4 Calling Birds - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
The Bruery

4 Calling Birds - Bourbon Barrel-Aged4 Calling Birds - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
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Style:
Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
ABV:
14.8%
Score:
90
Avg:
4.12 | pDev: 10.44%
Reviews:
35
Ratings:
187
From:
The Bruery
 
California, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  28
Gots
  77
SCORE
90
Outstanding
4 Calling Birds - Bourbon Barrel-Aged4 Calling Birds - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Notes: 4 Calling Birds was our 2011 winter ale - a spiced strong dark ale. 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!

This is the Bourbon Barrel Aged version of last years holiday seasonal! Spending a year in rich oak barrels, the beer has picked up incredibly deep and luxurious notes from the oak and bourbon, but has maintained it's original charm.
Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 187 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of macrosmatic
macrosmatic from Florida

3.66/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to eyebereej for sending this bottle! Reviewed from (very) long-standing notes. Poured from the 750mL bottle into an El Catador Barrel-Aged glass.

A: Dark brown, but distinctly brown. Very hazy, nearing opaque. A low level of visible carbonation and a minimal light brown head that fades quickly.

S: Bourbon, raisins, and apples. Chocolate and caramel malts, vanilla and oak tannins. Light Christmas spices – nutmeg, allspice – but unlike most all Christmas beers, they are all integrated into the aroma of the beer, instead of like snorting a Santa’s Nutsack candle.

T: Bourbon and vanilla again. Chocolate and a modest toast to the malt body. Spiced rummy raisins, cinnamon apples, light cloves. Some caramel and more Belgian yeast. Bourbon and chocolate and spices last in the hang.

M: An average body - maybe a little lighter than expected but acceptable. The alcohol presence is certainly noticeable but not obnoxious - the bourbon flavors are obvious without having too much burn. Low carbonation sensation.

O: Not my favorite, but I think that the bourbon barrel did help it. There’s a little acetone/paint thinner aspect in the booziness that detract some. I will say that I wouldn’t have guessed this even close to the listed ABV, so maybe some of that can be forgiven. There’s just nothing particularly appealing about this beer, though there's no off-flavors or anything. The Belgian esters are present though not huge. There’s just not much to hang your hat on. Quintessentially forgettable, I suppose.

Mar 21, 2019
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rudzud from Massachusetts

2.77/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Split with JLindros.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a nice dark brown almost black with no real head but a thin halo.

S - Aromas of sour soy sauce teriyaki....like I left food in a garbage disposal and didn't run it for a month.

T - Taste is similar to the nose with soy sauce loads of dark fruits. Light barrel notes and bourbon.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, sticky.

O - Overall this was a very disappointing beer. Somehow worse than the base.

Serving Type: bottle

Nov 30, 2018
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jlindros from Massachusetts

2.78/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Split with rudzud, don't expect much from this beer

No head really, decent legs, very dark molasses brown beer a little clear

Nose starts like it could have potential, mild bourbony notes, vanilla oak, then just sadness, a sour soy sauce teriyaki but gives soy sauce and teriyaki a bad name, spices boiled with trash and loads of mulling spices, and rotten raisins, burnt raisin and alcohol

Taste sweet syrupy mess molasses, bad spices, soy sauce and sweet potato like, some fig date like dark fruits and syrupy, a bit of mulling spices, gingerbread and banana bread notes, a bit of bitterness and burnt spices, flash of alcohol as well, with more mild raisins and brandy winey like, very syrupy and messy, a touch of bourbon and caramel, hint of vanilla barrel, not great, but not too bad

Mouth is syrupy messy, mild hot alcohol and very little carbonation

Nov 30, 2018
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ThickNStout from Georgia

4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

750mL bottle acquired through The Bruery's Society. No bottling date but this was a holiday 2012 release. Served in a Bruery snifter.

Pours a murky dark chocolate brown with raisin highlights and about a finger of quickly dissipating manilla froth. A razor thin rail persists without managing to impart any lacing.

Sweet, beckoning bourbon aroma right up front followed by holiday gingerbready spicing, dark fruit, vanilla, caramel and toffee.

