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3 French Hens | The Bruery

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3 French Hens3 French Hens
Very Good
402 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.

Added by claspada on 10-08-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 402 |  Reviews: 229
Photo of ElGordo
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Body is a deep brown with garnet highlights,. Aroma of French oak and dark fruit on top of a solid malty backbone. A nice, fruity character comes through at the front of the mouth, with a mild sour character from the yeast. Interesting notes of wood, light brown sugar, and a very light astringency. It will be interesting to see how this beer ages (it is supposedly good until 2012); right now it seems like it could use a little more time for the yeast to work its magic.

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Photo of lstokes
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Opaque brown with an average sort of head, the smell is of cherries, booze and molasses.

The taste is actually dominated by spices (salt? cinnamon? all over the place here), dark grapes/dates, oak, a little bit boozey on the back end. The mouthfeel is a little heavy and could be better-carbonated, that would make it zippier and a better thing to sip. As is it hangs around in the mouth a little too long--a good beer but started to wear on me as I finished my half of the bottle.

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Photo of bs870621345
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown/black color with an off white head that spans about an inch. Leaves minimal lacing down the glass.

Smells like dark fruits and caramel malts. Nice smell.

Taste follows smell, fruits and caramel with alcohol mixed in. I do detect a hint of said oak, but not really noticeable. Well balanced.

Very carbonated, as expected. Keeps the palate clean and extremely nice.

Drinkability is lowered because of its high alcohol content, and you can taste it.

Tastes like OSA bumped up in all ways, and not necessarily for the better.

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

750ml bottle $12. Dark brown, reddish color which is about what I expected. The smell was quite interesting, vinous, fruity, almost made me think this would be a sour beer but it was not. The flavor was more in line with what I expect from a quad with a very nice cherry aspect to it. I enjoyed this more than the two turtle doves from last season. As far as aging this for nine years, I wouldn't do it and I can't imagine it will be good. Seems more like a gimmick so that the geeks will buy additional bottles.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
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 Georgiabeer
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with an adequete head. Smells quite nice with spiced fruit including cherries and plums, and raisins. Quite vinous in the taste with quite a bit of tart fruit, lighter spice than the smell would indicate, a touch of oak and vanilla, and a port like undercurrent. Very smooth, and a little lighter than I would have thought. Contary to the claims on the bottle, I can't see this aging for 9 years. That being said, I quite enjoyed it know.

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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 mentor
3.37/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a finger of brown head over a very dark brown liquid. Smells a bit like a saison. Spicey zip, mild clove, nutmeg, chocolate, and some fig. The wood is very mild and comes across like the smell of sun-baked wood on a summer day.

Tastes very belgian. Cardboard oxidation. Clove and spice with strong chocolate and playful fruits (white grape and pear). Very dry finish cleans the palate and leaves a sour and herbal aftertaste. Some smoke in the dark grain. Has a worrisome aromatic in the retronasal.

Interesting contrast between the light fruits, yeast spicy, and chocolatey malts. Md-light body with modest carbonation. Drinkability is meh. In regards to aging potential, this one could become something great, though I suspect the oxidation will take over and it will be yuck.

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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 scootny
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clear garnet brown with a light tan head. Not much in the way of retention or lacing but not awful. Nice nose. Belgian sour with lots of oak. Did I mention the oak?. LOTS of oak. Underneath that is a light sweet caramel malt with a bit of wine. Some Belgian funk and yeast fruit esters. A touch of floral hops. Taste is Belgian sour light. A dark malt front that transitions quickly to the oak aged percentage of the brew. Tannic and dry with vinous and earthy facets. Coconut and a subtle dark fruit combination. A nice whole grain bread in the finish. A bit of buttered toast and a hint of vanilla. The oak from the nose gives a mild sour and woody taste. No trace of alcohol. Feel is velvety and cask like with gentle carbonation. Drinkabilty is quite good. Like a good burgundy you can session slowly. Light over the tongue. This is very French in personality. Imagine a beer trying to be a holiday wine and you are in the neighborhood. Like the others in the series it begs for food. The cheddar and crackers I had with it drove the taste, fee,l and drinkability scores up. This one will slot into any place you would have a dry red. A great gateway for those who are afraid of sours. Well named and well made. It combines the BSDA, sour ale, and and French wine artfully and I expect it to age beautifully.

