Blunderbuss Barleywine - Cambridge Brewing Company

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Blunderbuss Barleywine
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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

42 Reviews
THE BROS
96
world-class

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Reviews: 42
Hads: 111
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 3.97%
Wants: 79
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Cambridge Brewing Company visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-10-1999

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 42 | Hads: 111
Photo of waughbrew
4.84/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark red with orange highlights and just a ring of white head when served. Smells of sweet caramel cherries. The flavor is the longest, most complex, most evolving flavor ever tasted in a barleywine, even when a little too cold. A lot of apple action and definitely on the sweet side despite the bunch of hop bitterness in there. A fresh fruity hop flavor is there but does not get in the way of the dominating malt. It grows, then declines, with the vanilla taking over from the hops and no uncomfortable moments at all. Thick and smooth. Exceptional. (552 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'04-'05 vintage on-tap at the brewpub. This vintage was listed as 12%.
Deep ruby brown body with a faint haze and a small, but persistent, light tan head. Big aromas of fruity esters, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla, rum, all checked by a spicy, dry-hopped, noble piney, mesmerizing hop backing. Amazing. Taste does not disappoint. Very complex malt flavors: dark stewed fruits, toffee/caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, brandy, light anise/licorice. Never gets too sweet thanks to a hefty hop balance. Bitter enough to subdue the malt, but nowhere near astringent, just great hop flavor: spicy, floral, piney, it's all good! Wow. Finish lingers on forever. Big, chewy malt body, yet luxuriously smooth throughout. Warming and dangerously drinkable. Get this if you can! (766 characters)

Photo of Damian
4.71/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank on tap at Cambridge Brewing Company, Cambridge, MA
Served in a snifter
Thanks to my friend OtisCampbell for treating me to this.

The beer poured a slightly hazed, deep garnet color. There was no head but merely a bright white collar atop the liquid.

The nose was both intriguing and intense. My initially thought was that this smelled like apple cider. There were also loads of fruity esters, which reminded me of banana Runts. Malty rich and fairly sweet. Dark fruits came through strong. Quite plummy. Caramel and toffee were also noticeable. As the beer sat, a touch of port was detectible.

Lots of interesting things going on in the flavor profile as well. Rich and robust with a stiff caramel malt backbone. Sweet and doughy. Loads of dark fruits. Raisins, plums and figs were most obvious. Good amount of toffee. A tad oaky on the back end and the finish. Semi-dry with a kiss of alcohol warmth. No hop presence whatsoever.

The mouthfeel was uber pillowy and soft. Velvety smooth. The liquid contained a super fine and mellow effervescence that complimented this beer perfectly.

While many barleywines are either bracingly hoppy or cloyingly sweet, Cambridge Brewing's Blunderbuss fortunately is neither. This remarkably complex take on the style contains a plethora of interesting and unique flavors that balance each other perfectly. I would really love to see this bottled one day. (1,401 characters)

Photo of bceagles39
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on draft at CBC on Monday May 10, 2010. The 2009 Blunderbuss.

Beautiful pour, frothy head, serious lacing. Amber color.

Oaky smell at first, then onto the fruits.

Taste is sweet at first, grows in complexity with each sip. Rich flavors of raisins, caramel.

Heavy mouthfeel, which I loved, but yet still very smooth and highly drinkable.

Great example of the style, my favorite CBC beer. (395 characters)

Photo of TrevorGW
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a short snifter at the brewpub. Deep hazy amber body with a thin head that sticks around along the edges.

Aroma is soft. Raspberries and honey, and possibly some bread from the yeast.

Taste is sweet and fruity. Up front you are hit with maple sugar and a creamy orange. A little bit of chalkiness in the middle. Finish is dry, which is an accomplishment considering the syrupy texture that you get at the start. Moreish!

Tightly carbonated and full-bodied. The bubbles are complimentary to the malt and do not invade the flavor in any negative way. This is a pleasure to sip. Very quaffable.

