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3 French Hens - The Bruery

Not Rated.
3 French Hens3 French Hens

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very good

388 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 388
Reviews: 229
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 12.3%
Wants: 102
Gots: 369 | FT: 22
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: 388 | Reviews: 229
Photo of smithdc33
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into St Bernardus tulip glass and resulted in a nice off-white head that fades pretty quickly. Tasted this beer immediately after having a St. Bernardus Christmas; similar styles; very different beers.

A nice dark red-brown color with minimal lacing. A roasty smell with an array of spices, and definitely some caramel. The flavor is bold at first with an initial hit of alcohol, followed by cocoa and cherry flavors with a touch of oak on the finish. Smooth carbonation that supports the complex flavors in this beer rather than overpowering them. This is a very smooth, drinkable beer, which is impressive for how powerful it is.

I'm a big fan of Bruery beers, and 3 French Hens does not disappoint! Time to go out and stock up.

Photo of BARFLYB
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On Tap at The Hulmeville Inn and a bottle late at night. This is a bottle review.

With some hiss from the cap pry 'three' came out looking dark shoe polish brown with a dark red tint up towards the skies. A brown fullish finga of foam rose up, peeped around and left without a trace plus no lace.

Smell is brighter from the bottle than the cold tap. A lot of malt, sweets, candi sugar, brown suga. Just a bit of wood/bourbon, Im thinking the dark fruit rounds that out a bit. Holiday spice, cinnamon, etc.

Bready up front Belgian style, dark fruit following apple/plum/berry style, make that tart apple. Some cinnamon and spice. Brown sugar, roasted malt. Some cocco in the back. Taste is surrounded by spice and fruit, the bourbon/oak, is well, minimal. Maybe some time will round that out, but I doubt it.

Feel is smooth although a bit dull. It comes off with some tug but becomes a smooth sail. A semi full body, silky with a sweet middle and tangy finish, not dry at all, it's in style. A fruity aftertaste that is relaxing.

I drank a big goblet at the bar and had another, I did not quite get hens. The bottle brang out some more flavor and while this semi barreled version is top notch, Im sure the 100% will be a treat. As with all Bruery beers, it's a big bottle of 10%, it's not the most drinkable out there but it is quite nice.

Photo of largadeer
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Bruery Provisions.

Caramel colored, this would look like a glass of tawny port if not for the small beige head.

The aroma is a mix of vinous notes, plums, general yeasty-estery fruitiness and dark candi sugar sweetness.

The palate likewise is quite vinous, bringing to mind red grapes and plums, a little cherry and black pepper. The wine barrel comes through well, despite only being a small component of the beer. The body is medium-full, and it's semi-sweet, more drying toward the finish. Quite good for the style, but as with the other two Bruery Christmas beers, it's not particularly noteworthy. I have a feeling that this series is going to end up much like Stone's Vertical Epic series - decent beers with a ton of unjustified hype.

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

Purchased in Columbus for $9.99, opened to toast the Bears week 12 game against the Eagles. This pours a dark brown color, opaque with a little light coming through the edges, thick but short-lived tan foam.

This smells yeasty in a Belgian way, maybe even a little Unibroue-ish. Some dark fruits and a little bit of a hefe note too, some phenols apparently. It tastes more like a wiezenbock than any other style, big fruity notes and a bitter anise-like aftertaste. Very yeastie throughout. The alcohol is a little noticeable in the aftertaste but not objectionably strong.

The body is medium-plus, not exactly a chuggable beer but drinkable nonetheless. Kind of gimmicky again with the Christmas beer, fun idea but not really satisfying stuff.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.29/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a Bruery tulip and served with Thanksgiving leftovers.

The color is a somewhat-light chestnut brown that pours with a moderately-disappointing single-finger head with just a touch of lacing and not that much retention. There is a slight bubble ring around the glass throughout, however. The nose is nice with some cherries, dark fruits, light oak, a bit of booze, a touch of caramel, and a tad bit of molasses. The French oak becomes much more prominent as it warms in the glass.

