3 French Hens - The Bruery

Not Rated.
3 French Hens3 French Hens

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

393 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 393
Reviews: 229
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 12.3%
Wants: 104
Gots: 366 | FT: 21
Brewed by:
The Bruery visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: claspada on 10-08-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Three French Hens is the third in the 12 Days/Years of Christmas Series. We again drew some inspiration from the name and decided that at least a portion of this beer had to be aged in French oak barrels. What we came out with is a bold and spicy Belgian Dark Strong Ale, 25% aged in oak. This beer is designed to take the journey through time until 12 Drummers Drumming, but is a delightful holiday treat right off the shelf.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 393 | Reviews: 229
Reviews by kels:
Photo of kels
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer looks great! It pours a warm golden-brown with some ruby highlights throughout. It is slightly translucent with visible viscosity. The initial head is an impressive 2 fingers of off-white fluffiness. It fades fairly quickly but not without leaving good creamy swirls atop the beer and nice spots of spitty lace along the glass walls.

Aroma is rich and spicy with notes of cinnamon, sweet and fruity yeast, and caramel malts. It is bright and clear, and it keeps any trace of the alcohol to a minimum.

The taste and feel come together to create a great balance between flavor and lightness. Great flavors of cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, ginger, caramelized grains, brown sugar, and prunes come through nicely and fade into a hint of sweet pears in the aftertaste. The feel is moderately viscous, and the finish is bubbly with light alcohol vapors left in the mouth. There's a hint of chocolate malt taste in the finish.

Very highly drinkable. The 10% abv is so well hidden, I had to look again to make sure the notation was correct. Really nice beer. Wonder what it would be like aged.

More User Reviews:
Photo of TCHopCraver
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer with zoso1967 (the supplier of the bottle), TCGoalie, BuckyFresh, and another good friend on 12-11-10. Happy marriage, Zach!

3 French Hens makes its way from the bottle to my oversized wine glass with a ruby-mahogany color. A tan one-finger head recedes a little, but retains quite well. Tiny carbonation bubbles are quite dense and jog up through the beer. The lacing on the glass is sticky, splotchy, and dotty.

The smell reveals a lovely, spicy Belgian yeast scent that blends harmoniously with candied fruits, a very fresh pear aroma, and a whiff of Granny Smith apples. The French oak that the beer was aged in lends a Chardonnay-like quality to the bouquet. I also smell some Christmas-sy spices of clove and coriander. I find this aroma very yummy.

The flavor is a little sweeter than I expected. Christmas candies, pear, crisp apple, and a smooth vanilla characteristic from the oak complement each other well. The smell had a dry scent; conversely, the taste has a very impactful sweet middle of the sip. The finish dries out that sweetness with a tannic oak influence, though. The spicy Belgian yeast is ever-present throughout the sip.

The mouthfeel is fairly light-bodied with a spicy nip from the yeast and a dry finish from the oak. The carbonation adds a refreshing and effervescent influence to the end of the sip.

3 French Hens is a nice, rare treat that agreed with the whole of our tasting party. I would certainly have it as a time to time treat, but it would not be a beer that I would imbibe regularly due to the sweetness.

Photo of steelerguy
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown with caramel colored highlights. Large head that faded to nothing pretty rapidly, no real lacing.

S - Dark malts give some dark fruit smells, some spice and a touch of sour.

T - Dark malts, with a citrus tartness. Some phenols and definitely some oak from the barrel aging.

M - Seems to lack a little body for the style, this knocked the carbonation and alcohol balance out a bit.

D - A pretty good example of a Belgian Dark Strong Ale/Speciality Ale...but definitely an imitation rather than the real thing.

Photo of Billolick
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Typical Bruery bottle

Mahogony in color, minimal head, short staying, just barely a sign of a film, thinnest of collars and def. no lace after 2 minutes.

Booze, cola, raisins, smoke, sawdust and figs in the nose.

Slightly low carbonation is I problem I have with this one. Somewhat dull in the mouth. Flavorful but dull.

