Arquebus - Cambridge Brewing Company

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Arquebus
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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

106 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 106
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 35
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Cambridge Brewing Company visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  10.75% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Sycodrummer on 07-14-2006

Described by CBC as a Summer Barleywine. "Arquebus" refers to a heavy portable matchlock gun invented during the 15th century, and forerunner of the rifle.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 106 | Reviews: 37
Reviews by 3leggeddub:
More User Reviews:
Photo of glid02
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the brewpub. I believe the ABV listed on the menu was 14%, perhaps it's a different recipe than in years past.

Pours a clear deep amber color with a cream-colored head that leaves decent lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with large amounts of medium and dark fruits – pears, apricots, and raisins. Also present are mild amounts of oak and vinous aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Strongly sweet caramel malts up front are joined quickly by boozy fruit flavors – pears and raisins with hints of plums. Midway through oak and white grape flavors mellow things out a bit before the sweetness reasserts itself and carries through to a moderately sweet ending. Mouthfeel is good, with smooth carbonation.

Overall I found this beer to be too unbalanced for my liking, with too much emphasis on the sweetness. If this beer were a bit drier I think the barrel would be able to shine more.

Photo of sloejams
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This here is straight up delicious. Barleywine and summer don't seem to fit. Barleywines: thick, syrupy, staggeringly high in alcohol, made for men with beards. Summer: generally none of that ('cept me, me and my beard). Arquebus is aged in chardonnay barrels which give it well, a chardonnay type fruit flavor. This sounds odd and it is, but somehow it all works. It seems slightly lower in hops than most barleywines which allows the tannins slick over the top giving an almost honey flavor. Served in a wine glass, this is far more accessible than most barleywines. A day later I returned to the CBC and this is exactly what I wanted.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.49/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Summer. Served in a stemmed wine glass. Barleywine/Oak barrel aged.

Golden/Light amber. Small/bright white head, nice lacing.

Citrusy nose, VERY nice arromatic nose. Pungent fruityness.

Taste's include: Peack, apricot and slightly tart effect with a great white-wine hit going down. Crisp and deep taste. Very impressed.

Feels extremely smooth and mellow. VERY white-wine feeling and equally as crisp. Light to medium body that sparkles.

10.75 % ABV. You would NEVER know it. Amazing.

Aged in french oak chardonnay barrels from the Silverado Winery in Napa.

Go get some!!!!

Photo of asabreed
4.84/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served at the brewery in what they call a mini-tulip, which is shaped more like a mini-snifter. I think it's a 9 oz. glass, and though the server told me it's pretty much a 7 oz. pour, mine was filled, and thankfully, in retrospect, pretty much to the top.

This batch, whatever number it is, is 14% and not 10.75% ABV. The price was $6.50. This is what it says at the end of the website description: "Aged for one year in French oak chardonnay barrels acquired from the Silverado and Chateau Boswell wineries in Napa, the residual flavors contributed by the wood offer a mellowness of character not provided by stainless steel fermentation, as controlled oxidation deepens its color, enhances its rich texture, and concentrated notes of fruit."

Appearance: I think this may be slightly unfair, considering, as I stated previously, that the glass was pretty much filled to the brim. That said, and maybe it's also due to the high alcohol content, there's not much lacing or head at all, even with subsequent swirls. And thankfully, I just checked: it's served still, meaning without carbonation, to further the wine character of the brew. The color, however, is still very nice, as a lighter brown with copper highlights.

Smell: What an amazingly effervescent and beautiful thing this has going for it. You can smell the white vinous characteristics going on, but what I love is the concentrated vanilla, which almost, because of the French oak, hints at bourbon. And though it's wine, and not bourbon, it's amazing how the boozy oak aromas are coming through more than the concentrated grapes. Wildflowers are coming through too, a raucous and stretched bouquet of petals, along with honey sweetness, but what I like here are those two separate parts combining with, you guessed it, the wildflower honey aromas. There are also notes of tangerine and peach, white grapes, and all kinds of other fruits going on. My wife kept making fun of me every time I went in for a whiff, because I kept telling her how amazing it was.

