Benevolence
Cambridge Brewing Company

Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Wild Ale
Ranked #153
ABV:
13.5%
Score:
95
Ranked #2,108
Avg:
4.35 | pDev: 10.57%
Reviews:
33
Ratings:
63
From:
Cambridge Brewing Company
 
Massachusetts, United States
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  32
Gots
  3
SCORE
95
World-Class
Notes: Blended Dark wild ale brewed with raisins, aged in American oak rye barrels.

An altogether new and unique creation in the world of beer, Benevolence combines the age-old traditions of Belgian lambic blending, Flanders sour red ales, and barrel-aged English strong ales, with new American ingenuity and a penchant for the bizarre.
Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 63 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of mike22ne
mike22ne from Massachusetts

4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewery.

Huge aromas of raisins and dark caramelized fruits, apparent as soon as the glass is on the table.
Taste follows with raisins, dark cherry, caramel fudge, and a nice light sourness and funky quality. Reminiscent of port wine or Flanders red ale. Dry finish.

Well balanced, a nice touch of wild sourness but not overly so.

Excellent, glad I tried it!

Aug 15, 2019
Photo of jmdrpi
jmdrpi from Pennsylvania

4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

on draft at the brewpub, in a smaller (10 oz? ) glass

very dark brown in color, with off-white colored head, that fades soon. big boozy aroma of raisin, plum, black cherry, some dark caramel. similar complex flavors in the taste. medium bodied.

Aug 05, 2019
Photo of brentk56
brentk56 from North Carolina

4.65/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives the color of a full-bodied red wine with a one finger head; a few strands of lacing.

Smell: Dates, raisins, plum and red wine grape ; buttressed by dark chocolate, oak and a Bourbon barrel character

Taste: Dark chocolate and dark fruit forward, with dates, raisin, plum and red wine grape; the Bourbon arrives in the mid-palate, bringing oak, vanilla and a hint of smoke; the finish brings together all of the elements

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: One of the most interesting beers I have tasted thus far in 2019; so much going on but it works very well

Aug 03, 2019
Photo of jbertsch
jbertsch from Massachusetts

4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Confused in rating this. The beer's delicious but it's billed as a wild ale, or that it has has wild ale elements. But there's no resemblance of anything wild sour or tart in its flavor or aroma. It drinks like a barrel aged old ale. Completely delicious but since it's billed as a wild ale I have to knock some points of the score for that.

Jun 26, 2019
Photo of smcolw
smcolw from Massachusetts

3.82/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Deep mahogany brown where no light passes. Lasting minor head. Little lace.

Strong berry and alcohol aroma, like a rich sherry.

Lots of raisin with a string boozy alcohol kick. Chewy body with a lower carbonation level. This is an after dinner beer particularly appropriate for the winter months. Think sherry.

May 19, 2019
Photo of Jerl
Jerl from Massachusetts

3.7/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I must start by saying this style and the raisin notes are not favorites and why the taste score was lower for me. However this is well made, full of flavor and lends perfectly to its barrel aging. Light carbonation, deep wine color and intense aroma. Raisin, chocolate, dates come through in taste.
If you are a fan of the style and these flavor notes this is a must try.

Jun 14, 2014
Photo of Stevedore
Stevedore from Oregon

4.24/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

On-tap at Cambridge Brewing Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A- This hefty beer was served in a snifter glass with minimal head. Body is dark reddish-purple hued. No lacing.

S- Plum juice, dates, raisins, yeast spice, red grape must. Dark chocolate. Oak tannins. Lots of smoky and sweet bourbon character. This is definitely complex and strong.

F- Dark chocolate, raisins, oak tannins, sweet bourbon with less smokiness as in the nose. Dates, tart cherry are in the background. This is a very tasty, complex beer that still shows the base very well amidst the strong bourbon barrel aspects.

M- Thinner in body despite the smorgasbord of flavours. Lower in carbonation. Still a bit dry with a slightly oaky but sweet finish. The bourbon flavours are accompanied by a slight bit of fusel and heat.

O- Strong, intense and complex beer that wins any taste test. An improved mouthfeel would help the overall cause a lot, but in terms of what matters- smell and taste- this packs a ton of flavours.

