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3 French Hens - The Bruery

Not Rated.
3 French Hens3 French Hens

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

384 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 384
Reviews: 228
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 12.3%
Wants: 103
Gots: 374 | FT: 23
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: 384 | Reviews: 228 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of 2beerdogs
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of popery
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of crashoveride
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of younger35
3.49/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received this brew from both Gibby and Murchman, thanks guys! The first two in the series weren't bad and I'm hoping this is tasty stuff. Drank from my Surly Surlyfest stein.

Appearance- Pours a dark brownish ruby with a terrific one finger creamy off-white head. A really nice cap and collar is maintained the entire beer but nothing in the way of lacing.
Smell- Not the most intense smelling beer ever. Sort of has a mixed nose that's somewhat Belgium, somewhat a English Mild. Dark fruits consisting of plums, raisins and prunes are probably the most dominate along with a light yeasty note. A bit of toasted grain and light Belgium candy sugar give a slightly sweet smell. It opens a bit as it warms but it's still fairly subtle.
Taste- Like the nose, it's just not overly potent. Starts lightly sweet with a bit of a tannic twang. Brown sugar gives way to a bit of a toasty note and some dark coffee like malts. Some dark fruits make their way in with notes of raisins and prunes. The Belgium yeasts are probably the most dominate taste and a bit of warming comes into play toward the finish. The beer finishes with a bit of lingering sweetness and a touch of toasted grain.
Mouthfeel- Surprisingly aggressive carbonation as the beer really tickles the mouth. Medium body with a touch of warming.
Drinkability- Overall not a bad beer but it's just sort of blah. The flavors just aren't there at this point but maybe in 9 years for the vertical, they will be. It's a bit warm too but considering its 10% I probably shouldn't complain. I look forward to seeing what becomes of this one for the vertical. Thanks much Jeff and Tim!

Photo of aasher
3.42/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had to try this since I've watched PiaPT and 2TD pass by. This pours a medium bodied raisin in color with little to no head. The smell is of very strong bananas and cloves and has a brown sugar sweetness to it. It actually smells like a Dunkel. The taste is of brown sugar with a yeasty, banana like after taste. It's very sweet. This is alot more carbonated than I expected. It has a bite to it. The alcohol is well hidden but this beer, at this stage at least, doesn't drink very smoothly. It was just ok.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.4/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a goblet. Brought this back from my trip to Cincinnati.

4.0 A: Looks black in the goblet, but there is brown around the periphery, so I'm thinking this is a dark brown. Two fingers of beige frothy/creamy hybrid head with average retention and moderate amounts of lacing.

4.0 S: Interesting anyway. The strongest aroma is a bit hard to interpret. I think I'll call it a "flowery pruniness." I suppose there's some goofy spice in here. Next I get healthy portions of peppery yeastiness and perhaps a touch of corriander. Malts are mainly doughy, but there is a sweet cracker component like a graham cracker. Light plum fruitiness. Pretty good.

3.5 T: The main flavor is doughy and bready malts, which gives a "rancid-type sweetness" that is surprisingly good. Flowery and herbal like many a saison. Again, light fruitiness in the form of plum and fig. Oak is initially fairly light, but definitely comes through near the end of the glass. Along those lines, the first few sips were much more enjoyable than the last, but a lot of that has to do with the mouthfeel.

3.0 M: Medium body. Spritzy carbonation is very active, but appropriate for the style. The main issue with the mouthfeel is that it is super chewy. I didn't notice at first, but halfway through the first glass, it's at the front of my mind. The chewiness manifests at the finish and even after the swallow.

2.5 D: I'm not sure if it is the overly chewy mouthfeel or flowery spice overload, but this one is hard to drink a full bottle of. I really enjoyed the first half of my first glass, but the experience goes downhill from there. This is the type of beer that would be good in a 12 oz format, but that's not going to happen and it hurts the drinkability. If I had shared this with another, I bet I would have given it a much higher score.

Photo of nataku00
3.39/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap at Beer Revolution during their The Bruery event, into a tulip glass. Beer is a dark brown, with some hints of orange when held up to the light, with a finger of tan colored foamy head. Plenty of lacing as the head dissipated to the surface. Not too much is visible through the fairly dark beer so I can't tell if there's carbonation present.

I was a bit confused by the aroma. Just a bit of dark and caramel malts on there, boozy alcohol, and very very feint fig if I tried very hard. I thought it was the temperature of the beer after the pour so I waited and swirled about 20 minutes later, but the aroma didn't change, unfortunately.