Taste: For a still beer, this is pretty amazing. Again, the booziness comes out from the wine and oak flavors, with vanilla, caramel, a lot of fruit esters with peach and tangerine, and there's a wonderful acidity mixing in, almost like a sour or wild ale's acidity from Brett being introduced, which it's not here.

Mouthfeel: So if this is a still beer, which I didn't know until I recently checked the website just to make sure I wasn't missing something, how am I getting a good back-end burst of carbonation? I'm not really sure, but alas. That said, the body isn't as heavy as it should be, both for seemingly the method of production and the high alcohol content. But it IS, miraculously, easy to drink, probably due to the lack mostly of carbonation, and the wine-like nature of the brew's body. I would say medium-bodied, and more wine-like, not surprisingly, than syrupy or cloying.

Drinkability: Since I've gotten into wine the last few years, that may have something to do with this, as the beer begins to make you question the nature of the hybrid brew that a lot of the barrel aging is getting us to do these days as beer drinkers. If you can't stand wine, this may be a stretch for you, but if you're also a wine drinker, and like barrel aged beers like I do, this will hopefully be something you'll also really enjoy.

I feel like $6.50 for around an 8 oz. pour is a steal for this brew. As I told our server: "If some big company got the recipe for this and tweaked it, it would be as sought after as anything I can think of," and though many would disagree, I could see this style, the summer barleywine, becoming something big down the road. Wild Ales? Sours? Watch out: this could be gunning for you. That said, if you're around, do try it, it's beyond worth it. One of the best and weirdest brews I've had easily within the last year. Keep it up, Will Meyers.

Photo of Sammy
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Apricot colour, average mouthfeel. Brett in the aroma. Looks and tastes white grapey. Apricot summer fruit in there, you can taste it too. Can the Chardonnay be transfered for the wood, or was it used. Very fruity, sweetish.
Enjoyed on tap at the brewpub, I am still revelling in it 2.5 days later.

Photo of Franchise
4.62/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It poured a ruby caramel creamy color with a small tan head that quickly faded. The nose is fantastic...honey, chardonney grapes, peach, mango, suttle spices, nuts, and oak. The taste starts vinos in nature, alcohal is warming but not really apparent at 10.5%. This beer has loads of tannins that make you smack the tongue, and the hop presence is right there to give you some balancing bitterness.

The strong malt backbone and the aging in the chardonney barrels are a great compliment making this a smooth sippable brew. I can see why this is called a summer barleywine due to the refreshing nature in terms of carbonation, also the fruit feel on the palate. Anyone that is a fan of barleywines you need to try this brew!

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes taken during GABF 2011.

Photo of IBUnit63
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

200th review! From tap into a wine goblet...

Pours like a mead-honey-maple-caramel-apple body with thin wispy beige-rose head.

Honey, muscat, champagne-maybe some apple-very light 4 style and cider-ish.

Wow-so clean for style but very very cidery-an easy drinking barleywine with a lot of muscat character and even some fizz-lots like an Aussie sticky. As it warms it does take on more of a true dessert wine character.

Cleaner than an Aussie sticky-sparkly on mouth - alcohol shows up to cut the fat.

Could drink lots more than I should; the emerging sweet wine character tempers drinkability a bit, but this still works very well.

Photo of ChrisPro
4.77/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at CBC.

A - Clear orange-brown with an eggshell colored head. Honey-legs left on the glass as I drank.

S - One whiff and I know that this is exactly why I came to CBC. Tons going on with this beer with caramel, fig, honey, mango and apricot. The grapes/barrel give it a really complex aroma that I can't get enough of

T - Sipping this is like sipping dessert. There is so much sweetness and complexity I feel like it's a complete dessert dish. Tons of caramel sweetness, but just a slight dry tannic finish to attempt at cleaning the palate.

M - Very full bodied and nice carb. Slightly boozy, but it doesn't detract from the beer at all.

O - This is a phenomenal barrel-aged beer and deserves to be up there with the best. If you're in Boston and this is on tap, make sure to find your way to Cambridge. I put away a few of these that night and didn't regret it (well, maybe a little the next morning).

Photo of donkeyrunner
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A summer barleywine? Sign me up!

Poured still, Arquebus looks like mud. A wine glass full of watery mud. Smells like Chardonnay, light floral hops, and pear.

