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Bourbon Barrel Aged 4 Calling Birds - The Bruery

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Aged 4 Calling BirdsBourbon Barrel Aged 4 Calling Birds

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

171 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 171
Reviews: 30
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.51%
Wants: 31
Gots: 85 | FT: 15
Brewed by:
The Bruery visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  14.80% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: largadeer on 12-26-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

4 Calling Birds was our 2011 winter ale - a spiced strong dark ale. 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!

This is the Bourbon Barrel Aged version of last years holiday seasonal! Spending a year in rich oak barrels, the beer has picked up incredibly deep and luxurious notes from the oak and bourbon, but has maintained it's original charm.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 171 | Reviews: 30
Reviews by GregSVT:
Photo of GregSVT
4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a dark brown with a nice size off-brown head that fades to almost nothing with no real lacing. You can actually see some light through the beer as you sip so it's not super thick or anything.

S: The nose immediately hits you with big vanilla, molasses, and bourbon notes from the barrel. As it warms and settles down you can pick out the gingerbread and chocolate notes from the base beer. The barrel is crazy forward but the base beer is still there...I will admit to liking barrel forward beers though.

T: The taste actually has more barrel than the nose. Huge flavors of vanilla, bourbon, and molasses hit the tongue immediately followed by some gingerbread and chocolate on the finish.

M: The mouthfeel is on the thinner side of medium with an almost dry finish.

O: The barrels they used for this must have been super fresh. It is extremely barrel forward but I love it. I had BA 2 Turtle Doves recently and thought it was amazing after 2 years of age. I think this one will be just as good after 2 years as well. It's a boozy beer...it was in the barrel for over a year and gained almost 4% from the barrel aging...just sayin.

More User Reviews:
Photo of ehammond1
3.97/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (2012)

The Bruery
Placentia, CA

Dark brown with no light coming through. Small to moderate brown head. Leaves the glass oily and only spotted with stick. Pretty enough, though unremarkable, as with most barrel-aged offerings.

Far more barrel character than the base version, I'm happy to report. The Christmas spices, gingerbread and molasses, are definitely prevalent underneath the strong barreling, with a banana bread characteristic I was surprised to find.

The flavor is similar to the aroma, though the Christmas spices and the bourbon barrel don't mingle particularly well at colder temperatures. The Christmas spices initially bring a sharp, almost acidic nature to the beer, akin to an infection, but that isn't the case at all. Upon warming, the flavors integrate nicely and the vanilla and oak from the barrel play well against the gingerbread/cinnamon/dark brown bread character of the base beer.

Medium in body with low carbonation.

Very nice, but this one needs to warm to nearly room temperature to be fully appreciated.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.57/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Dark brown. No head. Thin khaki collar.

Smell - Bourbon, brown sugar. Licorice. Quite boozy.

Taste - A little bit more Belgian character than the nose. Fruitier. Lots of licorice. Booze and bourbon. Slightly spicy.

Mouthfeel - Sweet and heavy. Boozy. Medium low carbonation.

Overall - Barrel is harsh, but as always, the Bruery makes some bourbony sugar goodness.

Photo of Vonerichs
4.21/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark cola color with a short but dense light brown head.

Smells like blackstrap molasses, figs, nutmeg, vanilla and toffee.

The bourbon dominates the palate. Charred oak, vanilla, toffee, boozy as hell (in a good way.) licorice, molasses, nutmeg.

Mouthfeel is heavy and supports the booze well. Carbonation is low.

It's a sipper. The bourbon dominates but I think is showcased fantastically while still letting the base pop. Well done.

Photo of IKR
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark-brown (picture root beer) with a modest sized beige head that dissipated quickly.

Smell: Bourbon notes dominate the nose, but i also get some dark fruits, brown sugar, and some spice notes.

Taste: Bourbon front with some dark fruit notes (think raisins and prunes), mild brown sugar, clove, and spice notes. There is a moderate alcohol presence which must have been fairly forward fresh. The beer finishes with some tannic oak notes.

Mouth-feel: Medium-bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation.

