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Benevolence - Cambridge Brewing Company

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Benevolence
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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

55 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 55
Reviews: 28
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 11.06%
Wants: 27
Gots: 1 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Cambridge Brewing Company visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
American Wild Ale |  12.60% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 05-25-2003

An altogether new and unique creation in the world of beer, Benevolence combines the age-old traditions of Belgian lambic blending, Flanders sour red ales, and barrel-aged English strong ales, with new American ingenuity and a penchant for the bizarre.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 55 | Reviews: 28
Reviews by RoyalT:
Photo of RoyalT
3.5/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This one poured a very dark brown in color with a tanned head that barely came up from the tap.

Smell – This aroma is huge. The dark, roasty malts are laden with chocolate and a strong sourness. I can also pick up a lot of tarty fruits.

Taste – The dark chocolate came out even bigger at the taste. It’s really more like a milk chocolate flavor. There are plenty of other sweets in here as well like refined “candy” sugar and grapes and cherries. The bad news is that everything is extremely sour.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied BSDA went back and forth in the mouth from chocolaty sweet to acidicly sour.

Drinkability – This was just a bizarre ale and one of the strangest things I had at the 2004 Belgian Beer Fest. I see a lot of other Belgian-loving BAs like this effort by Cambridge but it just didn’t do it for me.

More User Reviews:
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.08/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the AOBF 5/24/03.

Wow. Talk about different. A superb find at the festival. Brand-spanking new, too! "Sour cherries?" you say? Well, my friends, it works. Works damn well. And let's put it in an oak barrel for a few months just add a whole new flavor profile.

Deep, dark brown in color, with a very fizzy and tiny-bubbled head. Aromas are...complex (understatement). Fruit everywhere. Taste is very good, too. Fellow BA AKSmokedPorter and I were enjoying this beer with 3 other attendees and they made me promise to put these 3 words in this review (after the collective laugh they had when I said it): "Wicked fackin' tart!". Tart, indeed. Add the unique flavor imparted by the oak barrels, and the slightly apparent alcohol flavor, and you've got quite the different beer. Certainly the most different beer I've had in a long, long time.

I would love to try this after a bit of aging. I can only imagine how much better it would be. Hats off and glasses raised to another fine CBC beer.

Photo of Jerl
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I must start by saying this style and the raisin notes are not favorites and why the taste score was lower for me. However this is well made, full of flavor and lends perfectly to its barrel aging. Light carbonation, deep wine color and intense aroma. Raisin, chocolate, dates come through in taste.
If you are a fan of the style and these flavor notes this is a must try.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my 100th review on-tap! mini snifter

A nutty dark brown color, thin and tanned head with only small lacing all around.

the nose has a fruity, sour and wild yeast aroma up-front. solid, thick and sweet malt underneath, dark fruits, dates and raisins and very tart.

the flavor is a very nice wild-yeast complexity that has tangy and sweet dark fruits, wood-aged alcohol effect along side with a very solid malty balance. wonderful complexity for this wild ale, slightly peppery and herbal on the way down. sour-cherry flavor makes this one really refreshing. Oak and vanilla pop out of the malt in a subtle way and the very end bringa a port wine sweetness.

this one has wonderful balance for a wild yeast ale.

Photo of ciderman
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A terrific new offering from CBC, sampled at the Art of Beer Festival in Boston. As this was the first beer I sampled at the session, my recollections of head retention, color, etc. aren't the greatest. I do want to comment on this beer, though, because it was deserving of the "Best in Show" award as far as I am concerned. The taste was a phenomenally complex mix of sweet malt, dark fruits, oak, and subtle hop balance, coupled with a definite alcohol warming that made you want to keep drinking more. The fruit and oak made the brew almost cidery, but with a body and depth that all but the finest and heartiest ciders would be hard-pressed to match. Overall, one of the most unique beers I have tried.

Photo of Franchise
4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Note: CBC 17th anniversary aged in a wood barrell brewed in 2001.

