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Arquebus - Cambridge Brewing Company

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36 Reviews
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Reviews: 36
Hads: 111
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.26%
Wants: 34
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 36 | Hads: 111
Photo of koopa
3.55/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this one on tap this weekend at the 22nd anniversary party. Pours a fairly pale orange to honey. Quite clear with no crown whatsoever.

Smell: Sweet malt, white grapes, diacytel butter, and a hint of citrusy hops.

Taste: Same as nose but with a bit of a boozy quality.

Mouthfeel: Thin side of medium bodied and fairly crisp.

Overall: I just didn't enjoy this one very much...

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Photo of glid02
3.58/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

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Photo of mltobin
3.58/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a small teardrop shaped glass at Cambridge Brewing Company.

Arquebus pours a mildly clear orange, with almost a finger of white foam. There's no real lacing or head retention to speak of. The nose has a very strong mint presence along with a little bit each of honey and white wine. The flavor brings a bit of caramel to join a honey note that's more intense than I might have anticipated from the nose. The mint comes in mid palate, and while it's still fairly noticeable, it's not as overbearing as in the aroma. There's a subtly fruity white wine finish. The body is shocking, and very impressive in its lightness for a 14%ABV beer. The beer menu advertised the beer as being served still, but it seemed very lightly carbonated to me. Either way the end result is a mouthfeel that lends itself to the beer being way too drinkable for 14%. Cambridge makes some of the best barleywines around, but I have to say this didn't quite live up to my memory of prior vintages. Still, a very nice brew.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.82/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.89/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap at CBC in boston

Pours a clear burnt orange and caramel color with very little lacing and some wispy film left behind.

Plenty of honey and caramel in the nose, followed by light oak and white wine-like fruit. Definitely sweet, with burnt sugar and alcohol heat. Thick bready malts and caramel as well.

Burly malts with sticky honey drizzled across the profile. Notes of caramel in the thick backbone, with bread and burnt sugar. Oak tannins with soft fruit sweetness, smacking of white-wine from the barrel aging with apricot and pear. Multi-layered with intermittent boozy warmth, especially during the finish. Residual sweetness as well with pear and peach.

Fuller body, mild carbonation, sticky and lingering on the tongue. A fascinating take on the barleywine, although I found the honey and wine-driven fruit a bit sweet for my tastes.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.94/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

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Photo of rinhaak
4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at CBC in Cambridge.

Pours a syrupy copper red with no head.

Nose of oak and honey, cherries, and sherry.

Tastes much more like an after dinner liquor than a beer. Lovely, though, and beautifully balanced. Lots of honey and grape on the tongue, very boozy like a sherry.

Overall very nice, very enjoyable, but I question CBC's designation "summer barleywine." All the same, well worth drinking.

As an aside, I should add that when I ordered the beer in July 2011, the listed ABV is 14% - 3.5% more than BA lists.

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Photo of HopasaurusRex
4.02/5  rDev -5%
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.

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Photo of steve8robin
4.04/5  rDev -4.5%
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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Photo of mshallah
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of Sammy
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 08/18/12 notes. Had this one on tap at the brewpub up in MA. Menu said it was actually 14% ABV; maybe the earlier batches were 10.75%. They serve it as a 6 oz. pour which was the perfect amount of this one.

a - Pours a somewhat clear amber-orange color with a tiny bit of white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of white wine, oak, citrus, grapes, vanilla, and some fruity malts. Tons of white wine here; very nice.

t - Tastes of white wine, vanilla, honey, smooth oak, fruity malts, green grapes, earthy notes, light citrus. More vanilla and some honey here, so SUPER smooth. Little better than the nose.

m - Medium body and no real carbonation. Body is super smooth and easy to drink thanks to the honey and vanilla.

o - Overall a really good beer. A sipper for sure, and I can see the comparisons some people have made to Utopias, as it is definitely a "have only a few ounces of" dessert beer. If you're a white wine fan you should definitely seek it out, and I'd certainly have it again if I saw it on tap.

