4 Calling Birds | The Bruery

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4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds
BA SCORE
3.81/5
Very Good
577 Ratings
4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
The Bruery
California, United States
thebruery.com

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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!

Added by Thorpe429 on 10-25-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
-
Reviews:
190
Ratings:
577
pDev:
13.39%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
54
Gots:
371
Trade:
28
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 577 |  Reviews: 190
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Bruery Tasting Room. Light brown coloured body with generous 3/4" retained head. Dry, average mouthfeel. Astringent and dangerous kick of alcohol not felt by the spice. Smell is like a sour brown Belgian.cola,Licorice, ginger. Sour and spice and nice, a sipper.

 275 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.22/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: almost no head on a deep dark amber brown body.

S: lots of dark fruit including raisin, plum, fig and cocoa with a nice dark chocolate and vanilla presence. hint of gingerbread and roasted malts.

T: dark chocolate, vanilla, dark molasses, light peppers, dark fruit mostly plum and strawberry, roasted malts, well hidden booze, tart and as usual very complex

M: fairly thin for what I was expecting. moderate carbonation. not very dry for the style.

Overall: this one is really drinkable, more so than I would think. Definitely very complex

 546 characters

Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.77/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at The Bruery Provisions in Orange, CA.

Pours a clear dark reddish brown with a khaki head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. Small dots of lace slide back down into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, dark fruits, and some spice aromas. Taste is of malt, dark fruits, and the spices with ginger coming out as a main flavor. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a prickly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with lots of spices. Nothing too great though.

 507 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of Knapp85
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a really nice reddish brown color with a decent foamy head on top. There wasn't much in the way of lacing or retention here. The smell of the beer had some really nice herbal notes to it along with a touch of what I think smelled like mint. The taste of the beer gave off some Christmas berry notes along with some spices and again some light flavors of mint. The mouthfeel of the beer was soft, gently carbonated and drinkable. Overall I thought this beer was better than the 3 French Hens I had last year. I would probably drink this one again.

 570 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

Photo of metter98
4.17/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark yet clear mahogany in color and poured with a thin dark beige head that quickly faded away, leaving only a thick ring of bubbles on the surface around the edge of the glass.
S: Aromas of spices really stand out in the nose.
T: Quite complex, the flavor is rather malty with notes of spices and a hint of licorice. There is a bit of sweetness.
M: It feels slightly more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation with a bit of smoothness.
O: The alcohol is well masked considering this beer’s strength.

 560 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.07/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served on-draught into a beerflute at The Bruery's tasting room in Placentia. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a half finger head of nice cream, good thickness, and bad retention. Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Heavy wood and spice. Bretts and yeast. Chocolate. A mild strength aroma. Not as good as it sounds to describe.

T: Spice. Badly handled caramel. Some chocolate. An awful wood undertone corrupts it. The spice feels very muted, making it bland and boring. Some licorice is present, especially on the finish. Balanced but restrained, like it's held back.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Pretty thick.

Dr: An easy to drink high ABV beer that falls short of its potential. I wouldn't have it again. I feel bad for anyone that pays the bottle price for this.

C+

 760 characters

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of brentk56
3.52/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a cola color with a very modest head that quicly becomes a ringlet, leaving very little lacing behind

Smell: Gingerbread soaked in molasses, with undertones of dark fruit and burnt bread

Taste: Molasses flavors dominate the front-end, overwhelming the gingerbread, though the spice cake flavors do emerge by mid-palate; rather sweet, after the swallow, with berry and sweet cherry flavors as well as a hint of banana

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying, as the sweet flavor dominance on the finish and the molasses, up front, provide a rather un-balanced character; not really a BSDA - more like an Imperial Winter Warmer

 714 characters

Photo of oline73
3.13/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at Max's. Poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours an opaque mahogany with a layer of creamy off white head that fades to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Spices and dark fruit dominate up front. I think this one smelled a bit like tomato. Some dark malt as well.

Taste: Sweet and malty with some Belgian spices. There are some Christmas spices in there as well, picking up anise. The finish is sweet with some of the spice lingering.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side of medium. The carbonation is tingly with a dry finish.

Overall: I was a bit disappointed with this beer. I wanted the spices to be a bit more prevalent and balanced. Not a huge fan of anise.

 700 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a dark, dark burgundy color with a one-finger, tan head of bubbly foam. It had nice retention and left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of nutmeg, licorice and some dried fruits. There were mild notes of biscuity malt.

T - It tasted of black licorice, Christmas spices -like nutmeg and cinnamon. Nice bready malt backbone with a touch of dried fruit flavors.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish a subtle alcohol warmth.

O - This is a really complex beer with good flavors. Nicely done. I'd like to try more from the series.

