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4 Calling Birds - The Bruery

4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

522 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 522
Reviews: 188
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 13.65%

Brewed by:
The Bruery visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Spiced Strong Dark Ale. The Twelve Days of Christmas series continues! We took inspiration from the traditional winter warmer for our fourth verse, integrating gingerbread spices into a robust dark ale. Notes of licorice & banana bread mingle with dark fruit, molasses and bitter chocolate for a perfect cold weather sipper!

(Beer added by: Thorpe429 on 10-25-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 522 | Reviews: 188 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Rifugium


3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Teresa's, Wayne, PA

Served in a tulip glass, a dark brown color, nearly opaque, with a small ringlet of bubbles for a head. Aroma isn't quite full, but there were still definite notes of coffee, chocolate, molasses, and light spice. Taste follows the nose, coffee, semi-sweet chocolate, molasses and burnt sugar, Jager-like licorice essence, lighter hints of spicy gingerbread and fruitcake. Medium body, fairly chewy, a bit artificial and candyish all over. Not bad, but not really something I'd go out of the way for. Aka, a typical Bruery beer.

Serving type: on-tap

07-08-2012 23:52:54 | More by Rifugium
Photo of mltobin


3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in Putnam County, NY.

Appearance is dark brown, a very small head. Its` nose nutmeg, cinnamon, raisin and cloves. 4 CB tastes of some roasted malts, along with more of those winter spices. Mouthfeel is rich, booze certainly hit in the finish. A good strong dark ale, but not placing it in the top section of this category. Curious to see how the bottles of this age.

Serving type: on-tap

01-25-2012 02:26:13 | More by mltobin
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at The Bruery Provisions in Orange, CA.

Pours a clear dark reddish brown with a khaki head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. Small dots of lace slide back down into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, dark fruits, and some spice aromas. Taste is of malt, dark fruits, and the spices with ginger coming out as a main flavor. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a prickly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with lots of spices. Nothing too great though.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2012 21:09:28 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of Murrhey


3.25/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had on location. 5 oz in a tulip glass. Reviewed from notes.

A- Transparent dark brown color with watery legs on the lacing. Good carbonation throughout though.

S- Wine notes. Some light coffee and vanilla.

T- Wine and brandy sort of flavors. Has vanilla and coffee that hide the booziness.

M- Heavier, syrupy texture and a bitter linger. No real carbonation in feel.

O- Nice, boozy winter beer. I like it, but might not splurge again.

Serving type: on-tap

01-20-2012 01:25:25 | More by Murrhey
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Bruery Tasting Room. Light brown coloured body with generous 3/4" retained head. Dry, average mouthfeel. Astringent and dangerous kick of alcohol not felt by the spice. Smell is like a sour brown Belgian.cola,Licorice, ginger. Sour and spice and nice, a sipper.

Serving type: on-tap

01-19-2012 04:20:36 | More by Sammy
Photo of kojevergas


3.1/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served on-draught into a beerflute at The Bruery's tasting room in Placentia. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a half finger head of nice cream, good thickness, and bad retention. Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Heavy wood and spice. Bretts and yeast. Chocolate. A mild strength aroma. Not as good as it sounds to describe.

T: Spice. Badly handled caramel. Some chocolate. An awful wood undertone corrupts it. The spice feels very muted, making it bland and boring. Some licorice is present, especially on the finish. Balanced but restrained, like it's held back.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Pretty thick.

Dr: An easy to drink high ABV beer that falls short of its potential. I wouldn't have it again. I feel bad for anyone that pays the bottle price for this.


Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2012 04:34:07 | More by kojevergas
Photo of DoubleJ


3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the source itself, on to the beer:

Dark brown colored and closing in on black with ruby brown hues. Immediately, the spice notes of 4 Calling Birds are noted. It's like a gingerbread note, whipped with raisins, dates, and plums.

As expected from The Bruery's strong beers, the high alcohol content is hidden well in 4 Calling Birds. Strong spiced gingerbread is reflected all around, the additional notes of raisins, dates, figs, and The Bruery's house yeast make this a dandy and very Belgian in character. It's full bodied, and has a texture that nearly syrupy.

A bit spicy, yet still a fun beer to drink. If you can wait, ddding a little age to the beer may make a more rounded beer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-08-2012 18:30:12 | More by DoubleJ
Photo of bump8628


3.18/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark molasses brown, thin head of tan. Mildly malty, smooth brown sugar, pipe tobacco, cinammon, clove, and molasses. Decent enough flavors but the whole beer is closed and muted. Worth a try, but probably not a second. And I don't think laying down a bottle and trying again later would help much.

