Arquebus 2017
Cambridge Brewing Company

Arquebus 2017Arquebus 2017
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Barleywine - English
4.19 | pDev: 9.07%
Cambridge Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Arquebus 2017Arquebus 2017
Notes: Described by CBC as a Summer Barleywine. "Arquebus" refers to a heavy portable matchlock gun invented during the 15th century, and forerunner of the rifle.
Reviews: 48 | Ratings: 137 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Theyrcoming
Theyrcoming from Ohio

3.99/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Carb was low, the viscosity might be inhibiting the carb. Syrupy, light Amber color. Typical barleywine notes mixed with honey and wine characteristics.

Mar 30, 2019
Photo of GoneARye
GoneARye from Washington

4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lively bottle, I tapped the cork after uncaging and it literally shot out and hit my ceiling.
Pours a golden amber with champagne bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass. Smell is huge on grapes and honey, smells sweet and inviting, like a jar of jam. Taste is sweet, starting with a floral honey and morphing into a sweeter malty grape. Just wish I got a stronger malt base here - this feels more honey and grape forward. Mouthfeel is surpsingly light. For the bubbles and the cork I was expecting lots of spritzy carbonation. overall this was complex and I'm glad I tried it
Would love be to see it with 2 years of age.

Jul 10, 2018
Photo of maximum12
maximum12 from Minnesota

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

Thanks to quirk6 for this 375ML corked & caged bottle, consumed after another fun but tiring fishing opener here in the land of 10,000 lakes. Some even have fish in them.

The pour is light orange with the weirdest head – it’s a peninsula of white foam reaching off the side of the glass like an accusing finger. The nose is sweet. Lovely honey, candied sweetness that almost leans Belgian, white grapes. Nice.

Arquebus is more dessert wine than beer. There’s an almost mead-like kick up front, with a ton of sweet, gentle honey. The honey mingles easily with a malt base (is there such a thing as white malts?) that tastes…light. Grapes and/or white wine next, oaky tannins, green apples, floral breezes. Smooth, sweet (did I say that?), rich, & dangerous. I can’t taste the alcohol, but it’s making me want to dance. Unless there are 1,000 other people around, we don’t want that.

I’m not crazy about putting perfectly good beer in wine barrels, but this seems like a natural marriage, rather than the standard stupid idea. I do wish the base beer was more visible, but this is a very good brew.

May 13, 2018
Photo of superspak
superspak from Ohio

4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

375 ml bottle into snifter; 2017 vintage bottling. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy golden amber/light orange color with a 1 finger fairly dense and fluffy white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big golden raisin, peach, plum, pear, apricot, fig, date, red apple, white grape, white wine, toasted oak, honey, caramel, and biscuit; with lighter notes of toffee, oaken vanilla, brown sugar, leather, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/oak earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity yeast, grapes, honey, wine barrels, and bready malt notes; with great strength. Taste of big golden raisin, peach, plum, pear, apricot, fig, date, red apple, white grape, white wine, toasted oak, honey, caramel, and biscuit; with lighter notes of toffee, oaken vanilla, brown sugar, leather, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/oak earthiness. Light herbal/grassy bitterness, wine/oak tannin spiciness, and grape tang/tartness on the finish. Lingering notes of golden raisin, peach, plum, pear, apricot, fig, date, red apple, white grape, white wine, toasted oak, honey, caramel, biscuit, toffee, vanilla, brown sugar, leather, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, grapes, honey, wine barrels, and bready malt flavors; with a great malt/bitterness, fruit tartness, and wine tannin spiciness balance; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Slightly increasing dryness from lingering bitterness, grape tang/tartness, and wine/oak tannin spiciness. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky, and lightly slick/sticky/tangy/tannic balanced mouthfeel that is great. Mildly increasing warmth of 12%, with zero barrel booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is an incredible English barelywine! All around fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, grapes, honey, wine barrels, and bready malt flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to sip on for the big ABV, with the mildly bitter/tart/tangy finish. More of a Blonde barleywine, but this just nails it all around. Very rich with perfectly balanced malts, honey, fruity yeast, and wine barrel complexity. A highly enjoyable offering.