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Photo of avalon07
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a brown color with ruby tints and a somewhat thick texture. There was an inch of foamy, long-lasting head. Average lacing.

S: A surprisingly subdued smell of yeast, sugar, and spices.

T: Tasted of Belgian yeast (though not that much), malt, sugar, a little dark fruit and mild spices. This beer has a decidedly uneven flavor. It weighs down most of the flavor in the front and leaves very little in the thin finish.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a smooth, velvety finish. Medium-bodied.

D: Not a bad or undrinkable beer, but definitely uneven.

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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 homebrew311
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at Durty Nellies.

A: appears a dark purple with some faint light passage, razor thin white collar of head, a little bit of lacing

S: big candied fruit notes up front with notes of grapes and cherries as well as candi sugar and brown sugar, tart and acidic notes towards the back reminiscent of tart cherries or a dry red wine

T: starts out very sweet, just shy of being cloying, as this beer develops on the palate, it dries out and becomes rather tart. This is a roller coaster of flavor and is lacking a little something in the balance department. A noticable bit of booze on the end.

MF: medium body, high carbonation

D: this brew is very sweet and dry. It is interesting and all but not something I could see seeking out again.

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Photo of zoso1967
4.42/5  rDev +15.7%
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 Wisconsinality
2.53/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottle poured into Delirium tulip.

A- Pours a deep molasses brown that lets a small amount of light in around the edges. A small half finger worth of head dies down quickly and leaves no lacing.

S- The Belgian yeast is pretty dominant. There is a bit of a tart note hiding in there to go with some candi sugar. I seem to pick up a little bit of cotton candy and that is about it.

T- The Belgian yeast isn't nearly as dominant but still on the forefront. The malt comes in and again, the little tart note. The alcohol never appears.

M- A little thinner than I like for the style, medium to lighter bodied. Some crisp carbonation but it just feels watered down.

D- This one becomes really sweet to the point where it is hard to drink more than a glass, which is unfortunate because it comes in a bottle that is more than 12oz. Not impressed with this beer at all. Not even going to bother getting another bottle to age.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-poured as an amber but filled my oversized snifter as a ruby purple with a thin yeasty head which was gone almost immediately after forming (I find that this is what typically happens with most BA beers, but that's just what I've noticed, don't know if there is any validity to that though?). Lacing is pretty slick sliding on the glass and sparse to ever appear.

S-very festive. medley of dark and tropical fruit with vanilla peppery clove-ish spicing. the vanilla oak is very present and really adds a nice element to the beer. reminds me of Adoration Ale but sweeter.

T-not your typical BSDA. very good though. wine-like grape flavor with figs and plums. the alcohol is pretty present...sort of...it must be the barrels (which I can't pick out in the taste, but would make sense) but the alcohol has a different kind of quality to it that is a bit wine-like. kind of tastes like a cross between a BDSA and a white wine. different, but I kind of wish I could taste the beer without the artifact. the hints of normal BSDA flavors are really nice and I feel like this wine-like alcohol flavor/feel detracts a bit from it.

M/D-the first thing I noticed about this beer when I took my first sip was the drinkability. this is possibly the smoothest easiest drinking beer I've ever had. it sits in my mouth like a glass of juice and goes down like a glass of water. what the wine-like thing does to the taste, it does the opposite to the feel and drinkability (and smell). glad i tried it and looking forward to trying it with some time on it. aftertaste is like a sweet wine. leaves a bit of a tingle in my mouth.

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Photo of RedBrewer83
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
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 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 SkunkWorks
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Bobbique in Patchogue, New York. Served in a small Imperial pint glass.

Look: dark red, chestnut brown, with a thin layer of head at the top that doesn't have a great amount of retention but there's still a decent amount of lacing left behind considering the fact that this is a 10% alcohol by volume beer. Looks like a nice Belgian dark and also a nice holiday beer.

Smell: smells quite fruity with dark fruits like purple grapes, some plum and fig. A bit of alcohol sneaks through but not a whole lot. Some yeasty spiciness also.