Overall: Good beer. i can easily see why reviewers perceived it as hot fresh but right now the alcohol is in line with the listed ABV and the beer has a good taste profile. Exceeded my expectations based on some of the reviews I've read.

Photo of claaark13
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a little colder than I'd like into a HF tulip. Permitted to breathe a bit before consumption.

A - Pours a deep, murky brown with a very light head, mostly bubbles. Those fall off quickly and only bubbles around the glass and some occasional lacing.

S - Strong barrel presence, banana bread coming in strong in the background. Some pumpkin pie spices come through as well. A licorice note comes out as it breathes.

T - Caramel and bread, banana, light spices that are mostly covered by the barrel. The middle is very sweet, which I'm sure is what keeps the bite from the barrel coming into the finish. The barrel really adds a lot to the flavor, making this sorta like bourbon banana nut bread. Finishes with some sweet dark fruits and slightly dry oak.

M - Medium body, but the minimal carbonation gives it a much fuller feel.

O - I can't believe I actually like this. I found the base to be quite poor when fresh. Based on conversations with friends, this was also a boozy mess right after bottling. I'm sure I'll be completely over this one by the time I get to the end of the bottle, but the first pour has been really nice.

Photo of Rutager
3.82/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thank you ObeMaltKinobee!

Appearance. Pours a dark cola brown with half a finger of light tan head that fades quickly.

Smell. Sweet caramel, nutmeg and licorice with some nice dark fruit, vanilla and fresh barrel wood.

Taste. Molasses and caramel, dark fruits, some woody bourbon and christmas spices.

Mouthfeel. Fairly full body, low+ carbonation.

Overall. A decent big brew. Nothing unpleasant going on.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured in to Bruery tulip.

A - Poured deep brown and settled black with a thin layer of light brown head that immediately disappeared.

S - Massive barrel notes dominate the nose - sweet bourbon and vanilla and toasted oak. Some spice and a light gingerbread aroma is noticeable.

T - Charred oak, sweet bourbon and a touch of vanilla are dominant as the barrel again really takes over the palate. Spice, hints of chocolate and a light gingerbread presence.

M - Medium to full body with very low carbonation.

Photo of largadeer
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

If regular 4 Calling Birds is 11%, this apparently gained 3.8% ABV from the barrel. Good lord.

Looks more or less like the non-barrel aged version: dark brown with a slight ruddiness and a fair bit of haze to the body. This version has less carbonation, but it's still decently bubbly.

The intricacies of the aroma at this point have been annihilated by the barrel, especially at cold temperatures. There's plenty of oak, caramel, and booze, but little in the way of spice or yeast. Tart plum-like dark fruit pops out as it hits warmer temperatures. While this isn't actually bad, it is comically barrel heavy.

There's a hilarious amount of booze on the palate. Harsh stuff, this desperately needs a few months of age to calm the higher alcohols. The base beer does peek through a bit more, mostly the strong banana note that was so prominent before barrel aging. The body is full, the mouthfeel sticky and rich. The finish brings even more astringent alcohol.

I can't say that I entirely dislike this, but I am a fan of big boozy bourbon barrel aged beers. That said, it's far from refined and definitely not ready to drink yet. I'll revisit this one in 6 to 12 months.

Photo of Gfunk720
4.41/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, out of my Founders Snifter. Thanks as always to my trustee Scott

A- Pours a nice brownish/black, very slightly transparent. Starts off with a nice healthy head that quickly dissipates. After settling, it looks pretty mundane.

S- A stinging boozy scent hits first. I can get some hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and bourbon coming through. A little sweetness, but not nearly as much as most bruery beers.

T- Very smooth initially, then sweep in the spices and malt. Again some cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as some chocolate. The aftertaste is primarily bourbon and vanilla, with touches of spice. Much less sweet than many of the other bruery BA offerings which is welcome.

M- Nice and carbonated and no cloying sweetness. Plenty of body without being overwhelming. My only complaint if I could make one would be that it is almost too fizzy.

