3 French Hens | The Bruery

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3 French Hens3 French Hens
Very Good
401 Ratings
3 French Hens3 French Hens

Brewed by:
The Bruery
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Three French Hens is the third in the 12 Days/Years of Christmas Series. We again drew some inspiration from the name and decided that at least a portion of this beer had to be aged in French oak barrels. What we came out with is a bold and spicy Belgian Dark Strong Ale, 25% aged in oak. This beer is designed to take the journey through time until 12 Drummers Drumming, but is a delightful holiday treat right off the shelf.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 401 |  Reviews: 229
Reviews by GClarkage:
Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +4.7%

More User Reviews:
Photo of TCHopCraver
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer with zoso1967 (the supplier of the bottle), TCGoalie, BuckyFresh, and another good friend on 12-11-10. Happy marriage, Zach!

3 French Hens makes its way from the bottle to my oversized wine glass with a ruby-mahogany color. A tan one-finger head recedes a little, but retains quite well. Tiny carbonation bubbles are quite dense and jog up through the beer. The lacing on the glass is sticky, splotchy, and dotty.

The smell reveals a lovely, spicy Belgian yeast scent that blends harmoniously with candied fruits, a very fresh pear aroma, and a whiff of Granny Smith apples. The French oak that the beer was aged in lends a Chardonnay-like quality to the bouquet. I also smell some Christmas-sy spices of clove and coriander. I find this aroma very yummy.

The flavor is a little sweeter than I expected. Christmas candies, pear, crisp apple, and a smooth vanilla characteristic from the oak complement each other well. The smell had a dry scent; conversely, the taste has a very impactful sweet middle of the sip. The finish dries out that sweetness with a tannic oak influence, though. The spicy Belgian yeast is ever-present throughout the sip.

The mouthfeel is fairly light-bodied with a spicy nip from the yeast and a dry finish from the oak. The carbonation adds a refreshing and effervescent influence to the end of the sip.

3 French Hens is a nice, rare treat that agreed with the whole of our tasting party. I would certainly have it as a time to time treat, but it would not be a beer that I would imbibe regularly due to the sweetness.

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Photo of steelerguy
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown with caramel colored highlights. Large head that faded to nothing pretty rapidly, no real lacing.

S - Dark malts give some dark fruit smells, some spice and a touch of sour.

T - Dark malts, with a citrus tartness. Some phenols and definitely some oak from the barrel aging.

M - Seems to lack a little body for the style, this knocked the carbonation and alcohol balance out a bit.

D - A pretty good example of a Belgian Dark Strong Ale/Speciality Ale...but definitely an imitation rather than the real thing.

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Photo of NWer
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of warnerry
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Callmecoon
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of iemailjack
2/5  rDev -47.6%

Photo of Billolick
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Typical Bruery bottle

Mahogony in color, minimal head, short staying, just barely a sign of a film, thinnest of collars and def. no lace after 2 minutes.

Booze, cola, raisins, smoke, sawdust and figs in the nose.

Slightly low carbonation is I problem I have with this one. Somewhat dull in the mouth. Flavorful but dull.

Rich notes of rum soaked raisins, figs, more cola, light smoke, toasted coconut. Dense and complex brew.

Nice cold weather sipper.

Not up to the hype.

Plenty of other BSDAs out there, many of em less expensive and plenty of em regularly available.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to bu11zeye for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark amber color with a white head. The aroma is full of dark fruit and toffee.

The flavor is more complex. I get a lot of dark fruit, grapes and cherry notes as well as some toffee and some Belgian candy sugar. The beer also has a dry red wine component and some tannic notes that are very tasty. The alcohol is present but is not overpowering and the beer is very easy to drink for a beer of its strength and complexity. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

My first one of The Bruery's 12 Days of Christmas beers and it didn't disappoint.

