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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 193 | Ratings: 791
Photo of KYGunner
3.67/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This almost looked to be a stout after it was poured with a near black color and a thick creamy head.

The scent had tinges of strong alcohol, licorice, and fruit cake dried fruits. The caramel malt sweetness is apparent but the dried fruit seemed more prevalent.

The flavors hold a lot of black licorice and Holiday spice. The nutmeg or cinnamon is not distinguishable but muted by an anise and peppery spice. This is rather boozy, but still attractive enough to set itself apart.

Despite the boozy taste the feel is not overly warm or abrasive. It poured relatively thick but was more moderate in its fullness.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ow joy winter warmers time! Wasn't able to find this last year but was able to snag one of the last two from Carnivores mixed and matched .

A - Very dark the base must be a brown ale or even a stout. Head is also a nice deep shade of mocha. As always excellent head and lacing from these guys.
S - Wow is that spicy! What is that ginger? Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Smells strong but does fade to some brown malts or maybe chocolate malts. mmm I take a sip.
T - Well the spicing does mix well with what I assume a brown ale mostly tasting brown and chocolate malts. Mildly chalky with a very dry aspect to it. Kind of soapy like Rogues Hazelnut Brown ale so maybe its hazelnuts... Very weird but drink able.
M - This one drinks smooth medium bodied at best with a dry aspect and a mostly easy going spicing.

Overall its pretty much what I expect in a winter warmer, huge dose of cinnamon and nutmeg balanced with a base beer which I assume is an imperial brown. Worth a try but I will stick to plead the 5th for a true warmer.

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Photo of Fergyx825
3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance: a very dark colored beer, nearly black. Almost no head on the pour, and a tiny bit sticks around after the pour. This is on the further spectrum that this beer style allows.

Smell: I can smell this beer from my hip. Its full of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander. This does not have much of an aroma, but you can smell the malt.

Taste: flavorful, it has some coffee taste to it. Nutty, with some spice is evident. It doesn't have a particular flavor but its not bad. I wouldn't go ahead and grab this to drink again but its tolerable.

Mouthfeel: light beer with some not so much carbonation, very drinkable.

Overall: This beer is okay. It smells great, looks the way it should and is drinkable.

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Photo of ONUMello
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle porued into a pint glass
A: Dark brown with a short head and a bit of sediment
S: Lots of spice particularly nutmeg along with some caramel and molasses
T: Also extremely strong nutmeg, clove and some cinnamon, with the sugars taking a back seat
M: Fairly full-bodied, spicy, a touch viscous from the alcohol
O: Bold but one-dimensional. Would be very nice if both the spice and alcohol were turned down a notch

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Photo of SportsandJorts
2.71/5  rDev -30%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Appearance: dark brown almost black. pretty opaque. not much foam at all not enough to cover but leaves a little lacing off brown

Smell: funky, lots of nutmeg and cinnamon and a good amount of sweetness

Taste: super strong nutmeg. weaker cinnamon. some sweetness that quickly gives way to a spicy taste

Mouthfeel: pretty heavy lingering bitterness.

Overall: not a fan and could not finish it. way too strong on the nutmeg

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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 dbrauneis
3.91/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a relatively clear but opaque very dark brown approaching black in color with light amounts of gentle visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and some faint brown highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall fizzy light beige head that reduces to a large patch of very thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of roasted + toffee malts with moderate amounts of spices - allspice, nutmeg, and ginger stand out. Some almost woody notes to the aroma as well.

T: Upfront there is a light to moderate flavor of very lightly roasted malts, chocolate malts, and a touch of toffee malt sweetness. There is a moderate amount of spices with allspice, nutmeg, and ginger standing out. There is a light amount of woodiness and a hint of earthy hops. Minimal amounts of bitterness are present.

M: Just heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Relatively smooth.

O: This beer is a little too high in ABV to be one that you would drink several during a session but it is an enjoyable Winter Warmer (maybe a touch too spice heavy for my preference but very well constructed).

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with a dense medium size head. Some lacing around the glass was left behind as the cap faded.
The aroma was spicy and malty reminding me of a pumpkin beer. Plenty of numeg clove and cinammon and that sort of thing. Also pretty malty and sweet. If I didn't jam my nose into my sniffer but instead, took shallow sniffs I get a gahram cracker smell.
Alcohol aroma is in there too just waiting I guess.
The taste is very inviting with subtle spice and sweet malts. The sweet malts and spice give a spiced wafer taste which I can remanence with by the fire.
The feel is gritty over the palate.
I like this beer, it definitly has the Christmas spirit.

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Photo of xabyss
3.89/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Very cola-esque, with carbonation bubbles clinging to the glass and head that's gone before I can even glance down to describe it.

S: Sweet and spicy. Caramel and nutmeg stand out from an otherwise bland show of lightly roasted malts.