Oh my is all I can say...poured a dark black hard to tell in this light whether or not it is pitch black but it is very close leaving a tan head in its wake. The aroma is dark fruits, raisins, figs, nuts, brown sugar, chocolate are all present in the nose.

The taste is syrup thick, nutty, figs, lots of dark fruit with a syrup consistency and a chocolate fudge background. This is the most complex nose, and taste I've ever come across. This brew had to be an experiment, cause who would think of putting all these different flavors together. But they compliment each other so well. And so drinkable at 10%

The nose is as complex as a Belgian ale, with the chocolate hop presence of a stout, and finishing with a tartness of a well crafted sour ale. Could this be, all these flavors combined by a mad scientist, it is true. The only disappointing thing about this beer is that I will never be able to sample this again.

Photo of u2carew
3.7/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A) Dark, reddish brown in color. Slightly hazy. Thin head with nice lacing.
S) Robust, syrupy smell similar to port. Earthy aroma combinations include fig and date.
T) Date. Fruity. Some sourness but very minimal. So much going on with the taste its hard to describe.
M) Syrupy. Some chewiness. Thick. Full bodied.
D) WOW - so diverse the taste, but one is enough. Not my style, but it's somebody's.

Photo of Patrickbrusil
4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is it. On cask at the CBC 22nd birthday party.

Its hard to come to grips with how good this is. It drinks like a creamy quad but with tremendous sour qualities. The dark fruit quad hits first and then flows like a dream to the back of your mouth where the sour taste refreshes and finishes the job. The small wine glass was the perfect size as this is surely to be savored.

This is unlike any pour I've ever experienced and to me it is a pinnacle of what well made beer can be.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I wouldn't really call this beer an American Wild Ale, it definitely had more in common with a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Pours a dark brown color with a thin tan-ish head, not much in the way of lacing though.

Smell is an aroma punch, huge amounts of candied sugar and malt, tons and tons of dark fruit like raisins and dates, hints of alcohol but that's not much of a shock.

Taste is similar to the aroma with the candied sugar and dark fruit stealing the show, it is quite strong as evident by an alcoholic burn, didn't slow me down one bit though and I enjoyed a couple of these with no problem. I was quite surprised by how much I liked this beer, never heard of it until I tried it, shame I'll probably never try it again :(

Photo of carln26
4.34/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep brown with just a hunt of mahogany. No head on this beer. An aroma like fine brandy with hints of cherry and black cherry. The alcohol esthers come through on the nose. Wow again I am remindec of brandy. Sweet fruit, no trace of the hops. A mild bite from the alcohol. No lace. Medium mouth feel. I couldn't Fri k too much of this too much alcohol too sweet.

Photo of ridedammit
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had benevelonce a few times when I was lucky enough to find it on tap
at CBC. But the batch (2001?) at the 17th anniversary was simply
a great brew. A lovely very dark color with a darkish-tan head. The
nose is mainly of raisin or prune, and the taste is very complex, again
with the raising and fig feel. It finishes much like a port, and is an amazingly
drinkable beer. Its one of those once in a lifetime beers, unless Will and crew
have another barrel stowed away somewhere (please oh please).

Photo of IBUnit63
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ CBC...served in a sniftah...

Very nutty ginger head with murky bourbon/dunkel color. Full-finger head sticks around a while; body is pretty opaque with a little more carbonation than expected. If any beer was meant for a snifter, this is right up at the head of the class.

Sour dates, plums and raisins abound (wild fermentation mentioned, but with the malt profile rolls a little different from your typical Brett) with huge vanilla oak. Almost too much going on-could use time to synergize-but still enjoyable. At the moment I want to age some of this.

In addition to the qualities found on the nose, let's tack on an Aussie "sticky" veneer of muscat and thick dessert wine-not so much sherry, madiera or port. Booze is still a bit hot but in short this is quite enjoyable. Lots of vanilla and bourbon from the oak wreaks a little bit of havoc on the New World Order but it's still pretty damn good.

Palate hits with a little sourness from wild secondary (?) along with a molasses and peach/plum veneer. Finish is pleasantly biting of funk and booze...maybe a little hefty hefty hefty but that's OK.

