3 French Hens | The Bruery

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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.

Added by claspada on 10-08-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 229 | Ratings: 401
Photo of Jbrett13
4.7/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The color was hazy dark brown and light brown colored foam. Smell of brown sugar, notes of toasted nuts, oak, balanced sweetness along with great spices that you would expect from a Christmas beer.

Had this at Max's Tap House in Baltimore.

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Photo of SteveGNC
4.58/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark black ruby with one finger of head that dissipates quickly. Lovely aroma of malt and spice. I taste black cherry, spice, and malt. Slightly sweet but not overly so. Alcohol is well hidden and warms you gradually. Overall an outstanding beer and one that would cellar well I am sure. Would be hard to keep from drinking though. I think I will have to buy a few more while I still can. If you see this one - grab it - you won't be disappointed.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.55/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a mustache pint glass. No freshness date but I assume it was brewed somewhere around December 2010.

A- Pours a murky dark brown color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that retains well before becoming an 1/8 inch ring around the edge of the glass with heavy surface foam. Average lacing.

S- Some wild, fruity notes and spice but not as much malt as expected for such a dark beer. However, the malt that is detected is biscuity and toffee-like. Also a mild hop aroma.

T- Initial flavor of strong Belgian yeast and alcohol. Midway things become multidimensional and the spice, along with the oak, tip the scales to a more broad spectrum of taste. Notes of cinnamon and clove plus raisin, caramel, and black cherry. The intense cornucopia of flavors mellow out as the palate acclimates and the stomach and face warms. Pumpernickel aftertaste.

M- Tingly from the spice and alcohol, as well as somewhat syrupy. Medium carbonation and a husky body.

O- Pretty close to perfect. Definitely better than 4 Calling Birds but who knows? Maybe, after a year of aging, it'll be just as good as this.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.49/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle courtesy of Mikesgroove. Pours a murky brown color with a bubbly tan head that fades fast and leaves little lacing.

Nose is very yeasty - fruit and bread dough galore. Ripe, mushy strawberries, honeyed granola bars and figs. Big nose...and tasty. Cinnamon-sugar comes out as it warms.

The creaminess of the beer stands out first to me, along with the bright fruit and raspberry jam. Yeast is as bready as it is fruity, hiding the ABV well behind a melange of spices and fruit. Very nice brew! I would seek this out again, even if it means having to trade for it.

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Photo of WestValleyIPA
4.47/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 25 oz bottle into my Zatec Fluted glass. Short pour resulting in about a finger of very light brown colored head. Dark amber body. Head dies reasonably slowly, a little bit of lacing. Not much. Smells ungodly good. That sort of bubblegummy spice of Belgian yeast, chocolate, caramel sweetness, oak and a bit of alcohol. Sweet up front on the palate. Some dried dark fruit (raisins and such). Sort of rum-ish. Vanilla. I wish I could put into words how complex it is on my tongue. Finishes with a nice tartness. Nice kinda chalky mouthfeel. Drinks like a champ for 10%.

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Photo of robbrandes
4.47/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

reviewed from notes
poured from the 750ml into a highball glass (shoot me now...)

pours a dark, slightly brown. i swear i see some purple hints wafting through the mix too. initial big head, but quickly fades to not much. dark fruit, belgian yeast, some malt and a bit o' spice on the nose and palate. this beer continued to open up a ton for a good half hour after opening. nice full mouthfeel, perfectly carbed and begging for repeated drinks.

i went into this bottle not knowing what to expect and was blown away. very nicely done belgian dark. glad i've got a couple more kicking in the cellar.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.44/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-dark brown with a maroon tint. has a thin light tan head that fades quickly. not much carbonation

S-smells like dark cherries and belgian spices. it sort of smells like a dark, musty lambic. has a good strength. this smells awesome!