Tastes is very Chardonnay as well. Apricots and mild caramel with a green apple finish melded together by a permeating earthen wood. Honey, white whine dryness without being cloying. For such a high abv beer, the alcohol is extremely subdued.

More wine than barley but ridiculously creative and different. Would go great with some sun if Boston ever gets any this summer.

Photo of FunkyMacGroovin
4.72/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served in an 8oz (I think) snifter-style glass. 2010 batch is 14% abv. Pours a delightful golden hue. The beer is served still to accentuate its similarities with wine, so there is no head. Smell is redolent of a winery in the Napa Valley - oak, vanilla, wildflowers, and a bit of acid on the nose. Absolutely enchanting.

The description of the beer says they used white wine grapes in the brew, used malolactic fermentation, and then aged the beer in Chardonnay barrels. These characteristics are immediately and beautifully apparent when you take a sip. Tons of buttery diacetyl flavor combined with the oak and the grapes made me seriously question whether I had been served a wine passed off as beer. It actually reminded me of an over-oaked Chardonnay, which would be a negative characteristic of wine, but is executed so well in this beer I couldn't help but love it. Honey and fruit flavors are also present and further complement the winey-ness (not to be confused with whiney-ness). Acidity is here too, imparted by the grapes - a good thing too, else the finish would almost certainly become cloying. Amid all these flavors and more there is a tinge of detectable hoppiness, just enough to remind you that this is, in fact, beer. Mouthfeel is medium in body, dry on the finish, and even a little effervescent despite the lack of carbonation.

I'm not sure how the abv is hidden so well, but if I hadn't known it was 14% ahead of time I could've easily mistaken it for a 7-10% brew. Incredibly drinkable - I could drink myself into a pants-wetting, bush-puking, cougar-seducing humdinger of a stupor without thinking twice (or stopping to notice that my pants are gone and there's a Sharpie-mustache on my face).

If you told someone who had never heard the term before that this was a barleywine and served it to them, they'd think you were crazy when you told them it was beer. Someone should probably think of a new style to classify this beer, because the moniker 'summer barleywine' doesn't do anything to prepare you for what it is. An entirely wonderful beverage in every way.

Photo of jlindros
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the brewpub.

Pretty much no head, mostly clear copper brown color.

Nose has tons of sweet malts, brown sugar, some caramel and toffee, crystal malts, molasses, and a very light grape must.

Taste is pretty sweet, light buttery oak and vanilla, brown sugar, crystal malts, toffee, little creamy, pretty malty too, some booze but not too heavy, some woody barrel ester flavors, light tart grape flavor and some old white wine. Finishes a bit hot, still fairly sweet, more brown sugar, caramel, and hint of toasty malts, and grapes. Complex and tasty.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, decent carb for the style, bit boozy.

Overall pretty good, the grape add a nice touch to the sweet caramelized brown malts, nice malts and flavors overall, a little boozy but decent for 11ish %.

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.94/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on-tap at the brewpub and served in a tulip, the beer is a dark, ruby-brown coloring with a thin ring of white head. Nose of old world fruit, rich and sweet, with wine characteristics of booze and dryness. Flavors are rich and roasted forward, with a fruit cake overlay, sugary and rich. Fig, date, and raisin, with a bready backbone and boozy overtones. Caramel and toffee rich and roasted notes present, too. Very balanced with fruit and sugary sweet characters. Smooth, creamy body. The aftertaste is subtle cinnamon spice, booze, and a rich fruit sweetness. Clean, rich, smooth finish. For the style, this is a surprisingly drinkable beer. Very balanced and tasty.

Photo of YonderWanderer
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Cambridge Brewing Company.

This is the first barley wine I've really enjoyed in a long time. I'm not a huge fan of the style, and typically I find them too heavy and syrupy - just a little too much of everything. However, a summer barley wine? I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try this, as the description sounded quite good. It arrived in a wine glass and was a hazy amber color - bright and bold, with little head. The aroma was decent, pleasing without being cloying. Light fruit was the primary scent.

The taste was excellent - fruity with a solid malt base, and with a dry finish. Not much of a hop profile, but the overall taste certainly makes up for it. Mouthfeel was smooth and medium bodied - not syrupy like some barley wines tend to be. In terms of drinkability, this is a sipper - great for a nice evening of sitting outside at the brewery. Very well done.