Feb 24, 2018
Photo of puboflyons
puboflyons from New Hampshire

3.04/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

From the corked, caged 12.7 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on February 2, 2018.

It pours a slightly hazy orange-amber tone with a quick lasting fizzy white head. Little to no lacing.

The aroma reeks of grapes and wine rather than sweet, roasted barley mash like the barleywines I've come to love. For 12% there is no alcohol character of note.

Light to medium body and reasonably smooth. I like my barleywines to be heavier.

The taste has way too many grapes and wine characters instead of the sweet malty character of a typical barleywine. I suppose that was the point and maybe I should have given it a higher mark. But to me barleywines have a certain unique character and this messes with it too much for my liking. It may appeal to wine drinkers looking to try their first craft beer.

Feb 02, 2018
Photo of darktronica
darktronica from Indiana

4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Definitely a unique take on a barleywine, it truly is a lovely dessert for a crisp spring night. The honey, grape must and barley, commingled and aged in white wine barrels has my palate so confused. Is this a wine, a mead, or a beer? I had high expectations going in, and this has exceeded them. I've never had a barleywine with this flavor profile, and I suspect I won't encounter another. The ale itself emerges infrequently from the intensity of the other flavors, only occasionally giving a burst of floral hops that complement the honey, or a wisp of biscuity malt.

I love a good sauternes and interesting beverage experiments, like the growing number of brewers distributing beer/wine hybrids of various degrees. I feel like this is pushing the boundaries of the art... a great addition to Cambridge Brewing Company's long tradition.

May 13, 2017
Photo of spacecake9
spacecake9 from Illinois

4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours an opaque orange with a small white head.
S- Aroma is mild but wine-like.
T- Honey and wine barrel dominate the flavor.
M- Above average carbonation, light body.
O - Very good, unique, certainly not your typical barleywine. I would buy again.

Mar 15, 2017
Photo of Brutaltruth
Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Never had a "summer" barley wine....for that I am game!

This extraordinary ale pours a lightly hazy, glowing, golden pale amber with a
nice head of white foam that subsides to thick ring, thin sudsy pool, and features
some excellent lacing, Nose of strong booze, heavy caramel malts, floral notes
from hops, buttered honey biscuits, and light yeast notes. Flavors exceed the nose
with yellow raisin drenched in honey, herbal hop notes on the middle and rear, yeasty
breaded notes on the middle, and strong booze with grain notes that encompass the
profile without cloying. Fantastic mouth feel; medium body, smooth as silk, warm
as a fireplace in winter, medium carbonation, and a lightly dry warming finish.

Overall a fantastic little brew.


Feb 03, 2017
Photo of TheBeerCarl
TheBeerCarl from Massachusetts

4.19/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

The guy that sold me on this beer said it tasted exactly like a Sauternes. While it has hints of this lovely dessert wine, a Sauternes it is not. That being said, still a delicious beer.

The body of the beer has a rich amber color with near perfect clarity. The head is light but has great retention with lacing and an almost white color. Best looking Barleywine I've seen in a long time.

The nose is where this beer fell flat. The nose is heavily yeasty with hints of grapes, honey, biscuit and earthiness. Other than the yeast there is not really a strong nose on this beer which ends up taking away from the experience.

The flavor is sweet and smooth like a Sauternes but has a lot of tannin, oak and a specific bitterness that comes from fermented honey. There a bold malt character and it wouldn't surprise me if wheat was a major player in the grain bill of this beer; it has a weiss quality to it. There is very little heat and so for a high point beer, it is very drinkable.

The mouthfeel is where this beer is spot on with a Sauternes. It's like butter. Rich, juicy, bold and smooth (while apt, I understand that that description can be easily taken out of context). Wonderful mouthfeel to be sure. It's a good thing this bottle is pricey because I could easily see myself drinking 3 or 4 with ease and then being totally smashed.

Overall, I would definitely recommend anyone to try this beer. It's tasty! But it may not be worth the price to do it more than once.

Oct 01, 2016
Photo of Dope
Dope from Massachusetts

4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Can't find a bottling date but recently released.

A: Clear amber pour with a small tan head. No real retention or lacing.

S: Smells like honey, lots of it. Some grapes too?

