4 Calling Birds
The Bruery

4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds
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Belgian Strong Dark Ale
3.84 | pDev: 13.02%
The Bruery
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds
Notes: Spiced Strong Dark Ale. The Twelve Days of Christmas series continues! We took inspiration from the traditional winter warmer for our fourth verse, integrating gingerbread spices into a robust dark ale. Notes of licorice & banana bread mingle with dark fruit, molasses and bitter chocolate for a perfect cold weather sipper!
Reviews: 192 | Ratings: 580 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by MaxSpang:
Photo of MaxSpang
2.7/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Enjoyed on Christmas Eve. Served in a Chimay goblet.


The beer pours a deep, dark reddish brown - almost black. It had a mocha head with large bubbles, and disappeared quickly. As I drank, there was no head and no visible carbonation. Large alcohol legs grab the edge of the glass. Not a bad looking brew.


Slight booze hits the nose at first, but isn't off putting at all. There is a ton of spice character, including ginger and perhaps allspice. Lots of dark fruits come through, and there's even some roasted malt character. Chocolate even comes through, making this beer have a complex aroma. Lots of stuff going on - all of them nice!


Whoa, what a crazy beer. The first taste I get is a pure molasses flavor, and not really in a good way. I taste some ginger, and the beer has some slight tartness, and lots of Belgian spice character. I definitely taste ginger which gives it a slight kick at the end of the tongue. Booze comes through, but for the most part the alcohol is pretty well hidden. I hate to say it, but there's a hint of "soy sauce" in this guy...


There's a tiny bit of carbonation in this brew. The body is medium, and it finishes slightly dry. It's not as thich as I expected, and is fairly drinkable for a beer with such high ABV.


I'm pretty disappointed in this one. It's not bad at all, but it just doesn't work for me. I'm curious how this will age for the next 8 years, and I can only assume it will smooth out and not be as all over the place as it is now. Is it worth buying? Maybe for the collection aspect, but I would recommend aging this bad boy for awhile.


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More User Reviews:
Photo of BARFLYB
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap.

Four Calling Birds glides into the glass looking dark brown/mahagony in color with a fair amount of dense tannish/brown foam up top. It sits there for a bit leaving spots on the glass, great retention.

Smell comes out with a nice pungent array of holiday/winter spice. A nice plum accent with some dark brown sugar and caramel sweetness bursting from the glass. Cherry with alot of warming, this one smells nice.

And tastes nice too. 4 calling birds has a lot of spice character that is not so large it lingers. Candy apple, caramel swirl, cherry, some bready Belgian yeast and candi sweetness. Not usually my thing, but in small doses everything is good.

Feel is nice and juicy and sweet, but not over the hill. Spices up front with a nice sweet malty background. It's carbed up to where it needs to be in the style. It's a bit hot on the 1st few sips but that subsides after the flavor builds.

Im not sure if this beer has the legs to go 8 duckets. It seems to be drinking fine now but a year or two may tone down that alcohol. I could of went for more, no off flavors for me at least and the slight warmth from the alc. was nice on this cold night.

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Photo of JRod1969
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
2.93/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Deep dark mahogany. Dark red/brown. Head is fluffy with a loose structure. Solid ring and thin cap at edges. Stronger carbonation than expected. Slightly hazed.

Smell: Bruery Belgian yeast. Candi sugar and gingerbread cookies. Ginger is actually nice and slightly earthy and used in good measure. Sine hints of caramel, but it really smells like a cookies. Sweet and gingery. Other spices from the yeast, clove and allspice, round it out. Malts are on the sweet side.

Taste: Oh hi, candi sugar. Ginger assault. Yeast is spicy and drops some clove. Very yeasty. So much ginger and yeast. Complete lack of balance. It's all spice and candi sugar. Not cloyingly sweet, but super clean sweet. Almost no aftertaste. Definite lack of depth.

Mouthfeel: Full body and a touch dry on the finish. Carbonation is definitely too high.

Overall: I'm really curious to see where this goes in the next 8 years. Maybe it will develop some depth. Maybe.

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Photo of Besteffen82
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of bradner
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%

Photo of PEIhop
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%

Photo of scootny
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is the first of the series I have had on tap and it is by far the best of them to date. Dark brown fluid with head the color of espresso foam bur much thicker. Decent lacing and retention. Smell is sweet and holiday spiced with a yeast note that is definitely a house trademark as it reminds me of Autumn Maple. Dark fruits and light Belgian funk. Some roasted grains and caramel give a warmth to the aroma and some dinner roll breadiness. Taste is sweet burnt caramel and spices. Mild licorice, figs and toffee notes combine with a faint mochachino. Some nice bitterness has a hint of metal that betrays the high abv as it goes lightly fusel. Dry finish leaves a bit of gingerbread dancing in your mouth. Feel is creamy and thickish with the perfect carbonation balancing the sticky light syrup that sits in my glass. Supple on the tongue in spite of the weight. A super brew that makes an excellent holiday sipper on this New Years Eve. I find myself sipping a little quicker than I otherwise would because it is so delicious and delightful to the mouth. The alcohol is so well integrated that you just go for it in spite of what you know because it doesn't really show itself. nice job Patrick and Co.