Taking a sip, this beer is very dry for a Belgian strong dark ale, almost pale ale type dryness. Figs are still there on the tongue, but mostly dark malts, with hints of roasted and dark caramel malts mainly, finishing with a very dry grassy hops. Not too much sweetness in this beer.

Medium bodied and well carbonated with the soft bubbles expected from a Belgian strong dark ale, but the dry mouthfeel really throws me off. Some booze detected, but the flavor and mouthfeel combination is just a different from what I was expecting for this beer.

Photo of mentor
3.37/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a finger of brown head over a very dark brown liquid. Smells a bit like a saison. Spicey zip, mild clove, nutmeg, chocolate, and some fig. The wood is very mild and comes across like the smell of sun-baked wood on a summer day.

Tastes very belgian. Cardboard oxidation. Clove and spice with strong chocolate and playful fruits (white grape and pear). Very dry finish cleans the palate and leaves a sour and herbal aftertaste. Some smoke in the dark grain. Has a worrisome aromatic in the retronasal.

Interesting contrast between the light fruits, yeast spicy, and chocolatey malts. Md-light body with modest carbonation. Drinkability is meh. In regards to aging potential, this one could become something great, though I suspect the oxidation will take over and it will be yuck.

Photo of boomer31
3.36/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had 2 Turtle Doves not too long ago and enjoyed it. Looking forward to this.

A - Pours a deep brown with a light tan head that looks almost like soap. Holding the beer up to the light you see red come thru

S - Sweet caramel and candi sugar

T - Sweet malts and candi sugar with a touch of oak drying it out in the back. Notes of dark fruits as well. Though the sweetness lingers the spice lingers even longer. There is an odd spice in this beer that keeps it from being overly enjoyable.

M - Very sweet, high carb and sticky

D - Too sweet to be easily drinkable.

Overall a bit disappointing. Way too sweet for me. Perhaps more oak would balance this out.

Photo of sacullen
3.35/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights when held directly to light. Generous head that quickly settles to a lasting crown.

S: Smells very similar to most vintages of Anchor OSA. A bit of fruit (cherry, mostly) and spice that one would typically think of with a BSDA. Just a hint of oak, which I prefer.

T: Again, the presence of the oak is just a hint, so it's not overpowering. Has a bit of a prune taste to it, even though I cherries in the nose.

M: Lively on the tongue. Some might argue it's a bit over-carbonated. I think it is decent for the style. Medium body and the taste lingers.

D: While the alcohol is present, it's not dominating. A bit surprised it's 10% (had to double check the bottle after I began reviewing).

Overall, this is one of the better brews I have had from The Bruery. To be honest, I would still prefer to go with some tried-and-true Belgian standbys for my Belgian fix.

Photo of AleWatcher
3.35/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hmmmm... Finally cracking this open.
Pours a dark, plum/cherry color. Rather lifeless-- not a lot of head or retention.
After a while, it looks like a glass of bourbon.

Smell is interesting. A Belgian dark ale is clear-- some sweetness, malts, unrefined sugar, spicy yeast notes.... Then an odd soft grape note--- white grapes. Tart, acidic, white grapes. Like chardonay.
The booziness is not going away. Great big alcohol note on the finish.

Feel is undercarbonated-- almost still-- and medium bodied oily beer.

Overall-- I'll be interested in trying this in a few years-- perhaps 9 years? It isn't bad... But to brew a beer to be drinkable now, as well as 10 years for now, is a challenge... They may have banked on reputation to carry them until this one matures.

Photo of farrago
3.35/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Wispy head full of delicate deep brown bubbles, strong pour gets you close to three fingers at first, quickly whittles itself down to a thin coating across the surface, the lacing is thin depth-wise but sure coats the glass sides well. Clear mahogany brown color with a vibrantly bright orange tint, sparkly glass presence, compensates decently for the lack of head retention. Smoky sweet nose of caramelized brown sugar, molasses, graham cracker, rum, vanilla, bread pudding, the yellow raisin, fig, peach, apricot, nectarine fruit scents mix sweetness with more bite, the orange peel accents favor the latter, booziness enlarges its presence and length while, thankfully, avoiding any burning sensations. Medium-bodied with a grapey vinous texture as well as flavoring. The carbonation manages an aggressive churn through the attack plus, then trails off. The sourness bolstered by red cherry, raspberry fruit, the golden raisin and fig take a step back. Some banana, more baked into bread than raw fruit. Never gets green, some tea leaf and orange pith, the oak toast here edges out any more acrid smokiness. Funny how sweet you think it is at first only to slowly relent and change your mind with each next sip.