T: White wine and strong honey flavor combined. Some grapes in there too. Huge honey flavor in fact, mixing with a bit of caramel on the back end. Light lingering white wine and honey flavor in the aftertaste.

M: Big and sweet.

O: Don't let the wine barrel label steer you wrong, this baby is sweet. Pure honey and grapes from start to finish. Not far from a big mead in fact. The white wine is just an afterthought in comparison. Very tasty, don't get me wrong.

Sep 08, 2016
Photo of ichorNet
ichorNet from Massachusetts

4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, the legendary Arquebus is finally being bottled. Brewed at Mystic for CBC, this "summer barleywine" made with local honey and Sémillon grapes (a prominent component of Sauternes wine) and aged in French oak wine barrels has been a mainstay of anniversary fests and barleywine celebrations at the brewery for years, and I'm very excited to be able to review it at home for a change. I've enjoyed this beer many times, mostly surrounded by excellent company, but to sit and savor it alone is a different kind of experience, so let's get into it.

Pours a rather unassuming pale-leaning golden color with an extremely retentive bone-white head that laces moderately as it slowly fades. Surface is murky and hazy with some carbonation rising towards the center of the glass. The creamy head and austere appearance propel this to excellence, for sure, and the color is uniquely bright for such a strong beer. The honey used definitely helps this aspect, and I'm very glad they fortified it this way as this beer just looks gorgeous in a petit glass.

Nose is similarly honey-forward, with notes of white grape, raw barley, light oak and dried fruit. Super laid back and unassuming considering its strength, though, that's for sure. It's not as acidic as some white wines, so it's more on the sweet/fruit end, and that makes sense considering the grape varietal used. A bit musty, yeasty and sweaty in the nose as well. This just seems like a good ol' strong beer to sip after working in the yard all day; forget session beers, relax with something like this and you'll be set!

Flavor is smooth and complex with wildflower honey, light florals, white grapefruit, plum and oak upfront with a finish of semi-sweet wine and tannic oak. Alcohol is relatively hidden, but this is still obviously a strong beer (just doesn't taste like 12%). Superbly balanced with very little hop character to speak of but bearing a rich palate of malty and sweet sensations. Excellent stuff here.

Feel is wonderfully well-rounded with a heavy-leaning body and light carbonation helping spread complex notes of ripe fruit and oak across the palate. Carbonation is even-handed with a rather non-intrusive temperament, instead allowing the incredibly complex flavors to provide coaxing along the tongue. Alcohol heat is fairly noticeable, relegating this to a slow sipper. That's alright, though, as you're going to want to make this bottle last for a while. Awesome stuff. Hope they bottle more of their insane barrel-aged creations... Cambridge Brewing has needed this kind of market exposure for a long time!

Aug 20, 2016
Photo of WunderLlama
WunderLlama from Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Draft poured into a tulip glass

Translucent Copper, white foam floating in the middle along with ring

Aroma of honey, sweet fruits

Sweet taste, honey, apples,

Lightly syrupy mouthfeel , medium mouthfeel , low carbonation

No carbonation, feel the alcohol

Very nice beer

Oct 10, 2015
Photo of Davepoolesque
Davepoolesque from Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Whenever I drink the Arquebus, I always forget how awesome it is. It's light for a 14% barleywine with massive fruity flavors and a touch of wood. Total malt fruit bomb. Low in carbonation, makes this an easy sipper.

Jan 31, 2014
Photo of GarthDanielson
GarthDanielson from Virginia

3.94/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on-tap at the brewpub and served in a tulip, the beer is a dark, ruby-brown coloring with a thin ring of white head. Nose of old world fruit, rich and sweet, with wine characteristics of booze and dryness. Flavors are rich and roasted forward, with a fruit cake overlay, sugary and rich. Fig, date, and raisin, with a bready backbone and boozy overtones. Caramel and toffee rich and roasted notes present, too. Very balanced with fruit and sugary sweet characters. Smooth, creamy body. The aftertaste is subtle cinnamon spice, booze, and a rich fruit sweetness. Clean, rich, smooth finish. For the style, this is a surprisingly drinkable beer. Very balanced and tasty.

Oct 28, 2013
Photo of vonnegut21
vonnegut21 from New York

4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Reddish brown color with minimal head.

