fades quickly

S - black licorice, anise, figs, raisins

T - anise, black licorice, roasted malts, figs, raisins, some faint chocolate, some peppery rye, some funky yeast comes through

M - crisp, medium bodied, well carbonated

This is a surprisingly complex and unique saison. It's has a ton of flavor. The black licorice and anise notes dominate which I'm not crazy about but the uniqueness, the rye, the dark fruit, the roasted malts and chocolate all play a part as well. I'm impressed. This is definitely worth a try.

Photo of biegaman
3.57/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Four Witches, as is typical for New Holland beers, has wonderful label art. The liquid inside the bottle looks pretty good too; its burnt chestnut complexion is dark and largely black-ish but not without flickers of reddish colour and even some spotty clarity. Its head, though relatively pathetic for a supposed Saison, is still respectable and has a brownish tint to its froth.

Saisons are among the most aromatic of beer styles, so it stands to reason that one brewed with the addition of dark roasted wheat, caramel rye, and "mild spicing" (seems overwhelmingly like clove) should be exceptionally so. Except it's not. A kind of 'plain jane' cereal graininess overrides the subtle hint of coffee bean and the odd twang of bruised, lightly mulled dark fruits.

The flavour tells a similar story. There are some impressive notes of mocha, caramel macchiato, and maybe with a little imagination even a bite of pumpkin pie. But these features capture the attention only briefly, and don't have any lasting power in the finish. They're also only half the story - and the other half is much plainer, less exciting.

Four Witches has a truly unusual profile that blends black licorice and farmhouse grain with hints of over-ripe dark fruit skins and a pinch of clove. It won't be for everyone. And rightfully so - it's a questionable combination to say the least. But I kind of like it ("kind of" being the operative term). To its credit, however, it really doesn't drink its strength (8.9%).

The so-called 'Black Saisons' that I've tried have tended to be more 'miss' than 'hit' and Four Witches wasn't the exception to the rule I was optimistic it would be. It was, however, a very interesting beer that offered a lot of truly unique qualities; I'm happy to have tried it. Don't read too much into the scores on the internet. Try it yourself if you're at all curious.

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.9/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a 10 oz chalice glass

Appearance – Served a surprising dark brown nearly black colored brew with a one finger brown head. The head faded slowly over time to give a medium level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma is heaviest of black licorice. This is mixed with some sour dark fruit aromas of cherry. The aroma is rather tart smelling as would be expected of a farmhouse ale, but yet has a light roast aroma as well.

Taste – The dark malt flavors shine through in the front. Brown Bread and chocolate flavors are quite heavy in the start. As the taste advances a peppery-yeasty taste enters the flavor profile. This is quickly followed by a tart cherry flavor as well as some haylike and funky flavors as well. These sour and tart flavors grow stronger toward the end and leave a rather odd but quite tasty tart-chocolate flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body is light to medium with a carbonation level that is rather average. Neither were really that great for the style, although they really were not bad either. A more creamy and thick body would have done well for the initial roasty flavors, while a higher level of carbonation would have gone nicely with the more sour tastes at the end of the flavor profile.

Overall – This was a mighty tasty beer. While the dark and the tart may not seem like it would go together well, New Holland has pulled it off with this brew.

Photo of barczar
3.8/5  rDev +12.4%

Aroma reveals esters of green apple and general yeast funk, along with light roast and sweet chocolate. Flavor is sweet, roasty, and chocolatey, with pear and green apple accompanying must and earthy, dank basement tones. Surprisingly good yeast character in this $2 bomber. The sweetness is a touch offputting. A saison? That's a big stretch. A drinkable brew? Surely.

Photo of Bung
2.78/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz. Nearly black pour, nearly no head. Off white what there was.

Aroma, molasses and sassafras. A funky root beer, it's not really very pleasant. I don't get much else.

Taste, not quite as bad. Caramel, molasses, sassafras again. But there is also some chocolate and estery and spicy yeast notes, though very little.
The aroma just radiates and controls this one in a bad way.

Almost mid bodied. Kind of coats, not nearly enough carbonation. Alcohol is hidden, but it is too syrupy sweet.

