4 Calling Birds | The Bruery

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4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds

Brewed by:
The Bruery
California, United States

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.

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Reviews: 190 | Ratings: 576
Photo of impending
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml into a tulip. A deep opaque chestnut, an encouraging pour produces only a minor milk chocolate colored head which faded quickly to a ring, better lacing.

Aroma of a belgian stout. Roasty bittersweet belgian chocolate. All low notes, tiny musty.

Surprising spiciness accompanies the stout yet without much depth. The dark fruits haven't ripened. Aftertaste with a strong tobacco side evaporates ever so slow, doesn't evolve, not really a strength. Alcohol would be welcomed if more forward. Medium to full bodied mouthfeel.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL champagne style bomber poured into a tulip

Pours a dark mahogany, nearly brown, with a good sized mocha colored cap. Little to no lacing. Head falls rather quickly to form a thin layer of foam.

The aroma is of ginger bread cookies and alcohol soaked plums. Molasses, cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg all in equal doses. Sweet, but not off-putting.

The flavor profile follows the nose. Sweet molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar through the middle before some alcohol and dark plums come through in the finish.

Syrupy, full mouthfeel with a good dose of booze. The finish is sweet with a touch of warming.

This is a nice beer, and I get the holiday theme, but I wasn't enamored with it. I bought two, so I'll see if I can sit on the other one for the 8 years it advises. I'll report back.

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Photo of benbking
3.99/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown, very minimal lacing.
The smell, as others have noted, is the quite exceptional.
It smells like the Belgian Strong Dark ale of my dreams.
The taste is a slight let down after the smell. Ginger and Plum and getting the right toy but the wrong color on Christmas morning as a 5 year old might experience.
Fairly smooth but not quite where I'd like it to be. I'm hoping aging will improve.
Overall a satisfactory beer and the best smelling beer ever. Give it a shot! I look forward to editing this after a year when I crack a bottle with age on it.

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Photo of kevanb
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This Belgian style dark ale pours a very dark brown color that borders on black with hints of red when held to the light. The color is unlike most Belgian Style dark ales as the black is so predominant it appears to be more porter or stout like than Belgian. The head is a really thick dense light caramel color that has very nice retention and great lacing. It has a very pleasant holiday aroma, lots of gingerbread and nutmeg spices as well as some darker fruits, reminiscent of plums or dates. The flavors are a bit different, not as spice laden as the nose, a bit darker and less explosive. The gingerbread is certainly apparent, but the dark fruits really show their stuff, but the balance is interesting. The resulting flavor reminds me of tobacco, and not in a bad way. The finish is heavier on the spices and adds that burst to the flavors. The beer does have a really nice smooth body that is a bit creamier than other darker Belgian style ales, which I find adds a nice touch to the holiday spices

Verdict: I found this to be a really interesting and enjoyable beer to drink. Definitely put me in the mood for the holidays, mostly the delicious deserts that the holidays provide. I’ll be interested to see how this beer fares after a year in the cellar.

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Photo of adman08
3.72/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a very dark mahogany. Not much head but a nice ring forms on the surface of the beer.
S-Very sweet aroma with a hint of cloves of nutmeg and some biscuit.
T-Initial sweetness along with some roasted malt and biscuit and a hint of chocolate. Fairly strong alcohol.
M-Slightly sweet start with good carbonation. Finishes with some roasted dryness.
Overall, a pretty good Belgian style dark strong ale. This is one of my favorite styles, this one is good but not great. There's a little too much spice, I look for more of the traditional dark sugar sweetness.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into tulip in the 40s, reviewed into 50s.

Pours with 2F of tan head over an opaque black body. Some lacing, as it fades to a solid ring.

Aromas are full of deep, dark fruits. Plums and raisins, toffee, shoo-fly pie.

Lot of fig and prune in the flavor. Rich holiday spices take a back seat. As it warms, I'm getting soy sauce and brown sugar reduction sauce. Some Jagermeister in there, too. This thing drinks like a doppelbock, not a BSDA.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy.

I sure hope this ages well, as I picked up 4 bottles.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip as per the bottle.

4.0 A: Black color. Two and a half fingers of dense frothy, light brown head. Retention is pretty good given the ABV and no lacing is left.

