4 Calling Birds | The Bruery

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4 Calling Birds4 Calling Birds
Very Good
578 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 578 |  Reviews: 191
Photo of tclapper
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of Immortale25
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Cigar City snifter.

A- Pours an opaque black color with a 1/4 inch light tan head that doesn't hang around long. It results in a paper-thin ring around the glass's edge with light foam patterns on the surface. Barely any lacing.

S- There we go. Smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, spruce and even some chai tea. All of which are followed by a slightly chocolaty waft of malt. Also a note of Belgian yeast that, combined with the spices, is reminiscent of potpourri.

T- Ok, I thought that smelled familiar. I'm sorry, but this tastes exactly like a spicy Belgian version of Dogfish Head's Chicory Stout...only twice the alcohol. Which is masked quite well if I do say so myself. So it's great! There's also an abundant roasted chocolate and almond flavor.

M- Low-medium carbonation. Kind of a sting from the spice and alcohol burn but it rides with the rest of the brew relatively harmoniously.

O- Quite an original Christmas/winter ale that's high on the balance scale. The Bruery is quickly becoming one of my new favorites.

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Photo of cnally
2.66/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A nice little pickup from my favorite store, Stoney's, to cap off a night where we put up our XMas decos.

A deep dark sludge of a brew, totally opaque, more like a imp stout than a bel dark. Tan head.

Aroma comes off excessively woodsy. Certainly a little off, just kind of ascerbic and overly spiced.

The flavor wavers between being too bitter and too sweet. There are slight nutmeg--cinnamon type flavors but are wholly drowned out by the cloying finish. Imagine woodsy eggnog.

Oh yeah, speaking of eggnog--the mouthfeel is creepily similar to it. Too thick. Seriously did they add egg whites to this?

OK. Did I make a mistake buying this? Here's my problem. This is definately not ready for consumption. It needs a year, two, maybe three before some of these agressive characteristics blend together, the feel mellows...but then why rush it to public fresh? If it's on the shelf, it should be drinkable. And this one isn't.

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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.

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

750 no capped bottle served cool into a goblet.

Deep brown color with good clarity and thick head. It settles quickly and leaves no lacing.

Aroma is sweet but with unpleasant undertones of spice and medicine.

Flavor isn't much better. The malts seem to be pretty solid but the spices and yeast to overpower everything.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and the carbonation is a little too high.

Overall disappointing considering the Bruery's reputation and the price. Should get better with age though.

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Photo of nataku00
3.2/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap poured into a snifter glass. Beer pours a dark brown, with some lighter browns at the edge of the glass with no head. I could swirl up a thin tan colored collar of small bubbles though. Some carbonation visible at the edge of the glass, a few bubbles clinging to the glass, but not too active.

Nose is some milk chocolate malt, dark fruit in raisin and dark cherry, some light clove. As it warmed a little, there was a bit more spice to it, but not really the gingerbread that it claims. Fairly underwhelming.

Taste follows the nose, with milk chocolate, and some dark fruit flavors. That's pretty much it though, chocolate and lightly toasted malt through the middle of the tongue, finishing with some light sweetness and some light clove and nutmeg. Again, not much ginger in the flavor.

Medium bodied with some decent carbonation, lightly tingly on the tongue. Alcohol is well hidden, but the beer itself was a bit bland for a strong dark ale. These Christmas releases from The Bruery haven't been very impressive.

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Photo of JohnPhillippi
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of lackenhauser
5/5  rDev +31.2%

Photo of Gmann
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown color with a small yet dense light brown head that settled into a solid ring.

The aroma is quite spicy with nutmeg and ginger. There is a sugary fig sweetness, perhaps plum, to go along with a pumpernickle bready malt. Some noticable alcohol vapors that were not all that pleasant.

Lots of alcohol flavors hit pretty hard and when added to the sharp spice, it is a bit unpleasant. The ginger and nutmeg are sharp but does go well with the rich brown malt. Definitely some nuttiness and candied fruit, like a fruitcake. A nice roasted malt, perhaps chocolate, sneaks in at the end.

The feel is moderate with very fizzy carbonation, which masks the flavors some. A bit of a malty bitterness on the palate but is much needed to offset the sweetness. A tad sticky and the ABV is out in force.