Jun 08, 2014
Photo of Davepoolesque
Davepoolesque from Massachusetts

4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Had a dark burgundy color, almost wine like. Smelled like berries, dark chocolate, a bit of oakiness. The taste? A complex mixture of fruit leather, dark chocolate, like a chocolate covered fruit of some sort, some wine. Rich tannin's, oak and a slight tanginess really dry out your mouth, begging you to take another sip. This beer was phenomenal. Seriously could not detect any of the 13% alcohol in this.

May 08, 2014
Photo of Patrickbrusil
Patrickbrusil from Massachusetts

4.92/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is it. On cask at the CBC 22nd birthday party.

Its hard to come to grips with how good this is. It drinks like a creamy quad but with tremendous sour qualities. The dark fruit quad hits first and then flows like a dream to the back of your mouth where the sour taste refreshes and finishes the job. The small wine glass was the perfect size as this is surely to be savored.

This is unlike any pour I've ever experienced and to me it is a pinnacle of what well made beer can be.

May 07, 2011
Photo of Pahn
Pahn from New York

4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Cask at CBC 22nd anniversary party event. 2007 vintage.

Appearance: Dark red brown, looks close to still. Leaves tight rings of lacing that disappear after a few seconds.

Smell: Deep raisin like an old English barleywine, with some fruity quadrupel notes. Faintness of the smell lowers the score, but what you get is very full and inviting.

Taste: More impossibly deep sugary raisin malt flavors, candi sugar, oak, sweetness, with a hint of sourness. Awe-inspiring.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, rather creamy. Low carbonation.

Overall: I loved this beer. A real gift from CBC to anyone who came to the 22nd celebration. This is the kind of beer you remember for a long time, and rarely taste anything like. It's somewhere between a well aged, perfect English barleywine, a well aged quadrupel, and a sour beer. It's a beer so good that even though I loved it, I feel like I don't like it enough.

May 07, 2011
Photo of rye726
rye726 from Colorado

4.8/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 2001.

These guys always do great barrel aged beers. And their barrel aged sours are no different. Great color and head. Super sour nd super funky with a nice wine barrel character. Perfect balance of flavors. Crisp, refreshing body has a long complex finish.

Feb 21, 2011
Photo of deltatauhobbit
deltatauhobbit from Maine

4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I wouldn't really call this beer an American Wild Ale, it definitely had more in common with a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Pours a dark brown color with a thin tan-ish head, not much in the way of lacing though.

Smell is an aroma punch, huge amounts of candied sugar and malt, tons and tons of dark fruit like raisins and dates, hints of alcohol but that's not much of a shock.

Taste is similar to the aroma with the candied sugar and dark fruit stealing the show, it is quite strong as evident by an alcoholic burn, didn't slow me down one bit though and I enjoyed a couple of these with no problem. I was quite surprised by how much I liked this beer, never heard of it until I tried it, shame I'll probably never try it again :(

Mar 19, 2010
Photo of chinabeergeek
chinabeergeek from Massachusetts

4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

from day two of the CBC 20th anniversary party on may 9, 2009

this was the final course of the anniversary prix fixe pairing dinner. served in snifter and paired with a rice pudding using similar fruits and the beer itself.

dark brown w red tint. murky. minimal, light tan head, fades to wisps and ring, eventually almost nothing. no lace.

aroma: dark dried fruits of figs, prunes, and raisins. licorice and molasses notes. rum and brandy tones, touch of fresh plum, and hint of barrel aging. faint acidic whiff.

taste: smooth fruitiness, like plum pudding, with surprising cocoa note. rum and brandy again, but not boozy, w woody oak tones. gentle grassy hop bitterness with mild acidity. nice.

light to medium body, slightly watery but texture from acidity and tannins. good mild carbonation for refreshing tingle and flavor lift.