Rich notes of rum soaked raisins, figs, more cola, light smoke, toasted coconut. Dense and complex brew.

Nice cold weather sipper.

Not up to the hype.

Plenty of other BSDAs out there, many of em less expensive and plenty of em regularly available.

Photo of Mora2000
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to bu11zeye for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark amber color with a white head. The aroma is full of dark fruit and toffee.

The flavor is more complex. I get a lot of dark fruit, grapes and cherry notes as well as some toffee and some Belgian candy sugar. The beer also has a dry red wine component and some tannic notes that are very tasty. The alcohol is present but is not overpowering and the beer is very easy to drink for a beer of its strength and complexity. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

My first one of The Bruery's 12 Days of Christmas beers and it didn't disappoint.

Photo of 1Adam12
3.3/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Decided to open this because there is no way I will ever go after the first 2 of the series. Dark ruby red appearance when I hold it to the light. Smells of oak, vanilla, figs, alcohol, burnt sugar, and maybe a bit of cherry. Taste is oaky, with some vanilla and sweetness. Tastes messy though, it all kind of runs together. Also get a numbness to my tongue. Almost peppery, but there is a numbness. No finish really. Flavor hits the tip of the tongue and just stops dead in its tracks. Nothing towards the back of the throat. Overall, disappointing. This is my first time trying this and even though it is "supposed" to be aged for some years to come, I'm wondering if this is already going downhill. I'd like to try another one eventually to see if I just caught this during a rough patch of the aging process.

Photo of ehammond1
3.18/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle (2010)

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Somewhat lifeless murky brown with amber and orange edges. Thin khaki head that doesn't last long and doesn't leave much lacing down the glass either. This beer looks thin, lifeless, and oily.

Sweet aroma primarily of toffee and caramel, some sourdough bread, and a mild inclusion of dark fruits.

Very sweet flavor, namely of caramel and sticky toffee, a touch of nuttiness and some mild dark fruit flavors. Very little hop presence in the way of either bitterness or flavor. A sweet, malty, yeasty BSDA.

The mouthfeel is too thin, though heavy and oily, and somewhat under-carbonated.

I'm glad I got to try this BSDA, but it doesn't rank as one of my favorites. I won't seek it out again. Perhaps it was significantly better when fresh?

Photo of TKEbeerman
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into my Duvel tulip this BSDA pours a dark coffee brown with a creamy tan head that resembles a head on an Irish Stout.

S: The aroma is that of dark fruit, candy sugar, and a little Belgium spice. All this is great, but this brew is not as bold, and not as distinguished as I'd expect in a BSDA.

T: The flavor is a way bold with the malt. Figs and bruised apples with hints of caramel. Belgium spice is present, but not prevalent like I want.

MF/D: Mouthfeel is good, full, but needs some more carbonation if this baby is gonna last 9 years. Drinkability is great at 10%.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown and red appearance, kinda cool looking, good head, sticks around forever. Smells like cinammon and sugar cookies.

Dark fruity flavor, more spice, mahogany wood effect to it, the mo, another complex, but amazing beer so far. I don't even like these styles I kept thinking. This one was good enough on tap that I bought a bottle afterwards. Lots of caramel underneath the darker aspect of the beer. Not overly sweet, strong, but alcohol is hidden for its actual might. I liked it quite a bit. Be interesting to see how it is in a decade out of a bottle. Although I have a feeling I'll have it at least one more time this year.

Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Porter Beer Bar in Atlanta.

Pours a very dark purplish-brown color with a half-finger off-white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of large amounts of fruits - partly dark grapes but also plums and figs. Also present are sweet and dark malts with mild amounts of spices.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet dark malt flavors with a hint of caramel malts kick things off. Joining in shortly thereafter are sweet dark fruits - crisp dark grapes with ripe plums. Near the end of the sip hints of indistinct spices make a brief appearance before fading out into a mildly sweet ending leaving a bit of alcohol burn on the back end. As the beer warms the influence of the spices increases.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with solid carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall this was certainly one of the fruitiest BSDA's I've had in a while, most skew toward heavier malt and spice profiles. Worth a shot.

