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4 Calling Birds - The Bruery

Not Rated.
4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

533 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 533
Reviews: 189
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 13.68%
Wants: 47
Gots: 375 | FT: 29
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: 533 | Reviews: 189 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Sammy, Jan 19, 2012
Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

t0rin0, Mar 01, 2013
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.8/5  rDev 0%
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.

UCLABrewN84, Jan 22, 2012
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +5.3%

djrn2, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

spycow, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

zestar, Oct 24, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from the October Rare Beer Club shipment. Served in a Bruery tulip.

Pours a very, very dark brown that is bordering on black. Initially foamy light mocha head rises high but falls fairly quickly, leaving a nice collar behind. The nose brings forward a bit of molasses and toasty gingerbread. Light sweetness and a touch of clove.

The flavor fits the holidays quite well. Lots of gingerbread spices with clove and a faint bit of cinnamon, allspice, or something like that. A bit of dark molasses is there along with mild sweetness. I doesn't quite come together all the way, though it is promising. Medium body with low-to-medium carbonation. No indication that this one is 11%. Quite tasty, but didn't quite meld. There are some slight plastic notes to the nose and finish that take away from what is otherwise a nice spiced beer.

Thorpe429, Oct 25, 2011
Photo of metter98
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark yet clear mahogany in color and poured with a thin dark beige head that quickly faded away, leaving only a thick ring of bubbles on the surface around the edge of the glass.
S: Aromas of spices really stand out in the nose.
T: Quite complex, the flavor is rather malty with notes of spices and a hint of licorice. There is a bit of sweetness.
M: It feels slightly more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation with a bit of smoothness.
O: The alcohol is well masked considering this beer’s strength.

metter98, Nov 06, 2011
Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Texasfan549, Nov 23, 2013
Photo of brentk56
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a cola color with a very modest head that quicly becomes a ringlet, leaving very little lacing behind

Smell: Gingerbread soaked in molasses, with undertones of dark fruit and burnt bread

Taste: Molasses flavors dominate the front-end, overwhelming the gingerbread, though the spice cake flavors do emerge by mid-palate; rather sweet, after the swallow, with berry and sweet cherry flavors as well as a hint of banana

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying, as the sweet flavor dominance on the finish and the molasses, up front, provide a rather un-balanced character; not really a BSDA - more like an Imperial Winter Warmer

brentk56, May 07, 2012
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +5.3%

kjkinsey, Nov 23, 2013
Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev +5.3%

GRG1313, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
3.1/5  rDev -18.4%
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.

womencantsail, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of kylehay2004
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: almost no head on a deep dark amber brown body.

S: lots of dark fruit including raisin, plum, fig and cocoa with a nice dark chocolate and vanilla presence. hint of gingerbread and roasted malts.

T: dark chocolate, vanilla, dark molasses, light peppers, dark fruit mostly plum and strawberry, roasted malts, well hidden booze, tart and as usual very complex

M: fairly thin for what I was expecting. moderate carbonation. not very dry for the style.

Overall: this one is really drinkable, more so than I would think. Definitely very complex

kylehay2004, Dec 14, 2012
Photo of Knapp85
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a really nice reddish brown color with a decent foamy head on top. There wasn't much in the way of lacing or retention here. The smell of the beer had some really nice herbal notes to it along with a touch of what I think smelled like mint. The taste of the beer gave off some Christmas berry notes along with some spices and again some light flavors of mint. The mouthfeel of the beer was soft, gently carbonated and drinkable. Overall I thought this beer was better than the 3 French Hens I had last year. I would probably drink this one again.

Knapp85, Dec 12, 2011
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750ml bottle - $10.49 at Olde Crabapple Bottle Shoppe in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours out a very dark brown, roasted walnut-toned body with a medium-sized, khaki-colored head.

Smell: Roast and a heavy scent of toasted pumpernickel bread dosed with star anise, burnt almonds, fennel seed, and ground mace. And a further hint like they snuck in a small splash of Jäger. For a second, it makes me think of a bigger, emboldened Anchor OSA at an exorbitant cost.

Taste: Sweetish roasted malts, toasted malts, and with an unforgiving, and good on it dark breadiness all the while. Slight bitterish chocolate. As with the nose, it's got me thinking of that perennial favorite, Anchor Christmas ale, just decidedly bigger and with a noticed Belgian kick to it. Rich blend of spice character pairing with some slight dark fruits and larger touch of bruised, brown bananas. Picks up some black pepper alongside the heated, belly-warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall: Pumpergingernana bread! Would prefer a little less heat and a little more carbonation to keep things moving along, but 4CB is fairly decent all around. As it is, it's a beer that has me ready for a looonng winter's nap.

