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Blunderbuss Barleywine - Cambridge Brewing Company

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Blunderbuss Barleywine
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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

109 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 109
Reviews: 43
rAvg: 4.29
pDev: 8.62%
Wants: 76
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: 109 | Reviews: 43
Photo of ThirstyBird
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
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
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
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
4.6/5  rDev +7.2%
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
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
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
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
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
4.54/5  rDev +5.8%
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
4.12/5  rDev -4%
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
4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
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 +0.9%
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
4.58/5  rDev +6.8%
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 -4.9%
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 -5.8%
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 -24.7%
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 -0.2%
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 -3.3%
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%
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%
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 -0.9%
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 -2.1%
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 -5.6%
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 +12.4%
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 +12.8%
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 -2.8%
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 +0.7%
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 +2.1%
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.

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Blunderbuss Barleywine from Cambridge Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 109 ratings.