Tastes of softly flavorful bourbon, booze soaked raisin bread, wet oak, vague spice, fudge, vanilla, singed caramel and a little soy sauce, all wrapped up with a touch of booze heat. The barrel character has pleasant smoothing and sweetening effects on the spiced BSDA base. Quite tasty.

Fairly heavy body with fast fading carbonation. Aftertaste is reminiscent of bourbon doused spiced fruitcake.

I was slightly underwhelmed by the standard 4 Calling Birds but as with all of the barrel aged variants of the 12 Days series the base is taken to new heights by the sweet complexity added during its time in a barrel. I'm glad The Bruery occasionally releases small allotments of these older holiday beers so I can try them.

Mar 19, 2016
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Trapist007 from California

4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

APPEARANCE - Dark brown with a little head, and a thin tan collar.

SMELL - Bourbon, brown sugar & licorice.

TASTE - It has a Belgian character with with more fruitiness and licorice, ginger bread spice, and oak notes. Then there's the warm BOURBON...

MOUTHFEEL - Medium carbonation, full and sweet.

OVERALL - Recommend. Very good beer overall. It was very enjoyable to drink.

May 14, 2015
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Jwale73 from Rhode Island

4.04/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Ineedabeerhere for breaking this one out. Pours the color of cola with no head. Nose expresses cinnamon, all-spice, malt, spruce, cocoa and ethanol. Taste follows nose - there's quite a bit of ethanol in the flavor profile, as well as the addition of vanilla and nutmeg. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with an even carbonation and just a kiss of heat. Overall an interesting and complex beer, but best served in small quantities due to the intensity of the flavors - think a cross between a gingerbread Yankee Candle and potpourri.

Apr 07, 2014
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IKR from California

4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark-brown (picture root beer) with a modest sized beige head that dissipated quickly.

Smell: Bourbon notes dominate the nose, but i also get some dark fruits, brown sugar, and some spice notes.

Taste: Bourbon front with some dark fruit notes (think raisins and prunes), mild brown sugar, clove, and spice notes. There is a moderate alcohol presence which must have been fairly forward fresh. The beer finishes with some tannic oak notes.

Mouth-feel: Medium-bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation.

Overall: Good beer. i can easily see why reviewers perceived it as hot fresh but right now the alcohol is in line with the listed ABV and the beer has a good taste profile. Exceeded my expectations based on some of the reviews I've read.

Mar 22, 2014
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cosmicevan from New York

3.89/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

big thanks to portable for having too much beer and popping this (along with 11 other choice brews) into a shipper and sending it my way. shared with the mrs in two bruery snifters.

a - brew pours a dark purple/brown that settles as black in the glass. upon a hard pour there was some dark tan head that quickly dissolved from the center outward until the beer looked still and shiny as a bourbon barrel aged beer often does.

s - nose is fig, plum, and brrrboun. smells rich and chewy.

t - much like the nose suggested, figs and plums with some soft nuttiness and seasonal seasoning on the finish...oh yeah...and the booze...there is some heavy booze, but i like it (and so does my wife). gives it an almost sangria vibe to it.

m - big bold rich and chewy. drinks real nice i could drink two-ee.

o - overall, reading through the reviews, this beer gets a bad wrap (i actually tend to think that this series in general gets a bad wrap...they are all interesting and unique-ish beers and the concept is fun - they are not designed to be masterpieces, they are designed to be one off seasonals and hopefully last til the end of the series). is this beer boozy? you bet. it clocks in at just under 15%...so i expect it to be boozy. everything is not in the right place though as with a melange 3 or white chocolate, but the booze is a cool compliment to the beer and gives it an old ale vibe. glad i got to check it out and look forward to checking out the non barrel aged version.

Dec 25, 2013
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siege06nd from Virginia

3.59/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into my Jackie O's tulip...

A. Pours a dark tobacco brown, nearly black. It doesn't have much head to speak of, just some loose, soapy bubbles that ring the brew. Lacing is equally sparse, though this is a 15% bruiser so perhaps I shouldn't be expecting much.

S. Spice, spice, and then some spice with a touch of spice. I get a lot of cinnamon, some nutmeg, clove. Also hints of roastiness, stone fruit, and some chocolate shavings. The bourbon soaked wood notes clash a little bit with everything else going on here. They rip through the bouquet with this dry, boozy note that detracts every so slightly.

