Blunderbuss Barleywine
Cambridge Brewing Company

Blunderbuss BarleywineBlunderbuss Barleywine
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Style:
English Barleywine
Ranked #29
ABV:
11.5%
Score:
93
Ranked #1,668
Avg:
4.28 | pDev: 8.18%
Reviews:
53
Ratings:
144
From:
Cambridge Brewing Company
 
Massachusetts, United States
Avail:
Rotating
Wants
  97
Gots
  4
SCORE
93
Outstanding
Blunderbuss BarleywineBlunderbuss Barleywine
Notes:
Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 144 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is the 2019 vintage, Union horse reserve bourbon barrel finish. On tap at Cambridge Brewing Company in Cambridge, MA.

This smells like honey malt, toffee, spicy oak, port, bourbon, biscuits, raisin, caramel, and a slight hop character.

This has a bit of similar feel to JW Lee's, with that honey/port/maple syrup/caramel type tones. It's got a pretty sweet backbone, but the spicy oak and bourbon reign that sweetness in. There's a touch of warming booze as well. It feels very old school, and very well done in general.

This is medium bodied, just a touch syrupy, but it finishes surprisingly dry on the back end, due to the barrel character.

I've been curious about trying this beer for a while now, and it's an impressive and under-the-radar barleywine for sure.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a medium to dark reddish orange with a fine, one finger khaki head with great retention and thick lacing. Aroma of caramel malt, fresh and dried plums, raisins, dates and cherry. Flavor is dry caramel and mildly biscuit malt, dates, figs, mild plum, oak and whiskey. Finishes with rich biscuit and caramel, a bit dry. Medium bodied with light creaminess. A beautifully brewed English barleywine that has elements of both the dark fruit styles and the biscuit ones. Richly malty with nice barrel notes of oak and whiskey; well balanced. This bottle is listed as 12.5%, which is well covered. Excellent and well made.

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Photo of mike22ne
4.46/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle, 2018 vintage fresh from the brewpub.

Looks sub-par, opaque brown with no head.
Excellent smell and taste, lots of caramel toffee, biscuit dough and sweet honey and toast. A bit of dark earthy herbal hops, but this is a big malty beer. A good subtle touch of rye whiskey from the barrels.
Feels is full bodied, medium heavy, strong but well rounded in depth of flavors. Very low carbonation and some warmth but the alcohol is well hidden. Some dry oak in the finish, leaves me wanting another sip.
Overall really delicious, a fantastic beer for sipping on a cold winter's night.

Glad I could have some, will be worth getting more!

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Photo of jbertsch
4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

Cork and cage bottle poured completely flat. Aroma and flavor were still nice though. Lots of toffee with hints of caramel, peaty cherry, bread and more.

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Photo of Smakawhat
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Color and appearances seem to hit on a lighter and murky shade. Copper muted, closer towards orange than dark expected browns, but a nice touch of copper orange if a bit muddy. Minimal head creation, faint tan possibly, and a small flat top, slightly slick.

Very impressive aroma. Bursts of marmalade and sticky syrup aromas. Jam like touches of citrus and caramel rich toffee. Hints a little bit of herbality to this as well which compliments the marmalade quality so nicely. Flirts with darker fruits such as plum and raisin too, and a bit of possible Amerian hop expresssion?

Oak aging may have not contributed too much in mouthfeel, but it sure seems to hit with dominant flavors. Richly fruit forward and a soft caramel mixed warmth, with a light texture. Simple malt backbone, not too supportive but enough to get by, and doesn't seem to carry much of an oak quality. However, the mid palate is rich in plum, cherry, and orange marmalade qualities, with an excellent sweet not overbearing toffee flavor.

Pretty solid barleywine, flirting and going between American and English flavors too. Fun times!

