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4 Calling Birds - The Bruery

Not Rated.
4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds

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

526 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 526
Reviews: 188
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 13.65%
Wants: 47
Gots: 370 | FT: 27
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: 526 | Reviews: 188 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of liamt07

Ontario (Canada)

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

Bottle shared by Pino, 750ml into some tulips.

Pours almost black with a purplish tinge. Tan head, light retention and some good lace. Nose is fairly typical of a dark Belgian ale, along with some nutmeg, cinnamon (gingerbread-y as the label suggests). Loads of aromas that remind me of Christmas. Taste has some dark fruits, more nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and Christmas cookies. Good mouthfeel, filling. Minimal alcohol. A very nice beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-05-2012 05:03:38 | More by liamt07
Photo of peensteen

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from ladyofmuchbeer

Deep brown colour, ring of off white head, some lace. Smell is spicy with liquorice or more specifically nibs candy, gingerbread and nutmeg, some darker fruit and touches of yeast, a fairly big malt presence is there as well, very much a christmas beer. Taste is also quite spicy, gingerbread and big dark malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, belgian yeastiness mid palate, fruit and liquorice finish and aftertaste. Lightly carbonated, full body, good feel. Nice spicy belgian here, not over the top but super well done, alcohol nowhere to be found in this on either.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2012 21:29:20 | More by peensteen
Photo of swetsastonic

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

07-29-2012 15:11:13 | More by swetsastonic
Photo of ZombiesAteMyDog


4/5  rDev +5%

07-25-2012 02:22:41 | More by ZombiesAteMyDog
Photo of khargro2


1.25/5  rDev -67.2%

07-23-2012 00:11:57 | More by khargro2
Photo of boogercrack


3.25/5  rDev -14.7%

07-17-2012 20:44:07 | More by boogercrack
Photo of 2dogbrew


3.25/5  rDev -14.7%

07-09-2012 00:37:10 | More by 2dogbrew
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 VncentLIFE

North Carolina

3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A bit beyond its prime, but oh well. The first thing I notice is that initially it smells like Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Lots of ginger and cinnamon upfront, but I get strong notes of dry woody oak as well. For a winter-type beer, I want sweet and spice, but its just not enough. I get a good bit of Belgian yeast, but that doesnt help it out. Theyve got the foundation for what should be a fantastic beer, but they need more oomph. it gets better as it warms; becomes more sweet and palatable.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2012 03:10:32 | More by VncentLIFE
Photo of Pahn

New York

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

750ml bottle into Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Free pour yields a 1 inch light tan, frothy, Guinness-like head that dissipates slowly and without lacing. Pours a solid black and leaves a few short lived lacing streaks.

Smell: From the bottle: A-1 Steak Sauce. In the glass: cocoa, some wintery spices. Estery BSDA aromas and creamy coffee as undertones. Some prune-y dark fruit comes out with time. Wasn't too impressed at first, but comes together really well, complex and balanced.

Taste: BSDA flavors up front (sort of dark fruity, sweet Special B flavors), with spicy highlights. Finishes hot, with a long coffee and chocolaty roasted malt aftertaste.

Spices get more pronounced in the next few sips. In some ways this is good, but it seems to be emphasizing the more phenolic elements of the flavor, unwelcomely. Spices also seem to tease out a caramel and molasses flavor up front that I really like, though.

There's a lot of good happening here, but I think the spice blend is holding it back from greatness. Roasted malt is a bit harsh too... everything happening in the flavor is brasher than the aroma, and not for the better. A few steps over the "too boozy" line as well. Still, some nice, unique flavors and decent complexity.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, a little on the full side. Very creamy. Mild carbonation. Hot.

Overall: If 3 French Hens was a small step down from the greatness of 2 Turtle Doves (for me it was), 4 Calling Birds is several steps below both of them. Each one is less balanced than the previous.