T: Cinnamon and nutmeg stand out at first sip, with cloves coming in stronger mid sip. Cinnamon hangs back in the finish with pleasant malts. I can tell why some people say there's too much cinnamon here. But, to me, "too much cinnamon" is not a phrase that should be uttered ever, by anyone. So I'm cool with it. Pretty tasty!

M: On the lighter end of medium bodied; pretty standard stuff for the style.

O: I've been on a quest of sorts for some years now to find the perfect winter warmer, which I'm still convinced is a real thing that exists somewhere. I've been consistently surprised with Dark Horse brews, and this is no exception, but the one winter warmer to rule them all it is not.

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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 TastyAdventure
3.64/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - dark dark brown. Almost stout black. 1/2 finger tab head

S- spicy, strong clove. Almost astringent

T- spicy, clove, after a few drinks comes chocolate, and a more smooth sweetness, bitterness is coffe like, in the back there is lemon peel. Overall clove dominates.

M- nice smooth, good carb level.

A nice "festive winter" brew. But the clove is so overwhelming.

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Photo of wvsabbath
3.96/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark cola brown, minor 1/8 inch head, some lacing, looks a little boring really.

Smell - Cinnamon, nutmeg, fig, roasted malts, raisin, plum, cherry, faint hop note near also.

Taste - True to the smell, loads of cinnamon and nutmeg with roasty malts at first sip. Very spiced and bold, with minor sweetness from added brown sugar and molasses. Dark fruits add some sweeter flavor to counter the spices. Some hop flavor comes in near the finish.

Mouthfeel - Huge spice kick nails the tongue alogn with some malts. Palate gets more spices and malts, along with a little fruit note. Aftertaste is malty, spiced and dark fruity.

Overall - A really nice beer. Loads of flavor, heavy on spices, but has some fruit flavor to balance it out some. Drinks rather smooth for being 8.75%, a great winter warmer, id drink again and this isn't one of my preferred stlyes.

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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.

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Photo of hosehead83
4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a "balloon" glass.
Cola/dark tea color, with a short cap of tan foam.
Aroma-Nice boquet of cinnamon, pine needles and spices.
Taste-Like a liquid Christmas cookie. Nutmeg, raisins, cinnamon,chocolate, vanilla and spice cake. Gently warming finish, nicely balanced, flavorfull and festive. A great match with holiday cookies while wrapping gifts.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark porter-esque appearance light khaki tan head, fine speckled lacing sporadic yet satisfying in it's look. Aroma has a dark cola like sweetness, blended with candy cane and other assorted spices, honey, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. Flavor dark chocolate creamy lactose, a barrage of spices, provides bitterness and balance it's like pureed candy cane and Christmas tree pine in an imperial cream stout form. Mouthfeel is fuller bodied carbonation is creamy smooth with lingering spices between sips, overall the type of winter warmer that is so different it's actually a joy to experience.

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Photo of BB1313
3.27/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours the darkest brown you can imagine with tons of floaties/sediment; tan head that fades and leaves nice retention and decent lacing. The aromas have a nice amount of malts going on. There's some smoke. It's followed by hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Some vanilla bean and cocoa in the mix as well. The flavors have a nice roastiness to it, which I didn't see coming. There's a nice amount of chocolate. Lots of clove. More cinnamon and nutmeg followed by some ginger. Very subtle hints of coffee. There's some vanilla in the mix. It has an earthy bitterness to it, but it's far from overwhelming. Finishes dry. Mouthfeel is very nice. It's creamy and fluffy with moderate carbonation. It's extremely smooth and the alcohol goes unnoticed.

This was my first time having 4 Elf. It's a solid holiday brew. It's unique and different from alot of spiced holiday beers. It has some stout/porter qualities to it. It's good stuff, but it didn't get me overly excited. It's worth checking out though. It's definitely fitting for the holidays.

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Photo of screamking
3.67/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into snifter.

Pours dark brown, almost black with a 1 finger dark khaki head. Lots of roasted caramel in the aroma. As well as nutmeg, clove, slight cinnamon, vanillia, and hint of gingerbread. Smells of Christmas. Toasted gingerbread and roasted caramel come through first in the taste. Followed mid palate by vanillia and finishes slightly bitter. Also getting some strong root beer tastes toward the end. Slightly over carbonated. ABV is hidden very well and feel is slightly thicker than medium bodied. Decent price, decent flavor, decent brew.

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Photo of Fcolle2
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pour deep dark brown with a 1 finger tan head that has decent retention.

Smell is good. Tons of spices are forward with notes of cinnamon clove and allspice. Notes of toasted cracker like malt follow and the beer is finished with light aromas of a spicy hop presence

Taste is good and follows the nose. Spices are also forward in the taste, dominated by more cinnamon clove nutmeg and allspice. Toasted cracker like malt follows along with a clean yeast flavor, more spices and light hop bitterness on the exhale

Mouthfeel is good. Medium body and high carbonation keeps it pretty drinakable.