Photo of Damian
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank on-tap at the Cambridge Brewing Company, Cambridge, MA
Served in a wine glass
Thanks Will!

Poured a hazy, orangey-amber with a bubbly, bright white, one-finger head that quickly faded to a stubborn ring of lace.

The aroma was sweet and malty rich. Slightly oaky with some white wine-like characteristics (possibly muscat grapes). Strong fruity notes (peach and apricot) were apparent. As the beer warmed, the sweetness and the fruitiness became much more pronounced.

The taste was smooth, sweet and loaded with complexity. Rich and syrupy up front. As with the aroma, peaches and candied apricots dominated. Some honey came through as well. Granny smith apples were also noticeable, lending the beer a hint of cider-like tartness. Grapey notes appeared in the center. The muscat/green grape flavor crescendoed in the dry, semi-oaky finish that reminded me more of a chardonnay than a beer. Barrel aging at its finest! The 10.5% ABV was warming and welcomed, even on this hot summer evening. The long-lasting aftertaste was once again sweet and syrupy, with an intense peach brandy-like flavor.

The mouthfeel was thinner than average (for the style) with a fine, lively carbonation. Ultra creamy and supple on the palate.

Drinkability was simply terrific. This barleywine definitely errs on the sweeter end of the spectrum for the style, yet the tannins help keep it in check. At 10.5% ABV, the beer went down like candy. Also, the lighter body helped make this "summer-style" barleywine an even more quaffable treat.

I have tried a number of beers from the Cambridge Brewing Company and this barleywine definitely seems to be their finest offering. Fans of experimental beers should definitely seek out this gem. Well done.

Photo of DefenCorps
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I wish I'd gotten another glass of this instead of their IPA, it was phenomenal.

Still copper color with no head, but for someone who loves the Bon Chien Grand Crus, this is actually appealing. Great, complex nose. Honey jumps out but there's dates, figs, prunes and a little booze. Mild tartness. Palate opens with a mild tartness with the complex nose replicated. Finishes sweet with a hint of booze. The more I ponder this, the more it's like a bastardized blend of a Bon Chien and an aged JW Lees, an awful sounding combination, but one that works stunningly

Photo of HopasaurusRex
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

CBC's summer barleywine served in a stemmed wine glass:

A wine glass is definitely appropriate for this ale. Honeyish orange haze with no foam stand. Aromatics of candied tangerine peel, peach preserves, honeysuckle, and honeydew melon. Musky green Chardonnay grapes mixed with vanilla oak tannins in flavor. Subdued hop flavor and aroma. Hops are clearly not the focus. Sticky and syrupy finish to this digestif in the French tradition of an after-dinner port or brandy. A tantalizing take on the barleywine style.

Photo of mcallister
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Let me say that I worked at a wine shop and love wine and have never had a beer with this much wine character. Like a dessert chardonnay almost.

Liquid caramel color or melted gold with a faint white head.

Great bready nose absolutely filled with candied fruits, peach, apricot, pear, so chardonnay in aroma. Great nose.

Most wine like beer I've ever tried. Amazing smooth creamy mouthfeel. Huge candied pear, apple, hints of oak, vanilla, mineral qualities, apricot and candied peach. Somewhat reminiscent of a peach dessert reduced with chardonnay. Nicely sweet in no way cloying. I would pay mucho money for cases of this wine....er beer.

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.82/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is deep gold, kind of a dull amber. head is minimal and forms a collar of white foam as it settles out.

Aroma is sweet. Vanilla, oak, caramel, pear and alcohol. Being a barley wine I suspected some ethanol and got it.

At first sip, this brew reminds me of Sam Adams' Utopias. It's more like a port/sherry/brandy thing than a beer. The little carbonation boosts this idea. Caramel and vanilla dominate. The chardonnay barrels used (I'm told) come through in a musky kind of way. The taste is good, but I wish some bubbles would provide some zap.

A nice brew nonetheless. Interesting. If you're looking to see what Utopias tastes like, this one is the closest brew that I know of...but keep in mind it's not as strong in flavor or abv.