Photo of pwoods
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kels for sharing.

750ml corked and caged brown bottle poured into a Russian River tulip.

A: Pours a dark woody brown, opaque. Big tan head, frothy, and dies fairly quickly. Some lacing.

S: Belgian pilsner and dark sugars. Nice yeasty spices, very nice. Some spicy breathless and toffee.

T/M: Maltiness isn't huge and is definitely highly fermented as the body is thinner than expected. Some dryness from sugar but I think it was mashed pretty low for fermentability. Lots of the spicy yeast with some esters mixed in there as well. A bit more carbonation and dryness would be an improvement.

D: Very drinkable and the 10% ABV is very well hidden.

Photo of caddybuyer
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opened for Thanksgiving 2010. Poured from a 750 at cellar temperature into a Chimay chalice.

A-Initiall pour out of the bottle was clear deep garnet with a thin tan head that settled rapidly. Pretty coloration.

S-Sweet yeasty malts and dark fruits. Not detecting much spicing and a sour note in the background.

T-Initially sweet, yet a mouthwatering sour note kicks in almost immediately. Fresh pear combines with some vanilla oaking and the requisite raisin and figs that give way to a peppery sweet finish lasts forever. This is very different, very complex, and while the initial sip did not blow me away, it grows more charming the more I contemplate it. ABV is well hidden.

M-Mouthfeel is not as robust as I would like, and this is very overcarbonated, but it is young.

D-I like this, and will age the other bottle that I have and perhaps buy a third to open up in a few years before the drummers roll.

I generally don't pair beer with food but this would go exceptionally well with game.

Photo of mdaschaf
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark burgundy with a slight purple tint to it. Small khaki head on top that reduces to a ring of bubbly foam. Thin lacing forms around the sides.

S: Sweet upfront with some slightly sour cherries, a little bit of belgian spice, some molasses, and a little bit of oak and vanilla. Not quite what I expected, but very nice.

T: More tart, dark cherry, some vanilla and a little brown sugar. There is a little bit of molasses and some tobacco. There is a good bit of spice mixed in, some clove and a little cinnamon.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Slight heat as it goes down. Dry finish.

O: Quite nice, the sourness caught me off-guard. The cherry/tart flavor masks a bit of the spice, but I like it. Looking forward to seeing what happens to this one over time.

Photo of rigdont
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a mahogany color with a cream-colored head that is about a finger thick.

S- Dried fruit, cherries, golden raisins, Belgian yeast, and oak

T- The taste is much like the smell. The taste is of dried fruit, Belgian yeast, and oak and ends with a hoppy bitterness.

M- The carbonation is well done for a BSDA, it is a smooth feel on the mouth, almost silky, but with a fair amount of carbonation.

D- This beer is very drinkable for being 10%. Almost dangerously.

This beer was good at such a young age. I am very excited to see how this beer will be in 9 years. Such a long time to wait....

Photo of GilGarp
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle served cellar temp into a goblet.

3 French Hens is a dark ruby-tinted brown with good clarity when held to the light. The head is bone white and tight but it settles surprisingly quick and leaves no lace behind.

Aroma is sweet with dark malts and toffee notes. There is an unexpected funky fruit smell that doesn't seem entirely right but it doesn't turn me off either.

Flavor is that of a slightly sour strong dubbel. Nice toasted malts, caramel, and toffee with some dark fruits and dried fruits thrown in for good measure. A little bit of sour makes me wonder if it's the barrel aging or something worse.

Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, full in body, and low in carbonation. Just how I like it.

Overall a solid strong dark Belgian but unusual in some ways. Not a bad beer by any means but not what I was expecting.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours into the glass a dark soupy chocolate color. The head is formed of large bubbles, not quite dishsoap-ish, but close. Head has an interesting dirty white appearance, but it doesn't last long. A bubbly crown is all I've got after about a minute. Something looks "different" about this beer, certainly nothing "wrong" though.

