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 rodbeermunch
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

All that brown and red like a flanders, but this had a 3/5" tan head that had loads of retention. Aroma was holiday cookies and less dark fruit than expected.

Instead of dark fruit bitterness and alcohol heat, this one brings more of the sweet. Some holiday spice rack, thankfully no coriander, but it has some spice and woody vibe to it. Actually did well with 10% in the mouthfeel. A lot of caramel and toffee notes.

I like this more than most in said style.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had this one in the cellar for 5 years, and figured it was about time to break it out, since I gave up on my dream to find 2 Turtle Doves and a PIAPT, and am knocking the remainder out.

Very fruity overall between the aromas and the flavor. Nothing heavy about this beer.. quite "thin" in fact for the 10% ABV. The look is spot on - deep brown/burgundy, with short head and foamy lacing. Fruits include plums, raisins, and strawberries... in that order. Slightly oaky, and just a light spice. Wonderful Christmas beer flavors. It held up pretty darn well, but I'll bet it was a notch above this last year at this time.

If you have one, and don't plan on keeping it in a full vertical 'til the "12th day" in the series, then go ahead and take it down now. Waiting a couple more years may hurt this, unless it's been perfectly stored in 40 degree darkness.

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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 babaracas
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy dark brown, two fingers of creamy light brown colored foam, spray of lace on the glass. Smell: brown sugar, note of toasted nuts, grape skin, ripe peach, sugary plum. Taste: overripe slightly tart peach, plum, brown sugar, notes of baking spices and cherry cola, herbal / oaky pop in the finish. This is nice... stone fruit-ed bsda with some oak barrel character.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml, 2010
Mini snifter

A: Deep murky amber brown color. Thin layer of off white head. Good carbonation. Lots of tiny bubbles coming off bottom.

S: Candied sugar. Vinous notes. Definitely spicy notes.

T: Might be a touch of mild oxidation. Strange off flavor. Definitely getting some vinous flavor from the French Oak. Candied sugar notes. Belgian spice. Good carbonation, prickly. Dry finish.

M: Medium to full. Big carbonation.

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Photo of Hatzilla
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Hazy dark amber pour with a beige head and minimal lacing. S - Strong notes of grapes, plums, cherries, raisins, chocolate and Belgian yeast. T - More dark fruits with chocolate, spices, brown sugar and definite alcohol as the beer warms, M - At the low end of medium carbonation with a tart, dry finish and slight alcohol burn. O - A nice BSA for the holidays, Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of beagle75
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Hazy, medium brown color with over one finger of diminishing parchment-tinted foam head. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Dark fruit is spirituous while yeast is also evidenced, yet clean. Unctuous and richly bready, overall. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with refined aromatic malt and dark vinous fruit. Acidity is mild into the middle where a trace of chocolate pudding is detected, channeling the heavy qualities of the smell. Anise is strong soon after being poured into the glass, but the spiciness fades. Flavors taper off into the finish, leaving a whiff of earth. No alcohol is detected.

M: Medium viscosity, creamy on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: This strong dark ale is an enjoyable winter seasonal that opts to not employ a predictable profile of baking spices. While not world-class in either case, the flavor matches the smell well and makes this earthy, mellow beer greater than the sum of its parts.

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Photo of nickfl
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours with one finger of dense, khaki colored foam on top of a dark brown body with a touch of muddy amber showing through. The foam fades gently and leads nice, thick lace on the glass.

S - dark bread, caramel, a little bit of clove, and some gingerbread.

T - Dry, dark sugar (maybe!?) up front with some clove and anise. Slightly tart dark malt in the middle with a touch of cherry and a finish of sour chocolate, clove, and licorice.

M - moderately thick body, aveage carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - This beer is much dryer than I would have expected it to be. This is both good and bad in that it is somewhat more easily drinkable for it, but less flavorful and robust. The lit tartness is a nice counterpoint to the malt but it doesn't play that well with the spice notes. Lastly, the barrel character is largely lost amoung everything else th just a touch of oak and the tart character to vouch for it. Probably my least favorite of the beers of Christmas so far (having had #2-#5).

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Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: single finger white head with little retention and some lacing on a clear deep amber body.

S: lots of dark fruit mostly with cherry, strawberry and plum the primary notes. hint of chocolate. overall the aroma is a little mild.

T: pretty tart dark fruit with mostly raisin, plum and cherry for dark fruits. peppercorn, milk chocolate, belgian yeast, brown sugar.

M: medium body, a little syrupy and moderate carbonation. pretty dry.

Overall: again, very complex, the ABV is well hidden. smooth with excellent belgian character with good tart and sweet balance.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- When I popped this bottle you could tell it was excited to join the glass. Lots of initial carbonation, I'm guessing due to an infection. Nice dark red brown color.

S- Oh yeah this has something in it the brewers probably didn't intend on having. I'm picking up a lacto sour bacteria. Dark fruits, cherries, figs, pineapple.

T- This tastes infected for sure, nice sour hit with good BSDA type flavors. This actually makes for a nice subtle sour beer. I'm glad I have another one somewhere in my beer collection.