Jul 11, 2009
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
GratefulBeerGuy from New Hampshire

4.12/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my 100th review on-tap! mini snifter

A nutty dark brown color, thin and tanned head with only small lacing all around.

the nose has a fruity, sour and wild yeast aroma up-front. solid, thick and sweet malt underneath, dark fruits, dates and raisins and very tart.

the flavor is a very nice wild-yeast complexity that has tangy and sweet dark fruits, wood-aged alcohol effect along side with a very solid malty balance. wonderful complexity for this wild ale, slightly peppery and herbal on the way down. sour-cherry flavor makes this one really refreshing. Oak and vanilla pop out of the malt in a subtle way and the very end bringa a port wine sweetness.

this one has wonderful balance for a wild yeast ale.

Jun 08, 2009
Photo of IBUnit63
IBUnit63 from Massachusetts

4.03/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ CBC...served in a sniftah...

Very nutty ginger head with murky bourbon/dunkel color. Full-finger head sticks around a while; body is pretty opaque with a little more carbonation than expected. If any beer was meant for a snifter, this is right up at the head of the class.

Sour dates, plums and raisins abound (wild fermentation mentioned, but with the malt profile rolls a little different from your typical Brett) with huge vanilla oak. Almost too much going on-could use time to synergize-but still enjoyable. At the moment I want to age some of this.

In addition to the qualities found on the nose, let's tack on an Aussie "sticky" veneer of muscat and thick dessert wine-not so much sherry, madiera or port. Booze is still a bit hot but in short this is quite enjoyable. Lots of vanilla and bourbon from the oak wreaks a little bit of havoc on the New World Order but it's still pretty damn good.

Palate hits with a little sourness from wild secondary (?) along with a molasses and peach/plum veneer. Finish is pleasantly biting of funk and booze...maybe a little hefty hefty hefty but that's OK.

Again, I would love to taste this in another year. Or 2-3. Hot with vanilla oak but otherwise insane and very enjoyable if not in complete harmony just yet.

Jun 02, 2009
Photo of cheapxceptbeer
cheapxceptbeer from Massachusetts

2.68/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Not interested in formal review here, this is the excess of american craft brewing I could do without, even in the description it sounded ridiculous. 4 yeast strains, 12 types of malt, aged hops, belgian candi sugar, young and old ales being mixed, while this is a vague stereotype of the beer, it has too much going on. While the excessive work on this brew seems to take out the alcohol flavors, the other flavors are so overpowering this might as well have had a hot alcoholic bite. I have enjoyed raisin and date flavors before in beer, but this is just too intense, this isn't sophisticated, this is excess.

May 26, 2009
Photo of u2carew
u2carew from Massachusetts

3.7/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A) Dark, reddish brown in color. Slightly hazy. Thin head with nice lacing.
S) Robust, syrupy smell similar to port. Earthy aroma combinations include fig and date.
T) Date. Fruity. Some sourness but very minimal. So much going on with the taste its hard to describe.
M) Syrupy. Some chewiness. Thick. Full bodied.
D) WOW - so diverse the taste, but one is enough. Not my style, but it's somebody's.

May 17, 2009
Photo of cavman
cavman from Massachusetts

4.92/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I found this beer to be amazing,it has been brewed again and back on tap for a bit. To the beer:
A = nice looking dark beer with a reddish tint.

S = amazingly complex in the nose, has to be had to be described truly.

T = Licorice mixed with sweet maltiness upfront, followed by a dry stone fruit flavor mixed with a touch of sour/tart. I rated 5 on taste although I also feel a little bit more tartness would improve this beer even more.

M = Big mouthfeel, but very nice.

D = Drinks very easy for a beer that now clocks in at 12.6% ABV, not the 8.6% listed here.

Overall a great beer that you should make the trip for while it's available.

May 15, 2009
Photo of ridedammit
ridedammit from New Zealand

4.8/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had benevelonce a few times when I was lucky enough to find it on tap
at CBC. But the batch (2001?) at the 17th anniversary was simply
a great brew. A lovely very dark color with a darkish-tan head. The
nose is mainly of raisin or prune, and the taste is very complex, again
with the raising and fig feel. It finishes much like a port, and is an amazingly
drinkable beer. Its one of those once in a lifetime beers, unless Will and crew
have another barrel stowed away somewhere (please oh please).

May 11, 2006
Photo of Franchise
Franchise from Oregon

4.92/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Note: CBC 17th anniversary aged in a wood barrell brewed in 2001.