Photo of Brez07
3.35/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle poured into a Chimay glass

A: Cracked this open, turned my back for one second and it started to foam over. Settled down after one pour though. Semi-translucent dark ruby in color. Started with a 1/2 finger white head but there is no retention

S: Lots of raisin, fig. Some tart apple and dark cherries. Some oak as well. Minor notes of alcohol

T: Again, dark fruit is the largest. Plum, fig, cherry. Some candied sugar and belgian yeast. Gets sweeter, but never cloying, over time. Oak barrel imparted tannins, which causes a very astringent flavor. It is pretty intense at first, but fades a little after a while. Still, it is hard to get past this part of the beer

M: Medium bodied. Carbonation isn't over the top but causes a fizzy mouthfeel. Right on par with the style

D: Hmm, what to say about this beer. Started off harsh but then mellowed out a bit. Certainly not something I would drink again... right now. Hopefully this develops over time but I can't say I'm overly optimistic

Photo of GRG1313
3.34/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a crystal clear deep, dark copper red with burgundy tints; thick, firm and bold off white head.

Nose is big sweet plums, ripe pears and sweet cooked peaches with light spice - big, full, rich and assertive with big candi sugar tones.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with an elegant carbonation.

Flavors are very complex and layered. Front palate is sweet spiced cola and compote cooked fruit that goes to a dull bitter mid palate and finish.

The front end of this beer is wonderful but the flavors then back off and the wood and barrel aging come into play and goes to a bitter, almost bitter/sour carmel finish.

The mid palate on this beer is a strange spice/herbal character, almost a sour chocolate character, that prevents this brew from really shining. The high alcohol is well hidden!

Personally, I don't see this beer doing very well 9 years from now when we all do our "12 year vertical" for the "12 Days of Christmas." However, time will tell.

Photo of justintcoons
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Aged 1 year. Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours an extremely dark ruby red tinted purple appearing almost black at first glance. 1 finger of off-white head, moderate carbonation and good clarity. Has a thin layer of very fine lacing that trickles down the glass.

Second pour is a murky opaque copper.

N: Red wine, black cherry, plum, cinnamon, currants, a hint of clove and maybe a touch of apricot. Interesting.

T: Red wine/grape, apricot, grape juice, figs, currants and perhaps some blackberry upfront. Mid-palate brings in candy sugar, biscuity bread and ginger along with hints of black cherry and lemon citrus. Finishes with toasted grains, subtle notes of earthy oak, barnyard, leather, clove, coriander, peppercorn, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

M: Light bodied, very dry and spicy with a bit of stickiness.

O: Sweet, complex, spicy and interesting. Has a lot of red wine characteristics and a good blanket of Belgian funk and winter spicing. A nice sipper that transforms over time giving me some mixed feelings. I'm giving it a bump up based on complexity but the spices are a tad too much for my palate.

Photo of xnicknj
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

750mL bottle poured into snifter glass and shared with tasting group

Pours a copper with light orange hues, a lighter head fades to cloudy film and some spotty lacing.

The nose is an assortment of dark fruits with dates and a slight yeasty spice.

Nice progression of dark fruit and roasted malt from the get-go. Sweetness is mellow but well done. Interesting hoppiness towards the end with some boozyness throughout. Some pine stickiness during the finish.

Fuller medium body, carbonation is a little too high and very sticky feel. Drinks nice, but this is definitely a good one to share. The hop bitterness was somewhat unsettling and seemed to throw off the flavors, but this could be really tasty with some age on it.

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 bierguru
3.28/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A -
head poured thick laced out to pretty much nothing within a mintue or so boady was darkish brown

sweet malty fuitiness up front with a finishing spice alcohol backend

T -
sweet vanilla malt up front mild of fruit dates/figs in the middle finishes witha slight spice nd smoothness from the oak

M -
very smooth and well balanced however kind of dry

D -
very tastey worth a try thinking about getting another bottle

Photo of PEBKAC
3.28/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Half growler from New Beer. Cheaper then the bottle. :D Golden Carolus Goblet. Love the thin lip on this glass.

Filled almost to the brim. Sounded intact. Filled about a week ago.

Straight down the middle pour. Half inch of bubbly, tan head. Clear, ruby/russet body with plenty of activity. Blanketed lace.

Alcohol, macerated dark fruit, caramelized grain, candy.

Am I wrong when I say I taste a little smokiness in this? Macerated raisins/prunes(sharp), candi sugar, some odd bay leaf thing? Oxidation is big on the back. This "spiciness" this beer is advertised to have is lost to me, unless that word is code for "I sat on a yeast cake & all I got was this off flavor".