Serving type: on-tap

12-27-2011 15:46:44 | More by bump8628
Photo of rand


3.25/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From tap to tulip

A: Dark brown in color, opaque, virtually no head or lacing.

S: Raisin, cherry, non-descript ripe fruit. Alcohol swarms, warms.

T: Cherry phenols up front, the raisin is somewhat lost. Touch of holiday spice, lots of alcohol warming. Flavor profile is fairly simple, finishes how it starts - cherry-sweet with bitter phenols and an alcohol bite.

M: Medium-to-heavy bodied, relavitively light complexion for the 11%.

4 Calling Birds is highly drinkable for the style, but unremarkable. Nothing is off-putting but I expected something
more layered and interesting. Other than the phenolic bitters mellowing, I don't see how this will get better with age, we'll see.

Serving type: on-tap

12-21-2011 07:23:18 | More by rand
Photo of BARFLYB


3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap.

Four Calling Birds glides into the glass looking dark brown/mahagony in color with a fair amount of dense tannish/brown foam up top. It sits there for a bit leaving spots on the glass, great retention.

Smell comes out with a nice pungent array of holiday/winter spice. A nice plum accent with some dark brown sugar and caramel sweetness bursting from the glass. Cherry with alot of warming, this one smells nice.

And tastes nice too. 4 calling birds has a lot of spice character that is not so large it lingers. Candy apple, caramel swirl, cherry, some bready Belgian yeast and candi sweetness. Not usually my thing, but in small doses everything is good.

Feel is nice and juicy and sweet, but not over the hill. Spices up front with a nice sweet malty background. It's carbed up to where it needs to be in the style. It's a bit hot on the 1st few sips but that subsides after the flavor builds.

Im not sure if this beer has the legs to go 8 duckets. It seems to be drinking fine now but a year or two may tone down that alcohol. I could of went for more, no off flavors for me at least and the slight warmth from the alc. was nice on this cold night.

Serving type: on-tap

12-21-2011 05:47:21 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of jlindros


3.65/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had at Armsby Abbey Ho-Ho Belgian Christmas.

Creamy decent head with nice lacing, murky super dark brown iced tea color.

Nose is an interesting blend of reddish malts, caramel and molasses, candy and toffee, nutty with spices like nutmeg and ginger, licorice, plenty of gingerbread and banana bread, hints of dark fruit as well.

Taste is rich, toasty malts, caramel and reddish brown malts, molasses, caramel, candy syrup, dark fruits, ginger spice but less bread, little juicy, some estery booze that borders fuesel, nutty malts, hint of licorice and anise, and light banana bread. Hints of tart fruit towards the finish as well as a little chocolate. Finishes bitter, sticky and but syrupy, bit more booze, nutty spices, bit more boozy esters, tannic. Interesting flavors but all over the map. This really needs a few years for all the various flavors to settle and meld.

Mouth is med to heavier bodied, fairly boozy but not too much, nice carb.

Overall not bad, nice spices, ginger and banana bread, dark fruits and syrupy sweetener additions, bit of booze, a bit too sweet as well. The biggest mark against this is the various contrasts of many different flavors. They would all be decent if balanced well and melded well, but instead it's all over the map and needs some time to settle.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2011 03:54:30 | More by jlindros
Photo of oline73


3.13/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at Max's. Poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours an opaque mahogany with a layer of creamy off white head that fades to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Spices and dark fruit dominate up front. I think this one smelled a bit like tomato. Some dark malt as well.

Taste: Sweet and malty with some Belgian spices. There are some Christmas spices in there as well, picking up anise. The finish is sweet with some of the spice lingering.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side of medium. The carbonation is tingly with a dry finish.

Overall: I was a bit disappointed with this beer. I wanted the spices to be a bit more prevalent and balanced. Not a huge fan of anise.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2011 19:56:26 | More by oline73
Photo of nataku00


3.18/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap poured into a snifter glass. Beer pours a dark brown, with some lighter browns at the edge of the glass with no head. I could swirl up a thin tan colored collar of small bubbles though. Some carbonation visible at the edge of the glass, a few bubbles clinging to the glass, but not too active.

Nose is some milk chocolate malt, dark fruit in raisin and dark cherry, some light clove. As it warmed a little, there was a bit more spice to it, but not really the gingerbread that it claims. Fairly underwhelming.