Disappointed in this beer. It has the making of a good beer but its too boozy and too carbonated. Really does need some aging.

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Photo of Brez07
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank last week. 750ml bottle poured into an Allagash glass

A: The beer is a dark color with amber highlights. Slightly translucent. Pour leaves a 1 finger toasted head. Brief lacing on the glass. Decent retention of a ring around the glass

S: Ginger, cinnamon powder, dark fruit (most likely fig). Minor notes of alcohol. Pretty interesting, albeit not really intense

T: Has some aspects from the nose, including the cinnamon powder. Ginger and tobacco come through. Slightly sweet. Dry, somewhat tannic. Small amount of roasted malt in the finish

M: Medium bodied. Good level of carbonation. Drying finish

D: This is a pretty solid beer drinking well right now. Definitely liked it better than last years offering. As always, we'll see where this ends up at the end of the series

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Photo of drgarage
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Toronado SF.

This is an ambitious, strong, and somewhat bizarre Christmas entry from the Bruery. Really intense flavor, lots of nutmeg, but also a taste that evolves as you drink it considerably. On my first sip, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to finish it. By the last, I was contemplating getting another. It's almost an intellectual challenge drinking this beer. Every sip I took, I was trying to identify what the flavors were. This was not a crisp, balanced flavor profile where you can pick out vanilla, bourbon, coffee, cinnamon, etc. It's maximalist and a lot of fun. I do think it will be better with a bit of age. Right now, it's a bit of a bazooka.

Probably my favorite Bruery Christmas beer since Partridge was new.

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Photo of John_M
4.42/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours a root beer brown color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose, this is just great stuff. The complex nose offers up brown sugar, pumpkin, all spice, nutmeg and light vanilla. This beer smells very reminiscent of anchor's x-mas beer, except with just a "tad" more alcohol. As good as this beer smells, it tastes even better. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but is a bit richer than I was expecting. There is something of sherry, nutty flavor in the finish, that along with the considerable chcolate and vanilla, leads one to believe this beer has spent some time in an oak barrel. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, with a long, rich, spice infused finish.

I'm not sure anyone is doing a better job with this style of holiday ale spice bomb. This is just flat out delicious.

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.34/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark cola brown into a Bruery Tulip with a massive head and some chunky stuff that settled on the edges of the glass after the foam settled.

S: Pungently spiced belgian dark ale with cinnamon, clove, brown sugar, dark fruit and a strong roasty aroma.

T: Holy spiceballs, this is flavorful. Slightly too flavorful even with the spices to drink more than one or two of unless you like that type of thing but delicious. I was first hit with a fruity belgian ale, bordering Imperial Brown ale with char flavors hinting in below the spices that are all over. Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Christmas in a bottle with extra caramelized sugars and allspice? There are a lot of different spices in here and they are welcome for this time of year IMO.

M: Medium to thick in mouthfeel, slightly syrupy but dry/ not cloying with a kick of booze at the finish. The carbonation is medium although seemed over-carbonated upon opening. The booze will clearly straighten out with time. I can dig it.

O: This is my second favorite of the series so far. I really enjoyed 2 Turtle Doves and this is very close behind it. I was excited that this had some of the similarities and hope that the Bruery continues the tradition of brewing BSDA's for Christmas rather than using bspa's and adding spices or other flavors to them... This is at least where I think the Bruery excels.

 1,362 characters

Photo of Bmoyer0301
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of drpimento
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served at a good temperature with a decent, smallish, tan, foamy head that slowly settled out and some lace. Color is an opaque black brown. Aroma is malt, plums, prunes, wine, yeast, roast. Flavor's similar to nose, malty sweet, perfect carbonic tang to balance, ditto bitter. Body is full, round, fully pleasant; perfect carbonation. Finish is like flavor, long, and a bit boozy.

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Photo of bamadog
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Went shopping the day before Thanksgiving for beer and only beer, and saw this across the river in Cinci -- happy to pick up a couple of bottles -- one for now, one for after the 12 Drummers Drumming. Review is from notes taken on 11/30/2011 and poured from the bottle to a tulip.