Again, I would love to taste this in another year. Or 2-3. Hot with vanilla oak but otherwise insane and very enjoyable if not in complete harmony just yet.

Photo of gentlebubbles
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amazing stuff!

Served in a snifter brimming with an off-white head over chestnut brown. Smells like scotch whiskey and overripe plums. Even a tiny sample passed around our party had us all marvelling. Hazelnut and plum and currant and vanilla mess around with your tongue and then the alcohol sneaks up behind you and lays a serious buzz on. To be sipped by a roaring fire with a good book and a cat in your lap. It certainly lit a roaring fire inside me on that freezing "spring" afternoon.

Photo of Davepoolesque
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Had a dark burgundy color, almost wine like. Smelled like berries, dark chocolate, a bit of oakiness. The taste? A complex mixture of fruit leather, dark chocolate, like a chocolate covered fruit of some sort, some wine. Rich tannin's, oak and a slight tanginess really dry out your mouth, begging you to take another sip. This beer was phenomenal. Seriously could not detect any of the 13% alcohol in this.

Photo of cheapxceptbeer
2.68/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Not interested in formal review here, this is the excess of american craft brewing I could do without, even in the description it sounded ridiculous. 4 yeast strains, 12 types of malt, aged hops, belgian candi sugar, young and old ales being mixed, while this is a vague stereotype of the beer, it has too much going on. While the excessive work on this brew seems to take out the alcohol flavors, the other flavors are so overpowering this might as well have had a hot alcoholic bite. I have enjoyed raisin and date flavors before in beer, but this is just too intense, this isn't sophisticated, this is excess.

Photo of taez555
4.07/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter, this beer poured a translucent ruby brown body with a tan head that at first starts large but eventually completely disappears.

The nose on this baby says it all. PORT!!!! Seriously, if you didn’t know this was beer and somebody blindfolded you and asked you what it was you’d probably say port. Very strong dark fruit, plums, dates, raisins, PORT, a tart fruit, alcohol smell. Quite an interesting mix of fruit smells.

The taste was right along the same lines. Lots of intense fruits like plums, dark cherries and raisins with a very sugary brown sugar and molasses type tart sweetness. You can really taste the candy sugar in this baby. A soft subtle caramel and chocolate malt with a woody oak note are overshadowed by the big fruit flavors.

Quite an interesting beer. Honestly I’ve never been crazy about it, but it’s really growing on me. A beer that is just screaming to be paired with food. A must try, especially at the end of a nice CBC meal with some dessert.

Photo of AllThingsNinja
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

CBC Brewer Will Meyer's described this brew as his baby. It's hard to imagine that he's doing anything other than strive for perfection with this strong dark ale. Served in a snifter, the mahogany brew is capped by modest, but clinging tan foam. The scent wafting from the snifter is of winter fruit and brandy. It tastes of raisons and figs with hints of chocolate, oak, and other shifting malt notes. There is a mild tartness, which accentuates the complexity of the beer. This must try beer will make you savor each lingering taste.

Photo of Stevedore
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

On-tap at Cambridge Brewing Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A- This hefty beer was served in a snifter glass with minimal head. Body is dark reddish-purple hued. No lacing.

S- Plum juice, dates, raisins, yeast spice, red grape must. Dark chocolate. Oak tannins. Lots of smoky and sweet bourbon character. This is definitely complex and strong.

F- Dark chocolate, raisins, oak tannins, sweet bourbon with less smokiness as in the nose. Dates, tart cherry are in the background. This is a very tasty, complex beer that still shows the base very well amidst the strong bourbon barrel aspects.

M- Thinner in body despite the smorgasbord of flavours. Lower in carbonation. Still a bit dry with a slightly oaky but sweet finish. The bourbon flavours are accompanied by a slight bit of fusel and heat.

O- Strong, intense and complex beer that wins any taste test. An improved mouthfeel would help the overall cause a lot, but in terms of what matters- smell and taste- this packs a ton of flavours.