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Photo of superspak
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375 ml bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours hazy dark ruby red/brownish color with a thin cream colored head with decent retention, that reduces to a minimal spotty lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big raisin, plum, prune, fig, cherry, date, apricot, red apple, red grape, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, brown bread, biscuit, and toasted oak; with lighter notes of oaken vanilla, nuttiness, chocolate, pepper, sherry, leather, tobacco, herbal, and yeast/oak/toasted earthiness. A bit of booze in the aromas as it warms, but not overwhelming. Damn nice complexity and balance of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, oak barrel, and light earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste of huge raisin, plum, prune, fig, cherry, date, apricot, red apple, red grape, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, brown bread, biscuit, and toasted oak; with lighter notes of oaken vanilla, nuttiness, chocolate, pepper, sherry, leather, tobacco, herbal, and yeast/oak/toasted earthiness. Light herbal/grassy bitterness and oak tannin spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of dark fruits, cherry, apricot, red apple, red grape, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, brown bread, biscuit, toasted oak, vanilla, sherry, leather, tobacco, herbal, yeast/oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, oak barrel, and light earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/bitterness and oak spiciness balance; with zero cloying/astringent flavors after the finish. Slightly increasing dryness from bitter/spiciness. Mild carbonation and fairly full body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky, and slightly slick/sticky/chalky/tannic balanced mouthfeel that is fantastic. Alcohol is extremely well hidden; a mildly increasing warmth of 12.75%, with zero booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is an amazing English barleywine! All around incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, oak barrel, and light earthy hop flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to sip on for the huge ABV; even with the mild carbonation. Huge fruity yeast complexity, rich malts, and awesome oak barrel presence. All exceptionally balanced, never overly sweet. Wish this was vintage dated, but it definitely tasted a few years old to me. A highly enjoyable offering, and amazing style example.

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Photo of SABERG
3.99/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a recently purchased bottle into the test glass at 40 Deg.
A - Hazy, caramel colored backdrop, tiny spheres meander top side. a thin ring of off white clings to the glasses edge.
S - Hints of toffee, white grape skin, toasted oak, some worn leather.
T - That cigar wrap tobacco starts and quickly makes way for caramel, toffee, a bit of bourbon note. Vanilla and fresh fig
M - Full on, hefty and oily, sweet but not cloying
O - An excellent offering from CBC, this has the classic elements, and is accentuated by fresh fig and stone fruit

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Photo of ManapuaMan
3.84/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The air is chilled...and #bil. Picked up a bottle and cracked it open a couple days later. Local + BA barleywine is a special combination.

Pours a honey-colored gold with minimal head. Starts off pencil thin then fades to swirls then random clusters of small bubbles in rapid order. Impressive clarity and hue.

Aroma on the lighter end of the spectrum, which is surprising. Candied fruit, light dates, caramel and a wisp of oak. Seems lighter-bodied.

Taste follows the aroma - candied fruit, Werther's original, toasted malts, dark fruit. Underlying earthy and nutty profile. Slightly piney and grassy hops present in the background. Low bitterness.

Finishes slightly flat and watery. I don't expect a great deal of carbonation from the style but it was less than I was geared up for. Didn't get that rich, sweet (caramel) and bitter (hops) taste. Moderate warmth from the ABV.

I'll need to give this another try at some point. Surprised my experience deviates so far from the BA community and my experience with CBC's barrel-aged beers in general. Maybe Central Waters' expanded barrel program and distribution has set a new (and higher) reference point. Who knows, but don't sleep on CBC and take my review with a grain of salt...

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Photo of jdhilt
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a two finger khaki head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving no lace. Deep brown color, no highlights. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. dark fruit nose and flavor malty, dark fruit, smooth. Higher ABV, now 12.75% is mostly hidden. Expensive at $10.95 for a caged and corked 375ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

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Photo of darktronica
4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Quite fruity for an American barleywine, innit? Not much hoppy counterpoint to balance things out, but on the other hand, the bottle does not make any claim of American or English style, so I'm inclined to give a pass on that. Brewing notes online mention a mix of American and British malts, with six types of hops, aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels: quite a complex undertaking. The nose and palate are both well in line with the brewery's description, with tart berries (I get grape, mulberry, and hints of blue- and rasp-) matching up against some lighter caramel and vanilla flavors, partly from the malts and partly from the barrel. I get some fusel notes on the finish which are a bit of a letdown, but overall, I quite like this as a pretty distinctive take on the style.