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Photo of jlindros
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
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 %.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Whenever I drink the Arquebus, I always forget how awesome it is. It's light for a 14% barleywine with massive fruity flavors and a touch of wood. Total malt fruit bomb. Low in carbonation, makes this an easy sipper.

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Photo of taez555
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

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Photo of Pahn
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Cambridge Brewing Company. Reviewed from notes taken on August 9th, 2010. Served in a 9 ounce "mini-tulip".

While the BA entry says the beer is 10%~ ABV, this batch was 14%.

Appearance: Light semi-translucent copper with no head or lacing, but nice legs.

Smell: White wine, apricot, a bit of vinegar. Faintly floral. More interesting flavors come out as it warm: some bread, some brandy. Nice.

Taste: Caramel, brown sugar, white wine, apricot. It's deep, fruity, smooth, and hot. Nice toffee-like maltiness. Some tartness is here as well. Kind of funny that the vinegar and white wine notes work together really well. There's a nice, big, genre-bending musty depth to the beer, along with some good spirit flavors.

Fruitiness, caramel, funk, white wine, spirits... sound like a good combination? Well, when done by the Cambridge Brewing Company, it is one. Great tasting beer. Not a 5.0 for me, as I can think of a few better English barleywines and why they're better, but definitely outstanding.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, with almost no carbonation. Juicy and hot.

Drinkability: If I'm at CBC and this beer is on tap, I'm not going to miss the opportunity to have it. If I had been going directly home after my visit, I probably would have bought a growler if they'd let me.

English barleywine is one of my favorite styles, and this beer does it justice.

As a sidenote, I (as always) was ridiculously afraid to eat while drinking this (lest I take away from the flavor of the beer), but as the previous beers and this one's 14%~ were affecting me, I couldn't resist getting some fries with the CBC's homemade ketchup (which were amazing). Salt, tomato, and fried potato are not things I would imagine want to be paired with this beer, but it didn't matter at all; the flavor is huge, and won't be brought down even by a senseless pairing.

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Photo of SABERG
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this offering fully. On trap at CBC

A - Deep gold, with veery little head. Stuck to the glass very much like a deset wine.

S - Facefull of fruit, absolutely stunning. Apricot, honey, melon, pear. Minor malts and very minor hop.

T - Smooth to a fault, alluring and complex. Very similar to a late harvest riesling.

M - Oily and sweet, Muscadet with a long finish.

O - A fabulous sipper, with no sign of the booziness that can trip up a great barleywine.

Fine job by CBC

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of YonderWanderer
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of ccrida
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On draught at the brewpub, served in a wine glass, Arquebus is a hazy peach with a small white collar and no effervescence. Dead still, but great color, I've always liked the lighter BWs, this on has a radiant glow to it.

Smell is lots of chardonnay grapes and alcohol, with a touch of toffee, it seems thick.

Taste is unusually dry and spritzy for a BW, which really cuts the viscosity of the body nicely. Very sweet, candy and apricot esters. I really like this style, fruity but not as thick and sweet as most English BWs do to the apparent minerals to help dry it out. Also, I can't help but wonder about the pervasiveness of the white wine...was this aged in chardonnay barrels?

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and slick, with a nice carbonation when you swish it.

Drinkability is high for me, very tasty and unique as well, I really enjoyed it and am glad I got to spend some time in Cambridge this summer and try this out.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

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Photo of Damian
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of vonnegut21
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Reddish brown color with minimal head.

S: Toffee, dark winter fruit, brown sugar, and vanilla.

T: Much like the nose. Huge sweetness. Brown sugar, caramel, toffee, vanilla. Lots of fig and raisin. Almost reminds me of a barrel aged dubbel.

M; Smooth and creamy, but a bit thin and completely uncarbonated. Not a bad experience, just a bit unexpected when drinking a barleywine

O: This is a really tasty beer that I am glad I finally was able to try after much anticipation.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
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

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Arquebus from Cambridge Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 36 ratings.