Dark Horse 4 Elf | Dark Horse Brewing Company

BA SCORE
87
very good
826 Ratings
THE BROS
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Dark Horse 4 ElfDark Horse 4 Elf
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
darkhorsebrewery.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
826
Reviews:
204
Avg:
3.87
pDev:
11.63%
 
 
Wants:
55
Gots:
155
For Trade:
7
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 826 |  Reviews: 204
Photo of Sammy
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

 294 characters

Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

2013 vintage.

Pours a hazy dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, and spice aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and spice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with some interesting aromas and flavors.

 581 characters

Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Knapp85
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of metter98
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.06/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of the fun in Christmas Ales is seeing what variety crawls out of the bottle next. Where other seasonal beers are rather predictable in their general taste, these holiday ales are anything but.. Dark Horse jumps out of the gate with an overall taste of toasted gingerbread!

Dark like porter, its brown body is just a shade off of stout. Complete opaqueness reinforces the notion of haze as no ribbons of light are able to pierce through. 4 Elf builds a dense lather of foam that prominently sits on top with strong staying power and trailing with broken lace.

Bold aromas of earthy sweetness and decadent spice intertwine into a toasted bread base with suggestions of molasses, coffee and chocolate. Its "Christmas-type" spices hold elements of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and allspice- all in equal parts, not letting any one to stand out over the other. A hint of campfire rises as the beer warms and highlights a scotch ale note.

Its succulent sweetness is full and rounded with those molasses and brown sugar flavors. Not left alone, other malt flavors resemble the taste of fresh ground espresso, bittersweet chocolates, roasted walnuts, and an earthen peat taste. As the holiday spices sprinkle about, the culminated taste is of fresh-baked ginger snaps. But once the ale opens up, even more savory flavors of rum-drunken stone fruits and coffee cake come alive in very adult fashion.

Medium-full in body, the beer's robust taste is nearly interpreted as complete fullness, but its creamy carbonation pulls from the beer's residual sweetness and pushes the malt off the tongue for a lightened effect. This ushers in a casual fade toward malty-dryness in the beer's waning moments. With the spice dryness and sweet alcohols rising, a taste of spiced rum persists in aftertaste.

I absolutely love the balance of 4 Elf as its spices are restrained enough so that no one type stands out. Also the ratio of sweet to spice is spot on as I go back and forth with each sip about which pulls ahead. This Dark Horse offering will likely be a standout of this holiday season. So, what's up with Dark Horse and random numbers during this time of year?

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Photo of kojevergas
3.33/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up at a Whole Paycheck in Manhattan for something like $2.99 USD.

BOTTLE: 12 fl oz. Brown glass bottle. Pry-off crown cap. Artful label art with a red and white holiday theme.

8.75% ABV. "Winter warmer spiced ale." 36 IBU.

HEAD: ~3-4cm in height. Pale khaki colour. Nice even consistency with a nice thickness to it. Soft enough. ~8 minute retention. Leaves no lacing as it recedes.

BODY: Opaque dark brown-black. Floating yeast particles are visible within.

Appears well-carbonated. Not unique or special, but generally appealing. Head retention is better than you might expect in an 8.75% ABV winter warmer.

AROMA: Whoa - big vivid spice presence redolent of nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar (not a spice, I know, but it fits into that schema), cardamom, vanillin, and clove. Vague dark malts (brown and schwarz, I guess?) lend this its backgrounded sweetness. Some raisin, maybe? Yeast profile is clean, not estery; I suspect an American ale strain instead of an English strain (to its detriment).

Aromatic intensity is average. I find no overt hop notes. No off-notes. Not boozy; the aroma suggests maybe a 5% ABV beer.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Cinnamon, clove, brown sugar, nutmeg, cardamom, brown malts, schwarz malts, brown sugar. The marriage of spiciness to malts works well, but I'm missing yeasty complexities and any hop presence whatsoever. Some sprucey/evergreen-forward hops would be at home in this build.

ABV is well-disguised, but some alcohol warmth wouldn't be unwelcome, and might play to the clove-forward medicinal vibe nicely (think clovey hot whiskey on a snowy night).

Balanced but not perfectly dialed in. Texture suits the taste without really being in perfect harmony therewith. Medium-bodied, smooth, wet, slightly sticky, and unrefreshing, with moderate thickness and weight. A more gooey, soft, warm mouthfeel would better suit the spiciness of the flavour profile. This texture fails to elevate the beer as a whole or to accentuate specific flavours.

Average flavour duration and intensity.

OVERALL: A competent winter warmer with a nice spice profile and a well-hidden ABV, but little else. Discerning drinkers might find its relative simplicity underwhelming, and there's definitely room for improvement, but it's nice middle-of-the-road holiday season fare from a wonderful brewery. I'm glad I tried it once, and I'd probably buy a 4-pack if offered at better prices elsewhere in the U.S., but it wouldn't be a repeat purchase for me at the $2.99/bottle pricetag.

B- (3.33) / WORTHY

 2,528 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
3.67/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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 oline73
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany color with a finger of light tan head that goes away quickly.

Smell: Stong smell of sweet malt with some mild roast, molasses, an lots of dark fruit. Mild spice, this bottle has been cellared for a year. Some alcohol as well.

Taste: Really sweet malt with dark fruit and some chocolate. Chalked full of molasses. Some spices and warming alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side with smooth carbonation and a slick finish.

Overall: The age did this beer well. Still warming, but much smoother. I'd have another.

 621 characters

Photo of emerge077
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to TheBlackMallard for this one...

Black body, thin cap of tan foam. Pleasing aroma of gingerbread cookies, vanilla, nutmeg, the usual holiday cookie medley. Full bodied, creamy, slightly lactic feel. More stout than anything, which Dark Horse excels at. Dry spice notes similar to the nose, dominant gingerbread and vanilla/nutmeg. Not overly sweet, it's well balanced and unique for a winter warmer.

 409 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep brown color ale with large foamy head with good retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of spices (nutmeg and light cinnamon) with a well balanced sweet roasty malt body. Taste is also very well balance between some sweet malt with notes of nutmeg and light cinnamon and maybe some white pepper? Body is about average with good carbonation and a nice creamy body and no apparent alcohol. Very well done with great balance while being easily drinkable.

 469 characters

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of dmorgan310
4.14/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, Winter 2012 bottling. Pours cloudy almost opaque dark reddish brown color with a small light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big caramel, raisin, dark bread, brown sugar, toffee, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, earth, roasted malt, chocolate, and light herbal. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and spice notes. Taste of big caramel, brown sugar, molasses, raisin, dark bread, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, roasted malt, chocolate, toast, prune, earth, and light herbal spiciness. No bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, dark fruit, dark bread, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, roasted malt, chocolate, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of robust flavors; with a nice malt backbone over the spices; and almost zero cloying flavors present after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy and slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very nice winter warmer style. Very nice robust and balanced flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,316 characters

Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

 912 characters

Photo of oberon
3.81/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours into a becker a deep roasted walnut brown with a creamy half finger tan colored head atop,great color and love the creamy head.Winter mulling spice and sweet alcohol in the nose,alot of nutmeg is detected.Lower carbonation with a creamy feel,it slides down easy.Spicy to the hilt on the palate with some cake-like notes,like a CHRISTmas spiced cake,the alcohol sweetness gets bigger as it warms.This a winter sipper,like others have noted, you can't drink to much of it,a full on spicy winter warmer here.

 511 characters

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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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