Dark Horse 4 Elf | Dark Horse Brewing Company

very good
204 Reviews
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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 Hesscabob
4.16/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really, really love this brew. Fits the example of the style perfectly. HInts of clove/nutmeg in the aroma followed by a porter'esque taste/mouthfeel. Had it with about a year on it. Loved it!

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Photo of mlockman
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A good winter warmer in its own right, but definitely doesn't hold a candle to the others in its class. Be warned however: I had this a few months out-of-season once and it was abysmal; really must be drank fresh.

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark chestnut, a little muddy. Khaki Head and garland rings of lacing.

S: Toffee, brown sugar and ginger. Light amount of crystal malt and cocoa. Dried figs and raisins.

M: Medium body with medium carb. Very slight warmth. Would want to let this sit a little more.

T: Gingerbread cookie with some espresso dusted dark fruit. Slight floral pine and citrus. Roasty, cocoa finish. Tastes like Christmas.

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Photo of 57md
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with a thin layer of head. The nose is full of Christmas spices. The flavor follows the nose and the finish is semi-dry with even more spice. The body is not super hearty but it certainly holds up to the heavy spicing of this beer.

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Photo of Brew_42
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with very little head or lacing.

Smells of roasted malts, toffee, and dark fruits. Taste follows the nose closely with a little chocolate in the mix as well. Tastes like a barley wine more than anything.

Mouthfeel- medium with low carbonation.

Overall- Decent winter warmer. I like the taste and the fact that they hide the ABV well. Will revisit

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Photo of cmf
4.09/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz to becker. Foamed up and out of the glass - two pours were required. Chocolate dark with just a little light getting through. Ok, chocolate, coffee taste aroma. What's different - aroma is a little yeastier. Head is still high with a mountain shape in the middle. Pretty strong alcohol flavor. Feels smooth almost like a barley wine. Overall a good beer to have in the dark winter months.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a thin, tan head. Smells of chocolate malts with clove and spice dominant. Maybe a slight coffee smell. Taste follows the nose with the coffee more prevalent. He clove and spices dominate. Something in here I'm not sure what it is. Very unique. Better as it warms.

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

2014 version in a tulip glass.

Appearance: dark chestnut with a nice off-white head and a nice body when poured.

Nose: chocolate, cinnamon, roasted malts, caramel, toffee, raisins, prunes, figs and other dark fruits, very pronounced Juicy Fruit gum character, grainy on the back end

Taste: follows the nose perfectly but with a huge chocolate hit in the front followed by those dark fruits and spices. The finish is roasty and lingering with some spicy character that makes me want to keep drinking this beer.

Overall: I'm really impressed with this beer. It's my first from Dark Horse and I really liked it. The 4 pack was on clearance for $5 and I really regret not buying 2 more. This is really a great beer. It's almost like a combination of a barleywine, old ale and stout all in one. Great beer.

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Photo of alarmclock314
4.27/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I've had several 4-packs of this beer now. 12oz bottles, all from 2015. Pours somewhat opaque brown with a medium sized tan head; some lacing. Yeast on the bottom of the bottle carries over into the glass. Smells mostly of sweet malt and ginger with some nutmeg, clove, allspice, and toasted caramel. The taste follows very closely and has kind of a gingerbread vibe; ginger, clove, malt, and caramel. The alcohol is fairly present but is less noticeable when it warms up. Above average body and average carbonation. Overall, it fits the style well as a spiced, malty, and boozy beer.

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Photo of Warren2621
2.81/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Too bland for me. Nothing holds this beer together. The spices, while ok, arent complimented by many other flavors. Too thin of a body. To me it was water with spices added. Could be the style, I dont know. I dont enjoy Christmas Ales much

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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 paco1029384756
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Scent of rich nutmeg, cinnamon, dark fruit, brown sugar and bread with a touch of clove. More cinnamon in the flavor, but the rest lines up pretty well. The body is a little thin, but it's an easy beer to drink and one of the better beers for the style.

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Photo of tigg924
3.57/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Taste is cinnamon, clove, and dark roasted malt. This one hits all of the expected notes in a winter warmer. While I have others I prefer in the style, I certainly would not pass this up.

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Photo of majorbase2
3.81/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color with a huge foamy off white head. Good retention. Leaves a lumpy, uneven head with spotty lacing.

Aroma is heavy on spices, ginger, molasses, graham cracker, cinnamon, and a hint of caramel. Very pleasant.

Tastes like a porter. Lightly roasted chocolate and nuts. Brown sugar. A small amount of hops. Gingerbread is still there, though not as strong. Very faint cinnamon. A little too heavy on the spice, though. There's really not much going on in the taste, unfortunately. It just kind of lacks character, if that makes sense. A little more hop bitterness than expected here.

Medium bodied. LIttle carbonation. More of a sipper at 8.75%.

Overall, started out with good potential, even after the first sip, but really faltered from there. Still a solid brew, but not DH's best, so don't go out of your way for this one.

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Photo of MaximalC
3.28/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark cola color with a thin head of coarse, khaki bubbles that are gone in a flash. The aroma is a sweet, wintery funk comprised of molasses, gingerbread, lebkuchen, caramel, and allspice.