A tea-like herbal aroma dominates the nose, but an earthy mineral/stone scent comes in closely behind. Definitely getting the vinous quality promised on the label, like a dry red wine.

The French Oak aging comes through strongly in the flavor, having all kinds of vinous qualities, including a considerable if not quite Pinot Noir-like dryness. Herbal notes pop out with a pleasant mellowness, and there's the rich, decadent character of fine cream-filled chocolates. Some honey, even more maple. Something cola-like hangs out too, tasted mostly in the finish, which lingers somewhere between chocolate, grape and cola. If not the most amazing-tasting beer, it's certainly one of the most unique I've had, which is pretty much Bruery's style.

Texturally this is great. Like, really great. While the bubbles feel like they want to attack, they actually give in to being as soft and caressing as possible. There's a wonderful balance here between carbonation tingle and sensual, silky softness, with the latter having an edge over the former. Wonderful.

There are some really good things going on here -- the flavor is unlike any other beer I can recall, and it feels fantastic. It fails to totally hit the grand slam I hoped for, but what the hell am I making baseball references for with a deep winter Christmas beer anyway? Everybody sing now: "Five golden gloves..."

Photo of ElGordo
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Body is a deep brown with garnet highlights,. Aroma of French oak and dark fruit on top of a solid malty backbone. A nice, fruity character comes through at the front of the mouth, with a mild sour character from the yeast. Interesting notes of wood, light brown sugar, and a very light astringency. It will be interesting to see how this beer ages (it is supposedly good until 2012); right now it seems like it could use a little more time for the yeast to work its magic.

Photo of dirtylou
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle, split and paired with some fresh pasta

appearance: served in my great lakes christmas chalice (this glass is the most interesting thing that brewery has released in a while), dark mahogany body, light tan cream head with no retention

smell: lots of dark fruit - plum, grapes, figs, booze, raisins, wood, spice, rye

taste: Big flavor profile - plums soaked in rum, figs, dates, brown sugar, belgian yeast, caramelized sugars and lots of alcohol. I really liked 2 turtle doves - this is a dissapointment by comparison

mouthfeel: boozy, medium-heavy

drinkability: ok

Photo of RickS95
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rich, dark brown fudge color. On top is an off-tan head, about a finger and a half thick. When the head dissipates, it leaves a creamy ring of bubbles around the edge.

Smells Belgian, with a funky yeast and ripe dark fruits (and some apple). There's a note of alcohol, almost a port-like scent. As the beer warms, a hint of anise develops.

Taste matches the smell. Dark fruits--grapes, apple, raisin, figs--dominate with the slightest mention of oak. Alcohol is only slightly present.

Very creamy mouthfeel. A bit like wine, particularly the adity, but a bit sweeter and more 'beer like' thanks to malt backbone and a bit of hoppy bitterness to balance.

Overall, this is a really good beer. It's a tad sweet and wine like, or I'd have given it a 4.5. I'm glad I tried this.

Photo of prototypic
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

3 French Hens pours a darker, nut brown color. It’s very hazy, and has some really nice crimson highlights with light behind it. Carbonation looks to be very active, yielding a tan head that stands about two and a half fingers tall. It’s relatively slow to recede. Lacing was moderate.

The nose is very good. It’s very malty up front. Sweet caramel and cocoa-esque chocolate malts are the base. It smells sweet, but not overly so. Yeast is definitely prominent. It’s Belgian in character, but could be a little stronger. Smells spicy more than anything. Dark fruit is noted at the secondary level. Smells like raisin and fig. Oak is also secondary and adds character. Alcohol is there, but doesn’t smell overly strong. Smells good.

The flavor is a notch above the nose and is impressive. Light caramel and chocolate malts are noted early. It’s not quite as sweet as it smells. I like that. The chocolate variety definitely tastes like cocoa. Its spicy side emerges early and features really nice clove and pepper flavors. Belgian yeast is definitely responsible for their presence. Speaking of which, the yeast really does have a nice flavor that’s much more Belgian in flavor than in taste. Secondary flavors include raisin, fig, light vanilla, oak, light cherry, and leather. It is deep and complex. Alcohol is blended well. It’s there, but isn’t warm or hot. Finishes a little sweet and spicy.