T-comes in with very sweet belgian malts. it then hits with slightly tart cherries, brown sugar, and molasses. it ends with a flavor of roasted sugars and dark fruits...possibly plums. this forms a long lasting after-taste. there's some warmth to it as it goes down the throat. this is a very unique take on the belgian style. i wouldn't call this balanced, but i do love it. it does have an odd bitterness to it, i must admit.

M-low carbonation and creamy. not very characteristic of the style, but i do like it this way a lot.

O-i love this beer a lot. it is so completely different. for the ABV, it goes down so easily. a bottle is easily consumed by one person. i feel with a little more time and effort, this can been brewed perfectly. if you expect to drink a good Belgian Strong Dark Ale, you'll be let down. Go in to this one just wanting to try a good, new beer. I could finish off a whole case of these in record timing if given the chance. to me this tastes like a blend of lambic and Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

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Photo of zoso1967
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted on 12/11/10 at a pre-wedding tasting party for fellow BA TCGoalie.

Pours a ruby/cherry brown color with a light tan head. The head has pretty decent retention and leaves some splashy lace on the sides of the glass.

The aroma is extremely fruity with tons of cherry and pear. The yeast also plays a big role with a nice peppery clove quality to it that plays off the fruit without being overbearing. Brown sugar and caramel round out the aroma, as well as some wine like notes.

The flavor strikes me as less fruity, but still has plenty of cherry, pear and a candied fruit/fruitcake sort of vibe to it. Brown sugar and caramel mix with spicy Belgian yeast and some earthy oak character. I also pick up just a little bit of musty funk that makes a nice addition. This is a pretty darn tasty beer and masks it's strength well.

The mouthfeel is medium and super smooth. The carbonation is light, but not dead, and I like how it lends to the smooth character. The finish is a bit on the sticky side, but it is not too offending.

I found this beer to be very drinkable as well as pretty unique. It strikes me as being a great Christmas beer, and I bet it would be great with Christmas dinner, or just to sip in front of the fire.

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Photo of thetastywort
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Bruery tulip glass. I drank this about 2 months ago and am just catching up on uploading all of my reviews.

A - Pours a murky brown with a slight tint of red with a light brown head and moderate lacing. About 1 finger head with good retention.

S - A beautifully complex blend of aromas. Nice brown sugar, malty, and faint tart, fruity hint. It ends nicely with a holiday-like spice such as clove and nutmeg. .

T - Taste starts out like a dark Belgian ale with a bit of leather. I think I taste a hint of toffee before the dark fruit flavors come in. There is definitely that Belgian yeast flavor that The Bruery prides itself on. Extremely complex and yet, familiar to their Anniversary recipe.

M - Body is light to moderate. A small amount of carbonation upfront that mellows after 10-15 minutes. Surprisingly dry finish.

D - This is a very complex beer and should mellow with age. Alcohol is well hidden. I definitely want to hold onto some of these bottles for a vertical in about 8 years. I slightly remember the barrel-aged version as being even more robust and desirable than the regular version.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg".

--Samuel Butler

Dark caramel brown with a generous orange juice infusion when backlit with the rising sun. The upper half of the chalice is now filled with an attractive crown of sandstone colored cream that isn't quite Belgianesque, but looks damn good nonetheless. A solid start.

The nose is unalloyed BSDA from stem to stern. The beer smells dark malty, medium-dark fruity, and has loads of spicy yeast esters, all essential elements of the style. This might be the best '12 Days of Christmas' brew yet.

3 French Hens, although the final score may not reflect it, is my favorite member of this series to date. It's everything that a Belgian-style strong dark should be. Truthfully, The Bruery hasn't always hit the mark where authenticity of flavor profile is concerned.

At this relatively early date in its potential life span, this offering is on the sweet side. Since the alcohol is masked expectionally well, why not drink it now? In my opinion, further aging isn't likely to add much of value and will probably result in some deterioration.