S: Toffee, dark winter fruit, brown sugar, and vanilla.

T: Much like the nose. Huge sweetness. Brown sugar, caramel, toffee, vanilla. Lots of fig and raisin. Almost reminds me of a barrel aged dubbel.

M; Smooth and creamy, but a bit thin and completely uncarbonated. Not a bad experience, just a bit unexpected when drinking a barleywine

O: This is a really tasty beer that I am glad I finally was able to try after much anticipation.

Oct 08, 2013
Photo of axeman9182
axeman9182 from New Jersey

3.78/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a small teardrop shaped glass at Cambridge Brewing Company.

Arquebus pours a mildly clear orange, with almost a finger of white foam. There's no real lacing or head retention to speak of. The nose has a very strong mint presence along with a little bit each of honey and white wine. The flavor brings a bit of caramel to join a honey note that's more intense than I might have anticipated from the nose. The mint comes in mid palate, and while it's still fairly noticeable, it's not as overbearing as in the aroma. There's a subtly fruity white wine finish. The body is shocking, and very impressive in its lightness for a 14%ABV beer. The beer menu advertised the beer as being served still, but it seemed very lightly carbonated to me. Either way the end result is a mouthfeel that lends itself to the beer being way too drinkable for 14%. Cambridge makes some of the best barleywines around, but I have to say this didn't quite live up to my memory of prior vintages. Still, a very nice brew.

Sep 10, 2012
Photo of mdfb79
mdfb79 from New York

4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 08/18/12 notes. Had this one on tap at the brewpub up in MA. Menu said it was actually 14% ABV; maybe the earlier batches were 10.75%. They serve it as a 6 oz. pour which was the perfect amount of this one.

a - Pours a somewhat clear amber-orange color with a tiny bit of white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of white wine, oak, citrus, grapes, vanilla, and some fruity malts. Tons of white wine here; very nice.

t - Tastes of white wine, vanilla, honey, smooth oak, fruity malts, green grapes, earthy notes, light citrus. More vanilla and some honey here, so SUPER smooth. Little better than the nose.

m - Medium body and no real carbonation. Body is super smooth and easy to drink thanks to the honey and vanilla.

o - Overall a really good beer. A sipper for sure, and I can see the comparisons some people have made to Utopias, as it is definitely a "have only a few ounces of" dessert beer. If you're a white wine fan you should definitely seek it out, and I'd certainly have it again if I saw it on tap.

Aug 26, 2012
Photo of xnicknj
xnicknj from Pennsylvania

3.89/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap at CBC in boston

Pours a clear burnt orange and caramel color with very little lacing and some wispy film left behind.

Plenty of honey and caramel in the nose, followed by light oak and white wine-like fruit. Definitely sweet, with burnt sugar and alcohol heat. Thick bready malts and caramel as well.

Burly malts with sticky honey drizzled across the profile. Notes of caramel in the thick backbone, with bread and burnt sugar. Oak tannins with soft fruit sweetness, smacking of white-wine from the barrel aging with apricot and pear. Multi-layered with intermittent boozy warmth, especially during the finish. Residual sweetness as well with pear and peach.

Fuller body, mild carbonation, sticky and lingering on the tongue. A fascinating take on the barleywine, although I found the honey and wine-driven fruit a bit sweet for my tastes.

Sep 13, 2011
Photo of Mebuzzard
Mebuzzard from Colorado

3.82/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is deep gold, kind of a dull amber. head is minimal and forms a collar of white foam as it settles out.

Aroma is sweet. Vanilla, oak, caramel, pear and alcohol. Being a barley wine I suspected some ethanol and got it.

At first sip, this brew reminds me of Sam Adams' Utopias. It's more like a port/sherry/brandy thing than a beer. The little carbonation boosts this idea. Caramel and vanilla dominate. The chardonnay barrels used (I'm told) come through in a musky kind of way. The taste is good, but I wish some bubbles would provide some zap.

A nice brew nonetheless. Interesting. If you're looking to see what Utopias tastes like, this one is the closest brew that I know of...but keep in mind it's not as strong in flavor or abv.