Taste follows the nose, with milk chocolate, and some dark fruit flavors. That's pretty much it though, chocolate and lightly toasted malt through the middle of the tongue, finishing with some light sweetness and some light clove and nutmeg. Again, not much ginger in the flavor.

Medium bodied with some decent carbonation, lightly tingly on the tongue. Alcohol is well hidden, but the beer itself was a bit bland for a strong dark ale. These Christmas releases from The Bruery haven't been very impressive.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2011 01:46:31 | More by nataku00
Photo of drgarage


4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Toronado SF.

This is an ambitious, strong, and somewhat bizarre Christmas entry from the Bruery. Really intense flavor, lots of nutmeg, but also a taste that evolves as you drink it considerably. On my first sip, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to finish it. By the last, I was contemplating getting another. It's almost an intellectual challenge drinking this beer. Every sip I took, I was trying to identify what the flavors were. This was not a crisp, balanced flavor profile where you can pick out vanilla, bourbon, coffee, cinnamon, etc. It's maximalist and a lot of fun. I do think it will be better with a bit of age. Right now, it's a bit of a bazooka.

Probably my favorite Bruery Christmas beer since Partridge was new.

Serving type: on-tap

12-02-2011 22:29:16 | More by drgarage
Photo of johnmichaelsen


4.43/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours a root beer brown color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose, this is just great stuff. The complex nose offers up brown sugar, pumpkin, all spice, nutmeg and light vanilla. This beer smells very reminiscent of anchor's x-mas beer, except with just a "tad" more alcohol. As good as this beer smells, it tastes even better. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but is a bit richer than I was expecting. There is something of sherry, nutty flavor in the finish, that along with the considerable chcolate and vanilla, leads one to believe this beer has spent some time in an oak barrel. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, with a long, rich, spice infused finish.

I'm not sure anyone is doing a better job with this style of holiday ale spice bomb. This is just flat out delicious.

Serving type: on-tap

12-02-2011 20:52:16 | More by johnmichaelsen
Photo of kawilliams81

Yukon (Canada)

3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Haymarket.

A- dark brown with reddish tones. Thin tan head with little lacing.

S- dark fruits, a ton of spices including gingerbread

T- holy spice bomb! Gingerbread, sweet amber malts, some dark fruits

M- medium body. Abv hidden well, smooth and creamy

O- good beer, but could only drink the 4 oz I got.

Serving type: on-tap

11-30-2011 19:42:56 | More by kawilliams81
Photo of MasterSki


3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Bangers & Lace. Served in a weizen-shaped taster glass.

A - Finger of foam settles to a thick collar but minimal lace. Very dark brown body.

S - Roasted malts, dark chocolate, candi sugar, light Belgian yeast presence, and a light amount of Christmas spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice.

T - Taste is heavy on dark chocolate, roasted malts, licorice, candi sugar, and lightly phenolic Belgian yeast. Christmas spices are far more present in the taste than in the aroma. Finish is quite bitter, with heavy black licorice present. Alcohol is quite well-hidden.

M - Creamy, full body, with lower carbonation, and well-hidden alcohol. Sufficiently hefty for the style and ABV. Quite easy to drink.

D - Not my favorite type of beer, but pretty good at what it sets out to do. I think this will actually be quite good when barrel-aged, as the spices should fade out and be replaced by bourbon and barrel goodness. Two Turtle Doves is still my favorite from the 'standard' series.

Serving type: on-tap

11-29-2011 01:51:54 | More by MasterSki
Photo of mactrail


3.43/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Huge spice and dark fruit sloshed with alcohol. Sounds better than it is. Very sweet, lots of plune flavor. You can pretty well go through the spice cabinet on this. Cinnamon bark is dominant with charred raisins and a woody taste. Big malt but the barley is lost in the fruitcake. Red brown in the tulip glass as Local Habit in San Diego. Decent carbonation. Nose is spice and wine barrels.

I taste just a little plastic in this but maybe it's an overdose of some spice. Not exactly drinkable but certainly interesting for the ridiculous stew of flavors.

Serving type: on-tap

11-27-2011 06:01:09 | More by mactrail
Photo of womencantsail


3.1/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at the Bruery

Almost black with a dense khaki head. Smells roasty and mildly acidic. A little bit of fruit, mostly prunes and some raisins. Roast, char, and burnt sugar. Maybe a bit of licorice flavor. Heavy on the prunes and raisins. Medium bodied and high carbonation.

Serving type: on-tap

11-20-2011 21:13:55 | More by womencantsail
Photo of ehammond1

3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

The Bruery Provisions
Orange, CA

Dark brown with ruby edges and a thin khaki colored head--lines and dots of lacing left down the glass.