The flavor is quite powerful and complex. My initial taste is some darkened cherries and malt as well as some dates and figs. This makes way for a good dose of French-oak taste without the accompanying tannic character of a lot of barrel-aged beers. Throughout, I really have trouble getting over how nice the barrel-aged portion of this beer really is. There's some light spiciness and Belgian-yeast character intermingling throughout.

The body itself is a bit light for the boldness of the flavor, but the carbonation is nice and the barrel character just contributes wonderful qualities throughout. Drinkability is really nice and I simply am having a hard time getting enough of this beer and will certainly be going back to grab a few extra bottles of this.

Photo of mdfb79
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 11/17/10 notes. Had on tap at Churchkey in DC.

a - Pours a dark amber color with one inch of off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts, caramel malts, spices, yeast, and dark fruits.

t - Tastes of dark fruit, caramel malts, and a little spice. Caramel and sweet fruit really come out in the taste which I liked a lot.

m - Medium body and low carbonation, the body was super smooth and real easy going down. Surprised it was 10%, couldn't notice in the mouth.

d - I really like 3 French Hens a lot. I liked the caramel in the taste alot and thought it had a great mouthfeel. Would certainly drink again and going to grab one for the cellar.

Photo of Gobzilla
4.02/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Giving thanks to the 3 french hens

A: poured a slightly reddish brown with brown highlights and a thin bubbly head that left a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S:I could definitely dectect dark fruits like prunes along side brown sugar, pear esters, slight vinous notes, and aromas that remind me of belgian yeast.

T: the pear eaters and dark fruits mesh quite well but the belgian style yeast does add to the style. I did detect brown sugar and honey like notes;pretty complex flavors.

M: the brew was medium in body with a low amount of carbonation and had a sweet, dark fruity, boozy, and sticky finish.

D: it drank decent but was definitely a sipper. Really tasty brew and was a great beer to give thanks to.

Photo of JamnesCameron
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Cosendonk tulip glass.

Pours a hazy, deep ruby color with lots of billowy, light tan, creamy head. No lace, but lots of legs.

Aromas of oak aging, yeast, alcohol, and dark fruits.

First sip is of dark, bitter cherry skins and cherry pits, some oak tannins, and a nice alcohol burn. Flavors of dark fruits, raisins mainly, come through, combined with the oak giving it a winey presence. A touch of sourness.

Mouthfeel is big and chewy. Some lingering bitterness from the oak tannins and dark grains. No hop bitterness noticeable. Very long finish that seems to go on forever betweens sips.

Very drinkable, or I should say, sippable beer. This is going to take a while to finish off this bottle. This is one that I would let cellar for a year or two before digging into. This has some potential to greatly improve.

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 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.

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 ColdPoncho
4.07/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very excited to try this beer after reading the description.

It pours a lovely dark ruby-brown with a half inch or so of light tan head that thins out to a lingering ring and patch in the middle.

It's got a really prominent dark fruit smell that's quite characteristic for the style, as I see it. There's undertones of chocolate, oak (French oak, I suppose), and olives. It's possibly a bit too refined for what I consider to be ideal, but very good.

This beer is fairly complex, and yields some tastes not expected after smelling it. The first thing to hit you is a good full roasted malt character which makes you wonder if it is Belgian after all? But then you get the nice dark fruit and Belgianness. There's a touch of sour on the finish, with an aftertaste that makes it feel/taste like your mouth was just coated with butter. It's quite good, but not exactly what it should be, perhaps, with the sour finish being the biggest problem.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin, even for being 10% alcohol, but it's made up for with it's smoothness and buttery feeling.

It's quite drinkable, and has a nice warming feeling to it as it goes down. The only issue for me is the sourness, but it's a small problem.

Photo of jwinship83
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml capped bottle drank out of my chimay chalice. this was purchased and consumed shortly after it appeared on the local shelves.

A- this one pours out a rather dark brown colored body with a finger of solid looking off-white colored head. the head lasts longer than expected and leaves behind small spots of lacing.