 595 characters

Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled in 10/2011. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense tan head with decent retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Minimal spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of raisin, prune, caramel, molasses, licorice, dark chocolate, roasted malt, toast, light char, light coffee, gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, pepper, allspice, dark bread, herbal, and roasted/yeast earthiness; with some very slight booze. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, spice, and yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, dark chocolate, cocoa, molasses, caramel, toast, dark bread, nutmeg, roasted malt, light coffee, gingerbread, clove, cinnamon, licorice, allspice, light char, herbal, and roasted/yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of dark fruit, dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel, molasses, toast, dark bread, light coffee, roast, gingerbread, licorice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, light char, allspice, herbal, and roasted/yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity, balance, and robustness of dark/roasted malt, spice, and yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/spice balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a creamy, moderately slick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice spiced Belgian dark ale. All around good balance, complexity, and robustness of dark/roasted malt, yeast, and spice flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,726 characters

Photo of largadeer
3.65/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle aged for 1 year. As a gingerbread inspired beer, this more or less hits the mark. The body is a hazy dark brown topped by two fingers of dense, clinging froth. The nose is heavy on molasses, tart dark fruit and caramelized banana, with an undertone of spice. A year of aging has caused the spices to drop off considerably; I remember them being almost overwhelming when the beer was fresh. Nutmeg seems the dominant spice now, with a touch of ginger. On the palate it's still somewhat boozy and could probably benefit from another year of age. Banana and dark fruit esters wash the palate first, followed by rich molasses and a slightly astringent and bitter kick of nutmeg and allspice. Sweetness is moderate, not cloying by any means, and there's a sturdy dark malt backbone that does taste a hell of a lot like gingerbread. The finish grows a bit harsh after a while, making it a chore to drink more than one pour. Further aging may improve this. As it stands, it's a solid but flawed beer. If I had any more bottles, I'd give them at least another year.

 1,070 characters

Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of DrBier
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Bruery "4 Calling Birds"
750 ml bottle, capped.
$12.99 @ State Line Liquors, Elkton, MD

If there's a bottling date I can't find it, but let's face it, we know that it's at least eight months old, if not more. It was stored upright, and gently moved, and the first pour was spectacularly clear.

In the nose it's softly chocolatey, a touch fig-like, and gently spicy with notes of ginger, probably cinnamon, and what seems like nutmeg but might not be.

The mouthfeel is creamy, even silky, but also with a gentle bristle of carbonation that comes on with a light bit of energy but then fades readily away.

Not surprisingly, the flavor echoes what the nose has suggested. The malt is a bit more caramelish, and also even slightly fudge-like... ... still there's a bit of actual golden grain flavor to it too. Regarding the fruitiness, there is a little bit of fig, but there's also some raisin as well, both dark and golden. I love that kind of dried-fruit sugariness, and the spices work really well with it.

So here's where the aging comes in. I had this several times on tap when it was first released, and I wouldn't say that it's really changed that much. It's pretty much the same beer, but the spices are slightly softened, and I think the alcohol is even more subdued. I remember it having just a slight bit more zest and zing. And I think that the fruitiness has softened a touch as well, becoming more like dark dried-fruit than it initially was (possibly because an anise-like character has risen a little bit).

So was aging it a bit a success? Yes, I think so... it's certainly not a failure, but at the same time I don't think I would age it any more. On the other hand, you never know what's going to happen (absolute greatness?), but I sense a little hint of oxidation sneaking in and I'm not sure where that might head to with another quarter year or more on it.

Overall I thought it was a remarkable beer. I shared a few bottles with a table of friends during the 2011 holiday season, and (with the exception of the Lagunitas Sucks, which was great as well, but completely different) everyone felt that this was the best seasonal beer we'd tried because it offered all of the spice that a beer like this needs without going too far.

 2,259 characters

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

A: Pours a clear very dark mahogany in color with light to moderate amounts of gentle visible carbonation near the surface of the beer and a fair amount of garnet red highlights. The beer has a finger tall dark tan head that quickly fades to a small patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Minimal amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark fruits and malts with a bunch of spices - licorice/anise really stands out but there are more subtle aromas of nutmeg and cinnamon.

T: Upfront there is a malty flavor with more than a touch of dark fruit flavors followed by a light amount of sweetness. There are moderate amounts of spices including anise/licorice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: For as big a beer as this is, the alcohol is really well hidden. This beer is pretty easy to drink and there is a good amount of complexity to the flavor and smell.

 978 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.67/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had at Armsby Abbey Ho-Ho Belgian Christmas.

Creamy decent head with nice lacing, murky super dark brown iced tea color.

Nose is an interesting blend of reddish malts, caramel and molasses, candy and toffee, nutty with spices like nutmeg and ginger, licorice, plenty of gingerbread and banana bread, hints of dark fruit as well.

Taste is rich, toasty malts, caramel and reddish brown malts, molasses, caramel, candy syrup, dark fruits, ginger spice but less bread, little juicy, some estery booze that borders fuesel, nutty malts, hint of licorice and anise, and light banana bread. Hints of tart fruit towards the finish as well as a little chocolate. Finishes bitter, sticky and but syrupy, bit more booze, nutty spices, bit more boozy esters, tannic. Interesting flavors but all over the map. This really needs a few years for all the various flavors to settle and meld.

Mouth is med to heavier bodied, fairly boozy but not too much, nice carb.

Overall not bad, nice spices, ginger and banana bread, dark fruits and syrupy sweetener additions, bit of booze, a bit too sweet as well. The biggest mark against this is the various contrasts of many different flavors. They would all be decent if balanced well and melded well, but instead it's all over the map and needs some time to settle.

 1,296 characters

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4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
Beer rating: 3.81 out of 5 with 577 ratings
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