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Photo of Amdy
5/5  rDev +30.2%

Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a tan head that fades rather quickly. Good lacing and not transparent, no carbonation

Lots of gingerbread in the aroma, clove, and cinnamon. Very pleasing

Tastes of dry gingerbread and dry cloves. Just a hint of bittering hops. Light malt background and a hint of Belgian candied sugar. Very easy to drink and not too complex

Medium body and nice carbonation. Between a sipper and a constant drinker

A very good beer and well made, nothing to brag about but makes a great Xmas beer

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Photo of codynevels
3/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of nrpellegrini
4.78/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours black with a thin tan head. Laces slightly. Pours with some carbonation.
S: Sweet malts, cinnamon spices, sugar.
T: Smooth caramel and molasses. So much malt and sugar sweetness.
M: It has some body, silky smooth going down.
O: For a Belgian Strong Dark Ale this is exactly what I want. I'm confused why this beer is only a B.

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Photo of rawfish
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of beerthulhu
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A two finger butter-scotch head has a bready cake like texture with a good stay of retention. A murky English red pour appears coal black in the vessel. Light carbonation beads rise and fuel the head which leaves a respectable half coating of lace.

S: Mixture of black and chocolate licorice on the nose. Fennel, dark fruit, oats with some ginger and caraway spicing.

T: The flavor holds sweet dark malts and dark fruit with licorice, figs and a smooth dark roasted barley and oats backing. Sweet creamer and vanilla highlights has some dark buttery caramel sweetness and a silty bitterness with a hint of ginger alcohol spicing. A touch of fruity yeastiness, plums rounds things out.

M: silty smooth, warming with an alcohol spiciness with dark fruit lining the tongue with a dark malt bitterness being left behind.

O: Overall a really nice flavor, smooth, complex, very polished and cleanly brewed with a dark fruit and spicy nature and glow of alcohol that hits it just right.

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Photo of mcgwire756
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of gearzstang
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of lwburns15
3/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of philbe311
3.94/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Just shy of three fingers worth of audibly fizzy effervescent medium brown colored head... Modest retention gives way to a thin veil of lacing and a slightly thicker collar... A couple of slow paced carbonation streaks can be seen towards the top of the glass... The color is a mix of medium-to-dark brown and ruby red...

S - Dark fruit notes... A brisk spiciness... Faint gingerbread notes... A slight Belgian yeast component as well... Wonderful balance... Everything you expect from a seasonal Belgian Strong Dark Ale...

T - Grape juice... Gingerbread... Holiday spices - mainly cinnamon and clove... A faint Belgian yeast presence...

M - Full bodied... Uber dense... Uber sticky... Very lightly carbonated... The finish is a bit chalky... I can't place my finger on it, but there is something about the finish that is slightly off putting...

D - A definite holiday sipper... A bit cloying with a slightly unusual finish in terms of mouthfeel... Putting those two minor complaints aside, this is an exceptional Belgian Strong Dark Ale... A couple of small tweaks would due wonders for this Bruery offering... Additionally, the 11% ABV packs quite a bit of a punch...

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Photo of BYOFB
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of javincik
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of CelticAleMan
3/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of jcone17
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%

Photo of CharlieMurphy
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black w/ brown trim. light caramel head that is retained at 1/2" the whole way down.

S: Peat, figs, whiskey, port, cardamom, wine alcohol. uncommon aromas.

T: Candied figs, chocolate, port wine, licorice hard candy.

M: a little sweet, not really cloying, carbonation is silky low.

O: Pretty much a homerun for a holiday beer. It's actually significantly less sweet than other holiday beers, I like that.

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Photo of JAHMUR
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of raffy313
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle poured into my "The Bruery" tulip(finally got the chance to use it!). Aquired through an awesome IP trade with crusian. Thanks again, Seth! No bottle/best before date, so assuming this is from the last '11 release.

This Belgian Strong pours a dark, dark brown with only a bit of visability coming through, but only when held up to light. A dark tan 2 finger head, which dissapates to a small ring rather quickly and leaves behind little to no lacing.

Aromas are dark fruit(raisin, plum and some fig), with a good amount of clove, almost pumpkin beer-like spiciness. Assuming this is from Belgian yeast. Also some hints of dark roasted malts. Quite abit of complexity coming from the aromas.

Tastes follow the nose almost to a "T", with the spiciness coming through abit more than what I'd prefer. Not overpowering at all, as the other flavor are still present.

Medium body with a very disappointingly low carbonation feel, which obviously take away from the overall drinkability.

This was my first ever Bruery offering and very glad to have had the chance to trying it, but because there are so many other great Belgian strongs available to me... I probably won't be seeking this one out again.

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4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 580 ratings