Dark Horse 4 Elf | Dark Horse Brewing Company

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Dark Horse 4 ElfDark Horse 4 Elf

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.75%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by granger10 on 11-27-2003

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Reviews: 204 | Ratings: 826
Photo of paxtonthegreat
5/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Easily my favorite winter beer ever along with Samichlaus. This strong winter warmer packs in tons of flavors reminiscent of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and allspice. Every winter I frequent dark horse a lot to get my hands on lots of this. Like I said, best winter beer. ever.

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Photo of GordonQuid
4.94/5  rDev +27.6%
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!

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Photo of Trooper92292
4.88/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Great for the holidays by a warm fireplace. I originally gave this a lower rating but I just had it on tap at one of my favorite bars and it's even better. A great winter beer from Dark Horse.

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Photo of Stezz420
4.84/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1st beer from dark horse. Probably the best winter warmer I've had to date.

Dark stout looking beer. Decent head with good retention.

Smells like christmas popery, surprisingly very citrusy also.

Tastes like how it smells. A little bit of dark malt and chocolate come through also.

Perfect amount of carbonation goes down very smooth.

Over all im glad I tired this beer while it was around. Would love to try the barrel aged version if I can find a bottle.

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Photo of TheBlackMallard
4.7/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black into my snifter with about an inch of off white head.

Smell: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Allspice, Vanilla, and Ginger.

Taste: Aforementioned spices along with Chocolate malt. Full bodied with medium carbonation. Alcohol shows up a bit as it warms, I have a hard time believing it's only 9%.

Absolutely amazing and everything I'd want from a Winter Warmer. I wish I could've picked up more of this, it's on par with 3 guys if you ask me. Definitely one of my favorite beers. I hope they keep brewing it.

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Photo of mentor
4.62/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle provided by Eyedrinkale, ala BIF20. Thanks for the opportunity! Hard pour to get a thin layer of light brown head over a dark brown liquid. Can't see through, even when held to light. Smells wet sweet and of chocolate, ginger, molasses, nutmeg, and perhaps coriander (coriander is a spice I have limited experience with). Very enticing. Taste is equally complex and the flavors bound through numerous transitions. Wow. Starts nutmeg while drawn in the mouth, then a very aromatic ginger as the liquid settles across the tongue. The ginger sting settles, but never quite disappears. The next flavors to dance across my palette are chocolate and a gentle nutty. The nutmeg then re-appears along with a sweeter herb, which I think is coriander (sweet with rounded esters, but still a bit of a woody quality about it) as part of the swallow/aftertaste. The aftertaste is a touch bitter, no maybe sour, consisting of a mix of alcohol hot and ginger yow-za...but, also tastes vanilla and smooth. Also, as I ponder another aftertaste, I taste some orange zest...no white pith, it's pure orange skin. Lots going on here...this beer is a wonderful challenge. Burps are sweet chocolate. Medium body and moderately (and sharply) carbonated. The numerous flavors in this beer 'play nice' with each other and also do not 'talk too loud'. I get a sniff each time I take a sip and I wind up being so intrigued by the smell that I steal another whiff before I pull it away.

Near the end of the glass, I'm getting an overall impression of a complex and woody character that's similar to the burned cask character of some whiskies. The ginger in the beer is like a bit of pixie dust to keep me from thinking this could be an oak-aged product. I think, what really makes this beer, is the chocolate. With searching, I find it from draw to swallow, with varying intensities. It lays a nice backbone that the diffferent spices can whirl away from, but then step to the safety of.

I feel like a sod, having drank this in July. It *really* would be a great sipping beer in front of my fireplace on a dark winter night.

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Photo of jp32
4.62/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a color somewhere on the fence between deep, dark brown, and pure black. A decent head sits atop as well. The beer is pretty darn dark for a christmas ale, and that is all good in my book.

The aroma is hoppy and spicey with notes of pine, nutmeg, and cloves. Some roasted malts appear in the background the more the beer warms.

The flavor is also big on both cloves and nutmeg, but with a strong malt backbone that really beefs this up compared to other christmas ales. Chai tea is present, as well as some faint hints of ginger.

Mouthfeel is a well carbonated medium bodied beer. Exactly what you'd want this one to be.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.55/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with an eighth of a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Nice aromas of toasted malt and spices, such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, star anise and licorice. I also get notes of brown sugar, dark molasses, toffee, and roasted nuts. Smells great!

Taste: Really, really good! Lots of roasted malt flavor up front, flowed by lots of dark chocolate, clove, nutmeg, brown sugar and a touch of dark cherry. Very interesting and delicious.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and nicely effervescent as there’s quite a bit of carbonation. With an ABV of 8.75%, there is surprisingly, no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a delicious beer! I love the spices, dark chocolate and dark cherry! I see why this has an exalted reputation! If it’s available next year, I’ll certainly get a few bottles to enjoy over the holidays!