M- Good feel, but the sourness leads a bit of a slight dryness at first, but after a while it goes away.

O- I know the infection isn't what was intended, but the beer is tasty.

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Photo of Dope
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown with a big airy and frothy light brown head. Fades slowly, leaving only minimal lacing behind.

S: Loads of brown sugar and caramel. Get some overripe, almost tart dark fruits; some raisin, dates and even some apples. Little bit of spice in there too.

T: Sweet burnt sugar, caramel and brown sugar up front with just a hint of toffee. Turns fruity in the middle with the dark fruits mentioned above, primarily raisin with just a touch of that tart apple. Finishes with some cloves and a little earthiness and spices. Touch drying with some decent oak in the lingering aftertaste. Little bit of sting in the aftertaste, perhaps from the higher ABV.

M: Slick, smooth and fairly heavy. Carbonation helps keep it from being too thick.

O: Not a bad BSDA. Very malty, sweet and fruity. Oak is surprisingly strong for being only 25% barrel aged. Not overpowering, just a nice element of complexity in the finish. Tasty and balanced.

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Photo of ediaz
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into hunahpu's snifter.

A: deep dark brown with reddish tones, white fluffy head that dissipates into a ring hugging the glass with little lacing left.

S: smells sour with spices, wood, light citrus fruits

T: initially sour, then spices (cloves primarily) come through brightly. The tartness falls away and there is a sweet fruit/clove smooth taste that is tempered nicely by the oak aging I'd assume. Ends with a little burn to show the 10% ABV. There's a lot going on here; I'm between calling it complex and calling it a mess. For the benefit of the doubt, I'll say it is complex..very complex.

M: medium with a fair amount of carbonation

O: an interesting beer. I can't tell if I'd buy it again or not, but if I did I'd hold it for a long while. It is a great experience and is fun to drink. Similar to my thoughts about autumn maple, I couldn't have this very often but it would make for an interesting bottle to pull out.

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Photo of draheim
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750mL into a chalice. Pours a crystal clear mahogany w/ a 1-finger khaki head, lazy carb.

Aroma is dark fruits, Belgian yeast, spice, and sugary red grapes. As it warms, sour cherries add to the complexity.

Taste follows nose. Dark candied prunes & raisins, spice, oak, candi sugar, warming alcohol, and a kiss of red wine grapes.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy w/ a dry finish; probably the best thing about the beer.

Overall a tasty, sweet, moderately complex sipper of a beer.

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Photo of beergod1
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark Mahogany with a thin tan head. A wonderful smell filled with candied sugar, dark fruits, spices, and oak. The oak really hits your mouth initially with some smooth vanilla, and a light sourness. More dark fruit - raisins, figs, dates and red grapes linger long after the sip. A touch of citrus / spice falls to the back of the mouth. Light bitter finish with sweet (almost syrupy) malts, molasses and caramel. A bit of warmth on the end.

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Photo of BostonHops
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle served in a snifter glass.

pours a dark mahogany tone with a creamy finger-plus tan head. nice retention; slowly fades to a lasting cap. superb walls of lacing. high score for presentation - great looking BSDA.

really nice aroma as well: notes of fig, raisin, caramel malt, belgian yeast, and a touch of spice. definitely intrigues. flavor follows the nose with some brown sugar and a hint of oak, maybe cinnamon. very enjoyable, though it doesn't blow you away. medium-bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

originally reviewed: 12-27-2010

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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 mdaschaf
4/5  rDev +4.4%
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 wvsabbath
4.25/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving Type - 25.9 oz bottle

Appearance - Dark tan/golden brown with a monster 3+ inch head and some nice lacing.

Smell - Malts, sweet fruits like cherry, apple, grapefruit. Lots of spices. Yeast and a biscuit aroma. Oak, vanilla and some added sugars. Alot going on here.

Taste - Nice mix of malts, yeast and oaked vanilla plus spices. Dark and sweet fruits add flavors, as does sugary mix of vanilla and molasses. Alcohol is present and fairly dominate but not overpowering. Has a nice earthy/grainy flavor at the finish.

Mouthfeel - Rather smooth and mild for such a big beer. Tounge gets fruits, malts, oak and booze, along with added sugars. Palette gets same flavors along with some mild hops and spices. Aftertaste is dry and warm from the alcohol.

OVerall - Really nice and smooth, yet a big beer that demains respect for its complex flavors. A sipper for sure but it is easy enough to have nice big mouthfulls in each drink. The oaked aspect of this beer truly shines and is a special beer to enjoy if you can get your hands on it now.

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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 Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled September 2011
A steady pour into my Lost abbey Teku glass produces a fat-two-finger thick, nicely tan colored head. The beer is a dark, concentrated brown amber color that shows a brilliantly clear, ruby-brown hue when held up to the light. The aroma has quite a bit of fruitiness to it backed by softer notes of toasted malt and perhaps a touch of woodiness that is noticeable in my first draught of the nose. A second look at the nose has me noticeing more of a spiciness that is led by clove, then a touch of woody pepper and perhaps some rounded allspice notes. The oak is actually quite subtle, it accentuates the toasted maltiness here, definitely boosts the spice notes (perhaps even with some vanillin contributions too) and adds just a hint of woodiness to things. The dominant note is definitely the fruitiness, it reminds me quite a bit of plums (sweet, just a hint of tart, and quit fruit like in a plum sort of way), there are also some deep raisin notes and something that reminds me quite a bit of dates. The malt character is definitely toasted, but it is also caramelized, reminds me just a touch like cotton candy at times and has an anchoring brown, bready, brown, malt character.