Every barleywine is different in its complexities. This one is a marvel. (678 characters)

Photo of ffejherb
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Cambridge Brewing on 3/1/10.

A - Very hazy reddish orange liquid akin to cinnamon with half an inch of bubbly beige head that receded to a doughnut-shaped ring of retention then settled into a patchy film and spotty lace.

S - Superbly aromatic nose with a sweet, candy-like sugary character, prevalent borubon character and woody, oaky notes. Aroma is quite hoppy as well with hints of floral notes, fresh herbs and citrus fruit. Wow! There is even a lush vanilla sweetness that is just lovely. What a fantastic smelling beer!

T - Extraordinarily complex with lush vanilla notes and strong bourbon character as well as floral hop notes and a hint of citrus fruit. Malt is swet and sugary with a caramel presence. Oak character is restrained overall, keeping the dryness to a minimum. The citrus attributes really open up as the liquid warms up.

M - Medium bodied with a fairly syrupy texture and ample carbonation, but not too lively. Finishes with moderate alcohol warmth and bitterness on the palate.

D - Blunderbuss is definitely up there with the best barleywines I've encountered in my travels and boasts an amazing bourbon character that just hits the mark perfectly. This is a complex barleywine that remains extremely drinkable without becoming too warm or alcoholic in the process. Fabulous! (1,315 characters)

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A mighty thanks and raised mug to Will for allowing us to sample this creation at the post-AOBF jazz brunch at the CBC. Aged for 2 years...this is going to be good.

The appearance is of a rich amber, with an ever-so-faint head. Stunning. Wonderfully fragrant, too. All sorts of scents weave an impressive tapestry of the complexity of this beer. Lots of fruits, sugary sweetness, alcohol, and flowery/fruity/spciy hops. It's the taste that reminds you just how special this beer is. A almost perfectly-balanced beer, with everything coming together on your palate....the chwey malty sweetness balanced with the hoppy bitterness, with the alcohol providing a nice warming effect. Mouthfeel is silky smooth and very drinkable. An excellent way to finish off the brunch with my fellow BA's.

Hats off and mugs raised again to Will. I may have to make a special trip to Boston again just to visit the CBC. (906 characters)

Photo of Pahn
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500ml flip top growler (but they call it a bottle, so I'll call it a bottle) of 2008 Blunderbuss barleywine, drank on premises at CBC.

Appearance: Looks still. Hazy brown orange. No lacing. Attractive nonetheless.

Smell: Booze, faint musty note, lots of sweetness, some grape and some raisin. As the beer warms, the smell really coalesces into a beautiful whole.

Taste: Somewhat white wine like up front, leading to a deep "well aged English barleywine" set of raisin and sugar notes, ending with a long, chewy toffee finish.

Hard to fully describe the flavor of this one. Not a lot of notes I can name besides "Raisin, some darker malts, toffee." Still, the overall flavor approaches perfection. The flavor *is* without any overt flaws. If it's rightly a 4.5 instead of a 5.0, it's just that more things could be happening.

Mouthfeel: On this front, the beer really is perfect. It's medium bodied and a little sugary and chewy, but everything is in balance. Just enough carbonation. Every aspect of the feel elevates the flavor.

Drinkability: Huge, well aged barleywine with barely any discernible alcohol in the flavor, great depth, great balance. These are the beers that draw me to master brewers, so I can't give it below a 5.0 for drinkability. I wouldn't just order it again, I'd go out of my way to find it.

