1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 533 | Reviews: 189 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rdickey
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a very deep brown, almost black, into a goblet. A thin one-finger head disappears like a ninja, leaving no trace that it was ever there.

Smell: Huge malts dominate, along with some Christmas-y spices: nutmeg and cinnamon chief among them, but there’s also a little gingerbread. Boozy esters soak through as it warms, warning the drinker: get your people back; this is going to be a big one.

Taste: The same spices in the nose come through in the mouth, but wait – there’s more – because there’s room for a lot of flavor in this huge beer. I’m now getting chocolate and caramel flavors, as well as molasses. A very nice coffee flavor eases in at the end to finish it off. As you might guess, there’s not much of a hop presence here, but of course you wouldn’t expect one.

Mouthfeel: I’m a little torn here, because the carbonation level feels a little high to me. It clearly isn’t enough to support a big head (at least the way I poured it), and I understand the desire to use carbonation to keep the beer from feeling heavy or cloying, but it feels like just a touch too much in this case.

Drinkability: There’s definitely a lot to like here, and I wish I had the patience (and space, and facilities, etc.) to age it for the recommended period, because over time I expect the carbonation would settle down, the flavors would mellow a big and it would turn from a good and interesting beer into a great one. Of course, I don’t have that kind of patience.

rdickey, Nov 30, 2011
Photo of csiewert
4/5  rDev +5.3%

csiewert, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of nanobrew
4/5  rDev +5.3%

nanobrew, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of pperez38
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

pperez38, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of cadaugherty
4/5  rDev +5.3%

cadaugherty, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of ikantspel
4.45/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml served into a duvel tulip

pours an almost pitch black with a small head that has a reddish hue to it

too much spices. i can make out a nutmeg and clove. really sweet though like ginger snaps

this is beyond complex. hits right away with the spices, kinda turns sweet from the belgian yeast, then cinnamon kicks in a little, finished off by a coffee swallow.

this is one helluva beer, would buy it again to age for about 5 years. would love to see how the flavors turn out

ikantspel, Nov 29, 2011
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 MarkVegas
4/5  rDev +5.3%

MarkVegas, Nov 28, 2011
Photo of tjfinkle
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%

tjfinkle, Nov 28, 2011
Photo of brewcrew76
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Murky dark brown with a thick tan head and weird brown patches floating on the foam that look like little cinnamon islands amongst the head. Foam oozed out of the bottle upon opening.

S - Allspice, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg with some Belgian yeasty esters. Smells just like gingerbread.

T - Molasses, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, dark fruits, sweet caramel, light chocolate and a touch of alcohol.

M - Full body, maybe a touch syrupy with a lot of carbonation.

D - An interesting Christmas beer but a tad bit sweet and too dessert like for me.

brewcrew76, Nov 28, 2011
Photo of JoEBoBpr
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 750ml bottle.
Had during a drizzly cold Sunday afternoon.

A - Pours a very rich mahogany color with some nice dark brown hints and caramel edges. There is a nice 1 inch head that has some nice dense bubbles with some larger ones intermingled. The head recedes at a good pace. The head is a light tan and cream color that recedes to a nice mat.

S - Delicious sweet caramel notes with some awesome spice mix. Quite complex and smooth nose. There is some nice cinnamon and gingerbread in there with slight nutmeg. Definitely some slight Belgian like clove. Very nice christmas notes in the nose. Slight phenols present.

T & M - Starts off with some bready sourdough notes. Then a quick sweetness comes up with some molasses mixed in with the Christmas spice. Gingerbread and a bit of cinnamon. Slight vanilla notes are present. There is some slight alcoholic heat but the beer is quite drinkable and the ABV is pretty well hidden throughout the taste. Very well crafted BSDA. It definitely has some nice Belgian-yeast notes but is then accentuated and complimented by the spice added to the brew. There also seems to be some slight peppery notes. As it warms there is some slight dark fruit notes that prevail through the spice but only as a secondary flavor. Hops are not that noticeable with a sticky and warm finish. Mouthfeel is nice and medium with a smooth profile and some crisp carbonation.

O - The beer is good and from memory is my favorite of the 12 days so far. The brew falls well into the BSDA style and adds some nice variety with the spices. Slightly complex.

JoEBoBpr, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of dylnthmsn
4/5  rDev +5.3%

dylnthmsn, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of leschkie
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

leschkie, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +5.3%

djrn2, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of mactrail
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

mactrail, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of eatabag
4/5  rDev +5.3%

eatabag, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of M27
5/5  rDev +31.6%

M27, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of muletrane
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Bruery tulip.

A: Pours black with a dark ruby hue. 2 fingers of light frothy tan head that settles quickly. Little to no lacing.

S: Alot of gingerbread spices in the nose. Very pleasant and smells like the holidays.

T: Gingerbread spices come through as the dominant flavor here. Sweet with lingering spiciness in the finish. Also finishes slight sticky and dry. Some warming alcohol presence as well.

M: Heavy body with light carbonation. Chewy and sticky. Long lasting finish.

Overall this a solid offering from the Bruery. Really smells and tastes like the holidays. A little on the sweet side but still very enjoyable for me. This will be nice with some age on it.

muletrane, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of jeffoatess
4/5  rDev +5.3%

jeffoatess, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev +5.3%

GRG1313, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of nightwing002
4/5  rDev +5.3%

nightwing002, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of GarrettB714
5/5  rDev +31.6%

GarrettB714, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of Nightrain87
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Nightrain87, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of steve8robin
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this beer at a local brew shop. 750ml bottle...

A: A super deep, almost black, ruby red with a nice 1+ inch mocah colored head that fades quickly. Good.

S: I get some nutmeg and mild bourbon upfront. Some clove and hints of dark fruit hit the middle and some sweet malt scents on the back. Good.

T: I get some medium nutmeg and clove flavors upfront. Hints of sweet malt and some figs. I get some mild creamy vanilla on the back. Good.

M: Medium body with a heavy carbonation. A creamy spiced finish. Good.

O: All in all, this is a good brew. I find that the beers from this series always end up being good, but never great. Actually, this entire brewery seems to do that for me. They produce solid beers, but always seem to fall just shy of amazing beers. Here's another to toss into that category. Good, but not great.

steve8robin, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of drabmuh
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The latest in the Twelve Days of Christmas series, served from a bottle into a Bruery tulip.

Beer is black with a thin tan head, small bubbles, some lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is sweet with hints of allspice and ginger.

Beer is medium in body and sweet throughout. Very spice forward, very flavorful. An enjoyable beer. Although this is a rather simple tasting one, it will be interesting to see what it is like in 8 years.

drabmuh, Nov 26, 2011
4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
86 out of 100 based on 533 ratings.