Feel is very light, carbonation: fluffy. Alcohol melds & is nondescript. A Strong Dark Ale that comes off easy, but noticeably watered down.

Fucking odd beer. Seems so easy at first, but you really have to love the particular combo of flavors to keep going. Touch too pricey.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.23/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Inflatablechair brought this one over tonight after he spent a long day brewing... Thanks Sam.

Bam... big neck fizzer immediately upon cracking.. Sammy got most of it into his glass. Pours a cloudy deep walnut... definitely not clear.. descent foamy tan head... This brew is gonna have carbonation issues.

Nose shows mainly caramel and minor real Belgian qualities.. a bit toasty too with subtle clove and a little raisin.... the estery notes are almost none existent.. the phenols are also off.

Flavor is a tad bit better up front and seems moderately authentic.. more of a rich malt character that still sorta relies on caramel.. still the fruity esters just aren't there... the oak is nice.. sorta refined but doesn't add too much to the overall brew. There was a real metallic component for most of the palate... think "shiny new pennies".. coppery notes seem to leap from the clove on the finish.

Body is about right, but the carbonation never came into par.. waaay too fizzy up front and didn't really get any better.


I will paraphrase another buddy's review for my overall impression of this bottle... "To insinuate that this bottling is going to be 'good' in 9 nears is idiotic... it is marginal when fresh and for the Bruery to add to to the hype should be criminal."

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 Murchmac
3.18/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

So far two turtle doves was the only one of the days i've liked so far.

This one looks fine, dark brown and red, with some carbonation and a white head.

Smells of some dark fruits, raisins mostly, some spice. not much

Too hot, too much raisin taste, not any balance. Not enjoyable.

Wouldnt drink a whole lot of this beer, hope it improves with age.

Photo of DaveHS
3.18/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

opened about 8 months after its initial release.

A-Pours deep mahogany with ruby highlights and a huge foamy khaki/yellow head that reduces quickly. Leaves no lacing.

S-Raisiny, almost like a dubbel. A suggestion of oak, but nothing too extreme. Reminds me of Pannepot. A tart fruit flavor that suggests possible oxidation.

T/M-The first thing I pick up on is sharp flavors of oxidation. This is already going south. The French oak is oppressive in the flavor profile, dominating all other flavors. An all around generic Belgian dark strong ale. Papery booziness and oxidized acidic flavors kill the finish.

O-Wow. This isn't very good at all. Expected more from this series. This is already past its prime, which is going to be a huge disappointment for anyone thinks this is going to make it for the vertical.

Photo of JLeege
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a large snifter. Merry Christmas to me!

Appearance- Pours a very deep amber almost brown color with a 2 finger just off white head. When held to the light it is almost ruby red, crystal clear, with lots of active carbonation streams. Decent head retention, though no lacing is left behind at all.

Smell- Purple grapes right up front, a bit tart in the aroma. Under there is some dark malts, getting a hint of chocolate. Some belgian yeast and a bit earthy as well. No alcohol is noticed on the nose, a welcoming sign.

Taste- Pretty good, but there is almost two completely different things going on here. The "25% ale aged in french oak barrels" is noticed right on front of the pallate. Sweet and vinous and a tad oaky. Then after the swallow the "75% dark ale" shows up. Chocolate and bready notes, and some very subtle belgian yeasty notes. The flavors are all there, but they really don't seem to be coming together all that great. With some age I feel this beer would get much better (which is intended by the brewer). Big boozy warming on the finish, which seems to be masking some of the flavors, still "hot".

Mouthfeel- High carbonation and a tad syrupy. The 10.00% is warming the cheecks.

Overall- Glad I tried this now, have another bottle to age. With some time on it, I feel this beer will really start to come into its own and be much, much better. I think a rereview is in order a couple of years down the road, or atleast look at this one and note some hopefull improvements.

Photo of rowingbrewer
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had this at a recent tasting, poured from the bottle into new belgium glass.

The appearance is dark brown with little head.

The smell was the best part of this beer, strong spice smell, and some dark fruits as well.

The taste followed the smell with a strong almost overpowering spice upfront, followed by the dark fruit and a noticeable alcohol presence.

The beer had medium carbonation and due to the strong spice taste was not very drinkable. not saying it was a bad beer, the experience was not bad, but i can see this one being a lot better at the end of the series.

3 French Hens from The Bruery
86 out of 100 based on 384 ratings.