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 GRG1313
3.34/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a crystal clear deep, dark copper red with burgundy tints; thick, firm and bold off white head.

Nose is big sweet plums, ripe pears and sweet cooked peaches with light spice - big, full, rich and assertive with big candi sugar tones.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with an elegant carbonation.

Flavors are very complex and layered. Front palate is sweet spiced cola and compote cooked fruit that goes to a dull bitter mid palate and finish.

The front end of this beer is wonderful but the flavors then back off and the wood and barrel aging come into play and goes to a bitter, almost bitter/sour carmel finish.

The mid palate on this beer is a strange spice/herbal character, almost a sour chocolate character, that prevents this brew from really shining. The high alcohol is well hidden!

Personally, I don't see this beer doing very well 9 years from now when we all do our "12 year vertical" for the "12 Days of Christmas." However, time will tell.

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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 UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky dark brown with a 2 inch khaki head that settles to a thin film. Random streaks of lace stick around the glass on the drink down. There is also some sediment floating around in this beer. Smell is of dark fruits, some wood aromas, and spicy yeast. Taste is of dark fruits, slight wood, and a slight sour fruit/vinegary taste. There is an astringency on the palate after each sip. This beer has a bubbly carbonation with a crisp but slightly sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good BSDA from The Bruery. I was going to save this and do a broken vertical since I missed the first 2 releases but I am glad I just opened this now.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

French Hen's pours out as a murky looking brownish red color. The head was a light tan shade, the lacing was decent for a little while on this one before the head faded. The smell of the beer had a lot of oak aromas coming off of it. There was a lingering scent of spices also. The taste was spicy upfront that switched into a subtle tart oak flavor that essentially became a fresh wooden softness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel wasn't too bad, I was hoping it would have been thicker. Overall I'm glad I had gotten to try this one. I would like to try the others in the series. Looking forward to next years for sure.

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Photo of brentk56
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a tawny brown color with a finger of a head that drizzles lace on the way down

Smell: Brown sugar and dark fruit, with vanilla and oak barrel tones

Taste: Brown sugar and dark fruit (fig and date) up front, with undertones of vanilla and oak; by mid-palate, a tart cherry layer appears bringing vinegary elements that linger, after the swallow, though the sweetness doesn't fade; overfall, rather vinous

Mouthfeel: Full body with low carbonation; somewhat syrupy

Drinkability: An interesting beer, but the growing tartness really detracts from the BSDA character; the vinous element is interesting, but perhaps there is just too much going on to make it very drinkable

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Photo of emerge077
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a wine goblet at South Loop Tasting Room.

Dark reddish brown, high clarity, visible trails of upward bound carbonation. Creamy, frothy tan foam that leaves spotty lacing inside the glass. Good retention, the head never dissipated.

Muted spice and dark fruit in the nose, dried cherry, plum, raisin.

Flavor is malt dominant with some lingering sweetness, even a slightly tart fruit note. Light cherry and dates, belgian yeast, vague vanilla that suggests barrel-aging, but it gets a bit lost in there. Moderately carbed, certainly doesn't feel like 10%, and slightly slick in feel. One and done, not one i'd revisit, or would seek out a bottle of.

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Photo of largadeer
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Bruery Provisions.

Caramel colored, this would look like a glass of tawny port if not for the small beige head.

The aroma is a mix of vinous notes, plums, general yeasty-estery fruitiness and dark candi sugar sweetness.

The palate likewise is quite vinous, bringing to mind red grapes and plums, a little cherry and black pepper. The wine barrel comes through well, despite only being a small component of the beer. The body is medium-full, and it's semi-sweet, more drying toward the finish. Quite good for the style, but as with the other two Bruery Christmas beers, it's not particularly noteworthy. I have a feeling that this series is going to end up much like Stone's Vertical Epic series - decent beers with a ton of unjustified hype.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a dark brown color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some nice lacing. Aroma of light oak with caramelized sugar and light fruity notes. Taste is a very good mix between some brown sugar and caramelized malt with notes of fruity ester and some oak to round up the flavour. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well brewed and better then I had anticipated considering some of the previous offering from this brewer. Good balance between complexity and drinkability.

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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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Photo of mothman
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a lighter layer of beige head. Leaves light head. Color is a copper brown with an amber hue.

Aroma: Caramel, toffee, plums, dark fruits, cherries, vanilla, and oak. Pretty malty.

Taste: oaky with vanilla. Dark dried fruits hit up front. Raisins and toffee. Very malty and sweet.

Mouthfeel: Sweet and malty. Medium to full bodied with a low to medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry.

Overall, a decent beer for the style but I am looking more forward to the barrel aged version. It is pretty decent, but just seems to be missing something.