The taste is spicy up front with a big kick of allspice, nutmeg, and warming alcohol that dominates the subtler flavors. Some caramel, gingerbread, and hints of roasted malt comprise the sweeter side of the beer. A pleasant toffee aftertaste finally manages to find its way through on the back end. The surprisingly prickly carbonation amplifies the spiciness, while the medium-heavy body provides an appropriate foundation for the vibrant flavors.

Overall, this is an aggressively spicy, flavorful brew that could only be appropriate for the season. I’m not especially keen on allspice to begin with, and in this case it’s far from balanced. I had this on tap a couple months ago and recall a much mellower brew, so I’m not sure which experience is more representative of the brewers’ intention.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a Haw River Farmhouse Ales teku glass. Bottleneck says 260-13.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/4 inch tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a small center patch of bubbly surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a jagged ring behind.

S- Earthy spices such as clove, allspice and anise.

T- Has this kind of umami flavor where there's a savory, beefy quality on top of the spices. Alcohol is very well-concealed and there's a hint of brown sugar but, other than that, isn't particularly bitter or sweet.

M- Creamy and slick with medium-low carbonation and a full body.

O- A very unique take on a winter warmer which has me scratching my head on whether I truly like it or not. In the end, I dig it for the plain fact that it's so smooth for how strong it is. Also, there's a complexity to it that you don't find in most winter warmers. Truly its own unique beer.

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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 HattedClassic
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a nice tan and creamy head that does not dissipate very quickly and takes a while to dissipate. The beer itself is a dark and opaque black with little bits of sediment and a very nice bubble presence.

The beer smell has the usual sugar and spice and everything nice note to it in addition to a little boozy smell. The spices are sugar, clove, cinnamon, and gingerbread. The beer also has a roasty coffee note to it and sweet malt smell.

The beer taste has the gingerbread, cinnamon, clove, and sugar notes as well as a sweet malty taste. The taste also has the roasted coffee notes from the smell. The end result is a slightly roasty gingerbread beer, which is pretty good. In addition, the beer also has a slightly boozy note that does not detract from the other flavors.

The mouthfeel is pretty heavy bodied and vscous. The beer has a very thick texture like liquidated gingerbread cookies. The feel is pretty good and the carbonation is enough that it adds a bit more texture. However, it can fell a bit dull and sometimes off.

Overall, a pretty good winter warmer and worth getting.

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Photo of secondtooth
3.49/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very dark chestnut/black, with ruby highlights. Average head of tan bubbles, and a fair, loopy lace.

Aroma: Ah, the spices! Cinnamon, clove, and others providing a rich and strong olfactory experience right off the bat. Easy to detect the Xmas theme here.

Taste: Heavy on the palate, with that potent dose of winter spice. I also get a little chocolate undertone happening, and a bittersweet finish that definitely packs some heat. Overall, a solid and enjoyable winter warmer.

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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 ThisWangsChung
3.31/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle into a teku glass (HA! I bet you guys didn't think I had one of these! Merry freakin' Christmas, everyone!!!)

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color with lots of ugly, chunky sediment at the bottom of the glass. The head is a finger high, with a khaki shade. Retention is good and the texture is creamy, also. A bit of lacing is left on the glass. Typical of many Dark Horse brews, it's not exactly pretty to look at (no thanks to its unfiltered nature). (2.75)

Smell: This is around a 7/10 as far as Christmas spicing goes. I'm picking up plenty of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. There are also additional notes of graham cracker, caramel, and dark chocolate. While this is a nice aroma altogether, there isn't much here to separate it from other winter warmers. (3.5)

Taste: Okay, but THIS does. It opens up with a surprising amount of roast, coalescing with the notes of allspice and caramel. Appropriately for the style, a hoppy touch finishes it off. The back end is also a touch acidic - it's hardly to the tomato-esque levels of Sapient Trip, though. While the spices are nicely restrained, it seems more chaotic than balanced in its complexity. Still, there's no hint of the alcohol whatsoever. (3.25)

Mouthfeel: Really crisp and light - this is where the unfiltered nature really shines. While it becomes slightly warming when it properly warms up, it conceals the alcohol extremely well. Carbonation is middling. (3.5)

Overall: The aroma revealed a fairly standard winter warmer. The taste, however, showed off a roasty, almost crisp wassail that's practically dangerous. It isn't my favorite winter warmer, but hey, it's still well worth a look. (3.25)

3.3/5: Far from perfect, but it's definitely not boring, either

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Photo of lilsmizzul1225
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very particular about winter Warmers the idea of a gingerbread flavored beer sounds great and it smelled wonderful but it was a little overpowering on the taste. I feel like the strong sugary flavor needs to be a tad more subtle like in Lagunita's Brown Shugga. Still a pretty good and festive beer though.

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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 DonovanD
4.01/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

The only thing questionable to me, was the aroma... Will have to test more from different glasses and places. Taste is very holiday, scotch ale / mild stout.

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.

Pours stout black, light yellowish lacing for a head.

Smells of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, roasted coffee, and toast.

Flavor is of mesquite, burnt toast, cinnamon, and cloves. Light dry hops in the finish.

Medium body with minimal carbonation.

An interesting and aromatic winter brew that tastes more like a bland imperial stout than a winter warmer. It's not bad, just slightly uninteresting in the flavor. Otherwise, it'd be a great stout. Worth a try but probably not a revisit.

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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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