Appearance: Pour is a dark brown, kind of like a really dark cola or even coffee; starts with a two finger tang head that becomes quite pock-marked and rocky as it dwindles rather quickly to a thin cap; body is opaque, and I can only see into the very near edges where there are many streams of tiny and quick moving bubbles -- about what I would expect in terms of appearance for a BSDA;

Smell: Warm spiciness that reminds me a lot of ginger is right up front, and comes out pretty strongly front the glass, and possibly hints of anise in there as well; a bit of a toasty/bready maltiness with a touch of sweet caramel underneath; alcohol is really just about entirely masked in the nose.

Taste: Nice set of flavors, and I'm really reminded of a gingerbread man cookie with a slightly sweeter caramel backing; alcohol is noticeable on the breath, but still pretty well masked; bit of a Belgian candi sugar/beet sugar sweetness becomes apparent as it continues to warm.

Mouthfeel: Body is of medium weight and there is a moderately thick and sticky coating left at the back of the roof of the mouth; belly is left quite warm from the 11% ABV; carbonation is strong and prickly, but avoids being sharp -- I wouldn't mind it being just a touch mellower, but it's really just about spot on in terms of the mouthfeel.

Overall: I really like this beer and think it's solid -- it'd be cool if something like this was available on an annual basis from The Bruery for Christmas. I didn't get a chance to try the 3 French Hens yet as I only came across one bottle and I'm going for the complete collection (with the exception of PiaPT), and it's not quite as enticing to me as the 2TD was, but this is definitely a great addition and The Bruery has yet another winner on its hands. Definitely more of a beer to share considering the format and ABV, but I've got no problem sipping it down by myself over the course of an entire night.

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Photo of THECPJ
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of kawilliams81
3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Haymarket.

A- dark brown with reddish tones. Thin tan head with little lacing.

S- dark fruits, a ton of spices including gingerbread

T- holy spice bomb! Gingerbread, sweet amber malts, some dark fruits

M- medium body. Abv hidden well, smooth and creamy

O- good beer, but could only drink the 4 oz I got.

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Photo of perrymarcus
4.18/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle served in a snifter.

pours a deep, dark mahogany tone while yielding a good finger of tan head.

nose is heavily malty and quite spice-laden. notes of ginger, cinnamon, and maybe allspice. a touch of chocolate in the background. nothing otherworldly but definitely compels me toward a sip.

more of the same follow in the flavor. again, very malt-forward with the aforementioned spices all in attendance. really pretty tasty. a bit hot but considering the 11% ABV not too bad. medium-full bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall, i was pleasantly surprised. probably the best i've head in the series (did not try PiaPT). the perfect beer to nurse on a cold Christmas night... going to put some age on my second bottle.

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Photo of rdickey
3.74/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a very deep brown, almost black, into a goblet. A thin one-finger head disappears like a ninja, leaving no trace that it was ever there.

Smell: Huge malts dominate, along with some Christmas-y spices: nutmeg and cinnamon chief among them, but there’s also a little gingerbread. Boozy esters soak through as it warms, warning the drinker: get your people back; this is going to be a big one.

Taste: The same spices in the nose come through in the mouth, but wait – there’s more – because there’s room for a lot of flavor in this huge beer. I’m now getting chocolate and caramel flavors, as well as molasses. A very nice coffee flavor eases in at the end to finish it off. As you might guess, there’s not much of a hop presence here, but of course you wouldn’t expect one.

Mouthfeel: I’m a little torn here, because the carbonation level feels a little high to me. It clearly isn’t enough to support a big head (at least the way I poured it), and I understand the desire to use carbonation to keep the beer from feeling heavy or cloying, but it feels like just a touch too much in this case.

Drinkability: There’s definitely a lot to like here, and I wish I had the patience (and space, and facilities, etc.) to age it for the recommended period, because over time I expect the carbonation would settle down, the flavors would mellow a big and it would turn from a good and interesting beer into a great one. Of course, I don’t have that kind of patience.

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Photo of csiewert
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of nanobrew
4/5  rDev +5%

Photo of pperez38
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

Photo of cadaugherty
4/5  rDev +5%

4 Calling Birds from The Bruery
Beer rating: 3.81 out of 5 with 578 ratings
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