Taste: follows the nose with fruity, dark fruit and spices from the yeast. It lures you into a false sense of security because surely this cannot have 10% alcohol by volume because the alcohol is hidden so well. The alcohol only comes out when I let it get to room temperature and then it's quite warm. Very malty and I'm not getting a whole lot of hoppiness. There's a bit of oakiness but not as much as I would expect from a barrel aged beer. That is something I like; when a brewery ages only a portion rather than the entire beer, which seems to prevent the beer from becoming overwhelmed by wood. I like this beer and will be interested in seeing what some age does to it.

Feel: medium tending towards full bodied, not a whole lot of carbonation, some alcohol warmth as it warms but not a whole lot. Tends towards malty, fruitiness without much bitterness.

Drink: I could drink this all night... if I wanted to die. Quite drinkable for a 10% alcohol beer.

Overall, I liked this one. This is one of my favorite holiday beers now. I will be trying to acquire two bottles of this; one to try and compare to the tap and one to age until I can set up a vertical. The Bruery is certainly a very exciting emergent craft brewer and I was very happy to see this on tap, especially so far from California! I would give this a try! Cheers!

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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 Gmann
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown color with ruby hightlights at the edges. A decent sized head which is dense and creamy and settles into a sparse cap.

The aroma is a touch nutty with a sour cherry or cranberry essence; some medicinal notes (band-aid and clove) from the belgian yeast.

The base of the beer is of a solid brown bread malt flavor with a spicy yeasty clove character. This is followed by vinous notes as well as a sour cherry presence from the oak.

The feel is light to moderate with tingly carbonation, good balance between sweet and sour; finishes dry and a touch astringent.

Overall a good beer. It is a bit too dry on the back end and perhaps a touch too sour for my liking.

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

750ml bottle, split and paired with some fresh pasta

appearance: served in my great lakes christmas chalice (this glass is the most interesting thing that brewery has released in a while), dark mahogany body, light tan cream head with no retention

smell: lots of dark fruit - plum, grapes, figs, booze, raisins, wood, spice, rye

taste: Big flavor profile - plums soaked in rum, figs, dates, brown sugar, belgian yeast, caramelized sugars and lots of alcohol. I really liked 2 turtle doves - this is a dissapointment by comparison

mouthfeel: boozy, medium-heavy

drinkability: ok

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

Poured from a 750ml bottle into two St. Bernardus goblets and a small snifter. Special thanks to HeatherAnn and HollyAnn for the assist!

A: Pours a hazy, reddish-brown with a short lived layer of creamy, light-tan foam. No lace was left behind and there was a bit of suspended sediment visible in the glass.

S: Neat mixture of caramel/tootsie roll, tart berry, fruity Belgian yeast, cocoa, dark fruit, cherry, and citrus.

T: Just as above with the addition of oak and more emphasis on the tart berry/tangy fruit flavors.

M: Starts off like a typical Quad. Big, sweet, and delicious. This quickly turns a bit tangy and dry. A slight hint of a white pepper finish? Fantastic.

D: A excellent winter treat with nary a hint of its' 10% to be found. Very nice!

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown/almost black with a slight head that dissipates to a ring of fat bubbles.

Nose has malt, sour cherry, vanilla, oak, toffee, sugar, and spices.

Taste is malty and a bit sour, chocolate, holiday spices. Sweet finish. This is so much better as it warms up with the vanilla and oakiness coming through.

Body is light and carbonation is light, giving this a spritzy mouthfeel.

A nice holiday ale, although not exceptional.

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Photo of gford217
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle.

Pours a dark reddish brown with a thick tan head that doesn't leave much lacing except when swirled a few times.

Aroma is sweet with lots of caramel malts and dark fruits, raisins, plums, and some candi sugar. There is some spiciness but it's very subtle as is the oaky notes.

The taste seems a little spicier. It starts with the sweet sugary fruits with vanilla and caramel but the finish is where the spices come out, almost herbal, with some oaky tannins.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with soft carbonation and very sticky sweet overall.

It's a decent beer though not all that drinkable due to the overwhelming candied sugar character.

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3 French Hens from The Bruery
Beer rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 402 ratings
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