Flavors include caramel-toffee pudding with chunks of figs and dates, brown sugar, hints of chocolate syrup, port wine, and a clove and black pepper spiciness that ties things up in a neat little Belgian-style bow. I'll have to check prior reviews, but this may be my favorite The Bruery brue to date.

The mouthfeel comes oh so close to the Belgian masterpieces. It's crushed velvet plush and stays inflated just long enough to push the 'damn, that's nice' button. Definitely a bottle-conditioning success story.

If you're cellaring a bottle (or more) of 3 French Hens, there's no reason to do so any longer. This expertly crafted ale is drinking mighty fine right now. It looks like The Bruery beer might finally be living up to the excellence and promise of its labels.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first experience with this elixir occurred during a lunchtime visit to Pizzeria Paradisio (See My Review). Served in a snifter, the Three French Hens boasts a dark russet body, impervious to all light, crowned with beige razor thin foam. There seemed to be little carbonation within; the lacing was slippery without seeming to cling to the glass at all.

The nose and palate discerned a myriad of fruity esters with the primary ones evoking plum, maple and blueberry; all of it ending in a subtle maltiness. To experience this at its best, I would recommend quaffing it at the proper temperature by allowing it to sit for about 15 minutes.

The Three French Hens makes for an extraordinary, if complex, quaff. Unfortunately it has been retired.

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Photo of SubpoenaDeuces
4.37/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Three French Hens

Thanks to Sowa for this one.

A: This beer has a deep mahogany tone a bit dimmer than arrogant bastard as light has difficulty passing through the rich wood appearance, nice lacing from the bottle even with a moderate pour. Nice lacing that coats the edges with moderate spider webbing.
S: Huge toffee and caramel nose with notes of almond, turbinado sugar, orange peel, and brown sugars.

T: The fruits on this beer kick in first with great coriander zest, the orange body is there, plums, some sweet figs. Feels like a seasonal beer but more refined. Like a J Crew tacky sweater that knows it is well tailored. The roasted notes come on last and almost come off as a hoppy finish, capped off wish the slightest hint of alcohol waft. It’s like a 12 piece jazz band and there’s one guy syncopating rhythms but you don’t really care because its just cacophonous deliciousness.

M: Perfect balance in between enough to cover the alcohol but not so much to make it bready or overly sticky. Too much malt and the sweet nuances would be lost. A careful balancing act this doesn’t disappoint. The swallow has this clean finish despite the weight of the beer with a mild heat.

D: This is a great beer with many complex aspects to it. You will find yourself wanting to try it again and again, however, it is not a beer you want a lot of at one time. It is akin to a Mars Volta album where you are blown away, but a solid 60 minutes of it and you want to move on. That being said, 22 oz is a great slice to do a variety of things with this as your companion, play marvel vs. capcom, discuss keynsian economics, hit up planned parenthood: the world is your oyster.

Narrative: Sure, people frequented the Christmas warehouse off the 86 for a solid 5 weeks out of the year. And what a glorious 5 weeks it was for that building, the happy people buying combustable, non-compostable items from China, sharing in their festivities. The building held this proud glow even until mid January when it was gutted and whored on the short lease market. It might change a bit over time, fireworks outlet, Costume Extravaganza; it’s potential was limitless. What made this building so appealing was its austere nature, the way that the wind naturally cleared the foyer for the guests. That calming aura of halogen lights pulsing at just a rapid enough pace to feel like dulcet tones. This versatile building would endure. The fight club in the basement, it did not approve of. Not at all.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.37/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a 750 mL bottle,

A: Pours a medium brown with a moderate off-white head, good lace.

S: Quite yeasty, dark Belgian style fruit, with a hint of cinnamon, dark sweet breads.

T: Dark brown sugar and molasses, not as fruity as the nose. A straight up dark malt flavour with the Belgian yeast to round it off, very tasty.

M: Full-bodied, very smooth, soft carbonation on the palate, an elegant beverage.