O- Overall, this is one of the best BA beers from the Bruery that I've had in a while. I expected it to be overly sweet and difficult to put very much down. However it was dangerous how easy this was to drink. The spices are evident but blended well into the beer, as is the bourbon barrel aging. This will be really good once it has time to mellow a bit more.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

3.25 A: Dark brown color. A small, short-lasting frothy head formed and as light brown in color.

4.5 S: Nose on this is wonderful. Tons of spices that all blend well together with the base beer. Gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, maybe some allspice. Layers of caramel with toffee. The bourbon falls behind the spices and it does very well there. Oak, vanilla, and a subtle welcoming booziness. Prune, molasses, currants, and hints of anise.

3.5 T: While the nose is complex with great depth, the taste is more booze focused. This is a shame since I'd love to drink a beer that tasted like the nose on this. It's still good, but less complex with much less depth. Prune fruitiness oddly enough comes out as the focus of the taste. Molasses, caramel, toffee next. Spices listed in the nose are underneath all of this with leathery bourbon. Oak and vanilla. Overall the booziness is fairly well hidden for the ABV, but it still packs a punch that lingers and warms well after the sip.

3.5 M: Heavier body. Good moderate carbonation. Sticky chewiness from all the excess sugars. Light creaminess. Not too bad.

3.5 D: Of the Bruery's big, boozy diabetes bombs, I prefer the barrel aged anniversary series over this.

Photo of Rifugium
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There aren't many Bruery beers that I think are very good, but as I do like the base 4CB beer to some extent (rated 3.53), I was glad to get a chance to try this one as well. Dark brown pour, with a small ring of bubbles around the rim, and not much else in the way of a head, though the beer itself left some oily streaking on the glass. In the nose, molasses, smooth bourbon, cakey malts. More of this in the taste, molasses, smooth bourbon that has had a good amount of time to lose some heat, fruitcake, burnt caramel, I didn't pick up a lot of vanilla, but there was some, lending a bit of sweetness, Christmas spices took the back seat. Heavy-medium body, lower carbonation, alcohol was present for sure, but not too hot. A nice drinker overall, and I really think the barrel improved this one.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 8.16.13

A - Pours a dark brown with a fizzy brown head that is gone fast.

S - Tons of bourbon, spices, figs.

T - Strong spices and bourbon, fruity, fig, raisin finish.

D - Lower carbonation with a heavier body.

O - Strong spices and bourbon, good and hits you hard. This one is built to age.

Photo of johnnnniee
3.55/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from the Reserve Society
Pours a deep dark brown with a garnet bend to it and a smallish tan head that quickly dissipates to a cap on top that constantly dances as the carb stream tries to replenish it. Smells of gingerbread, molasses, ethanol, woody vanilla lots of brown sugar and ripe pitted dark fruit. This smells a lot better than the regular version, or maybe a year has done this wonders. Heavy alcohol in the nose. The flavor is sweet with lots of dark sugars and hints of fruit. That is quickly countered with a heavy shot of ethanol and some mild spices. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet slick bubbly mouthfeel. Wow that's still pretty hot, flavorful and definitely a sipper, but wow that's some heat in there.

Photo of cosmicevan
3.89/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

big thanks to portable for having too much beer and popping this (along with 11 other choice brews) into a shipper and sending it my way. shared with the mrs in two bruery snifters.

a - brew pours a dark purple/brown that settles as black in the glass. upon a hard pour there was some dark tan head that quickly dissolved from the center outward until the beer looked still and shiny as a bourbon barrel aged beer often does.

s - nose is fig, plum, and brrrboun. smells rich and chewy.

t - much like the nose suggested, figs and plums with some soft nuttiness and seasonal seasoning on the finish...oh yeah...and the booze...there is some heavy booze, but i like it (and so does my wife). gives it an almost sangria vibe to it.

m - big bold rich and chewy. drinks real nice i could drink two-ee.

o - overall, reading through the reviews, this beer gets a bad wrap (i actually tend to think that this series in general gets a bad wrap...they are all interesting and unique-ish beers and the concept is fun - they are not designed to be masterpieces, they are designed to be one off seasonals and hopefully last til the end of the series). is this beer boozy? you bet. it clocks in at just under 15%...so i expect it to be boozy. everything is not in the right place though as with a melange 3 or white chocolate, but the booze is a cool compliment to the beer and gives it an old ale vibe. glad i got to check it out and look forward to checking out the non barrel aged version.