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Photo of 1Adam12
3.3/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Decided to open this because there is no way I will ever go after the first 2 of the series. Dark ruby red appearance when I hold it to the light. Smells of oak, vanilla, figs, alcohol, burnt sugar, and maybe a bit of cherry. Taste is oaky, with some vanilla and sweetness. Tastes messy though, it all kind of runs together. Also get a numbness to my tongue. Almost peppery, but there is a numbness. No finish really. Flavor hits the tip of the tongue and just stops dead in its tracks. Nothing towards the back of the throat. Overall, disappointing. This is my first time trying this and even though it is "supposed" to be aged for some years to come, I'm wondering if this is already going downhill. I'd like to try another one eventually to see if I just caught this during a rough patch of the aging process.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.18/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle (2010)

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Somewhat lifeless murky brown with amber and orange edges. Thin khaki head that doesn't last long and doesn't leave much lacing down the glass either. This beer looks thin, lifeless, and oily.

Sweet aroma primarily of toffee and caramel, some sourdough bread, and a mild inclusion of dark fruits.

Very sweet flavor, namely of caramel and sticky toffee, a touch of nuttiness and some mild dark fruit flavors. Very little hop presence in the way of either bitterness or flavor. A sweet, malty, yeasty BSDA.

The mouthfeel is too thin, though heavy and oily, and somewhat under-carbonated.

I'm glad I got to try this BSDA, but it doesn't rank as one of my favorites. I won't seek it out again. Perhaps it was significantly better when fresh?

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Photo of TKEbeerman
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into my Duvel tulip this BSDA pours a dark coffee brown with a creamy tan head that resembles a head on an Irish Stout.

S: The aroma is that of dark fruit, candy sugar, and a little Belgium spice. All this is great, but this brew is not as bold, and not as distinguished as I'd expect in a BSDA.

T: The flavor is a way bold with the malt. Figs and bruised apples with hints of caramel. Belgium spice is present, but not prevalent like I want.

MF/D: Mouthfeel is good, full, but needs some more carbonation if this baby is gonna last 9 years. Drinkability is great at 10%.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown and red appearance, kinda cool looking, good head, sticks around forever. Smells like cinammon and sugar cookies.

Dark fruity flavor, more spice, mahogany wood effect to it, the mo, another complex, but amazing beer so far. I don't even like these styles I kept thinking. This one was good enough on tap that I bought a bottle afterwards. Lots of caramel underneath the darker aspect of the beer. Not overly sweet, strong, but alcohol is hidden for its actual might. I liked it quite a bit. Be interesting to see how it is in a decade out of a bottle. Although I have a feeling I'll have it at least one more time this year.

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Photo of williamjbauer
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of SPRichard
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Porter Beer Bar in Atlanta.

Pours a very dark purplish-brown color with a half-finger off-white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of large amounts of fruits - partly dark grapes but also plums and figs. Also present are sweet and dark malts with mild amounts of spices.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet dark malt flavors with a hint of caramel malts kick things off. Joining in shortly thereafter are sweet dark fruits - crisp dark grapes with ripe plums. Near the end of the sip hints of indistinct spices make a brief appearance before fading out into a mildly sweet ending leaving a bit of alcohol burn on the back end. As the beer warms the influence of the spices increases.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with solid carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall this was certainly one of the fruitiest BSDA's I've had in a while, most skew toward heavier malt and spice profiles. Worth a shot.

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Photo of pwoods
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kels for sharing.

750ml corked and caged brown bottle poured into a Russian River tulip.

A: Pours a dark woody brown, opaque. Big tan head, frothy, and dies fairly quickly. Some lacing.

S: Belgian pilsner and dark sugars. Nice yeasty spices, very nice. Some spicy breathless and toffee.

T/M: Maltiness isn't huge and is definitely highly fermented as the body is thinner than expected. Some dryness from sugar but I think it was mashed pretty low for fermentability. Lots of the spicy yeast with some esters mixed in there as well. A bit more carbonation and dryness would be an improvement.

D: Very drinkable and the 10% ABV is very well hidden.

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Photo of acurtis
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%

Photo of caddybuyer
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opened for Thanksgiving 2010. Poured from a 750 at cellar temperature into a Chimay chalice.

A-Initiall pour out of the bottle was clear deep garnet with a thin tan head that settled rapidly. Pretty coloration.

S-Sweet yeasty malts and dark fruits. Not detecting much spicing and a sour note in the background.