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.53/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - mostly opaque, a hint of brownish red around the edge. Light mocha head settles and holds at a thin cover. Lace on the glass is thin, sticky.

Aroma - a lightly smoked, peaty malt sitting under a blanket of anise and perhaps some ginger and/or clove.

Taste - malty, lots of cinnamon. Chocolate on the swallow and loads of cloves. The swallow is all cinnamon and clove, super spicy, I dig it.

Mouthfeel - slightly heavier than average, nice for this style. Carbonation is just a bit fluffy to help counter.

Overall - a delicious warmer, darker style with lots of spiciness.

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Photo of Ksoden1186
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

A very dark cola colored beer with an off-white head.
Winter spices on the nose.
A wonderful tasting winter ale. The spices shine and the alcohol is not apparent at all.
This is one of my favorite winter ales and really sets itself apart from many others. A very unique beer that is wonderful.

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Photo of dgugliuzza
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a large snifter

Opaque brown color that looks pitch black in the glass. Thin tan head with large bubbles spread throughout.

An array of spices delightfully inhibit the nostrils. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice are dominant. Nice layer of candy sweet malt. Smells like freshly baked gingerbread cookies.

Just as the smell indicates. The warming spices are delectable and perfectly incorporated. Cinnamon and nutmeg stand out to make this taste like liquid gingerbread. No alcohol burn whatsoever.

Medium-thick and creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is low, but adequate for the style. Very smooth and easy to drink. I would have never guessed the double digit ABV quantity.

4 Elf is nothing short of outstanding. The most flavorful winter warmer I've had to date. If you like gingerbread cookies, then you will love this beer. It truly tastes and feels like a snowy winter night. Well worth seeking out.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle procured somehow by kkulacki (he got engaged across the state the day this was released, so i have no idea how he got this) and generously sent to me. Pours surprisingly dark with a short brown head. Laces slowly and tightly. Smells magnificent...strong nutmeg and allspice with well-brewed coffee and dark chocolate. Flavor great too, big holiday spiced front (again, nutmeg and allspice, with a hint of hot cinnamon). Spices very strong, but supported well by a chocolate malt body and well balanced but warming alcohol. Full bodied. A bigger than life but extremely enjoyable winter warmer. Thanks again, Konrad!

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Photo of Extrajoker00
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

4 Elf by Tröegs
poured from a 12 oz.bottle into a beer mug

A : deep deep amber/ brown 4.0

S : clove, prune and spice, wonderful 4.5

T : toasted malt, dark fruit, spices 4.5

M :Full bodied but crisp, full flavored 4.25

D : a little heavy for day to day

O: very very good holiday beer 4.5

Great Holiday Beer, Thanks

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Photo of mwa423
4.44/5  rDev +14.7%
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 FrognutUnl
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - dark brown with an off-white head.
S - The nose is of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice with very little hop character to speak of.
T - Very similar to the nose with the addition of some chocolate malt. The alcohol begins to poke through as the glass warms.
M - Medium bodied.

Overall, this is what every winter warmer should be. Another hit from Darkhorse.

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Photo of Lukafer
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
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 smakawhat
4.41/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Deep dark mahogany red, a bit opaque with not too much hues and slightly muddy looking. Manages a tan very creamed two finger head, that easily sinks to a simple one finger puck very slowly.

Excellent classic winter warmer aroma. Hints of nutmeg, big sweet brown spices of clove and cinnamon. Excellent bready tones very much like a fruitcake going on, just excellent.

Palate is just full of classic balanced flavors. Huge gingerbread notes on this thing, with great dry nutmeg and cinnamon character. Simple malt backbone with a moderate feel. Aftertaste leaves a great dry hint of fig and spice. Warm ginger comes with

This is an excellent warmer, nailing all those classic spices and bringing more to the palate than just a sugar rush and a mess.

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Photo of SaucyA
4.41/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours an incredibly deep, almost black, brown. The head is a tan crown that lasts about as long as the pour itself. It retreats back into it's deep mahogany base as quickly as it appeared. Retention, lacing, and legs aren't it's strong suit.

S - The smell of this brew is just killer. Lots of cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, allspice. Perfumey. Smells a lot like the same spices as Screaming Pumpkin from MBC, except doubled. The chocolatey malty background is a great stage for everything to play around on.

T - Wow, this is like nothing I've ever had before. My dad just drank a sip and said "It tastes like Christmas." And it does. It starts off rather sweet at first, with an almost tea-like quality. Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg are all big players, with the spices leaving a nice aftertaste. It seems the malt has just enough "umph" to keep everything together and even out the backend. This is good on both an "extreme" level, and a well-brewed-beer level.

