4 Calling Birds | The Bruery

very good
577 Ratings
no score
Send samples
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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 577 |  Reviews: 190
Photo of biggied
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of kscaldef
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of nrpellegrini
4.78/5  rDev +25.8%
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.

 335 characters

Photo of meatyard
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of pgaveau
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of pburland23
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber (split with my wife) into my Portsmouth Brewery tulip.

Beer pours a very dark brown with some noticeable reddish veins through. Aggressive carbonation provides just a half of finger of light tan head. No noticeable lacing, but nice head retention.

Very Christmas smelling beer. Big whiff of gingerbread, cloves, molasses, some malts and a hint of cinnamon. All the smells work really well together.

Taste is sweet. Some gingerbread, but not as much as in the nose. Sweet dark malts, dark fruits, raisins, spiciness - cloves, cinnamon, etc. There is a pleasing bit of boozy warmth and each sip ends with a slightly toasted brown bread flavor.

Mouthfeel is a touch sticky, but on the most part middling in body. While the carbonation seems fairly boisterous at first, it's actually quite muted. With the exception of the aforementioned touch of warmth, the 11% abv is not at the forefront of this beer.

Overall, my first experience with The Bruery's Christmas beers was pretty pleasing. Nice combination of aromas and flavors that work well together. A nice Christmas sipper.

 1,108 characters

Photo of darkmoon66
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of burnheartsMKE
5/5  rDev +31.6%

Photo of ashleylake
5/5  rDev +31.6%

Photo of Compton25
3/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of twelveinches
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of photomike
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of ibbjamin
3.37/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Paid $12.99 for a 750ml bottle and poured into my La Trappe chalice to review.

Yields a small quarter inch tan colored head after an aggressive pour. Color is very dark brown, but when held to a bright light, it glows dark ruby and is quite clear/transparent. Just a thin layer of retention, but good lacing.

Aroma is quite Christmasy with gingerbread cookies, lightly roasted malts, molasses, Belgian spice and a hint of clove.

Taste is more malty than the nose suggested with chocolate notes coming into play. Still quite gingerbread forward with the clove and Belgian spice adding complexity. The alcohol is very well hidden.

Mouth is a bit light for my liking, seems to be lacking the velvety smoothness that I am fond of for the style. Light to medium body and as I drink more it leans towards thin and watery.

Not one of the better efforts, I probably would pass on this next time, especially considering the price tag.

 930 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
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

Photo of zeff80
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
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 ksimons
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-a very dark brown with ruby highlights and a tan head that disappears pretty quickly and leaves some lacing on the top

S-smell is very nice, rich malts, dark fruits, molasses, and a milk chocolate sweetness

T-tastes of a mix of rich malt and chocolate and spicy ginger bread. There are also a load of spices in this beer, which are overpowering at first but mellow out as the beer warms. Ends with a very light bitterness.

M-full body, light to medium carbonation, fairly smooth for the high ABV

Overall I really liked the smell and I liked the taste, a nice take on a holiday beer.

 588 characters

Photo of Rickythejeweler
4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of RichH55
4/5  rDev +5.3%

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

On the fourth day of Christmas my wife bought for me...

Poured into my Cigar City snifter. Thanks for returning it Huhzubendah!

A: Looks like an Imperial Brown Ale: Murky, burnt brown color, with a slight head that was only a shade or so lighter that the vat of liquid below it.

S: While it wasn't extremely potent, what I got resemble a licorice infused, liquified, Gingerbread house... complete with candy and all. Oh... and don't forget the chocolate. I got lots of those notes too.

T: First off, this had a VERY smooth finish, however, on the first few notes, I got a plastic character that resemble a brand spanking new tarp. After that went away after a couple of sips, I really started to enjoy this: Gingerbread, plums, figs, and raisons were all present without being too funky.

M: This was a very sticky brew (I noticed that several times as my lips touched the glass), but not syrupy or too sweet in the least bit. There was virtually no lacing, but that wasn't the point of this brew anyway.

O: Actually this was ridiculously drinkable considering the high ABV. I will definitely pick up a bottle for the cellar before this one completes its run. Now if only I could get the first one... ISO: PiaPT; FT: My right arm!

 1,235 characters

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

Thanks to James for the bottle. Cheers!

Deep ruby tinged mahogany colored body. The body is not opaque, but it is close. Pour is fairly clean, no sediment noted. Two finger brown sugar colored head. The head works its way back slowly, ultimately leaving a modest ring around the top. Minimal lacing left clinging to the glass.

The aroma is very warm, appropriate for a holiday beer. Ginger bread and molasses are dominant. Bits of molasses and brown bread are set just behind. A fair amount of spice (clove, allspice and cinnamon) is noted but melds into the more assertive scents. Very cohesive nose.

The flavor really expands and enhances what was picked up in the nose. The gingerbread, molasses and spice are very noticeable and prominent. Bits of chocolate develop on the palate before a tremendous sweetness is revealed. Caramel and macerated raisins as well as a bit of plumb. The yeast characteristics are a bit stronger on the back end than I expected. Very little alcohol flavor.

Medium to full bodied beer. Carbonation is on the higher end of moderate, keeping the beer rather light on the tongue. Finish is long and enjoyable.

4 Calling Birds really nailed the Christmas theme. The flavors are tremendously appropriate, and the higher abv helps one deal with the cold weather or potentially the family. Not my favorite Christmas beer or even beer of the style, an enjoyable one none the less.

 1,411 characters

Photo of Knapp85
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
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 Bendurgin
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared by Andy and poured into a tulip. Gusher upon opening. Pours a dark mahogany brown with a small light tan head that settles.

Allspice in the aroma with hints of cranberries and dates. Ginger bread like aroma rounding out a little bit sweetness. Lots of banana on the pallet with some gingerbread in the background. Hints of milk chocolate with allspice rounding this out.

The body is nice and full with soft carbonation. Overall not bad here. Lots of good flavors.

 472 characters

Photo of andrewinski1
3.69/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks, Derek! This one is a gusher, watch out now! Poured into a wine taster. There is a really dark brown color with a huge foamy head that shrinks to thin lacing.

This smells very delicious. A little bit of sweetness with some spice, spruce, ginger.

The taste starts with the spiced malt, and finishes more typical of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, with some banana and malt.

The body is mediumish, kind of light for the style but by no means bad.

I like this one. There are nice spices but still sticks to the style somewhat.

 529 characters

Photo of codsmith
4.44/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet black with a very slight light tan head that dissipates quickly and only leaves a ring around the edge

S: It has a nice mellow spiced eggnog, graham cracker & ginger bread aroma

T: A nice dark balanced malt bill with a good ratio and mixture of spice. It finishes off with a good amount of bitterness.

M: A fairly thin and light mouth-feel. Carbonation is low.

O: A very unique and interesting beer. It seems to have a great grasp on aroma and taste for a holiday beer. Nothing is overdone and there is a nice ratio of ingredients.

 551 characters

Photo of Besteffen82
4/5  rDev +5.3%

4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
3.8 out of 5 based on 577 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.