The beer is sweet, but not nearly as sweet as I might have expected, there is a soft tartness and a firm, but soft woodiness that adds some astringency that balance the up front sweetness. The finish sees the firm, oak astringency, the tartness and some bitterness that seems dark malt related, but is also likely from hops. The finish is actually fairly sharp at times, but at other times the fruitiness and touch of up front sweetness smooths this out nicely. The fruit character contributes notes of dates, fermented raisins, and concentrated, though not overly sweet plums. When the beer is a little cooler it has some cotton candy like flavors and there is a substantial clove phenolic character (even a touch of tongue numbing turpenes) towards the finish; these notes soften towards a freuit character as the beer warms up though they never really dissipate. There is a fair amount of carbonation to this beer, perhaps a bit more than would be preferable, but only just so; the body of this beer is quite light for its strength, though it is certainly still a sipping brew.

Pretty nice, I wonder how this one will evolve with time; with the subtle tartness I wonder if this one might be turning somewhere a little different. This might not be a bad thing, and could even help this one to go the long haul, though it may only be the standard oak influence. This is actually quite nice in the end; it is just complex enough with the mix of malt, fruit, spice, tart and oak to be interesting and with just enough going on to keep things reasonably balanced.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip, bottled Dec 2010. Pours very hazy dark reddish brown color with a nice 2 finger dense dark khaki head with great retention that reduces to a cap. Some ok lacing on the glass. Aromas of big raisin, prune, grape, apple, molasses, caramel, oak, light cinnamon, and yeast spiciness. Nice and well balanced aromas. Taste of big molasses, caramel, raisin, prune, fig, oak, toasted malt, dark candi sugar, nuttiness, light cinnamon, and yeast spices. Lingering notes of molasses, caramel, dark fruits, and spiciness on the finish for a bit. A good amount of complexity and robustness in the taste. Great balance of flavors. Medium carbonation and body; with a creamy and slightly slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is very well hidden at 10%, with only a warming after the finish present. Overall this is an excellent and well balanced Belgian dark ale. Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark red-orange amber, thin fine light tan head with good retention and lacing. Light aroma of Belgian yeast and spice, faint dark and light fruit with a hint of cola aroma. Taste is a dry, almost vinous malt and dark fruit with an odd tannin influenced, dry finish. Lingering tannic, somewhat sour aftertaste. The base beer is pleasant, but the finish is a bit too dry and tannic for me. Nice medium heavy creamy body. I wish I liked this a bit more because it is obviously nicely made. One year old bottle. I didn't taste this fresh, so have no comparison.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Aged 1 year. Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours an extremely dark ruby red tinted purple appearing almost black at first glance. 1 finger of off-white head, moderate carbonation and good clarity. Has a thin layer of very fine lacing that trickles down the glass.

Second pour is a murky opaque copper.

N: Red wine, black cherry, plum, cinnamon, currants, a hint of clove and maybe a touch of apricot. Interesting.

T: Red wine/grape, apricot, grape juice, figs, currants and perhaps some blackberry upfront. Mid-palate brings in candy sugar, biscuity bread and ginger along with hints of black cherry and lemon citrus. Finishes with toasted grains, subtle notes of earthy oak, barnyard, leather, clove, coriander, peppercorn, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

M: Light bodied, very dry and spicy with a bit of stickiness.

O: Sweet, complex, spicy and interesting. Has a lot of red wine characteristics and a good blanket of Belgian funk and winter spicing. A nice sipper that transforms over time giving me some mixed feelings. I'm giving it a bump up based on complexity but the spices are a tad too much for my palate.

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Photo of phichifiji00
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Rich brown in color. clear. pours 2 inches of thick off-white head that fades very slowly. Lots of lacing.

Smell: estery, oak, vanilla, nutty, dark fruit.

Taste: malty, toffee, nutty, oak, vanilla, dark fruit, raisins, brown sugar.

Mouthfeel: full bodied, good carbonation, silky, smooth.

Overall: A decent belgian. Not terribly complex, but well balanced. Drinkability is fairly high.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.05/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nearly opaque burgundy to oxblood color. Thin head begets thin retention which begets a collar with a bridge in the middle like a frowny face. I like their bottle caps.

Acidic...something dominates the aroma. Green apple Blow Pop with dark fruit underneath.

Taste is the acidic twang of a green apple Blow Pop but with a grape Blow Pop. Highly carbonated with thin bubbles - sprightly. There's some caramel coated dark fruit in there too but it's utterly obliterated by the acid.

I'm not sure if I like or not. I don't think I do. My girlfriend and I have a Christmas tradition where we drink the previous year's 12 Days beer and exchange gifts. If 4 Birds doesn't knock my socks of we're giving up.

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