T-Initially sweet, yet a mouthwatering sour note kicks in almost immediately. Fresh pear combines with some vanilla oaking and the requisite raisin and figs that give way to a peppery sweet finish lasts forever. This is very different, very complex, and while the initial sip did not blow me away, it grows more charming the more I contemplate it. ABV is well hidden.

M-Mouthfeel is not as robust as I would like, and this is very overcarbonated, but it is young.

D-I like this, and will age the other bottle that I have and perhaps buy a third to open up in a few years before the drummers roll.

I generally don't pair beer with food but this would go exceptionally well with game.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark burgundy with a slight purple tint to it. Small khaki head on top that reduces to a ring of bubbly foam. Thin lacing forms around the sides.

S: Sweet upfront with some slightly sour cherries, a little bit of belgian spice, some molasses, and a little bit of oak and vanilla. Not quite what I expected, but very nice.

T: More tart, dark cherry, some vanilla and a little brown sugar. There is a little bit of molasses and some tobacco. There is a good bit of spice mixed in, some clove and a little cinnamon.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Slight heat as it goes down. Dry finish.

O: Quite nice, the sourness caught me off-guard. The cherry/tart flavor masks a bit of the spice, but I like it. Looking forward to seeing what happens to this one over time.

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Photo of rigdont
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a mahogany color with a cream-colored head that is about a finger thick.

S- Dried fruit, cherries, golden raisins, Belgian yeast, and oak

T- The taste is much like the smell. The taste is of dried fruit, Belgian yeast, and oak and ends with a hoppy bitterness.

M- The carbonation is well done for a BSDA, it is a smooth feel on the mouth, almost silky, but with a fair amount of carbonation.

D- This beer is very drinkable for being 10%. Almost dangerously.

This beer was good at such a young age. I am very excited to see how this beer will be in 9 years. Such a long time to wait....

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Photo of brother_rebus
2.82/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


5 characters

Photo of GilGarp
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle served cellar temp into a goblet.

3 French Hens is a dark ruby-tinted brown with good clarity when held to the light. The head is bone white and tight but it settles surprisingly quick and leaves no lace behind.

Aroma is sweet with dark malts and toffee notes. There is an unexpected funky fruit smell that doesn't seem entirely right but it doesn't turn me off either.

Flavor is that of a slightly sour strong dubbel. Nice toasted malts, caramel, and toffee with some dark fruits and dried fruits thrown in for good measure. A little bit of sour makes me wonder if it's the barrel aging or something worse.

Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, full in body, and low in carbonation. Just how I like it.

Overall a solid strong dark Belgian but unusual in some ways. Not a bad beer by any means but not what I was expecting.

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Photo of alamode
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of Metalmonk
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours into the glass a dark soupy chocolate color. The head is formed of large bubbles, not quite dishsoap-ish, but close. Head has an interesting dirty white appearance, but it doesn't last long. A bubbly crown is all I've got after about a minute. Something looks "different" about this beer, certainly nothing "wrong" though.

A tea-like herbal aroma dominates the nose, but an earthy mineral/stone scent comes in closely behind. Definitely getting the vinous quality promised on the label, like a dry red wine.

The French Oak aging comes through strongly in the flavor, having all kinds of vinous qualities, including a considerable if not quite Pinot Noir-like dryness. Herbal notes pop out with a pleasant mellowness, and there's the rich, decadent character of fine cream-filled chocolates. Some honey, even more maple. Something cola-like hangs out too, tasted mostly in the finish, which lingers somewhere between chocolate, grape and cola. If not the most amazing-tasting beer, it's certainly one of the most unique I've had, which is pretty much Bruery's style.

Texturally this is great. Like, really great. While the bubbles feel like they want to attack, they actually give in to being as soft and caressing as possible. There's a wonderful balance here between carbonation tingle and sensual, silky softness, with the latter having an edge over the former. Wonderful.

There are some really good things going on here -- the flavor is unlike any other beer I can recall, and it feels fantastic. It fails to totally hit the grand slam I hoped for, but what the hell am I making baseball references for with a deep winter Christmas beer anyway? Everybody sing now: "Five golden gloves..."

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3 French Hens from The Bruery
Beer rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 401 ratings