Photo of stakem
4.09/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml into a snifter. The brew appears dark brown with a khaki head. As the cap fades, it leaves spotty lace sticking to the glass. A swirl revives a finger that is slow to fade. Lighter brown is seen around the edges and more ruby through the body when held to the light.

The aroma includes a sweetness like belgian candy sugar mixed with vanilla, caramel and toffee. Some oak and chocolate grain to roast aspect blend with a mild hint of oxidation. Dark fruity alcohol evolves as it warms mixing with bourbon.

The flavor is like dark fruity alcohol mixed with chocolate, raw oak and bourbon with plenty of cardboard-like oxidation but not too much. Earthy with vanilla and caramel into the aftertaste that focuses a bit on the sweeter instead of boozy side of things. The spicy base beer is well represented but the barrel aging really takes it to the next level.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation and plenty of warming alcohol. It is quite boozy even at colder temperatures and strangely oxidized already for only being 6-7 months or so since its release. This was a very enjoyable offering but the already evident amount of oxidation has me questioning how long I will hold out on my other bottles.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.02/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap for the Bruery Initiation Celebration held at The Phoenix Club in Anaheim, CA.

Pours a clear crimson-brown with a foamy beige head that fades to nothing. No lacing on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, dark fruits, and bourbon. Taste is much the same with an alcohol kick on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is strong but tasty.

Photo of Jwale73
4.04/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Ineedabeerhere for breaking this one out. Pours the color of cola with no head. Nose expresses cinnamon, all-spice, malt, spruce, cocoa and ethanol. Taste follows nose - there's quite a bit of ethanol in the flavor profile, as well as the addition of vanilla and nutmeg. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with an even carbonation and just a kiss of heat. Overall an interesting and complex beer, but best served in small quantities due to the intensity of the flavors - think a cross between a gingerbread Yankee Candle and potpourri.

Photo of Gobzilla
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured a dark brown in color with pale brown highlights and a thin bubbly head that left a little lacing sticking to the glass. lots of bourbon barrel character was noticeable upfront in the nose with plenty of booze to follow, bready malty sweetness, slight spice, molasses and gingerbread notes but with hints of vanilla. Like the nose suggested the bourbon barrel character was also as apparent on the palate alongside ginger bread flavor, slight spice, vanilla accents, a good amount of caramel blended with molasses, malty sweetness and plenty of booze heat as well. the brew was medium in body with a fair amount of carbonation which had a sweet, malty, bready, spice, bourbon boozy and silky finish. I thought it was really good but it looks like it could use a little time to mellow out.

Photo of mdfb79
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 02/16/13 notes. Poured from a 750ml bottle into a wine glass, split with my girlfriend.

a - Pours a dark mahogany brown color with two inches of light tan head and low to moderate carbonation.

s - Smells of spices, cinnamon, bourbon, bready malts, oak, dark fruits, nutmeg, caramel malts, and toffee. Nice nose and a pretty interesting mix. A lot of the spices and cinnamon from the original beer still come through, as does the bourbon. Not quite as bourbon forward as I was expecting, though it is there.

t - Tastes of cinnamon, bready malts, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel malts, toffee, dark fruits, nutmeg, toasted malts, and coconut. More bourbon here than the nose, but the spices and underlying characteristics of the base beer still come through a lot. I like it quite a bit.

m - Medium to full body and moderate carbonation. Body is pretty smooth, with some light heat. Pretty nice.

o - Overall I liked this one more than I expected to as well given some of the reviews. I was expecting the bourbon to dominate this one more than it did, and was surprised how much cinnamon, spice, and nutmeg came through still. I had a BA 2TD recently which was outstanding; while this isn't that, I have hopes it can eventually become that. If you like bourbon forward beers and the normal 4CB you should like this one, but if you only have 1-2 bottles I might hold off on this one. I look forward to opening one in 6 months, and then alongside a normal 4CB next winter/Christmas.