3 French Hens has a medium to full body. Carbonation is active, but the bubbles feel soft. It’s definitely nice and smooth. Not quite creamy, but smooth.

The Bruery did a really nice job with 3 French Hens. This really is one of their best beers. Definitely superior to 2 Turtle Doves. It’s a nice representation of the style that features all the bells and whistles. I really like its deep and complex flavor profile. All of the elements come together much better than anticipated. I regret not picking up two or three more bottles. This is impressive stuff. Find a bottle.

Photo of cjacobsen
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown. When held up to the light you can see ruby tones around the edges. Decent head that leaves relatively quickly.

Smells of raisin, plum and roasted nuts.

The raisin and plum hit up front. There is a good roasted grain character that comes through with hints of the roasted nuts. The aftertaste has a slight woodiness to it.

The carbonation takes a little bit here. Its not overwhelming but it has that high carbonation bite to it.

The alcohol comes comes out a little in this beer but its mostly big with a lot of flavor. I gave the drinkability of this one a mid-level score because the main intent of this brew is to last until the "vertical" is over with but I really don't see this making it, or being something drinkable when the time comes around.

Photo of nickd717
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A couple samplers had at The Bruery Provisions in Orange, CA.

3 Freedom Hens is dark brown in color, not clear, with an average-sized and average-density light tan head sitting on top.

The aroma is somewhat Belgian, as I expected, with dark bread, dark fruits, and brown sugar malt notes. A little spiciness to it.

The flavor is pretty good but not spectacular. Sweet caramel malts, Belgian yeast, brown sugar, raisin and fig, and spices. Just a slight hint of oak - could use a little heavier-handed -bal aging.

Body is on the fuller side, and carbonation is average.

Not quite as good as 2 Turtle Doves, but a reasonably enjoyable beer. Could see this improving a little bit with age.

Photo of beerhan
3.67/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter with relatively no head with a very slushy brown color. Smells like toffee, cocoa, caramel, licorice and a little coffee as well. Tastes very licoricey and toffeeish at the same time with little else. There is also something sour to it which is a little odd as well as a rather floral aftertaste. The aftertaste is much better than what you taste at first. The carbonation appears subtle but is a bit over the top and this is not the most drinkable beer however it was quite appropriate for Christmas night if not just for novelty's sake. I do have hope for this beer tasting better in the future just because it is suppose to age.

Photo of IKR
3.66/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving: Bottle into a tulip glass

A: Dark Brown with half an inch of very light brown head. Noticeable lacing on the glass.

S: upfront Belgian Yeast aroma with a bit of toffee/caramel smell. Slight roast aroma.

T: Slight Belgian funk, caramel and dark sugar elements.

M: Good body with medium carbonation.

D: Good flavor with hidden alcohol.

To me this tastes like the base for last year's Autumn Maple which, off topic, I preferred to this year's batch. The majority of people will find this preferable to 2 Turtle Doves but I'm missing 2 Turtle Doves' bolder, more complex flavors. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Trappiste Rochefort 8 listed as one of the top beers for this style. I found the Trappiste Rochefort 8 to be a far more complex flavorful beer. That being said this isn't a bad beer it just doesn't overwhelm me like some of the other Bruery's offerings.

Photo of nickthetick
3.08/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: held to the light it pours a very dark brown with some ruby sparkles and a finger of dirty white head.

S: ugh, I thought this was the first skunked beer I've ever had. Wet leather, earthy and... Well skunky.

T: this beer shines through here. Deep roasted malts, sweet caramel, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bitter pine like hops that balance out the sweet. There is a leathery note but its a good one unlike the nose.

MF: full body and effervescent, a tad astringent.

D: I would pick this up for the holidays but wouldn't actively search or trade for it.

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3 French Hens from The Bruery
86 out of 100 based on 393 ratings.