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Arquebus - Cambridge Brewing Company

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37 Reviews
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Reviews: 37
Hads: 113
Avg: 4.23
pDev: 17.02%
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 37 | Hads: 113
Photo of WunderLlama
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Draft poured into a tulip glass

Translucent Copper, white foam floating in the middle along with ring

Aroma of honey, sweet fruits

Sweet taste, honey, apples,

Lightly syrupy mouthfeel , medium mouthfeel , low carbonation

No carbonation, feel the alcohol

Very nice beer

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 ChrisPro
4.77/5  rDev +12.8%
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).

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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 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 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 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 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 FunkyMacGroovin
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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Photo of asabreed
4.84/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

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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 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 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 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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Photo of rye726
4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'07 Vintage

This is some tasty stuff. Pours a rich rusty brown with a thin tan head. The nose has big sweet malts, delicate hops, oak and chardonnay wine. The taste is equally complex and delicious. A huge white wine and oak presence over candy malts, ripe citrus fruits and spicy alcohol. Superb balance and drinkability. Full body silks over the palate and enhances the drinking experience.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
4.84/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

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Photo of mcallister
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

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Arquebus from Cambridge Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 37 ratings.