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Blunderbuss Barleywine - Cambridge Brewing Company

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Blunderbuss Barleywine
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BA SCORE
95
world-class

102 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 102
Reviews: 42
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-10-1999

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 102 | Reviews: 42 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of NEhophead
4.37/5  rDev +1.4%
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
4.33/5  rDev +0.5%
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
4.58/5  rDev +6.3%
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
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

Photo of morebeergood
4.04/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Stopped by for lunch today, and had a barleywine towards the end of the meal. Comes in a snifter glass. The color was cognac like. There was hardly any carbonation or head. The smell was amazing, the oak aged bourbon aspect really comes out. My friend across the table could smell it. The taste was immense, a wallop of beer and alcohol. You could defintitely feel the high abv. This is one of the best beers offered by CBC.

Photo of
3.23/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at CBC.

Dark copper in color. Hazy. No head to speak of. Good legs, no lacing.

Aroma was sweet, honey and floral. Alcohol came through as well.

Taste was sweet, kinda like watered down honey or mead. Sherry flavors came through. Some figs and raisins. Very strong alcohol.

Body was medium to full. Low carbonation. Sweet. Alcohol warming came on very quickly.

I was guessing English barleywine based on sweetness and, to me, lack of hop bitterness. Very surprised that this is an American barleywine. Possible that the Late Harvest I was drinking prior to this may have altered my hop perception ability....
Some odd flavors in there as well that I couldn't describe, but didn't care for much.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Photo of brentk56
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a copper color with a garnet tinge; the fluffy head leaves good lacing behind

Smell: Toffee, maraschino cherries and pineapple

Taste: Starts with a sweet blast of vanilla and maraschino cherry juice followed almost immediately by the pineapple bitterness; after the swallow, the strong pineapple flavors dominate through a lengthy finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A bit too sweet to drink in any quantity but clearly crafted with skill

Photo of PeatReek
4.29/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

Photo of Prufrock
4.29/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

Photo of Jason
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the 2004 vintage. On tap and served in a snifter glass.

A - Crested lace clings to the glass well, almost like a crown.

S - Mild solvent alcohol, alcohol soaked raisins with a backing of caramel and hop petals.

T / M - Sweet with a light warmth, clean bitterness struggles to balance though the alcohol and toasted grain pitch in. More sweetness middle to end; blood orange, fig, brown sugar. So smooth and creamy.

Notes: Where is the 12% abv? Very deceiving to say the least ... an awesome treat to help bring the spring in.

Photo of francisweizen
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Again. Dark Red/No Head. Aromas are fruity and spicy with many complex notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other interesting spices. The taste is malty, and sweet up front with a nice sticky hoppiness that makes itself known in the middle palate of this brew. The spiciness comes back in the finish and coats your palate with interesting flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and more. The alcohol is muted, as are the hops, but it works in this brew. Mouthfeel is thick, sweet, and coating and drinkability is good. 11.5% Wow, could have folled me. This drinks like a lower abv, smoother version. A nice sipping BW from a great brewpub. Nice.

Photo of carln26
4.05/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this on tap today while down at CBC for lunch. It poured a deep clear brown with ruby highlights. It had a decent cream head. The nose was filled with citrus floral pine along with a little hard candy. The taste was sweet candy up front with figs and floral hop. Some black cherry midway through the flavor profile. This beer realy reminds me of a Pinot Noir with layers of cheery, black cherry and the figs. Smooth mouth feel good drinkability. My only complaint was serving size. It was a small snifter that they only poured 3 quarters full. Come on, I'm a big boy !

Photo of alexgash
4.82/5  rDev +11.8%
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!

Photo of waughbrew
4.84/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Photo of Truh
4.17/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Declaimed haughtily with this one on 1/4/2005. Told it was a 8-oz. pour in a beguiling snifter, 12% abv, and let the rabbit run.

Initial fingernail head releases to a whitewash of squee-geed opulence. Rock candy sugar, high fruit sunny-ness, and germinating malt bawdiness, like a decaying nose gay to scent; alluring. As Boktech stated, there must have been some dry hopping, and I didn’t question his stance. Schism of malt court jester and apple-sweet tartness flay the dental roots on first contact, but lovingly; grape effects are noted and duly appreciated but the jam sandwich with lightly sifted brown sugar and just a hint of Toblerone are the added, finishing touches to this one. Would have loved to while the rest of my night away with this one, bent spoon, and a lump of sugar slowly dissolving into a green wash.

Photo of PatandDavid
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Photo of taez555
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

Photo of AllThingsNinja
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Photo of zerk
4.37/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

Photo of purplehops
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.18/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Original review was based on a sample at a beer tasting event.

Appearance: Poured from tap to give a beautiful dark amber-red barley wine with light tan foam that left some lace on the glass.

Smell: Aromas of citrus and hops and malt and sugar. A hint of spice in the smell, too.

Taste: Sweet caramel with nice floral hops throughout, including the finish. Delicious. Rich flavor. Some oak and spice mixed with the sweet malt.

Mouthfeel: Very well balanced sweetness. Smooth, creamy, and rich.

Drinkability: Excellent. I wanted to drink more and more. A very fine barley wine. At the brewpub this is served slightly too cold, but let it have a chance to warm slightly, to just below room temperature to fully appreciate the smells and tastes.

2/09/03 Update
I visited the brewpub and had one of these served in a 12 oz snifter. This much improved the appearance and smell. This is an excellent barley wine, one of the best I have ever had. It will be interesting to see how this one fares after a year or two of aging.

5/10/03 Updated

Sampled the 2001 and 2002 vintages side by side. The 2001 has mellowed and aged incredibly well! I give it 4/ 4.5/ 4.5/ 4.5/ 4.5 .

App: Cloudy, brown with hints of red, thin white foam.
Smell: Richly sweet malt with a hint of floral hops.
Taste: Sweet, sugary, caramel, toffee, a little bite.
Mouth: Smooth, mellow, med. body, low carbonation.
Drink: Very, very nice.

Photo of CharlesRiver
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
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%)

Photo of Alewife
3.93/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful dark copper color. Taste reminds me of being in the woods. Kind of a piney flavor. Complex, lots of flavor. Starts sweet, mellows, hints of citrus. Nice full body, medium smooth on the tongue. Finishes dry. Easy to drink.

Blunderbuss Barleywine from Cambridge Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 102 ratings.