T: Follows the nose pretty closely with a lot of spice, some roasted malt, light chocolate, and a huge kiss of bourbon. Unlike the nose, the bourbon actually compliments the flavor profile nicely, though this is still pretty boozy. It's got some nice flavors and hits most of the marks for a strong dark ale.

M. It's pretty darn boozy, like munching on bourbon soaked dates. Strong tannic, drying notes on the finish from the barrel. Balance could certainly be better.

O. It's solid, but nothing remarkable. Not sure bourbon barrel aging does anything at all for this brew. The barrel isn't all that well-integrated, and I'm more intrigued by what the regular base beer would have tasted like. Not bad, but not memorable.

Sep 28, 2013
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HuskyinPDX from Washington

4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 8.16.13

A - Pours a dark brown with a fizzy brown head that is gone fast.

S - Tons of bourbon, spices, figs.

T - Strong spices and bourbon, fruity, fig, raisin finish.

D - Lower carbonation with a heavier body.

O - Strong spices and bourbon, good and hits you hard. This one is built to age.

Sep 06, 2013
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johnnnniee from New Hampshire

3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from the Reserve Society
Pours a deep dark brown with a garnet bend to it and a smallish tan head that quickly dissipates to a cap on top that constantly dances as the carb stream tries to replenish it. Smells of gingerbread, molasses, ethanol, woody vanilla lots of brown sugar and ripe pitted dark fruit. This smells a lot better than the regular version, or maybe a year has done this wonders. Heavy alcohol in the nose. The flavor is sweet with lots of dark sugars and hints of fruit. That is quickly countered with a heavy shot of ethanol and some mild spices. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet slick bubbly mouthfeel. Wow that's still pretty hot, flavorful and definitely a sipper, but wow that's some heat in there.

Aug 07, 2013
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Rutager from Canada

3.82/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thank you ObeMaltKinobee!

Appearance. Pours a dark cola brown with half a finger of light tan head that fades quickly.

Smell. Sweet caramel, nutmeg and licorice with some nice dark fruit, vanilla and fresh barrel wood.

Taste. Molasses and caramel, dark fruits, some woody bourbon and christmas spices.

Mouthfeel. Fairly full body, low+ carbonation.

Overall. A decent big brew. Nothing unpleasant going on.

Aug 06, 2013
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maximum12 from Minnesota

3.45/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to ObeMaltKinobee for this bottle...I think. This might be the first time in half a decade of beer trading that I've found a "Lost Record". I hang my Auditor head in shame & split this 750ML molotov cocktail with my wife.

The pour is dried blood brown-red, except liquidy. Close to completely still, with a federal minimum of carbonation; the second pour is even close to the activity of shaken water. Has that distinctive Bruery smell of black malts & wicked bourbon. Only a barely perceptible sliver of spices peeks out of the malt/bourbon monster.

4 Calling Birds - Bourbon Barrel Aged is a boozy belly-flop. Naked alcohol abrades the tongue & lights up the "designated driver" signal in my head - good thing I'm on my couch. Bourbon & booziness call the shots here. There's a lovely shot of spices, much more noticeable than in the nose, & I can buy the 'gingerbread' noted in the description, though i wouldn't have volunteered that. Background chocolate. Mouth is nice, sticky, thorough, thick. But half a bomber is looking pretty intimidating from where I am (thankfully) sitting.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but this is a low-complexity, big-bourbon beer. Not a bad way to waste an hour, but there's really not much to it. Good beer.

Jul 31, 2013
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.57/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Dark brown. No head. Thin khaki collar.

Smell - Bourbon, brown sugar. Licorice. Quite boozy.

Taste - A little bit more Belgian character than the nose. Fruitier. Lots of licorice. Booze and bourbon. Slightly spicy.

Mouthfeel - Sweet and heavy. Boozy. Medium low carbonation.

Overall - Barrel is harsh, but as always, the Bruery makes some bourbony sugar goodness.

Jul 30, 2013
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stakem from Pennsylvania

4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml into a snifter. The brew appears dark brown with a khaki head. As the cap fades, it leaves spotty lace sticking to the glass. A swirl revives a finger that is slow to fade. Lighter brown is seen around the edges and more ruby through the body when held to the light.