Bought a four pack and regret it immediately. I absolutely loved the dark saisons I've had in the past, this is not in that boat. Definetely a Belgian Dark. Not my cup of tea. Like a very bad less alcoholic version of Gulden Draak.

Photo of scottfrie
2.73/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle into snifter. Thanks for the bottle jbck109.

A: Pours near black with a finger of fizzy dark brown head that quickly bubbled away into basically nothing.
S: My first thought was this beer was infected but upon further inspection it may be just a strange bill of ingredient. I’m still getting a strange kind of infected cherry sweetness, but notes of anise, caramel, booze, and chocolate come through as well. Clove and a little bit of dark fruit too perhaps.
T: Anise and spices dominate along with that strange dark fruit cherry taste. I get notes of root beer and cola, cherry cola, as well. This tastes like black licorice cherry rootbeer cola if that makes sense.
M: The carbonation is super airy and froths up on my palate. I’m not saying this beer is infected, but the carbonation sure does froth up in a way that reminds of infected bottles of stouts I’ve had in the past. Medium body, frothy soda mouthfeel.
O: Anise cola with a splash of cherry. Definitely strange, not sure I like it. Not undrinkable, just not my taste. Thanks for the tick though, Jay.

Photo of StoutHunter
3.09/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I picked up a bottle of New Holland's Four Witches yesterday for $1.69 at The Lager Mill. It's been a while since I have had a Black Saison, and I liked the only one I have had so I thought I should give this beer a try, so lets see how it goes. Spring 2012 vintage. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a tulip.

A- I like the label, the witches look a little creepy, I like it. It poured a dark black color that didn't let any light come through and it had three and a half fingers worth of fluffy darker tan head that died down to a thick ring that stayed till the end and left some nice looking lacing. This is a damn good looking beer with a pretty impressive head, I really like the way this beer looks.

S- The aroma is pretty weird, it starts off with some roasted malts that impart some slight sweet chocolate aromas. Next come the black licorice which is unexpected and seems to dominate the aroma. Towards the end I get some of those grassy Saison aromas followed by some some light funk and tartness. The aroma is Ok, but the Black Licorice seems to overpower some of those nice Saison aroma, it's pretty weird aroma combination.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma, it starts off with some dark roasted malts that have a medium amount of sweetness and impart a light roasted flavor along with a little bit of bitter chocolate. Next comes the black licorice which still sticks out the most but it isn't as dominating as it was in the aroma. Towards the end comes the Saison like flavors that are pretty light and impart some light grassy and slightly funk flavors followed by hardly any bitterness instead there was medium amount of tartness. The flavors is kind of a mess and the Black Licorice takes away from the roasted malts and Saison flavors that should show up more, I think it's average at best.

M- Not that smooth, a little dry, not that refreshing, on the light side of being medium bodied and it had a nice amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is average, it should be smoother and more refreshing and not so dry.

Overall I really wasn't feeling this beer, and I thought it was a pretty average example of a Black Saison, it just didn't have the balance that it needed. This beer didn't have good drinkability, the flavors to meld together well and that makes a half of this beer more then enough for me, there's no way I would want another one. What I liked most about this beer was the appearance, it looked damn good in my tulip. What I liked the least about this beer was the heavy anise aspect, it just seemed out of place and it wasn't pleasing. I wouldn't buy this beer again, one try is enough for me, I don't recommend this beer unless your a big anise fan. I had high expectations for this beer and it feel way short, the black licorice just didn't go well with the other flavors and made this beer a mess. Better luck next time guys, I don't think this beer is worth brewing again.

Photo of prototypic
3.55/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Four Witches pours a dark, chocolate fudge color. It looks black initially. When held to light, a few burgundy highlights are apparent. It’s not quite opaque. A light tan head covers the top. It’s modest and barely covers the surface before disappearing quickly. Lacing was very light and spotty on the glass.

The nose is alright. It seems a little weak. More strength would easily upgrade it. It does feature some dark malt notes up front. Chocolate, roasted, and caramel malts all seem to be present. Smells a little sweet. It does have some earthy and grainy notes throughout. Yeast brings some spicy notes to the table. Interestingly enough, anise seems to be the strongest spice scent. Perhaps a little pepper backing it. Alcohol is masked pretty well. Not bad.