Photo of Treebs
3.54/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle served in a CCB snifter. Thanks to AgentZero for the share.

A: Pours a semi-clear brown color with little to no head forming on the pour. Light carbonation is visible, but not enough to sustain a solid head.

S: Bourbon up front. Sweet malts with a ton of backend spice. Nutmeg and cinnamon mostly with a hint of pepper. The bourbon dominates the nose though.

T: Pretty hot. Bourbon with a fusel alcohol quaff to it. Sweet malts with a dark fruit flavor, mainly figs. Light caramel notes from the barrel with a little tobacco as well. The spice isn't as prevalent in the nose, but it is there with some all spice mainly.

M: Medium light bodied, a little thin from the barrel aging. Low carbonation as well.

O: A little thin, but there wasn't really anything wrong besides the overt alcohol in the upfront taste. Not outstanding, but solid.

Photo of maximum12
3.45/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to ObeMaltKinobee for this bottle...I think. This might be the first time in half a decade of beer trading that I've found a "Lost Record". I hang my Auditor head in shame & split this 750ML molotov cocktail with my wife.

The pour is dried blood brown-red, except liquidy. Close to completely still, with a federal minimum of carbonation; the second pour is even close to the activity of shaken water. Has that distinctive Bruery smell of black malts & wicked bourbon. Only a barely perceptible sliver of spices peeks out of the malt/bourbon monster.

4 Calling Birds - Bourbon Barrel Aged is a boozy belly-flop. Naked alcohol abrades the tongue & lights up the "designated driver" signal in my head - good thing I'm on my couch. Bourbon & booziness call the shots here. There's a lovely shot of spices, much more noticeable than in the nose, & I can buy the 'gingerbread' noted in the description, though i wouldn't have volunteered that. Background chocolate. Mouth is nice, sticky, thorough, thick. But half a bomber is looking pretty intimidating from where I am (thankfully) sitting.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but this is a low-complexity, big-bourbon beer. Not a bad way to waste an hour, but there's really not much to it. Good beer.

Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown-black with a thin finger of frothy khaki-chocolate colored head. Fades fairly quickly.

S - Dark caramel and chocolate malts, oak, vanilla, Bourbon, ginger, cinnamon, molasses, nutmeg, black licorice, Belgian yeast, dark fruits, and booze.

T - Dark caramel and chocolate malts, Bourbon, oak, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, black licorice, molasses, dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, pepper, banana, and booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate-low carbonation. Smooth with a warming, sweet, and spicy finish.

D - Big bourbon flavor, but the beer still feels somewhat balanced.

Photo of MasterSki
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle shared by AgentZero - thanks Mike! Served in a tulip.

A - A crust of tan foam settles to nothing. Murky, turbid, dark brown body. Not terrible for nearly 15%, but not particularly impressive either.

S - A hefty dose of boozy bourbon and oak, unabashed alcohol, anise, Christmas spices, lightly roasted malts and dark fruits. You can definitely tell the ABV from this one - not subtle at all.

T - The taste is a bit mellower, albeit still somewhat boozy. More chocolate and oaky vanilla to be found here, with less of the spice and anise notes. A bit muddled,

M - Low carbonation, smooth, chewy and viscous texture, oaky and dry finish with some noticeable alcohol heat. Probably my favorite element of this beer.

D - The smell is rough at the stage, and the taste is merely solid. It's a fast way to get drunk, but this series has gone significantly downhill since the first two beers. That being said, I can imagine this beer might make it to the end of the series.

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.14/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer is chestnut brown with a small head that fades to nil. The aroma is really nice. Prominent bourbon with a touch of spice. Beautiful bourbon and oak character in the flavor. The flavor definitely surpasses the aroma. Spice character evident in the finish. Abv pretty well hidden. Low carbonation and smooth. A delightful sipper.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged 4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
91 out of 100 based on 171 ratings.