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Photo of Durge
4.19/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

It's murky mahogany in appearance with a fair light malt colored head that fades to a wisp with consistent coverage in recession. The aroma is bright sour grape rhubarb with a maple malt blend. There's a neat green hop that melds with an alcohol element. The taste brings a heavy port and cedar hop blend that is accompanied by a pleasant warming as it slides down the gullet. There's a brandy edge as well. Body is medium full with a somewhat viscous feel but there's enough crisp carbonation to keep it drinkable for the style. A very nice offering.

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Photo of Damian
4.71/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank on tap at Cambridge Brewing Company, Cambridge, MA
Served in a snifter
Thanks to my friend OtisCampbell for treating me to this.

The beer poured a slightly hazed, deep garnet color. There was no head but merely a bright white collar atop the liquid.

The nose was both intriguing and intense. My initially thought was that this smelled like apple cider. There were also loads of fruity esters, which reminded me of banana Runts. Malty rich and fairly sweet. Dark fruits came through strong. Quite plummy. Caramel and toffee were also noticeable. As the beer sat, a touch of port was detectible.

Lots of interesting things going on in the flavor profile as well. Rich and robust with a stiff caramel malt backbone. Sweet and doughy. Loads of dark fruits. Raisins, plums and figs were most obvious. Good amount of toffee. A tad oaky on the back end and the finish. Semi-dry with a kiss of alcohol warmth. No hop presence whatsoever.

The mouthfeel was uber pillowy and soft. Velvety smooth. The liquid contained a super fine and mellow effervescence that complimented this beer perfectly.

While many barleywines are either bracingly hoppy or cloyingly sweet, Cambridge Brewing's Blunderbuss fortunately is neither. This remarkably complex take on the style contains a plethora of interesting and unique flavors that balance each other perfectly. I would really love to see this bottled one day.

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Photo of brureview
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured in a snifter at the Cambridge Brewing restaurant.

Dark ruby-copper color with a 1/2 finger head.

At first, the aroma is light fruit, raisin.

The alcoholic finish is prominent.

Taste: raisin and fruit.

Food paring enhances the beer aroma/taste 500%. As if this beer was meant to tasted with food. Unlike other barley wines, this beer works exceptionally well with food.
I had the Balsamic grilled chicken sandwich with cheese, and the salad with vinaigrette. After eating, the fruit, raisin, and toffee blossomed in the beer.

The beer is currently 13%(?) and served in an 8 oz snifter.With food paring, one of the best
American Barley wines I have tasted.

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Photo of smcolw
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tulip glass. Thick head that settles slowly, leaving a blanket of delicate lace. The liquid is dark brown where I can tell it's muddy.

Sweet brandy-like notes--cherry and rum soaked raisins. Blindfolded, I might think I was smelling a cold port. Delicious nose.

Deep roasted malt flavor upfront--the sweetness comes in the swallow along with a good dollop of alcohol warmth. The aftertaste features dark cherries and plenty of alcohol--quite the kick. Very thick body which is enhanced by the nearly non-existent carbonation. Chewy.

One of the best Barley Wines I've ever had.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of oline73
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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Photo of BlackWednesday
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%
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.

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Photo of thstevens12
4.09/5  rDev -4.4%
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

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Photo of Pahn
4.5/5  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).

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Photo of ThirstyBird
4.25/5  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.

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Photo of Mess
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of bceagles39
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

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Photo of axeman9182
4.4/5  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.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.35/5  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

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Photo of ffejherb
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
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!

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Blunderbuss Barleywine from Cambridge Brewing Company
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 144 ratings