The official start of the holidays is the Dark Horse Brewing Annual 4 Elf Party. Well, at least in my world it marks the start of the holidays.
2017 Annual 4 Elf Party
What exactly is the 4 Elf Party? It is a crazy two-day event at Dark Horse Brewing in Marshall, Michigan that is a combination customer appreciation party and specialty beer sale.
On Friday, the craft beer enthusiasts arrive in the Beer Garten to secure their places in line to submit their order for the Dark Horse specialty bottle releases. You can’t get in line until 11 am and they don’t collect the order forms until 6 pm. Aaron described the pre-party in a recent MLive article.
This is like a beer person’s tail gate. People bring bottles to share, set up tents and shanties, and generally have a good time together out there.
On Saturday, the 4 Elf Party jumps into full-swing when the beer enthusiast return to pick up their beer orders and hundreds of elves arrive to enjoy live music, exotic food, beer tappings, and the bottle releases.
Plus there was the Best Elf Contest. Secret judges select a handful of elves who compete for prizes, which include: a Best Elf Crown, beer, cash, pint glasses, key chains and T-shirts.
This year was rather special as it marked Dark Horse’s 20th Anniversary.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary year, they created an Anniversary Ale. Aaron mentioned during his interview with MLive:
“We brewed up three different versions of the Anniversary Ale, and then aged them three different ways,” Morse said. They’ll have a bourbon barrel aged one, a rum barrel aged one, and one that got hit up two ways, in both the bourbon and rum barrels.
When asked what the base beer was for these special offerings, Morse said “I really don’t know. It doesn’t really fit any certain style, so we’ve just been calling it Anniversary Ale. Big and malty, with lots of fun stuff in it to make it complex.” Also, kind of boozy, these three beers come in at around 11.5% ABV.
We loved that the beer label on the Anniversary Ale has a picture of Aaron’s dad Bill “Wacky” Morse who along with his mom Cally and wife Kristi were instrumental in launching one of our most beloved breweries in all the world.
The short list of exotic food offerings:
- Smoked pig and alligator
- Frog legs
- Smoked salmon
- Peel and eat shrimp
- Barbecued cow’s head
People buzzed through the food like a school of piranha.
Aaron’s Favorite Part
If you dressed as an elf, you got in for free.
“This is my favorite part of the 4 Elf party,” Morse said. “You come dressed as your version of an elf, whatever you think that might be. If you think it’s a rabbit, that’s cool. We get a lot of crazy stuff, people have gotten more and more creative over the years and that’s really fun.”
The volunteers who helped pour beers donated their tips to Marshall Meals On Wheels.
Music To Calm The Savage Elf
The 2017 Annual 4 Elf Party at Dark Horse Brewing always features a great mix of music. This year was no exception. From muddy roots, to upbeat Americana, to in your face rock, the 4 Elf party had something for everyone.
Barn On Fire
Fire is the keyword when witnessing the performance by Barn On Fire. These guys had the soul of Americana burning inside of them and they blasted it out into the crowd. Songs such as “Till The Gas Runs Out” start out slow and build into to blaze.
One key feature of this band is vocal harmonies which they use on just about every song. Rich voices reaching for heaven that add heart and soul to each song. They have a Mumford and Sons or The Head and The Heart vibe which got the 2017 Annual 4 Elf Party off to a fine start. Check out some more pictures in our gallery and be sure to drop by their site to pick up their LP.
Freight Train Rabbit Killer
For a complete change of pace, we were treated to the music of Freight Train Rabbit Killer. These two gentlemen wearing masks and sporting dark suits with images of rabbit ears and words such has “Rage”, “Anger”, and “Pain” took the stage and proceed to bewitch the crowd.
Their music was thick and swampy with roots deep into the heart of the delta blues. You could almost feel the earth moan with each sweep of the slide across the guitar strings. The sensation of being at an old-time fire and brimstone revival filled the air. The heavy hitting Dark Horse beers added to the thumping punch of the music and got everyone fired up. Stop by our gallery for more pictures and while you are at it, head over and check out some music by the band.
Now that the beers were flowing freely, it was time to jam with Bigfoot Buffalo. It is hard not to feel good when listening to this band. I was struck by the vocals of Kyle Brown who had me thinking of John Prine and John Bell from Widespread Panic.
Bigfoot Buffalo reminded me of Little Feat with more interesting guitar playing. It was easy to let their music sweep you up and find yourself dancing. With a beer in hand and a big shit eating grin, Bigfoot Buffalo gave us plenty to be happy about. Drop by our gallery for more pictures and give Bigfoot Buffalo some love.
Able Baker Fox
To put a feather in the cap of another great evening of music at 2017 Annual 4 Elf Party was Able Baker Fox. These guys flat out rocked our socks off. Big bouncy bass and raging guitars backed up with a powerhouse of a drummer, these guys were a giant charge of high voltage rock. This music tasted great with a shot of Dark Horse 20th Anniversary beer.
West Michigan and in particular Marshall music fans would have recognized Mike Reed, Ben Reed, and Jeff Gensterblum from Small Brown Bike. They added in Nathan Ellis as a second guitarist from Casket Lottery. Their performance at 4 Elf melted away the winter chill. Head over to our gallery for more pictures and then get your butt over to Able Baker Fox’s site and pick up an album.
More Dark Horse
If you missed 4 Elf and you are feeling sad, don’t worry it is an Annual Event. Plus there are several other Dark Horse events throughout the year. Here is our reviews for a few of them:
- Staff Brew Off
- Chicken Wing Thing
- Summer music in the beer garden
- Spring Smoke-off
- Visit the Dark Alley Cycle shop
We have more photos of the 2017 Annual 4 Elf Party in our gallery. Please enjoy them, but if you share, we’d like a photo credit.
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