ChainGangGuy, Jan 26, 2012
Photo of JAHMUR
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

JAHMUR, Sep 02, 2013
Photo of largadeer
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle aged for 1 year. As a gingerbread inspired beer, this more or less hits the mark. The body is a hazy dark brown topped by two fingers of dense, clinging froth. The nose is heavy on molasses, tart dark fruit and caramelized banana, with an undertone of spice. A year of aging has caused the spices to drop off considerably; I remember them being almost overwhelming when the beer was fresh. Nutmeg seems the dominant spice now, with a touch of ginger. On the palate it's still somewhat boozy and could probably benefit from another year of age. Banana and dark fruit esters wash the palate first, followed by rich molasses and a slightly astringent and bitter kick of nutmeg and allspice. Sweetness is moderate, not cloying by any means, and there's a sturdy dark malt backbone that does taste a hell of a lot like gingerbread. The finish grows a bit harsh after a while, making it a chore to drink more than one pour. Further aging may improve this. As it stands, it's a solid but flawed beer. If I had any more bottles, I'd give them at least another year.

largadeer, Dec 26, 2012
Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dirty John's tulip pint glass.

The way things are going with me, I might be stuck with just the even-numbered entries in this series... Anyway, this one pours a very dark brown topped by a finger-and-a-half of bright tan foam. The nose comprises cocoa powder, black pepper, nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, toffee, Belgian candi sugar, and light roasted malts. The taste brings in more of the same, with the spices really taking center stage: It's like liquefied gingerbread dipped in chocolate to a major degree. Good times. The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta/kinda dry finish. Overall, a very enjoyable brew. 'Nuff said.

TMoney2591, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of zeff80
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a dark, dark burgundy color with a one-finger, tan head of bubbly foam. It had nice retention and left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of nutmeg, licorice and some dried fruits. There were mild notes of biscuity malt.

T - It tasted of black licorice, Christmas spices -like nutmeg and cinnamon. Nice bready malt backbone with a touch of dried fruit flavors.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish a subtle alcohol warmth.

O - This is a really complex beer with good flavors. Nicely done. I'd like to try more from the series.

zeff80, Dec 15, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Bruery "4 Calling Birds"
750 ml bottle, capped.

If there's a bottling date I can't find it, but let's face it, we know that it's at least eight months old, if not more. It was stored upright, and gently moved, and the first pour was spectacularly clear.

In the nose it's softly chocolatey, a touch fig-like, and gently spicy with notes of ginger, probably cinnamon, and what seems like nutmeg but might not be.

The mouthfeel is creamy, even silky, but also with a gentle bristle of carbonation that comes on with a light bit of energy but then fades readily away.

Not surprisingly, the flavor echoes what the nose has suggested. The malt is a bit more caramelish, and also even slightly fudge-like... ... still there's a bit of actual golden grain flavor to it too. Regarding the fruitiness, there is a little bit of fig, but there's also some raisin as well, both dark and golden. I love that kind of dried-fruit sugariness, and the spices work really well with it.

So here's where the aging comes in. I had this several times on tap when it was first released, and I wouldn't say that it's really changed that much. It's pretty much the same beer, but the spices are slightly softened, and I think the alcohol is even more subdued. I remember it having just a slight bit more zest and zing. And I think that the fruitiness has softened a touch as well, becoming more like dark dried-fruit than it initially was (possibly because an anise-like character has risen a little bit).

So was aging it a bit a success? Yes, I think so... it's certainly not a failure, but at the same time I don't think I would age it any more. On the other hand, you never know what's going to happen (absolute greatness?), but I sense a little hint of oxidation sneaking in and I'm not sure where that might head to with another quarter year or more on it.

Overall I thought it was a remarkable beer. I shared a few bottles with a table of friends during the 2011 holiday season, and (with the exception of the Lagunitas Sucks, which was great as well, but completely different) everyone felt that this was the best seasonal beer we'd tried because it offered all of the spice that a beer like this needs without going too far.

NeroFiddled, May 10, 2012
Photo of nickfl
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with a small head of light tan foam on top of an opaque, dark brown body. The head settles fairly quickly but leads decent traces of lace on the glass.

S - Graham cracker and chocolate, with some roasted nuts, caramel, and ginger.

T - Spicy chocolate up front with caramel and bready malt. Some clove and ginger in the middle with a bit of vanilla, and more chocolate in the finish.

M - A moderately thick body, average carbonation, and a reasonably dry finish.

D - Nicely done, this beer doesn't sound good to me when I read the description, but it is actually very good. The spices and malt blend better than I would have ever expected and it is oddly drinkable for a beer of this strength.

nickfl, Dec 14, 2012
Photo of russpowell
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up in North Carolina in Hickory or Asheville... Drank this about a week ago, review from notes

Pours mahogany with a thumb of mocha colored head. Some lacing &head retention

S: Plums, cherries, cinnamon & ginger bread

T: Follows the nose up front along with dryness. Dryness, gingerbread & molasses as this warms. Finishes with gingerbread sweetness, a touch of herbal hops & molasses

MF: Chewy with restrained carbonation

I love gingerbread, so I really enjoyed this one

russpowell, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of MasterSki
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

MasterSki, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of jlindros
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

jlindros, Dec 15, 2011
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4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
86 out of 100 based on 533 ratings.