D: Easily the best of the 12 Beers of Christmas so far right out of the gate. It will be interesting to see how this ages, and how The Bruery will add some new twist to this in the coming weeks.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at Christopher's in Cambridge


Poured from the tap into a tulip glass.

The color is a dark black with ruby highlights when held to the light. There is some thick ff-white foamy head and some nice lacing left on the glass.

The smell is a little fruity with raspberry and cherry flavors in the nose. There is some nice juicy flavor that has a slight funk flavor and a good sweet flavor.

There is a toasty flavor with a sweet juicy berry flavor. Some creamy notes in the finish with a slight bread like flavor. Some Belgian twang comes out in the aftertaste.

The feel of this beer is really smooth and silky. It goes down pretty easy and has a pretty drinkable feel for a beer that also kicks pretty hard in the ABV.

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Photo of cooch69
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew poured a chestnut brown with some almond highlights. It had a tight 1-2 finger head atop. It was a gorgeous bright and semi clear beer.

Nose consisted of caramel, candied sugar, cinnamon, and a bit of an alcoholic zing. There was a lightness and delicatness to this beers nose that I found pretty intruiging. Loaded with nuances yet not too strong.

The first sip brought forth dark candied sugar, slightly sour apples, raisins and a caramel maltiness. The beer was already around 45 or 50 degrees when I sampled it but there was a bit of vanilla hanging out in the back waiting to be discovered. It was very subtle and warming. Bitterness was kept to a minumum. Only a decent amount came through in the end and lingered for a while.

This beer is a great catch. Lighter side of full bodied this brew makes the holidays much more cozier and warmer. Now I got to get the fireplace roaren.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cloudy brown-ruby color with a finger of frothy khaki colored head. The head fades down fairly slowly leaving behind some nice lace.

S - Aroma is full of sweet dark fruits with some raisin and date, with candi syrup, oak, cherry, Belgian yeast, some spices, and a bit of booze.

T - Starts off with some rich dark fruit flavor with some raisin, cherry, and date, some Belgian candi syrup, and a bit of spice. Through the middle, some oak comes through with some more Belgian yeast flavor and spices with a bit more residual sugar. The finish is a mix of dark fruits, oak, vanilla, Belgian yeast, spices, and some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a warming and sweet finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice barrel aged BSDA. The base beer is big enough that it hold up really nicely and the end result is nicely balanced.

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Photo of Chaney
4.32/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark, taupe brown color, with a one finger head that quickly withered away into an off-white froth.

S: Belgian funk for sure, followed by alcohol, and a dark fruit presence that was softened by oak. The candy-Christmasy sweetness was abundant.

T: The oak added SO much to this brew, especially on the very soft, velvety finish. The body itself was very typically of many Strong Dark Ales that I've tried, but the way the brew exits, and even cleanses the palate is remarkable.

M: Even though I got some booze on the nose, the oak softened that blow when it got to the taste portion. Sure there was some alcohol burn, but nothing offensive. The lacing was minimal, and the sugar didn't linger... at least not in a bad way.

D: Despite the octane level, I was able to take fairly good sized sips without wincing. This was my favorite of the Bruery Christmas series for sure. Also, this is the one in the series that I'm willing to endorse as an "it's fine to drink now as opposed to waiting for it to mellow."

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Photo of Mora2000
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
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 pwoods
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
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 rigdont
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
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 prototypic
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

3 French Hens pours a darker, nut brown color. It’s very hazy, and has some really nice crimson highlights with light behind it. Carbonation looks to be very active, yielding a tan head that stands about two and a half fingers tall. It’s relatively slow to recede. Lacing was moderate.

The nose is very good. It’s very malty up front. Sweet caramel and cocoa-esque chocolate malts are the base. It smells sweet, but not overly so. Yeast is definitely prominent. It’s Belgian in character, but could be a little stronger. Smells spicy more than anything. Dark fruit is noted at the secondary level. Smells like raisin and fig. Oak is also secondary and adds character. Alcohol is there, but doesn’t smell overly strong. Smells good.