S- the smell starts out with some toasted bread and sweet brown sugar. caramel and toffee come through as well. fruity belgian yeast shine through fairly dominantly and give off some scents of cherry, raisin, fig, and dates. the alcohol seems pretty well hidden. little to nothing from the barrel.

T- the belgian yest i could smell comes through first and im able to pick out cherries, dates, figs, and plums. raisins/tobacco also. toffee and caramel come through and add a pretty high level of sweetness. theres also plenty of brown sugar in here. the barrel aging (25% anyways) makes itself barely known with a little bit of vanilla/oak. somewhat spicy also.

M- light bodied, some might consider it moderate. the carbonation. the alcohol is pretty well hidden.

D- definitely different than the previous "beers of christmas" series. decently enjoyable now. well see how well this beer comes together in a few years, and if i can hold out, 9 more.

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 MbpBugeye
3.01/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wow, what a beautiful looking bottle. Ive always been a fan of The Bruery's labels and bottles but this might be my favorite so far.

A- Poured into a Duvel tulip. The head is pretty big but very short lived. There is no retention of lacing to speak of. If it werent for the laser etching in the glass this beer would appear stagnant. The color is a deep type of brown with shades of purple, maroon and root beer.

S- It seems essential to allow this one to warm adequately to the recommended 50 degrees. A slight warming brings forth lots of Belgian candi sugar sweetness in the aroma that coats the deep, rich fruits. New oak is not timid here, it proves itself in a creamy, woodsy way.

T- This beer's two main points are reiterated in the taste. Woody and sweet. This is in no doubt a Belgian style. Its filled to the brim with rich fruits. Figs, plums, raisins, prunes, and that coating sugariness. There is a nice roasted nuttiness but the sugariness is a bit too much. The finish is nearing sugar bomb territory with a spike of alcohol. I can only hope this calms down in years to come.

M- The carbonation, thankfully, calms down after about half a glass. At first its much too lively for this type of beer. Once it calms down a little bit the fullness of the body becomes apparent. It has a slick, oily feel that creates a long, slick finish.

D- Eh, I was excited for this. Its a pretty decent beer and part of a really awesome vertical. Ill tuck one away, but I might not necessarily be jonesing to drink it.

Photo of jjh19
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark red, tiny bubbles, looks rich
Smell: Plenty of wine-like smell
Taste: Spicy, with a lot of red wine notes, and a little tart.
Mouthfeel: Really tight carbonation
Drinkability: A terrific sipper with tight carbonation. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of Chaney
4.32/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark, taupe brown color, with a one finger head that quickly withered away into an off-white froth.

S: Belgian funk for sure, followed by alcohol, and a dark fruit presence that was softened by oak. The candy-Christmasy sweetness was abundant.

T: The oak added SO much to this brew, especially on the very soft, velvety finish. The body itself was very typically of many Strong Dark Ales that I've tried, but the way the brew exits, and even cleanses the palate is remarkable.

M: Even though I got some booze on the nose, the oak softened that blow when it got to the taste portion. Sure there was some alcohol burn, but nothing offensive. The lacing was minimal, and the sugar didn't linger... at least not in a bad way.

D: Despite the octane level, I was able to take fairly good sized sips without wincing. This was my favorite of the Bruery Christmas series for sure. Also, this is the one in the series that I'm willing to endorse as an "it's fine to drink now as opposed to waiting for it to mellow."

Photo of John_M
4.07/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours a fairly dark, slightly cloudy amber color with fairly good head retention and not much lacing. The nose is attractive, albeit pretty sweet. I get some noticeable sweet cherry, vanilla, rootbeer, orange citrus and considerable underlying spice. While the flavor profile tends to replicate the nose, I also pick up some light sour and a hint of bourbon. The finish is fairly long, with a slightly tart, spice infused ending. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, and drinkability is OK. I can tell the abv. is up there in this, but it's not too intrusive or obtrusive.

While a very solid beer, not sure how much of this I could drink on any given evening. Nevertheless, this is another well made beer from Bruery.