I thought I'd be sick of Arquebus and Blunderbuss after trying their various (brilliant) iterations at the recent CBC barleywine festival. The bottled 2008 stands with the best of them, and illustrates why 1 to 2 base beers can be enough to merit an entire event. Of the beers I had at the fest, I'd say only Blunderbuss aged in port barrels beats this one. Excellent stuff (par for the course for CBC). (1,730 characters)

Photo of AllThingsNinja
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter, this barley wine had a very modest head crowning a rich mahogany body. The aromas were quite woody, with a hint of fruit. The flavors were rich and complex ranging from a crisp hoppy bitterness to oak, and roasted malts. The smooth drink ended my visit to the CBC on a high note. (300 characters)

Photo of CharlesRiver
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have been waiting for this one to go on tap and it's here! They pour this beer into a 9 oz. snifter. Reddish dark brown in color with a small head that left a nice lace. The smell is a lot of hops (Cascade?) and some fruity notes. The first thing I noticed was how smooth this beer was. No harse edges. Malt, caramel, bark and a bit earthly. More complex than I had imagined. Obviously has a great warming effect.

One thing I did notice was this barley wine was smooth NOW so you don't have to wait a couple of months to sample. I have had barley wines on tap that needed more conditioning time. This one IMO is ready to go! Great job CBC!

(This year the ABV is 11.3%) (677 characters)

Photo of Bierman9
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice dark brown color, but very small head. Rich sweet nose that says "Alcohol", and a bit of hops, too! Medium-smooth tongue, and medium-full body. Not hard to take! Taste has dark fruit, sweetness, more alcohol, and a piney-hop finish. OK by me!! Nice bier!!

overall: 4.4
appearance: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5

50 (355 characters)

Photo of axeman9182
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served in a snifter at CBC's 21st anniversary party. Pours a lovely dark caramel color, with an off white head that could stand to leave a little more lacing behind. Smells mostly like an English barleywine, though there's some hop bitterness lurking in the background. The beer is an interesting hybrid, caught between being an english and american barleywine. It's plenty sweet up front, but finishes with a bitter kick. There's also a nice vanilla flavor coming through from time spent in port barrels. The beer is nicely carbonated, and has a suitably creamy mouthfeel. A 12.5% barleywine shouldn't drink anywhere near this smooth, the alcohol is practically nonexistent and I could nurse this all night long. (713 characters)

Photo of taez555
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a small little snifter this beer poured a translucent clear amber body with a small white head that died quickly.

The nose was rich with sweet malt tones. Rather fruity smelling. Very light hops. The alcohol found it’s way through here and there.

The taste was very much along the same lines. Beautifully rich and malty. Full bodied and rather heavy. Malt and caramel dominate. Sugary sweet with firm but hidden alcohol that sneaks up on you by the end. The hops are perfectly balanced and the bitterness sits evenly in the mix.

Simply an amazing barleywine. Malty, not overly hoppy. Perfection. This and other special offerings make me want to get an apartment right across the street so I can come to CBC every day. (737 characters)

Photo of NEhophead
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at CBC's 20th anniversary.
Served in a snifter.

Pours a muddied, oak-tinted maple beneath a creamy, mild head. Delicate rings of lace around the snifter. Creamy caramel, milk chocolate, and toffee aromatics over a subtle aged fruity character. The flavors are smooth and balanced: creamy, semi-sweet. Toffee, caramel, and dulce de leche. Notes of raisin and fig amidst a faint, mellow alcohol presence. The flavor combinations are heavenly. Full bodied; smooth, creamy, and unobtrusive. Although the alcohol content is above 11%, it seems odd that it is above 7%. A fantastic offering! (593 characters)

Photo of zerk
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber with a thin and whispy head. Aroma is quite complex with notes of fig, vanilla, and oak. Much the same in the flavor profile, with a sugary sweetness at the front and subtle herbal bitterness in the finish. I could notice the alcohol in the finish as well... made for a nice warming effect. Body is full with with very low carbonation. All in all, a quite enjoyable beer worth seeking out. (408 characters)

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: On tap.

Appearance: Deep dark amber with a haze, light tan lace holds well.

Smell: Extreme aromatics, big on fruitiness and alcoholic esters. Some hoppy aromas and a touch of malt and caramel also.

Taste: Huge chewy malt, lots of residual sweetness of ripe fruit(figgy) and caramel. A hoppy oil keeps the enormous malt back bone in check with a sufficing bitterness and yet a bigger hop flavour. Sweet grain and fading hop linger into the after taste.