The aroma includes a sweetness like belgian candy sugar mixed with vanilla, caramel and toffee. Some oak and chocolate grain to roast aspect blend with a mild hint of oxidation. Dark fruity alcohol evolves as it warms mixing with bourbon.

The flavor is like dark fruity alcohol mixed with chocolate, raw oak and bourbon with plenty of cardboard-like oxidation but not too much. Earthy with vanilla and caramel into the aftertaste that focuses a bit on the sweeter instead of boozy side of things. The spicy base beer is well represented but the barrel aging really takes it to the next level.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation and plenty of warming alcohol. It is quite boozy even at colder temperatures and strangely oxidized already for only being 6-7 months or so since its release. This was a very enjoyable offering but the already evident amount of oxidation has me questioning how long I will hold out on my other bottles.

Jul 15, 2013
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Lucnifter from California

4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 update
On tap at Bruery Terreux tasting room 11/2017
Ageing fairly well. The spices are still prominent. Belgian yeast esters. Bourbon, oak and spice.

Jun 29, 2013
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TheSevenDuffs from Canada

4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured in to Bruery tulip.

A - Poured deep brown and settled black with a thin layer of light brown head that immediately disappeared.

S - Massive barrel notes dominate the nose - sweet bourbon and vanilla and toasted oak. Some spice and a light gingerbread aroma is noticeable.

T - Charred oak, sweet bourbon and a touch of vanilla are dominant as the barrel again really takes over the palate. Spice, hints of chocolate and a light gingerbread presence.

M - Medium to full body with very low carbonation.

Jun 22, 2013
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Vonerichs from Colorado

4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark cola color with a short but dense light brown head.

Smells like blackstrap molasses, figs, nutmeg, vanilla and toffee.

The bourbon dominates the palate. Charred oak, vanilla, toffee, boozy as hell (in a good way.) licorice, molasses, nutmeg.

Mouthfeel is heavy and supports the booze well. Carbonation is low.

It's a sipper. The bourbon dominates but I think is showcased fantastically while still letting the base pop. Well done.

Jun 15, 2013
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DavoleBomb from Pennsylvania

3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

3.25 A: Dark brown color. A small, short-lasting frothy head formed and as light brown in color.

4.5 S: Nose on this is wonderful. Tons of spices that all blend well together with the base beer. Gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon, maybe some allspice. Layers of caramel with toffee. The bourbon falls behind the spices and it does very well there. Oak, vanilla, and a subtle welcoming booziness. Prune, molasses, currants, and hints of anise.

3.5 T: While the nose is complex with great depth, the taste is more booze focused. This is a shame since I'd love to drink a beer that tasted like the nose on this. It's still good, but less complex with much less depth. Prune fruitiness oddly enough comes out as the focus of the taste. Molasses, caramel, toffee next. Spices listed in the nose are underneath all of this with leathery bourbon. Oak and vanilla. Overall the booziness is fairly well hidden for the ABV, but it still packs a punch that lingers and warms well after the sip.

3.5 M: Heavier body. Good moderate carbonation. Sticky chewiness from all the excess sugars. Light creaminess. Not too bad.

3.5 D: Of the Bruery's big, boozy diabetes bombs, I prefer the barrel aged anniversary series over this.

Jun 13, 2013
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Gfunk720 from Connecticut

4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, out of my Founders Snifter. Thanks as always to my trustee Scott

A- Pours a nice brownish/black, very slightly transparent. Starts off with a nice healthy head that quickly dissipates. After settling, it looks pretty mundane.

S- A stinging boozy scent hits first. I can get some hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and bourbon coming through. A little sweetness, but not nearly as much as most bruery beers.

T- Very smooth initially, then sweep in the spices and malt. Again some cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as some chocolate. The aftertaste is primarily bourbon and vanilla, with touches of spice. Much less sweet than many of the other bruery BA offerings which is welcome.

M- Nice and carbonated and no cloying sweetness. Plenty of body without being overwhelming. My only complaint if I could make one would be that it is almost too fizzy.

O- Overall, this is one of the best BA beers from the Bruery that I've had in a while. I expected it to be overly sweet and difficult to put very much down. However it was dangerous how easy this was to drink. The spices are evident but blended well into the beer, as is the bourbon barrel aging. This will be really good once it has time to mellow a bit more.