Photo of rdickey
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown into my Chimay tulip. The small amount of light that gets through on the edges shows a reddish cast. A large rocky off-white head lingers. This is a nice-looking beer.

Smell: Belgian yeast spices pair with a certain element of tartness. It's not funky, just a little tart. Bready malt notes come through as well, and there is a hint of the ABV.

Taste: Classic Belgian spiciness leads, with candy sugar surrounding it - so far, pretty typical for the style. As it warms, though, mellow oaky notes develop, rounding this into a really very nice beer.

Mouthfeel: Truly viscous to start (which is not a bad thing), but as it warms it seems to loosen up a little. I recognize that the immediately preceding sentence is not supported by, and in fact is probably contrary to, established laws of physics, but that's how it felt in my mouth.

Drinkability: Not high overall, but you wouldn't expect any beer of this style to be something you can swill for hours. It's good for the style and a late-night (probably a late winter night) sipper.

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

54th review on BA
Bottle to tulip

App- Caramel dark brown with mahogany highlights, 3 finger foamy head with nice color. Head lasted quite a bit but failed to leave a pertinant lace.

Smell- Belgian spicy with molasses and alcohol. I thought it was very balanced on the nose though.

Taste- It's a blend of tart, dark black cherry and a warming feeling as all the flavors come together to play well together.

Mouth- A medium bodied not overly sweet or dry based on the spice and alcohol content.

Drink- I think after all 3 this is my favorite so far. The adventure continues to keep the 1st 3 in the cellar for 9 years and have one hell of a party with 12 bruery bottles.

Photo of fear025
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma:Dark fruit and spices in the nose. Nice Belgian yeast notes.

Appearance:Dark brown and nearly opaque. Nice light tan head with good retention.

Taste:More dark fruits and spices in the foretaste. Maybe some savory chestnuts. The aftertaste has some metallic/copper notes.

Mouthfeel:Medium body, good carbonation. A little bit harsh.

Drinkability:This beer is very good, lots of complexity. It will probably age very well over the next 9 years.

Photo of ferrari29
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into over-sized wine glass from bottle

A - Dark coffee/brown color body; creamy & bubbly 1 finger head formed; moderate carbonation & lacing

S - Fruit (grape); high ABV content aroma; champagne, muscat fruit smell

T - Caramel notes; with coriander & spices coming out as it washed over the tongue; dry hop aftertaste

M - Effervescent feel; like most Belgian ales; smooth feel and moderate viscosity

D - Surprisingly enough it does not taste like it smell; smooth drink and definitely enjoyable with a few friends; good beer to pair up with foods and cheeses; doesn't come off as being to heavy and you can have a few of these drinks during one evening without feeling like you are going to topple over

Photo of mwilbur
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 mL bottle into NBB snifter.
A: Pours a smooth extremely dark brown (very little light comes through with backlighting). 2+ inch tan head with great retention. Very nice.
S: Bready yeast, sweet and warm spices, dark dried fruit, molasses. With warming, a strong note of oak (honestly very close to sticking your head inside an oak barrel) and a hint of chocolate come through.
T: Very interesting...not what I was expecting...spicy pumpernickel, dark toast, dry chocolate, and a vinous oak quality comes through especially with warming. Hints of citrus, bready yeast, and vanilla pop up every now and then.
M: Fairly light body considering the style. Smooth and light on the palate. Slightly sticky sweet. With warming, a bitter note starts to emerge.
D: Good drinkability especially for style and ABV (I will say the alcohol is well hidden). Definitely a different take on the Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Worth a try, but don't expend too much energy to seek it out. This one is supposed to last up to 9 years. I'm thinking it will be well past peak then.

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

I poured from a bomber into a snifter. It pours an opaque, ruddy, brown with a thin white head. The aroma is dark fruit, and hints of alcohol. The flavor is strong dark fruit notes, and some spices, finishes with a light lingering alcohol. The beer is really smooth and the carbonation is just right. A nice BSDA, very enjoyable.

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3 French Hens from The Bruery
86 out of 100 based on 388 ratings.