The flavor keeps the pace. It definitely has a strong anise presence. If you’re not into black licorice, you probably won’t like it. It’s definitely a tad strong for my taste. The malt base is a tad roasty, but is mostly chocolate and light, sweet caramel. It’s not bad. Definitely intriguing. Belgian yeast is pretty flavorful. The spicy notes it brings to the table are interesting. I’m not sure if anise is a product of that or not. There are some pepper and clove notes, as well. It’s herbal and grainy throughout. Alcohol isn’t much of a factor at all. Finishes with a bit spices, herbs, and black licorice.

Four Witches has a body that’s on the lighter side of medium. Carbonation feels light and rather soft. It definitely doesn’t seem as refreshing as your typical Saison, but I’m sure they weren’t going for that. For what it is, I like the feel pretty well.

New Holland’s been a very hit and miss brewery for me. Four Witches falls somewhere in between the two. It’s alright. I like the idea of a Black Saison. This one has a bit too much of an anise or black licorice flavor going. It’d be better with a little less of that. Still worth checking out. Grab a single bottle if you can.

Photo of Monkeyknife
3.44/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle a dark brown color with one finger of beige head.

Aroma of roasted caramel malts.

The taste was roasted malts, red berries and a hint of cocoa.

Medium bodied with a moderate carbonation.

Really not much of a saison here. Basically roasted malts and not much else.

Photo of MDDMD
3.8/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-dark brown red color with no head and no lacing

S-anise, chocolate, spices and some herbal notes

T-dark roasted malt, chocolate, anise, pepper, yeasty dough, tartness

F-light to medium body with low carbonation, smooth rather than crisp and refreshing

O-interesting take on a Saison. Had some interesting flavors and if you like anise, it works. Not a summer quencher.

Photo of bsp77
4.01/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Tulip.

Appearance: Extremely dark brown with decent light brown head.

Smell: Holy licorice! All I smell is anise. I would like to say that I can detect some roasted malt and spiciness, but I think that would be a lie.

Taste: Certainly taste a lot more than anise, but that is present as well. Nice dried out roasted malts that taste of smoke, char and coffee. Pretty spicy as well, with rye and clove.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, with a medium body (lighter than it looks). It is fairly smooth and lightly chalky, but the chalkiness doesn't bother me as it usually does because it works with the very dry roasted and spicy finish.

Overall: Other than the one-dimensional aroma, this was surprisingly good. Wish I had bought more than a single.

Photo of bennetj17
3.28/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Looks dark like a Porter, with a medium thick, soapy looking tan foam that holds nicely. Chocolate, hints of dark fruit, licorice, and a bit of caramel in the aroma. Not sure where this is going but it does smell decent.

Tangy sweet malt with a bright intensity. I don't really like the combo of roasted toffee and caramel malts with the tangy fruitiness. It doesn't work well with each other and there isn't enough dry roastiness in the finish to round it out and add another dimension. Smooth, velvety body, good carbonation.

Overall this is not a success. I'm not sure about this trend of making dark Saisons, it's such a great style, why pervert it and make it taste almost like a stout? Furthermore, without knowing the name there is no way you possibly guess this was a farmhouse ale of any kind. It doesn't bear resemblence.

Photo of 57md
3.74/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Appearance is a dark ruby brown with no head. The nose is an interesting combination of apple brandy and birch beer. The taste is lightly nutty and wheaty; a nice combination of flavors, but slightly thin. There was a sour citrus finish to this offering.

Photo of WastingFreetime
3.76/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out nearly black with no head nor lacing at all whatsoever. Where's the foam? An intense aroma of licorice, horehound, bubblegum, and a slightly medicinal cough syrup sort of smell fills the room! The flavor is very much like that old-fashioned BlackJack chewing gum combined with oven-roasted allspice seasoning, and presents a earthy raunchy rye fade-out with an odd little lift of sweetness at the very end, probably from all the wheat used. Medium body and medium-low carbonation that amplifies the pepperpot nature of the spicing somewhat. If only it had a head....