The best part of this beer is its aroma, and it's superb! This is one of the most successful "specialty" aromas I've experienced: fresh gingerbread cookies, cinnamon, brown bread, and all-spice. This reminds me, literally, of my grandmother's Persimmon cookies she bakes every Christmas.

The flavor is disappointing after such a wonderful aroma. The ginger/bread is quite muted, and while still tasty, the flavors seem hollow and lacking: brown bread, a touch of spice, and a moderate level of bitterness.

Medium mouthfeel with ample carbonation, and zero alcohol presence. This beer does not drink like an 11% ABV beer.

A lovely Christmas ale. I can't wait to open a bottle of this on a cold night.

Serving type: on-tap

11-03-2011 03:49:16 | More by ehammond1
Photo of DarthKostrizer


3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ provisions

Look: Very dark brown with traces of red throughout. 1/4 inch tan head and good retention

Smell: Notes of gingerbread cinnamon and other baking spices. The nose is by far the best thing about this beer. Definitely reminds you of baked cookies and cakes around the holidays.

Taste: Based on the nose I was totally let down by the flavor. Subtle notes of apple pie and gingerbread are there but not much else

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation

Overall: Its an ok beer like the other 12 days of christmas beers I have had by the bruery. I personally think this beer is prime and ready to drink now and will not benefit much with age if at all.

Serving type: on-tap

11-01-2011 01:19:06 | More by DarthKostrizer
Photo of NWer


4.63/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at the Elliott Bay Pizza & Pub in Mill Creek in a Duvel tulip.
Appearance is dark brown smallish head.
Take a basic Belgian Strong Dark Ale and spice it up for the holidays and you have 4 Calling Birds. Ginger on the nose and ginger in the taste. Sweet. Very sweet in the aftertaste that makes you aware of the upcoming holidays whether you're ready or not.
A fantastic job in my opinion. A great seasonal that blows your typical winter warmer away.
Buy this.
By the way, the 11% ABV is well hidden so be careful with this one.

Serving type: on-tap

11-01-2011 00:43:54 | More by NWer
Photo of phichifiji00


4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into raster glass.

Appearance: pours deep mahogany, minimal tan head that quickly fades. Almost no lacing.

Smell: cinnamon, nutmeg, Ginger, gingerbread, sweet, malty.

Taste: Ginger, gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, oak, malty.

Mouthfeel: full bodied, light carbonation, crisp, zesty, a bit boozy, warming.

Overall: a very complex drinkable big beer. The gingerbread aroma/taste is very prevalent. A great Christmas/winter warmer.

Serving type: on-tap

10-26-2011 20:37:02 | More by phichifiji00
Photo of cosmicevan

New York

3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for tossing this my way scottbreaks! Split with the mrs into 2 bruery snifters. Had the BA version not too long ago and dug it.

a - brew pours dark purple/brown with a nice light brown head with really nice retention.

s- nose is fairly festive with gingerbread and old spice over plum.

t - leads with the belgian dark and finishes with the spices afternthey wash over they flavor mid sip.

m - a bit heavy handed on the carb for a bruery beer which aren't usually this fizzy. That said, this is way lighter than your average 11% brew.

o - overall not quite as nice as the BA version, but not bad. Happy to finally pick up where I left off in trying the beers from this series, but aside from the series, these are fairly run of the mill beers from an otherwise phenomenal brewery. I wouldn't hunt it down for any other reason.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2014 21:13:03 | More by cosmicevan
Photo of superspak


3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled in 10/2011. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense tan head with decent retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Minimal spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of raisin, prune, caramel, molasses, licorice, dark chocolate, roasted malt, toast, light char, light coffee, gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, pepper, allspice, dark bread, herbal, and roasted/yeast earthiness; with some very slight booze. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, spice, and yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, dark chocolate, cocoa, molasses, caramel, toast, dark bread, nutmeg, roasted malt, light coffee, gingerbread, clove, cinnamon, licorice, allspice, light char, herbal, and roasted/yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of dark fruit, dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel, molasses, toast, dark bread, light coffee, roast, gingerbread, licorice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, light char, allspice, herbal, and roasted/yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity, balance, and robustness of dark/roasted malt, spice, and yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/spice balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a creamy, moderately slick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice spiced Belgian dark ale. All around good balance, complexity, and robustness of dark/roasted malt, yeast, and spice flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2013 05:17:33 | More by superspak
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4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
86 out of 100 based on 522 ratings.