Jun 09, 2013
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dbc5 from Arizona

4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle poured into B. Nektar mini chalice.

A: Pours a cola color which yields about a 1 finger, soapy head that recedes extremely quickly. Glass is left looking like it is filled with flat cola. Not a particularly good looking beer.

S: Big bourbon up front. Wasn't expecting this big of a bourbon presence. Vanilla, caramel, and chocolate, followed by nutmeg.

T: Wow, this things is huge. I didn't really have huge expectations for this one, but it is fantastic. First thing that popped into my mind is "bourbon candy." As this warms, the nutmeg pushes through, with cinnamon detectable on the finish. Alcoholic gingerbread cookie is a reasonable characterization. Really enjoying this.

M: Low carbonation, viscous, and chewy. Appropriate mouthfeel to support a beer like this.

O: Honestly wasn't expecting too much from this one, but it snuck up on me. Really enjoyable beer.

May 20, 2013
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ngeunit1 from Massachusetts

4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown-black with a thin finger of frothy khaki-chocolate colored head. Fades fairly quickly.

S - Dark caramel and chocolate malts, oak, vanilla, Bourbon, ginger, cinnamon, molasses, nutmeg, black licorice, Belgian yeast, dark fruits, and booze.

T - Dark caramel and chocolate malts, Bourbon, oak, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, black licorice, molasses, dark fruits, Belgian yeast, clove, pepper, banana, and booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate-low carbonation. Smooth with a warming, sweet, and spicy finish.

D - Big bourbon flavor, but the beer still feels somewhat balanced.

Mar 31, 2013
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coreyfmcdonald from Georgia

3.62/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into a snifter

A: Pours pitch black with a finger of quickly receding head, no lacing. Not bad for 14.8% I guess...

S: Woah bourbon. Bourbon is extremely strong in this beer with a lot of dark chocolate and caramel. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are in the background providing additional complexity. This reminds me a whole lot of BCBS with gingerbread spices. The bourbon is particularly nice - I get a distinct coconut aroma that plays well with the spices as well as the chocolate and caramel.

T: Bourbon is strong again, though not nearly as much as it was in the aroma. Dark chocolate and caramel again dominate this beer. Gingerbread spices are there, but in the background. This beer is very sweet and a bit muddled.

M: Extremely thick with very low carbonation.

O: So this is not a BSDA. It's way too alcoholic, way too thick, far too little esters, way too much bourbon presence for even the most extreme version of what could be considered in the style. It is extremely chocolatey with tons of caramel. The beer is as dark as the 19% ABV Imperial Stout from the same brewery with far more stout characteristics than that beer. Having said all of that, it's pretty decent. It tastes like a Christmas BCBS.

Oh, it's too boozy.

Mar 22, 2013
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer is chestnut brown with a small head that fades to nil. The aroma is really nice. Prominent bourbon with a touch of spice. Beautiful bourbon and oak character in the flavor. The flavor definitely surpasses the aroma. Spice character evident in the finish. Abv pretty well hidden. Low carbonation and smooth. A delightful sipper.

Mar 16, 2013
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MasterSki from Canada

3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle shared by AgentZero - thanks Mike! Served in a tulip.

A - A crust of tan foam settles to nothing. Murky, turbid, dark brown body. Not terrible for nearly 15%, but not particularly impressive either.

S - A hefty dose of boozy bourbon and oak, unabashed alcohol, anise, Christmas spices, lightly roasted malts and dark fruits. You can definitely tell the ABV from this one - not subtle at all.

T - The taste is a bit mellower, albeit still somewhat boozy. More chocolate and oaky vanilla to be found here, with less of the spice and anise notes. A bit muddled,

M - Low carbonation, smooth, chewy and viscous texture, oaky and dry finish with some noticeable alcohol heat. Probably my favorite element of this beer.

D - The smell is rough at the stage, and the taste is merely solid. It's a fast way to get drunk, but this series has gone significantly downhill since the first two beers. That being said, I can imagine this beer might make it to the end of the series.

Mar 06, 2013
4 Calling Birds - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from The Bruery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 187 ratings