Photo of BB1313
3.24/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours black with no light getting though. Small off-white head fades quickly and leaves decent lacing and rentention. The first thing I smell is anise and black licorice. It actually dominates the nose along with some chocolate malts. It sure doesn't smell like a saison, and it really doesn't taste like one either. There's a slight tartness in the flavors. I can pick up some black cherries, dates, and raisins. Bittersweet flavors. Reminiscent of a stout? The Belgian characteristics are lacking. Mouthfeel is nice, light and has a moderate amount of carbonation. Finishes dry. Alcohol goes unnoticed. Interesting beer.

This is a very unique beer. It's pretty hard to classify what I'm drinking. It's definitely a hybrid. The anise/black licorice characteristics seem to dominate, so if you're into that, this is for you. If you're looking for something different, this is for you. It's a very odd beer. One second I'm enjoying it, and then the next I'm confused. It reminded me more of a porter/stout than any Belgian style beer. Unique..

Photo of Giggy
4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: a dark brown leather couch color with a thin tan head.

S: aroma seems lighter than appearance. Nutty, spices, apple, wood.

T: spicy, licorice, pepper, vanilla, cherry, cola

O: Great beer. Mild with flavor. Alcohol is well hidden, very balanced.

Photo of NilocRellim
2.91/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured cold from the bottle, this beer was pitch black. It had a nice cream-coloured head, while sitting on the black beer, looked very nice. The smell was very strong and very complex. There were notes of spices, burnt barley, molasses, and a dominant anise smell. The taste followed the smell like a map... Very complex, almost too complex, with the anise taste overpowering the other flavours. The anise flavour lingered for a bit while the aftertaste of roasted barley took over, which was a nice finish.

Would I buy it again? No. I enjoy the taste of anise, but this beer had too much going on.

Photo of GRPunk
3.58/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle (vintage 2012) poured into a Lion tulip

A- 1-1/2 finger brown head. Black Saison? Actually, deep, dark brown. Just a shade or two short of black. The head settles to a thin film and leaves some good sticky rings.

S- Almost licorice at first. No, definitely licorise, or anise. Rye comes through if you're looking for it. Subtle chocolate. It all keeps coming back to the anise/black licorice. Close to room temps, things mellow a bit and bring out more chocolate and brown sugar, even a touch of coffee.

T- Initial chocolate mixes with rye to create an interesting flavor combination. Maybe that's the anise I get from the nose, but I don't think so. hints of black pepper. Subtle smoke. A little spicy heat.

M- Surprisingly light bite considering the flavor profile. Moderate body and carbonation.

O- The cap says, "sweet.". I'm thinking it's more savory. It's another beer that's difficult to score. Not really a Saison in my book. Maybe a Belgian dark ale? Definitely a sipper.

Labeling and robust nature have me thinking this would be a decent fit come October.

Photo of Minkybut
2.75/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer poured a really black color with a nice big tan head. However the head did not last long but the lacing lingered pretty well. The beer smelled spicy and cloves flowed over the edge of the glass. I was hopeful. Alas though the beers head faded away quickly and the taste was just not good. I will not buy again.

Photo of KFBR392
2.9/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours with a thin head. Sits black in the glass with dark brown edges when held to light. Low carbonation active in the glass. No lacing on the edges of the glass.

Smell: Caramel malt is pleasant on the front end. A very bitter vegetable body comes on very strong. A yeast base is also very present. Interesting but nothing spectacular.

Taste: Some of the smooth caramel malt greets the palate right away. But an incredibly bitter body of celery, cucumbers, and exotic yeast hit way too hard. Even as the beer warmed up, the bitterness was too much. Finishes with a wild yeast dryness.

Mouthfeel: Yeasty twinge haves an interesting feeling on the palate. Dry but not as much as I expected.

Overall: Decided to go out on a limb and give this one a shot. Wasn't terrible but nothing I would get again. Black Saison is such an interesting style, but this one overall is kind of a miss.

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Four Witches from New Holland Brewing Company
78 out of 100 based on 194 ratings.