Photo of chaduvel
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First off let me just say wow. Deep dark reddish brown in color, nice off-white head. Smells of date cookies soaked in brandy or port wine. Touch of sour cherries and loads of malt in the aroma as well. There is so much here, and yet each is flavor or smell can be picked out distinctly or left to meld with its mates. Taste is of brandy soaked fig newtons, then sour cherry lambic, then sweet honey, then an oak/whiskey flavor and finally more port or brandy soaked dark fruits finishing with a sour sensation. Unbelievable.

Photo of rye726
4.8/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 2001.

These guys always do great barrel aged beers. And their barrel aged sours are no different. Great color and head. Super sour nd super funky with a nice wine barrel character. Perfect balance of flavors. Crisp, refreshing body has a long complex finish.

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at the brewpub 2/21/04.

I had sampled this beer 9 months ago at AOBF and did not like it much, but more aging time in bourbon barrels has improved this ale dramatically. Amazing!

This dark ale poured a cloudy, dark brown color (practically opaque) with thin tan foam that settled but clung to the inside of the glass. The smell was very, very nice: brown sugar, molasses, caramel, dried fruits (figs, raisins, dates); a almost barleywine-like aroma with a hint of fusel alcohols. The taste was fruity (figs, dates, prunes, raisins) with a sweet molasses flavor but with an underlying tartness that came out in the finish (cherries?). There was a very low hop presence. The mouthfeel was smooth, creamy, and tangy with a touch of tartness. The body was medium with low carbonation but with an overall airy feeling on the tongue. How much this ale had improved was quite a pleasant surprise, and I really need to have more of this one.

Photo of CharlesRiver
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What an amazing beer! I have had this beer a couple of times now and this time it was the best! So complex and full of flavor it is hard to know where to begin. Very dark brown in color with a large head. The smell is a perfect balance of sweet and tart as well as sour. The taste is very similar to the smell. Sweet, tart and sour all the way. Raisins, dates, cherries, sweet tarts and a million other flavors come through. So smooth and different I want more. I spoke with a brewer and they told me this was the final recipe. Either way, I am happy!

Photo of cavman
4.92/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I found this beer to be amazing,it has been brewed again and back on tap for a bit. To the beer:
A = nice looking dark beer with a reddish tint.

S = amazingly complex in the nose, has to be had to be described truly.

T = Licorice mixed with sweet maltiness upfront, followed by a dry stone fruit flavor mixed with a touch of sour/tart. I rated 5 on taste although I also feel a little bit more tartness would improve this beer even more.

M = Big mouthfeel, but very nice.

D = Drinks very easy for a beer that now clocks in at 12.6% ABV, not the 8.6% listed here.

Overall a great beer that you should make the trip for while it's available.

Photo of Bierman9
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A world-premiere offering from CBC, sampled at the AOBF. Brewed with some Belgian yeast and aged four months in oak barrels. This bier had a dark, murky brown hue, with a tan head comprised of fine, tightly-packed bubbles. Lacing was decent as well. The nose was luscious! Sweet, rich, with many a dark fruit aroma wafting about. The presence of the 8.6 abv made itself known in the nose also. Though I found the body a pinch on the thin side of medium, it passed rather smoothly over the tongue. The flavor was a mix of a lot of this and a lot of that. An abundance of dark fruit flavors was present, like raisins and dates. It had plenty of sweetness throughout, with definite Belgian characteristics to boot. The barrel-aging lent a distinct oakiness, and the alcohol provided a warming sensation into the belly. Hard to pinpoint exactly what this bier wants to be, but it was pleasing nonetheless. Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4.1
appearance: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4

550

Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had like a million samples of this one when all is said and done. Quite a few at the source, and quite a few at some BA fests in Boston. This is a pretty nice brew. Dark ruddy, rusty, reddish brown with a small khaki head that leaves nice lacing. Aromas are all Sweet spicy Belgian yeast funk mixed in with the wonderful old ale flavors of a Hardys or a Lees. The taste is funky and spicy with some lovely yeasty notes and the mouthfeel is medium bodied. Drinkability remains nice as well. Awesome stuff...

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Benevolence from Cambridge Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 55 ratings.