The flavor is a notch above the nose and is impressive. Light caramel and chocolate malts are noted early. It’s not quite as sweet as it smells. I like that. The chocolate variety definitely tastes like cocoa. Its spicy side emerges early and features really nice clove and pepper flavors. Belgian yeast is definitely responsible for their presence. Speaking of which, the yeast really does have a nice flavor that’s much more Belgian in flavor than in taste. Secondary flavors include raisin, fig, light vanilla, oak, light cherry, and leather. It is deep and complex. Alcohol is blended well. It’s there, but isn’t warm or hot. Finishes a little sweet and spicy.

3 French Hens has a medium to full body. Carbonation is active, but the bubbles feel soft. It’s definitely nice and smooth. Not quite creamy, but smooth.

The Bruery did a really nice job with 3 French Hens. This really is one of their best beers. Definitely superior to 2 Turtle Doves. It’s a nice representation of the style that features all the bells and whistles. I really like its deep and complex flavor profile. All of the elements come together much better than anticipated. I regret not picking up two or three more bottles. This is impressive stuff. Find a bottle.

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Photo of RedBrewer83
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into tulip...

A: Pours a dark chocolate brown bordering on black, small one finger frothy tan head falls into a thin foam on top.

S: Smells like coke with hints of figs, raisins, hint of booze and mocha.

T: Follows the nose with added depth of flavor especially in the areas of fruit. The coke factor is wild but pretty tasty and that combined with the flavors of raisins and a hint of bready malt.

M: Smooth medium body with light carbonation and a smooth dry finish. Would never guess this has 10% sitting beneath the rich flavors...

D: Incredibly drinkable for the strength and style, very smooth and lots of depth. Curious to see what this will be like in a decade!

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Photo of FosterJM
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

54th review on BA
Bottle to tulip

App- Caramel dark brown with mahogany highlights, 3 finger foamy head with nice color. Head lasted quite a bit but failed to leave a pertinant lace.

Smell- Belgian spicy with molasses and alcohol. I thought it was very balanced on the nose though.

Taste- It's a blend of tart, dark black cherry and a warming feeling as all the flavors come together to play well together.

Mouth- A medium bodied not overly sweet or dry based on the spice and alcohol content.

Drink- I think after all 3 this is my favorite so far. The adventure continues to keep the 1st 3 in the cellar for 9 years and have one hell of a party with 12 bruery bottles.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown with some lighter hints on the edges and a massive cream colored head.

S: Chardonnay-like scent from the aging process, sweet yeast smell and some spices and dark fruits as it warms.

T: Pretty complex flavors going on here. A lot of yeast flavor along with some spices that I couldn't pick out individually. Some fig and raisin as well along with some bready malts and a bit of oakiness. Looking forward to trying this down the road.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.29/5  rDev +12%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a Bruery tulip and served with Thanksgiving leftovers.

The color is a somewhat-light chestnut brown that pours with a moderately-disappointing single-finger head with just a touch of lacing and not that much retention. There is a slight bubble ring around the glass throughout, however. The nose is nice with some cherries, dark fruits, light oak, a bit of booze, a touch of caramel, and a tad bit of molasses. The French oak becomes much more prominent as it warms in the glass.

The flavor is quite powerful and complex. My initial taste is some darkened cherries and malt as well as some dates and figs. This makes way for a good dose of French-oak taste without the accompanying tannic character of a lot of barrel-aged beers. Throughout, I really have trouble getting over how nice the barrel-aged portion of this beer really is. There's some light spiciness and Belgian-yeast character intermingling throughout.

The body itself is a bit light for the boldness of the flavor, but the carbonation is nice and the barrel character just contributes wonderful qualities throughout. Drinkability is really nice and I simply am having a hard time getting enough of this beer and will certainly be going back to grab a few extra bottles of this.

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3 French Hens from The Bruery
3.83 out of 5 based on 401 ratings.
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