"Wonder if you'll understand, it's just a touch of your hand
Behind a closed door
All I needed was the love you gave,
All I needed for another day,
And all I ever knew..."
Dark Horse Brewing Company’s relationship with appearing in the UK and being consumed by me is one that shows my frightening memory for dates and events.
I can tell you all about this US brewery’s history and their background, but this brewery makes me feel a little self-involved and egocentric because I remember so much about their appearances on this side of the pond.
My first taste of their beer was in the Grove, Huddersfield on 1st December 2012. Huddersfield Town had just played Leeds United in an early Saturday kick off and I had wandered up to the Grove post match, choosing the beer with the donkey on the label for good fun, whilst thinking about possibly asking a girl out. The “Special Reserve Black Ale” was decent. It wasn’t mind-blowing but then it did change my life for a while.
So it came that I drank their Scotty Karate that I had purchased online. I remember drinking it as I loved it, but had forgotten that I had actually blogged about the day I had, albeit not really the beer itself. I was really surprised with Scotty Karate and very excited. Again, I wanted more from Dark Horse.
Luckily this came on the opening of the Beermoth. On my first visit, I picked up a Crooked Tree IPA without knowing much of the beer. It was a gamble and when it came to tasting it I was simply blown away.
So I remember times and places their beers were bought and drunk. In recent times I’ve been very impressed with their Smells like a Safety Meeting and a tad disappointed with their Double Crooked Tree IPA. However, they have a lovely looking Christmas style beer named 4 Elf that makes its way into this Advent Calendar.
Sometimes beer is about little novelties, especially when you have drunk so many. For some reason the ABV 8.75% rasises a smile to me.
This pours a chocolate lavender colour with very little foam. It smells - oomph! - I mean, Holy Fairy lights on a pair of socks - woah - this smells good. THIS is what I've been looking for in previous years. This is Christmas in a glass, as they say so frequently with little sincerity. Cinammon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, cardomon, clementines, pumpkins, sherry and a fuckload of Christmas bows tied together with carol singers and that's before I've tasted the damn thing. There's a hint of roasted maltings in the background to remind you this is a beer in your glass. The taste is... the flavour of this beer is... this beer tastes like... See, I'm trying to avoid reusing that clichéd Christmas in a glass speech here again, but that's exactly what this is. It's like drinking the wax from Yankee Candle's Christmas section. It's like licking the innards of Santa's grotto. It's like taking a bite out of that Mulled soup I've heard Lush do. It's fucking Christmas. Okay, so if I was trying to be a Sommelier I might make reference to all of those flavours mentioned on the nose, as they are present in the taste too. There's also a delicious walnut-nuttiness (walnuttiness should definitely be a word) breaking through the spice and a surprising bitterness cutting through that allspice, again to remind you that this is a beer. The finish is like a Christmas morning sherry and lingers around the mouth to make sure those powerful mulled herbs aren't cloying. It's incredibly drinkable if you like those sorts of flavours in a beer and mine vanished before I'd remembered the strength, leaving my head a tad dizzy. If you are the sort that hates Christmas beers (or just Christmas) there is nothing for you to enjoy here. If you live your December like Buddy the Elf, this is going to be hard to top this Advent.
Christmas Spirit Rating: 95%. Somebody tie some baubles to my.... tree