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

poured it into the glass. A rich, deep, dark brown was shown right before me, just barely letting the slightest bit of color come through to give it a nice tint to the reddish side. Lots of carbonation rippling up toward the surface though out. The head was enormous, towering to a height of at least four inches before finally settling down to a modest three inches! This thing was a beast, leaving behind enormous amounts of side glass lace everywhere it touched. The aroma was extremely big as well, I could literally feel it popping in my nose as I took in every breathe. Really extremely well done. Big aroma of raisins, and figs started it off, with a nice little hint of spice and just the tiniest bit of alcohol way in the back making it a touch bigger. There was the unmistakable aroma of cocoa in there as well, which really threw me for a loop. Nice subtle earthy tones as well, overall this was extremely well done.

The flavor started out very nice. A rich, warming palate of dark fruits washed over the tongue from the very first sip. It had loads of rum soaked raisins, figs, plums, and was just very dark overall in its profile. The cocoa then showed up again as well, very sweet, and creamy hints of chocolate showing out here. It was fleeting at first, but then became wrapped up in the roasted malts and a slightly smoked like flavor. As it warmed though all of the subtleness of it then faded, and instead the roasted malts dominated, and eased up on the overall complexity of it.

Overall I thought this was really well done.

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

A: The pour is a dark brown color with some hints of blood red and a finger's worth of khaki colored head.

S: A fair amount of dark malts without much roast character, but a nice toast. Very bready and heavy on the yeast with some dark fruits, but I can't quite pick out what they are.

T: The sweetness is moderate with a bit of subtle roast. Dark and malty with a bit of sugar (caramel and toffee) and lots of yeastiness like the nose indicates.

M: The body is medium with a soft, rolling carbonation.

D: I'd say this is probably better than Partidge but not quite as good as Turtle Doves. It'll be interesting to see how this one ages over the next ten years.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 11/17/10 notes. Had on tap at Churchkey in DC.

a - Pours a dark amber color with one inch of off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts, caramel malts, spices, yeast, and dark fruits.

t - Tastes of dark fruit, caramel malts, and a little spice. Caramel and sweet fruit really come out in the taste which I liked a lot.

m - Medium body and low carbonation, the body was super smooth and real easy going down. Surprised it was 10%, couldn't notice in the mouth.

d - I really like 3 French Hens a lot. I liked the caramel in the taste alot and thought it had a great mouthfeel. Would certainly drink again and going to grab one for the cellar.

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

Homebrew day and this one has been begging me to open it. Pours a deep garnet color with a huge tightly bubbled beige head that takes forever to recede. Smells of dark fruit, cherries and plums come to mind, brown sugar, and spicy Belgian and wheat phenols round out the nose. There are hints of oak and a slight tartness somewhere in there as well. Taste is sweet up front with dark sugars and fruit, but that gives way to some spicy phenols and a hint of alcohol. Alcohol and a fruity tartness are apparent in the finish. Medium to full body, generous level of carbonation, creamy sticky mouthfeel. This is a nice brew, but I think it still needs some time for the flavors to harmonize. Can't wait to open another of these in 9 years :)

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Photo of Billolick
3.87/5  rDev +1%
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 drabmuh
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Bruery tulip. Beer is brown and hazy with a big brown head on top of it. Carbonation moderate and the head leaves some lacing on the glass.

Beer smells like a big Belgium beer but its not roasty in the nose at all. Lots of esters, lots of biscuit, some stone fruits, smells good.

Beer is lead off sweetness with a medium body that gives way to an almost weizenbock kind of roast in the back. There is a ton of fruit esters in the midpalate region. Beer is pretty drinkable, I don't recall the other releases from this series but this one is fine.

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Photo of aasher
3.42/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had to try this since I've watched PiaPT and 2TD pass by. This pours a medium bodied raisin in color with little to no head. The smell is of very strong bananas and cloves and has a brown sugar sweetness to it. It actually smells like a Dunkel. The taste is of brown sugar with a yeasty, banana like after taste. It's very sweet. This is alot more carbonated than I expected. It has a bite to it. The alcohol is well hidden but this beer, at this stage at least, doesn't drink very smoothly. It was just ok.

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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 Gobzilla
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Giving thanks to the 3 french hens

A: poured a slightly reddish brown with brown highlights and a thin bubbly head that left a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S:I could definitely dectect dark fruits like prunes along side brown sugar, pear esters, slight vinous notes, and aromas that remind me of belgian yeast.

T: the pear eaters and dark fruits mesh quite well but the belgian style yeast does add to the style. I did detect brown sugar and honey like notes;pretty complex flavors.

M: the brew was medium in body with a low amount of carbonation and had a sweet, dark fruity, boozy, and sticky finish.

D: it drank decent but was definitely a sipper. Really tasty brew and was a great beer to give thanks to.

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

Thanks goes out to G311 for this brew.


Poured into a chalice a nice brown color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger creamy light tan head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some yeast notes, nice touch of raisins, figs, plums. The taste is very nice malty, slightly yeasty, with some dark fruits. Medium Body. A very nice brew.

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