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Blunderbuss Barleywine - Cambridge Brewing Company

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Blunderbuss Barleywine
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BA SCORE
95
world-class

98 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 98
Reviews: 40
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 8.58%
Wants: 75
Gots: 1 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-10-1999)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 98 | Reviews: 40 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kaelingirl
4.75/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of DrinkSlurm
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap at Sunset Boston.
Pours a honey color with a red hue. Thick foamy head.
Caramel, vanilla, raison, and booze aroma.
Taste is very similar, sweet and easy on the palate with a bit of hop bite.
Overall, really nice well balanced and drinkable beer.
I hope to try more of CBC.

Photo of Jefe73
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of Adamdc
5/5  rDev +16%

Photo of oline73
4.05/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on-tap at the brewery during EBF weekend. Served in a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a reddish amber color with a ring of off white head that goes away completely.

Smell: Sweet caramel with some raisins, brown sugar, and some heat from the alcohol.

Taste: Similar to the smell, which is a very good thing. Sweet with caramel and some vanilla notes. Dark fruit and smooth, warm alcohol wound things out. The finish is mildly bitter.

Mouthfeel: The body is thick and the carbonation is a bit high given the style. The finish has a touch of dryness to it.

Overall: This is a very good barleywine and I would love to have it again. Very complex and delicious.

Photo of Yabev15
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of wdarcy77
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of PEIhop
5/5  rDev +16%

Photo of markeyri
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +16%

Photo of bpfrush
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of BlackWednesday
3.73/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy amber hue with a fading head and minimal lace. The aroma has a strange vinous quality (which I see now may be the French Oak and dried fruits), salty and peppery with a moderate caramel vapor. There is a light phenolic nature to the nose as well. The taste is salty, tannic and bitter that attacks the palate before a smoother bready and malty character settles down. The finish is part sugar sweet and vanilla versus an equal part sharp spicy hops. The feel is biting and aggressive with a warming nature, the alcohol is not hidden but not offensive either. A good solid brew that could be even better with a tweak or two.

Photo of thstevens12
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

08 blunderbuss bottle on location at CBC

Appearance: Cloudy, orangeish brown. No head or lacing.
3.5

Smell: Vinous - smells akin to a sour. Wildflower honey and tropical fruit (pineapple?). Warm booze. Really great nose.
4.5

Taste: First thought is honey drizzled bread. Syrupy sweet, almost cloying. The apricot character brings to mind dessert wine.
4

Mouthfeel: Slick and thin. Doesn't coat or cling-surprising given high abv
4

Overall: Good beer - glad I had chance to try. Reminds me of white port. Would love to try bal-aged iteration (09/10 vintage I believe)
4

Photo of Pahn
4.53/5  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).

Photo of ThirstyBird
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 in a flip top - thanks jdiddy! Pours a hazy orangish brown with minimal head. Smell is rich deep fruit, caramel and a little bourbon barrel. Taste is similar to the nose. Rich and delightful. Medium plus body. Delicate carbonation. Overall a wonderful sipper.

Photo of Mess
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

Photo of bceagles39
4.63/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

Photo of axeman9182
4.43/5  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.

Photo of Slatetank
4.38/5  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

Photo of ffejherb
4.53/5  rDev +5.1%
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!

Photo of Kegatron
4.1/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ the Cambridge Brewing Company on 2/20/10. 2009 edition served in a snifter.

Pours a deep hazy amber with a thinner looking covering of creamy bright-white froth. Retains mostly with some thin foamy ringing but this does have a rich and sturdy flareup to it that leaves a robust cascade of lacing along the sides of the glass. The aroma is rich in the nose with honey, bread, vanilla, and fruit coming out the strongest, while spice, green citric tones, and woody tannins pull up the back. More subtle accents of herbal hops and even a smidge of brown sugar work their way in as well.

The taste stars with a big sweet base of toasted bread, caramel, honey & brown sugar, and fruity accents. The remnants of the hops are mostly herbal with some extra notes of bitter citrus and spice that lingers in the back of the throat with a dry feel. A smack of vanilla and wood hangs on the palate as well, along with some leftover residual sweetness. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a big mouth-filling creaminess up front that then descends into a much more slick and sticky feel to the carbonation more towards the back of the swallow. There is some definite beef to this and I would say that it feels, body wise, like the posted 13% ABV but I'm pleased to find that the alcohol taste itself for the most part was held in check.

This was good take on a barrel-aged Barleywine. Maybe not quite as interesting as the description on the beer menu may have had me initially believe but the aroma and feel on this for such a big beer were enough to hold my attention through the duration of the glass. Another solid offering here from the CBC.

Photo of NEhophead
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
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!

Photo of IBUnit63
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
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?

Photo of TrevorGW
4.63/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

Photo of kmo1030
4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i'm reviewing the limited bottling that i recieved on new years eve. i'm thinking this counts as a growler for the purposes of reviewing. if anyone has any info that it may have been legitimately bottled rather than pulled off tap i will gladly update this review.

the beer pours a hazed amber brown with a thin tan head.
i get some citrusy hoppiness, mostly grapefruit and a little pine with the first whiff. it's got an earthy caramel/toffee base beneath the hops, with some additional fruitiness, maybe some medicinal cherry, and dark fruitiness that's mostly raisin-y. a little grassiness develops with warmth. with the warmth, the hops that i thought i smelled recede way into the background, to such a degree that i feel i may have been mistaken. the smell is a little understated in this format.
the taste is loaded with toffee and buttered crusty bread. beneath that lies some very interesting fruitiness. cherry, raisin, sweet orange, pear, plum. herbal, slightly grapefruit-y hops provide bitterness at the end and clean things up rather well. a bit hot, but not 11.5% hot.
the mouthfeel is pretty full and slick, with moderate, but fine carbonation.
good drinkability especially cnosidering the high abv. a very fine example of an engligh leaning american barleywine.

Blunderbuss Barleywine from Cambridge Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 98 ratings.