Notes: A devastatingly great barley wine, blended and balanced to perfection. (555 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Cambridge Brewing Company - the barleywine is the 08 version aged in Buffalo Trace barrels. Served chilld in a snifter

A - A hazy golden w/ amber hues, thin cap of pale color and tiny bead w/ rocky surface to the head w/ slight lacing that has good stickiness factor

S - The aroma is very fragrant w/ smell of floral citrus hoppiness w/ subtle aroma of alcohol and mild tangerine candy-like malt aroma. The nose has slight vanilla/caramel w/ slight spice and mild mix of astringent notes and esters of stone fruit

M - The feel is full and has strong malt influence w/ warming alcohol and moderately bitter back w/ hop acidtity balancing - the finish is dry w/ toasted spiced nuances and slightly creamy sweetness - the finish has a drying quality that lingers

T - Blunderbuss is packed w/ sweet malt which doesn't quite reach sugary in the flavors, the bourbon steps in early w/ a gentle complimentary taste that doesn't overstep its bounds- but adds to the taste. Vanilla from the oak is accompanied by a spicy and citrus taste from the hops, mildly astringent and balanced bitterness-wise. The hops add flavor to the woody barrel notes and give a lift to the booziness w/ a mild pine flavor in the back end. The barleywine finishes smooth with a very nicely balanced quality allowing the flavors of bourbon, malt, hops and oak to comingle -delicious

D - For a 11.5% barleywine this drinks very easy almost TOO easy. It has all the elements that make you want another - but yet the alcohol is mild in the overall flavor -very pleasurable to sip and the barrel usage is masterful -truly great barrel aged barleywine (1,641 characters)

Photo of IBUnit63
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at CBC and into a snifter it goes...

Clean light bourbon body topped with buttery 1-finger head-good lacing.

Almost estery scent-at least more than expected for a BW. Lighter than expected...good English-style grassy hops in there at first, but floral notes emerge. Slight sweet alcohol burn.

I like this-borders on a Triple IPA feel, it's so light. Grassy hops on nose become floral and even citrusy-CBC mentioned there were Cascade, Centennial and Galena in here and it was dry-hopped. It shows. Malt feel is light with mellow sweetness-alcohol burn is negligible.

Mouthfeel is comforting-a little cool-gets sweeter with warmth. Tingly from carbonation. Clean finish.

Whoooa, camel...wayyy too drinkable at 11% ABV. A "crisp" BW? Whodathunkit? (757 characters)

Photo of smcolw
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tulip glass. Thick head that settles slowly, leaving a blanket of delicate lace. The liquid is dark brown where I can tell it's muddy.

Sweet brandy-like notes--cherry and rum soaked raisins. Blindfolded, I might think I was smelling a cold port. Delicious nose.

Deep roasted malt flavor upfront--the sweetness comes in the swallow along with a good dollop of alcohol warmth. The aftertaste features dark cherries and plenty of alcohol--quite the kick. Very thick body which is enhanced by the nearly non-existent carbonation. Chewy.

One of the best Barley Wines I've ever had. (594 characters)

Photo of PatandDavid
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

CBC had the '02 version at their most recent beer dinner, and I was lucky enough to partake of Todd's glass (thanks!). Served in a small snifter, it was the color of rich chestnut and raisins, and really, so nicely aged, it didn't need to impress with a big head or everything (I find these beers over-all don't creat big heads...they are concentrating on other things). Aroma was a deep, rich, thick layer of malt meets alcohol. Mouthfeel, I would say was medium +, and extremely smooth, considering the abv. I didn't know the abv until this review, I would have thought it was single digits. Tastewise, I enjoyed the rich, deep malty character, with touches of raisins. While not overly sweet, there was some fruity touches (dark fruit). Again, very smooth and enjoyable. A treat. Special note for Sakaroo: porkchop sandwiches. (829 characters)

Photo of PeatReek
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9-oz snifter on draft. 2005 vintage.