Photo of taez555
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a wine glass this beer poured a hazy bright amber body with little to no head.

Surprisingly light to drink at first and only medium bodied. Rich malt, but with layers upon layers of fruit focusing big time on fresh peaches, apricots and loads of coconut. This beer is barrel aged in white wine barrels and it really shines through giving just a mild touch of oak without being overpowering. Bitterness is there to give it some backbone but never overshadows the malt or fruit flavors.

Wow! Summer barleywine, I like it, I like it a lot. The combination of fresh malt, coconut and oak is the most amazing combination on a breezy summer afternoon. It noted that they'll be aging this puppy for a while, it should be interesting to see how it ages, but it's fantastic now as it is.

Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Solid english barleywine. It is sweet but not too sweet. Would drink again

Photo of mshallah
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a wine glass and poured "still"(with little or no head)as stated on the beer menu. Mine had a bit of a creamy head compared to the other glasses at the table. I tried it both ways and actually preferred it with the 1/4 inch of creamy foam to emphasize the brew's beery qualities. Right away the smell and taste are an explosion of fruit. Fresh grape up front,melon in the background. Tropical fruit all around. These intense fruit characteristics make this beer something very special. The chardonnay character is mild in the nose but is more noticeable in the finish. The wine flavors really round out this barleywine and are the same I look for in a white wine. This is one of those beers that crosses lines and pushes boundaries. My first such labeled as Summer Barleywine. Will has the skill in the art of brewing.

Photo of Hojaminbag
4.84/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I had this one on-tap at the brewery for the CBC barleywine fest. This review is of the 2006 vintage, batch NO.1. It was just too damn good not to review.

A hazy dark orangish color with no head to it. Not a lot of life in the body.

The first sniff really surprised me. Lots of fruity sweetness with a good tart edge to it. Green apples are in there for sure. Also a nice floral aroma in there. I said "this smells amazing" from the first whiff.

This stuff tastes as good as it smells, which is impressive. Pretty sweet up front with fruits like apricot and a touch of honey. Not a cloying or powerful sweetness, just a mild, light fruit sweetness that I find to be refreshing. Then flowery notes that are more herbal than hoppy come through. I don't really notice any hop presence in here at all actually. A touch of woody oak is in there too, preceding a tart finish. The finish tastes like tart green apple, and is a nice touch of flavor, complexity and balance. An absolutely great tasting beer.

A pretty thin mouthfeel closer to a champagne than what I think of as a barleywine. Not highly carbonated though, rather low.

I would have stayed and drank this all night if I had the money (I also wanted to try some other of the Barleywine offerings). This one is balanced, interesting, and tasty. No alcohol is noticeable at all. I would guess that it was around 6-7% ABV and not 10.75. Overall, this is a phenominal beer. Everytime I go to a CBC event I find something that blows my mind and this is one of them. Probably the best English barleywine I have ever had.

Photo of mltobin
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is a cloudy amber tone with a thin head.
Arquebus smells of apricot, white grapes, malt vinegar, raisin and some vanilla too. The taste of this barleywine comes through with the boozy aspect, as well as sweet notes like honey, fruit and some herbs. MF is not too thick, the texture on this strong beer is nice and mellow. Overall, it is pretty good barleywine, but some of the flavors seem to be too far spread out.

Photo of steve8robin
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap while hanging out in Boston. Glad to have gotten to try this...

A: Medium copper color with some hints of deep red blended in. No head with a tiny lace atop the brew. Decent.

S: Awesome. Smells of some sweet caramel malts blended with a boozy character and some port wine scents. I get some apples blended in. It's actually kind of like a spiked caramel fruit salad. Very good.

T: Very dry upfront. Sheesh, I have trouble believing I'm not drinking wine. Tastes heavily of wine upfront with a dry boozy finish. Some caramel malts in the middle blended with a nice balance of sugary fruit. Some cherry tartness on the backend. Good.

M: This one is a little on the dry side. Full bodied with heavy carbonation. Decent.

D: This one goes down good once you get past the dry boozy wall. Good.

All in all, this was a good brew that I'm glad I got the chance to try. It's very much for the beer drinker that enjoys a lot of wine characteristics in their beer.

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Arquebus from Cambridge Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 106 ratings.