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Photo of Axnjxn
3.89/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

on draft at beer study into a FW tulip.

pours a dark brown with a nice head. smell is very big on nutmeg and spices....kind of typical for the style. taste is also filled with spices but not as intense. good caramel taste too. medium bodied with mild carbonation. ABV doesn't feel this high at all.

overall liked it but not amazing.

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Photo of bigcat1408
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I really enjoyed the Clove taste as well as the allspice. I am not sure my pallet is refined enough to pick out the nutmeg, especially since I really have never had nutmeg (as a taste that was distinct like nutmeg during the holidays nutmeg). I have been drinking mystic chai spiced hot tea and I can taste some similarities. Which is cool because this is a brew! I did feel a warmth in my stomach while picking up leaves (which may be because it was cold or because that is the way the beer is designed?). Either way I would drink it again.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Dark Horse's 4 Elf about a week ago for $2.19 at Boyne Country Provisions. I know it's too early for Winter Warmers, but I've been wanting to try this beer for a long and time and now that Dark Horse decided to distribute this beer for the first time I thought I would give it a try while it's pretty fresh, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date, but it just showed up so it's pretty fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label is decent but I think they could have used a better drawing for the label, but it's still a little eye catching. It poured a muddy dark brown color that really didn't let any light come through with two fingers worth of tan head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left lots of spotty lacing behind. This is a pretty nice looking beer that left some real nice lacing.

S- The aroma starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness followed by some malts with some toasted/lightly roasted malts coming through along with some caramel malt like aromas. Up next comes a higher amount of spices with clove and nutmeg seeming to stick out the most. The aroma was pretty good and true to style.

T- The taste seems to be similar to the aroma but it's lighter and it starts off with a medium amount of sweetness followed by some malts that impart a toasted/lightly roasted malt flavor with some light chocolate and coffee flavors showing up in the background. Up next comes a pretty light alcohol flavor followed by some lighter spices with no one spice seeming to stick out the most.with a medium amount of bitterness with a spicy and malty aftertaste. This was a pretty good tasting beer, it had good balance and the alcohol was hidden well.

M- Pretty smooth, clean, creamy, on the thicker side of being medium bodied with a slightly lower amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was pretty good and it worked well with this beer.

Overall I thought this was a pretty nice beer and a good example of the style, unlike a lot of Winter Warmers the spices weren't overdone and and it didn't taste as strong as I thought it would for being 8.75%. This beer had good drinkability, it was smooth, clean and the taste held my attention I think two of these would be just the right amount for me. What I liked the most about this beer was the balance, neither the malts or the spices were too overpowering. What I liked the least about this beer was nothing, there isn't anything that I really disliked about it and I can't think of anything I would change to make it better. I would buy this again and I would like to keep some around for the holidays. I would recommend this to anybody who generally likes Winter Warmers. All in All I was happy with this beer and I'm glad it wasn't over spiced. Thanks for distributing this beer Dark Horse, I see what it's popular and it's nice to be able to get this beer without having to take a trip to the 4 Elf release party. Good job guys, keep up the good work.

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Photo of 71CrazyOtto
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bought the 4 pack bottles for 9 bucks.
Thin head when poured
Nice aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Pleasant warming brew for a cold day or night.
This is a specialty beer best for outdoor drinking during fall or winter imo.
If you don't like cinnamon then avoid this one because it dominates the palate.

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Photo of mccallisters_dali
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Dark Horse pint glass.

Very little head to no head on this beer

Malty aroma but not strong by any means.

Initially I was overwhelmed with spices, Nutmeg and clove being the most prominent. The Cinnamon/clove fades quick though, while the nutmeg lingers and gives way to the malty backbone of this beer.

I really like the mouthfeel and texture of this beer, the nutmeg seems to coat your mouth leaving a creamy side flavor.

Overall I would say that I will definitely be adding this to the already expansive roster of Dark Horse beer that I thoroughly enjoy.

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Photo of barczar
2.94/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

Pours an opaque deep brown with a foamy tan head.

A bit of a spice bomb, cinnamon, lots of nutmeg, and lots of clove jump from the glass. There's a bit of a molasses note in the background.

Whoa, spices. How the hell can anybody actually drink this? It tastes like putting a cinnamon stick, whole nutmeg, and a handful of cloves in your mouth...with a bitter finish.

Body is moderate, with slightly low carbonation, and noticeable alcohol warmth.

Way too spicy for my palate, with a roast malt backbone that comes off as being somewhat acrid. Not a fan.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 FL.OZ. bottle
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - It pours a ruddy brown with dark amber highlights. The inch of tan head that topped it did not last long.

S - I get some spices, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

T - The taste is full of the aforementioned spices, plus it has some roasted malt to give it some flavor besides all those spices.

M - Medium

O - I tried this back in January and the spices held up quite nicely. I like the fact that the roasted malt flavor is there, or this would just be a holiday spice beer.

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Dark Horse 4 Elf from Dark Horse Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 791 ratings.
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