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: 193 | Ratings: 790
Photo of BeRanger
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage, poured into a pint glass.

A: Deep brown, about one finger of creamy foam that stuck around for quite sometime.

S: Wonderful Christmas Ale smell with all the flavors coming out - cinnamon, spices, nutmeg and roasted malts.

T: The alcohol is hidden very well. The cinnamon and nutmeg hit you first, kind of resembled a sugar cookie that I was snacking on right before drinking it.

M: Medium body with good carbonation - finishes very smooth.

O: Very nice Christmas Ale from Dark Horse, one of the best I've had. Looking forward to cracking open my 2009 Vintage later this evening to compare.

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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.

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Photo of Khazadum
4.01/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 courtesy of Jay

Great opaque body. Cola colored. Lacing well, good stickiness.

Bursting nutmeg, cinnamon, too much spices. Sharp Sharp Sharp! Caramel sweetness tries to Balance but cannot.

Sweetness comes out well, the spices actually blend super well so much more than the nose.

Full bodied great carb. Super sticky, lingers like a nice coffee.

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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 womencantsail
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2009 courtesy of Derek. Thanks!

A: The beer pours a dark brown/amber color with a small khaki head.

S: Sort of reminiscent of the Anchor Christmas beers. Light roasted malt character followed by spices, especially pumpkin pie type spices. There are mild herb notes that give this one a bit of a woody note. Some toasted malt, chocolate, caramel, and toffee are also there.

T: There is a bit more chocolate to the flavor than let on by the aroma. Still a lot of the pumpkin pie spices with a mild woodiness of herbs. A restrained roasted malt character with a touch of bitterness and different dark fruits.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O: This was one of the better spicy/herbal winter beers I've had.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.24/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

3.5 A: Deep brown, nearly black color. Just one finger of creamy light brown head. Half of the head fell fairly rapidly, while the rest stuck around a good deal longer. Pretty good given the ABV. Not much in terms of lacing.

4.5 S: There's plenty of spice in here and indeed this smells like Christmas. Nutmeg makes the bigger splash, while cinnamon is right on its heels. Behind the spices, there is a toastiness accompanied by a nuttiness. The spices block out anything else that might be there. Lovely and well rounded with all aromas in good proportions. Alcohol is completely hidden.

4.0 T: The spices (mainly nutmeg and cinnamon with an underlying sugar cookie flavor) are again found in ample amounts, but much less intense than the nose which allows the complexity to be realized. Again, toasty and nutty. Perhaps even a touch of roastiness. Rich caramel gives the taste a welcomed richness. Again, the booze is nearly unnoticeable save for a slight warming on finish.

4.5 M: Heavier medium body. The body is perfect for the flavors presented. Good moderate carbonation. Good creaminess, though I'd prefer a touch more. Super smooth.

4.5 T: I am a pretty big fan of the style and this is a more than solid example of it. Good all around.

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Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle via a trade with GCurlow – thanks!

Pours a dark brownish-amber color with an off-white head leaving decent lacing.

Smells of deep toasted malts with good amounts of nutmeg and lighter cinnamon. Also present are slight amounts of lighter caramel malts.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Smooth toasted malts up front are joined by good amounts of heavy spices – nutmeg, allspice, and hints of cinnamon and anise. The flavors sweeten midway with lighter caramel malts. The ending is mildly bitter. Mouthfeel is good, with smooth carbonation.

Overall this was a solid beer for the style, and the alcohol was hidden remarkably well. Worth a shot.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.96/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pretty darned dark, light tan head that stays forever.

S - Spices, malt hiding underneath.

T - Much like smell, malty and spicy. More spicy than anything else.

M - Good carb, medium body, finishes to the spice.

D - Not my usual cup of ale. Good to try.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle shared with Thirstybird. Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights around the base. Head eventually dissipates into a thin band and a soapy skim. Nose expresses allspice, licorice and sassafras. Taste reveals chocolate, roast, spice, sassafras, licorice and slightly bitter, earthy hops. Mouthfeel is medium-light with an even, crisp carbonation. Complex and interesting with an amazingly well-hidden abv - I can hardly believe it comes in at 11.5%.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the bavarian lodge. excited to try this beer from one of my favorite breweries. served in a small snifter.

A- a very dark brown body with a small amount of ruby red highlights. a small khaki colored head on top. little to no lacing gets left behind.

S- the first thing i notice is roasted malts and chocolate. after that i get some spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. very christmas-y very stout like.

T- the taste mimics the nose. lots of roasted malts leads the way. it is closely followed by chocolate and spices. plenty of nutmeg and cinnamon. earthy hops at the end.

M- medium bodied, bordering on full. the alcohol is well hidden, and only noticeable by a slight warming.

D- as a fan of dark horse's stouts, i liked this one very much. one that i would pick up every year if the bottles were sold in my area. glad i had the chance to try this. very spicy, but well done and not too over the top.

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Photo of brew3crew
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the brewery.

A-brownish black, so not completely dark. White head around the ed ge s
S-smells very spicy. Herbs definately dominate
T-lots of roastiness and herbal tones.
M-medium bodied and smooth. Crisp.
D-ok at best. Asked for a taste and got a pint. Not really complaining too much just took a while to finish

Gets better as it warms up. Prolly better with age.

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Photo of david131
4.18/5  rDev +8%
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.

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Photo of BMoney575
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.35/5  rDev -13.4%
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.

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Photo of Drinkin4Two
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
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

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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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Photo of mdfb79
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.43/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

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Photo of malty
3.33/5  rDev -14%
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.

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Photo of Giggy
4.22/5  rDev +9%
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

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Photo of emmasdad
3.26/5  rDev -15.8%
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.

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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.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
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?

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Dark Horse 4 Elf from Dark Horse Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 790 ratings.
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