M - A little thinner bodied than I might prefer, but it works with the spices. Carbonation is fine, if a little subdued.

D - Y'know, for being a total spice-bomb, this shit is second to none. Far and away the best spiced beer I've ever had. Glad I have a few more bottles.

Notes: Thanks to Craig for this, because I am a bitch.

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Photo of dhannes
4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L=Very dark brown, hint of red, with large, ecru colored foam head.
S=Nutmeg and other spices.
T=Like a stout with nutmeg/pumpkin spice/egg nog in the background.
F=Modest carbonation...but rather thick/not a session beer.
O=Unique change of pace...recommend as an after dinner desert beer. I am going to cellar the other 3 bottles until next year.

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Photo of Shumista
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
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 The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours chestnut brown with a cream colored almost beige 3 finger head. Light accentuates cranberry hues around the sides of the body.

If there were a festive smelling beer, this is it. Cranberries, holly, nutmeg, pecans, cinnamon, gingerbread, Red Hots, peppermint, hot cocoa...there's no better smelling holiday beer, I guarantee you.

The flavor starts out slightly piney, but quickly develops into banana nut bread, gingerbread with red hots, prune, cinnamon, nutmeg, followed by slight baked brown sugar and molasses. It's just so incredibly festive I can't help but rate it so high.

Buzzing carbonation, alcohol heat, and a dry rubbed finish.

Overall, as a Christmas/Holiday ale, 4 Elf NAILS it. I mean just NAILS it. Nothing better captures the aromas, flavors, and warmth of the holidays. Best holiday beer, and beyond impressed.

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Photo of brentk56
4.37/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark chocolate color with a tan head that leaves a few splashes of lace behind

Smell: Smells like mincemeat pie with a whole range of holiday spices - cinnamon, clove and allspice dominate

Taste: Rich caramel and spice flavors build into a boozy chocolate concoction by mid-palate; the clove, allspice and cinnamon are powerful; after the swallow, the booziness builds a bit and adds a holiday dessert element

Mouthfeel: Full body with moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: For those who like a nice spicy Winter Warmer, this beer is the real McCoy; a bit too high in alcohol to drink more than one

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Photo of elNopalero
4.37/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This pours an amber-cola color with thin foaming. It has a matly aroma with cloves and cinnamon prominent. The beer itself is spicy—not peppery spice, but holiday/pumpkin pie spice—with a heavy-handed shake of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice… mixed with some raisin and a touch of roastiness and a bitter finish. Strong, but it plays well and warms wonderfully.

The first bar I had this at had it listed in the 5% range. I was pretty sure it was a weee bit stronger… but at almost 9% I had no idea!

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Photo of prototypic
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to hoppy for this wonderful surprise.

Appearance: It's a dark mahogany color and is very close to opaque. There's a little light slicing through at the edges giving it dark garnet highlights. The head is caramel colored and reaches about a finger deep. It was quick to recede and left light lace behind.

Smell: The nose is good, bordering on excellent. I'm close to awarding a 4.5 here, but it's just a little too weak. It is very heavy on cinnamon throughout. That's the predominant aroma. To a lesser degree, other holiday spices are noted (vanilla, nutmeg, and ginger). Roasted and light chocolate malts are noted. I'm not picking up any alcohol here. I wish I knew what the abv was. Nice smelling beer, just needs a little more kick.

Taste: Dark Horse ramped it up here. Cinnamon is very strong throughout. I haven't encountered a beer with such a strong cinnamon taste before. Fear not, it's excellent. Nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla complement the cinnamon flavor nicely, and give it a very well-rounded taste of the holidays. Roasted and light chocolate malts add a little sweetness and a ton of character. 4 Elf has a great malty foundation. Hops weren't apparent on the nose, but they certainly are here. They're mostly floral, but add a really nice buzzy kick to round it out. I am picking up alcohol here. It isn't offensive, but does have a slight warming effect. Finishes a little sweet with a nice bitter bite.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: The body is on the lighter side of medium, but it has a very nice creamy feel. Carbonation is dialed down to just the right level. Drinkability is very high. I really like the flavor of 4 Elf and it doesn't come across as a big, badass beer. I'm unsure of the abv, but I wouldn't guess it's all that high.

4 Elf is an excellent holiday beer. It's absolutely loaded with holiday spice flavor. While it's not exactly novel in that sense, the spicy flavor is definitely unique. Cinnamon comes through very strong, but it works soooo well. I have only one slight complaint and that's that the nose is just a little weak. It wouldn't take much to work out that kink. It's a close call as it is. Nevertheless, 4 Elf is excellent beer. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
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

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Dark Horse 4 Elf from Dark Horse Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 826 ratings.
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