Oh my is all I can say...poured a dark black hard to tell in this light whether or not it is pitch black but it is very close leaving a tan head in its wake. The aroma is dark fruits, raisins, figs, nuts, brown sugar, chocolate are all present in the nose.

The taste is syrup thick, nutty, figs, lots of dark fruit with a syrup consistency and a chocolate fudge background. This is the most complex nose, and taste I've ever come across. This brew had to be an experiment, cause who would think of putting all these different flavors together. But they compliment each other so well. And so drinkable at 10%

The nose is as complex as a Belgian ale, with the chocolate hop presence of a stout, and finishing with a tartness of a well crafted sour ale. Could this be, all these flavors combined by a mad scientist, it is true. The only disappointing thing about this beer is that I will never be able to sample this again.

May 10, 2006
Photo of francisweizen
francisweizen from Alaska

4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had like a million samples of this one when all is said and done. Quite a few at the source, and quite a few at some BA fests in Boston. This is a pretty nice brew. Dark ruddy, rusty, reddish brown with a small khaki head that leaves nice lacing. Aromas are all Sweet spicy Belgian yeast funk mixed in with the wonderful old ale flavors of a Hardys or a Lees. The taste is funky and spicy with some lovely yeasty notes and the mouthfeel is medium bodied. Drinkability remains nice as well. Awesome stuff...

Jul 23, 2005
Photo of RoyalT
RoyalT from Ohio

3.5/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This one poured a very dark brown in color with a tanned head that barely came up from the tap.

Smell – This aroma is huge. The dark, roasty malts are laden with chocolate and a strong sourness. I can also pick up a lot of tarty fruits.

Taste – The dark chocolate came out even bigger at the taste. It’s really more like a milk chocolate flavor. There are plenty of other sweets in here as well like refined “candy” sugar and grapes and cherries. The bad news is that everything is extremely sour.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied BSDA went back and forth in the mouth from chocolaty sweet to acidicly sour.

Drinkability – This was just a bizarre ale and one of the strangest things I had at the 2004 Belgian Beer Fest. I see a lot of other Belgian-loving BAs like this effort by Cambridge but it just didn’t do it for me.

Nov 22, 2004
Photo of carln26
carln26 from Missouri

4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep brown with just a hunt of mahogany. No head on this beer. An aroma like fine brandy with hints of cherry and black cherry. The alcohol esthers come through on the nose. Wow again I am remindec of brandy. Sweet fruit, no trace of the hops. A mild bite from the alcohol. No lace. Medium mouth feel. I couldn't Fri k too much of this too much alcohol too sweet.

Nov 13, 2004
Photo of taez555
taez555 from Vermont

4.07/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter, this beer poured a translucent ruby brown body with a tan head that at first starts large but eventually completely disappears.

The nose on this baby says it all. PORT!!!! Seriously, if you didn’t know this was beer and somebody blindfolded you and asked you what it was you’d probably say port. Very strong dark fruit, plums, dates, raisins, PORT, a tart fruit, alcohol smell. Quite an interesting mix of fruit smells.

The taste was right along the same lines. Lots of intense fruits like plums, dark cherries and raisins with a very sugary brown sugar and molasses type tart sweetness. You can really taste the candy sugar in this baby. A soft subtle caramel and chocolate malt with a woody oak note are overshadowed by the big fruit flavors.

Quite an interesting beer. Honestly I’ve never been crazy about it, but it’s really growing on me. A beer that is just screaming to be paired with food. A must try, especially at the end of a nice CBC meal with some dessert.

Nov 10, 2004
Photo of gentlebubbles
gentlebubbles from Massachusetts

4.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amazing stuff!

Served in a snifter brimming with an off-white head over chestnut brown. Smells like scotch whiskey and overripe plums. Even a tiny sample passed around our party had us all marvelling. Hazelnut and plum and currant and vanilla mess around with your tongue and then the alcohol sneaks up behind you and lays a serious buzz on. To be sipped by a roaring fire with a good book and a cat in your lap. It certainly lit a roaring fire inside me on that freezing "spring" afternoon.

May 24, 2004
Benevolence from Cambridge Brewing Company
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 63 ratings