Appearance: deep, hazy copper body. If copper metal were translucent, it would look like this. Rocky tan/ecru head, starts thick with nice lacing.

Aroma: deep caramel sweetness, followed by a grassy, earthy and slightly citrus, LIVELY hop aroma.

Taste and mouthfeel: not a ton of alcohol feel initially. Body is thick, thick, thick. Taste is very broad... caramely, floral, notes of plum, slight orange tang. Grinding American hop presence with a shade of grapefruit. OK! Eventually the alcohol comes through, in the form of a slight tongue-numbness after several sips.

Drinkable? Way too! I could drink Blunderbuss until I passed out. And it wouldn't take long. (712 characters)

Photo of Prufrock
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 release on tap into a snifter. tasted alongside the 2004, the bourbon barrel aged, and the wine barrel aged.

beautiful golden amber. less than half an inch of head.

smell is great: sweet caramel and floral, grassy hops. not as much vanilla in the 2005 than in the other versions.

tastes like the aroma; great balance between the sweetness and the bitter hops that wash it away in the aftertaste. no hint of the high alcohol content.

fantastic beer, and the 2005 is the best of the bunch. if you can, get some while it's still on tap. (550 characters)

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.28/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on-tap A the Brewery on 3/13/07 served in a 9 oz snifter glass.

AP: The Color is a vibrant and deep amber with rusty hues, totally opaque. A one-finger sized creamy colored head dissipates slowly to a constant scattered covering that is sticky and leaves some sparse lacing behind.

Nose: Sweet malt, spicey and herbal hop, sour fruits...all very aromatic.

Flavor: A very nice sweet malted flavor that's not too sweet; then it's a barage of flavor that includes herbal and spicey hops over sweet and sour fruits with some buttery bread mixed in with a mild heat that seems to really make the flavors flow together.. Very delightful and flavorful overall.

Feel: Full bodied, thick and slick feeling on the palate. Just right.

DA: Even with it's almost 12% ABV and it's full-bodied slick feel, this brew is extremely easy to drink.I had the Arquabus Barleywine last year and this Blunderbus is just as good, CBC sure does know how to brew a a fine American Barleywine. It's something you must experience for yourself. (1,030 characters)

Photo of purplehops
4.28/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Blunderbuss poured a deep rosewood brown with a thin light beige head that left some lacing on the glass. The aroma was floral hops, mace, apricots, caramel, and some evergreen notes. The taste started with a bold combination of caramel malt, mild brown sugar, and fig flavors. It then moves on to blend more flavors of pear, clove, and citrus along with the original flavors into a wonderful balanced complexity of goodness. The finish is smooth with a nice alcohol warmth balanced with malt and mace flavors and a hint of hop bitterness trying to make an appearance. Aftertaste is a sigh and a grin. Mouthfeel is a smooth medium full body that is a pleasure to watch swirl in the snifter (or maybe that's the alcohol that makes the swirls so pretty).
Overall a very nice Barley Wine that is well balanced with plenty of complexity and alcohol warmth. Well worth going out of your way for one. (895 characters)

Photo of Mess
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 cobalt blue flip top bottle from New Year's Eve at CBC. Cellared until this evening. Poured into a large snifter. Promising audible hiss from the flip top.

A - Rich cloudy orange brown, not unlike unfiltered cider. Tight white head.

S - alcohol and honey in nose. Dates, powdered ginger.

T - Honey off the bat. Malty brown bread. Brandy-like alcohol. Honey more prevalent as it warms. Very clean, otherwise not overly flavorful.

M - even mouthfeel, not thick or thin. slick maybe with tight carbonation - nice given it's a flip top and I've not had good experience aging flip tops. Dry finish.

D - Clean, deceptively easy to drink at 11.75%. Definitely a sipper to savor throughout an evening. (708 characters)

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Blunderbuss Barleywine from Cambridge Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 42 ratings.