4.5 S: Smells like a Belgian pumpkin pie taking sanctuary in a ginger bread house. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, pepper and gingerbread. Candi sugar. Underneath there is molasses, caramel, and candied plums. Booze pokes through, but overall this is quite nice. Spices work really well with the base.

3.5 T: The taste is good, but it's a bit more muddled than the nose. The spices join the caramel and in doing so lose their individual flavors a bit. However, the bigger problem is the sweetness. Huge plum and prune flavor, but sweet sweet sweet. Sugar plums (whatever they are) must be at work. Nice Belgian spiciness. Molasses. A bit of booze, but not too much.

3.5 M: Full body. Good moderate carbonation. I like the full body, but the large amounts of residual sugar cause the alpha amylase to ball up in my mouth. Otherwise fine.

3.5 D: This is a typical Bruery beer in that it's super sweet, seemingly underattenuated and somewhat muddled. However, this is one of the better versions of it. I don't look forward to attaining diabetes when the full 12 days vert gets consumed.

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Photo of flannelman808
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Dark brown and showing just a little bit of a copper coloring around the edges through light. Retention is ok and not much lacing to speak of.

S: Gingerbread and dark fruit (plum) lead the way.

T: Very rich milk chocolate swirled with dark fruit takes center stage. Coco powder ginger bread spice finish is more of an afterthought. This is pretty underwhelming for mainly that reason.

M: chocolate mousse

O: underwhelming and overly sweet this beer is one pretty much one dimensional.

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Photo of WestValleyIPA
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my Stone IRS tulip. Incredibly dark, looks like espresso. Very dark roasty brown with a light brown, thin head that rests on top. Lots of roast on the nose. Belgian yeast spiciness, not to mention actual spice. Cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg definitely. Has quite a nice subtle licorice hint. Sweet candied sugar. Tastewise, more of the same. Incredibly rich. Beyond full flavored. A touch of roast and more of that Belgian spicness. The licorice is more pronounced and the sweetness that permeated the nose comes through. More cinnamon. The mouthfeel is perfect. Maybe the creamiest beer I've ever had. The bubbles are tiny, no prickles. Fan-freaking-tastic beer.

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Photo of Dope
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A very dark brown/red pour. Nice fluffy chocolate milk colored head. Great lacing and retention.

S: Wow. One of the rare 5s. It smells like grandma's house at christmas. Gingerbread cookies. Lots of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and ginger. Like spiced bread too. Amazing. Sometimes I even swear I smell apple pie. The smell is pure black magic, there is no other explanation!

T: Similar to the nose but with tons of molasses and caramel. Lots of spices in here still making it almost borderline harsh. Super duper sweet. No real indication of alcohol despite the 11%.

M: Pretty syrupy, almost cloying from the sugar. Otherwise nice and full bodied.

O: Great christmas beer. Honestly the taste was almost a letdown after smelling it, but that speaks more to the amazing aroma than anything. I spent more time smelling this than drinking it. The taste would have been a 4 if it wasn't a bit too sweet.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle,

A: Pours brown with a medium tan head, solid retention, good lace.

S: Dark spiced winter bread, truly gingerbread.

T: Full malt flavour, dark sugar and gingerbread. The sugar is a bit much at the finish, but overall the flavour is quite tasty.

M: Full-bodied, a tad cloying in the finish, pretty smooth.

O: Another great winter beer from The Bruery. A tad underattenuated for me, but that's a minor qualm. Not as good as 3 French Hens, the best in the series, but this is probably second best tied with an aged 2 Turtle Doves. Looking forward to Five Golden Rings.

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Photo of metter98
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.57/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a very dark brown with good carbonation leaving a nice tannish colored cap

S: Lots of spices; allspice, cinnamon and ginger mainly with a smell of grains

T: Wow. Why does this beer have so much gas? Allspice, cinnamon, clove, molasses, toasted grains, caramel. Belching like crazy.

M: Big body, too gassy, sticky and sweet

O: A cut above average

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Photo of ehammond1
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

The Bruery Provisions
Orange, CA

Dark brown with ruby edges and a thin khaki colored head--lines and dots of lacing left down the glass.