Aug 18, 2011
Photo of glid02
glid02 from Georgia

3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the brewpub. I believe the ABV listed on the menu was 14%, perhaps it's a different recipe than in years past.

Pours a clear deep amber color with a cream-colored head that leaves decent lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with large amounts of medium and dark fruits – pears, apricots, and raisins. Also present are mild amounts of oak and vinous aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Strongly sweet caramel malts up front are joined quickly by boozy fruit flavors – pears and raisins with hints of plums. Midway through oak and white grape flavors mellow things out a bit before the sweetness reasserts itself and carries through to a moderately sweet ending. Mouthfeel is good, with smooth carbonation.

Overall I found this beer to be too unbalanced for my liking, with too much emphasis on the sweetness. If this beer were a bit drier I think the barrel would be able to shine more.

Aug 17, 2011
Photo of mltobin
mltobin from Connecticut

3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is a cloudy amber tone with a thin head.
Arquebus smells of apricot, white grapes, malt vinegar, raisin and some vanilla too. The taste of this barleywine comes through with the boozy aspect, as well as sweet notes like honey, fruit and some herbs. MF is not too thick, the texture on this strong beer is nice and mellow. Overall, it is pretty good barleywine, but some of the flavors seem to be too far spread out.

Jul 22, 2011
Photo of ChrisPro
ChrisPro from Illinois

4.77/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at CBC.

A - Clear orange-brown with an eggshell colored head. Honey-legs left on the glass as I drank.

S - One whiff and I know that this is exactly why I came to CBC. Tons going on with this beer with caramel, fig, honey, mango and apricot. The grapes/barrel give it a really complex aroma that I can't get enough of

T - Sipping this is like sipping dessert. There is so much sweetness and complexity I feel like it's a complete dessert dish. Tons of caramel sweetness, but just a slight dry tannic finish to attempt at cleaning the palate.

M - Very full bodied and nice carb. Slightly boozy, but it doesn't detract from the beer at all.

O - This is a phenomenal barrel-aged beer and deserves to be up there with the best. If you're in Boston and this is on tap, make sure to find your way to Cambridge. I put away a few of these that night and didn't regret it (well, maybe a little the next morning).

Jul 21, 2011
Photo of rinhaak
rinhaak from Massachusetts

4.01/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at CBC in Cambridge.

Pours a syrupy copper red with no head.

Nose of oak and honey, cherries, and sherry.

Tastes much more like an after dinner liquor than a beer. Lovely, though, and beautifully balanced. Lots of honey and grape on the tongue, very boozy like a sherry.

Overall very nice, very enjoyable, but I question CBC's designation "summer barleywine." All the same, well worth drinking.

As an aside, I should add that when I ordered the beer in July 2011, the listed ABV is 14% - 3.5% more than BA lists.

Jul 15, 2011
Photo of SABERG
SABERG from Massachusetts

4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this offering fully. On trap at CBC

A - Deep gold, with veery little head. Stuck to the glass very much like a deset wine.

S - Facefull of fruit, absolutely stunning. Apricot, honey, melon, pear. Minor malts and very minor hop.

T - Smooth to a fault, alluring and complex. Very similar to a late harvest riesling.

M - Oily and sweet, Muscadet with a long finish.

O - A fabulous sipper, with no sign of the booziness that can trip up a great barleywine.

Fine job by CBC

Jul 04, 2011
Photo of jlindros
jlindros from Massachusetts

4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the brewpub.

Pretty much no head, mostly clear copper brown color.

Nose has tons of sweet malts, brown sugar, some caramel and toffee, crystal malts, molasses, and a very light grape must.

Taste is pretty sweet, light buttery oak and vanilla, brown sugar, crystal malts, toffee, little creamy, pretty malty too, some booze but not too heavy, some woody barrel ester flavors, light tart grape flavor and some old white wine. Finishes a bit hot, still fairly sweet, more brown sugar, caramel, and hint of toasty malts, and grapes. Complex and tasty.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, decent carb for the style, bit boozy.

Overall pretty good, the grape add a nice touch to the sweet caramelized brown malts, nice malts and flavors overall, a little boozy but decent for 11ish %.

Jun 25, 2011
Arquebus 2017 from Cambridge Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 137 ratings