This is an above average BSDA (I wouldn't expect less from the Bruery), but it's not what it could be, and not great. I think even the exact same recipe minus the spices would be a better beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2012 03:48:26 | More by Pahn
Photo of dmsohyea


2.5/5  rDev -34.4%

06-22-2012 23:42:46 | More by dmsohyea
Photo of BostonHops


4.23/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle served in a snifter.

pours a deep, dark mahogany tone while yielding a good finger of tan head. nose is heavily malty and quite spice-laden. notes of ginger, cinnamon, and maybe allspice. a touch of chocolate in the background. nothing otherworldly but definitely compels me toward a sip.

more of the same follow in the flavor. again, very malt-forward with the aforementioned spices all in attendance. really pretty tasty. a bit hot but considering the 11% ABV not too bad. medium-full bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall, i was pleasantly surprised. probably the best i've head in the series (did not try PiaPT). the perfect beer to nurse on a cold Christmas night... going to put some age on my second bottle.

(originally reviewed: 11-30-2011)

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2012 21:46:49 | More by BostonHops
Photo of hiphopj5


3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

06-21-2012 17:26:10 | More by hiphopj5
Photo of roblund


3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

06-21-2012 14:59:09 | More by roblund
Photo of rudzud


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

Split this bottle with JLindros. Reviewed from notes

A - Pours a dark brownish hue with a mocha head that leaves a thick, creamy halo.

S - Aromas of winter and Christmas spices here, similar to a winter warmer. Light caramel malt sweetness.

T - Alcohol, burnt sugars, winter warmer spices. Ginger, cloves, nutmeg...ehhh. Nothing special.

M - Boozy, nice carbonation but waaaay too sweet for my liking.

O - Overall this one was nothing to write home about. Slightly above average belgian strong dark ale.

Serving type: bottle

06-19-2012 18:14:14 | More by rudzud
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

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

A: A two finger butter-scotch head has a bready cake like texture with a good stay of retention. A murky English red pour appears coal black in the vessel. Light carbonation beads rise and fuel the head which leaves a respectable half coating of lace.

S: Mixture of black and chocolate licorice on the nose. Fennel, dark fruit, oats with some ginger and caraway spicing.

T: The flavor holds sweet dark malts and dark fruit with licorice, figs and a smooth dark roasted barley and oats backing. Sweet creamer and vanilla highlights has some dark buttery caramel sweetness and a silty bitterness with a hint of ginger alcohol spicing. A touch of fruity yeastiness, plums rounds things out.

M: silty smooth, warming with an alcohol spiciness with dark fruit lining the tongue with a dark malt bitterness being left behind.

O: Overall a really nice flavor, smooth, complex, very polished and cleanly brewed with a dark fruit and spicy nature and glow of alcohol that hits it just right.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2012 22:51:33 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of raffy313


3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle poured into my "The Bruery" tulip(finally got the chance to use it!). Aquired through an awesome IP trade with crusian. Thanks again, Seth! No bottle/best before date, so assuming this is from the last '11 release.

This Belgian Strong pours a dark, dark brown with only a bit of visability coming through, but only when held up to light. A dark tan 2 finger head, which dissapates to a small ring rather quickly and leaves behind little to no lacing.

Aromas are dark fruit(raisin, plum and some fig), with a good amount of clove, almost pumpkin beer-like spiciness. Assuming this is from Belgian yeast. Also some hints of dark roasted malts. Quite abit of complexity coming from the aromas.

Tastes follow the nose almost to a "T", with the spiciness coming through abit more than what I'd prefer. Not overpowering at all, as the other flavor are still present.

Medium body with a very disappointingly low carbonation feel, which obviously take away from the overall drinkability.

This was my first ever Bruery offering and very glad to have had the chance to trying it, but because there are so many other great Belgian strongs available to me... I probably won't be seeking this one out again.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2012 02:09:44 | More by raffy313
Photo of Pencible


4/5  rDev +5%

05-26-2012 19:50:02 | More by Pencible
Photo of Channel10Geuze


4/5  rDev +5%

05-24-2012 02:20:32 | More by Channel10Geuze
Photo of kevboat


4.5/5  rDev +18.1%

05-22-2012 23:36:46 | More by kevboat
Photo of doucmehu


2.5/5  rDev -34.4%

05-20-2012 02:25:16 | More by doucmehu
Photo of discord257

New York

3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

05-16-2012 20:46:43 | More by discord257
Photo of NeroFiddled


4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2012 23:03:54 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
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

Serving type: bottle

05-07-2012 01:35:47 | More by brentk56
Photo of wyatt


3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

05-06-2012 07:40:37 | More by wyatt
4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
86 out of 100 based on 526 ratings.