The best part of this beer is its aroma, and it's superb! This is one of the most successful "specialty" aromas I've experienced: fresh gingerbread cookies, cinnamon, brown bread, and all-spice. This reminds me, literally, of my grandmother's Persimmon cookies she bakes every Christmas.

The flavor is disappointing after such a wonderful aroma. The ginger/bread is quite muted, and while still tasty, the flavors seem hollow and lacking: brown bread, a touch of spice, and a moderate level of bitterness.

Medium mouthfeel with ample carbonation, and zero alcohol presence. This beer does not drink like an 11% ABV beer.

A lovely Christmas ale. I can't wait to open a bottle of this on a cold night.

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Photo of CenCalMario
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap and Provisions and had it via bottle a few days later.

Nice strong Belgian dark ale. Enjoyed it. Poured from bottle with a good head, nice carbonation in the bottle and in solution. No gushing or explosion.

Lots of flavors and tastes in this one. Ginger is prevalent in the noise and taste. Love all the candi sugar (residual sugar). Can see this one doing some great things in the barrel aged version.

At $11 a bottle it's a good price and I'm looking forward to getting some more.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ provisions

Look: Very dark brown with traces of red throughout. 1/4 inch tan head and good retention

Smell: Notes of gingerbread cinnamon and other baking spices. The nose is by far the best thing about this beer. Definitely reminds you of baked cookies and cakes around the holidays.

Taste: Based on the nose I was totally let down by the flavor. Subtle notes of apple pie and gingerbread are there but not much else

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation

Overall: Its an ok beer like the other 12 days of christmas beers I have had by the bruery. I personally think this beer is prime and ready to drink now and will not benefit much with age if at all.

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Photo of NWer
4.65/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at the Elliott Bay Pizza & Pub in Mill Creek in a Duvel tulip.
Appearance is dark brown smallish head.
Take a basic Belgian Strong Dark Ale and spice it up for the holidays and you have 4 Calling Birds. Ginger on the nose and ginger in the taste. Sweet. Very sweet in the aftertaste that makes you aware of the upcoming holidays whether you're ready or not.
A fantastic job in my opinion. A great seasonal that blows your typical winter warmer away.
Buy this.
By the way, the 11% ABV is well hidden so be careful with this one.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

897th Review on BA
Bottle to Bruery Snifter
750 ML

2011 Vintage

Thanks to Gurudel for sharing.

App- A dark crimson pour with some dark brown highlights. A one finger fast receding head with some great cling and lace.

Smell- A good spicy yeast note with more ginger vs. spice. A little bit more of a liquid cookie.

Taste- Same as the nose with more spice on the taste than the nose. A good bit of a thin booze flavor but the 11% is well hidden. Not "hot" or too overdone.

Mouth- A bit medium bodied with a good medium/high carbonation level. Residual ginger and spice.

Drink- I think this one is probably my favorite. A bit more out of the box holiday witht some spice and nutmeg.

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Photo of phichifiji00
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into raster glass.

Appearance: pours deep mahogany, minimal tan head that quickly fades. Almost no lacing.

Smell: cinnamon, nutmeg, Ginger, gingerbread, sweet, malty.

Taste: Ginger, gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, oak, malty.

Mouthfeel: full bodied, light carbonation, crisp, zesty, a bit boozy, warming.

Overall: a very complex drinkable big beer. The gingerbread aroma/taste is very prevalent. A great Christmas/winter warmer.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from the October Rare Beer Club shipment. Served in a Bruery tulip.

Pours a very, very dark brown that is bordering on black. Initially foamy light mocha head rises high but falls fairly quickly, leaving a nice collar behind. The nose brings forward a bit of molasses and toasty gingerbread. Light sweetness and a touch of clove.

The flavor fits the holidays quite well. Lots of gingerbread spices with clove and a faint bit of cinnamon, allspice, or something like that. A bit of dark molasses is there along with mild sweetness. I doesn't quite come together all the way, though it is promising. Medium body with low-to-medium carbonation. No indication that this one is 11%. Quite tasty, but didn't quite meld. There are some slight plastic notes to the nose and finish that take away from what is otherwise a nice spiced beer.

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4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
3.8 out of 5 based on 576 ratings.
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