Cambridge Benevolence
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RATINGS: 46   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.8/5   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 378   ABV: 12.6%
When we brewed Benevolence the first time, over fifteen years ago, we were treading some seriously untrodden ground with an altogether new and unique beer, and we caused quite a stir. Since then the craft beer-loving public has become more familiar with barrel-aged beers, blended beers, sour beers, etc., and we’ve dramatically expanded our barrel cellar and our production of, shall we say, challenging beers to greater acclaim.

Of course, when we burned all production notes for this beer in a fit of artistic pique, we failed to foresee years of requests for us to do it again. Nor did we imagine how appropriate it would be to attempt to reproduce it in honor of our 20th Anniversary. Now as we celebrate out 25th Anniversary, we’ve done it again. With more than a little bit of nostalgia, the original production and tasting notes are below for your enjoyment.

This is certainly a strange one…

An altogether new and unique creation in the world of beer, Benevolence combines the age-old traditions of Belgian lambic blending, Flanders sour ales, wild fermentations, and barrel-aged English strong ales with new American ingenuity and a penchant for the bizarre.

A very strong wort made with 8 different malts, aged hops, Belgian candi sugar, and organic black raisins was fermented with multiple yeast strains in stainless steel, then racked into used bourbon casks. Wild fermentation was sparked by the addition of dates, fresh sour cherries, and raw local honey, which left a dry, puckering tartness in the finish. After three years aging silently in the wood, this intentionally soured beer was blended with a young strong ale, and Benevolence was born.

Deep raisiny brown, the nose exhibits fresh dates, brown bread, oak, and subtle sherry-like oxidation. On the palate, soft carbonation, sweet raisin/fig/dates, a touch of herbal honey, oak, vanilla, and the slightest hint of maple lead to a rich but slightly tart finish with the character of well-aged madeira wine.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
whaleman (2178) - North Wales, Pennsylvania, USA - OCT 5, 2005
GABF 2005. Hazy, dark chestnut body with a fast-fading, effervescent beige head. Aroma of bourbon, sweet dates, figs, organic dark honey, and maple syrup. Smells sweet and sublime. Flavor is very earthy, malty, fruity, oaky and wild with nice dark toasted cherry elements. Sweet but balanced by a long, organic fruit peel quality bitterness. Superb and exciting beer.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Walt (2449) - Austin, Texas, USA - OCT 4, 2005
I have wanted this for almost 2 years...pour is murky brown amber...smell is alcohol, oak smoke, raisins, dates, vanilla...flavor is vanilla, grape, butter, dates, alcohol, oak...god damn this is awesome...

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
DavidP (1748) - Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA - OCT 3, 2005
GABF ’05. Whisky aroma with chocolate backing. Dark brown body. The flavor loses that boozy and replaces it w/ dark fruity malt, licorice, chocolate. Quite good.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Aubrey (3509) - Bellingham, Washington, USA - OCT 3, 2005
Very smooth and creamy with a gentle carbonation. Big chocolate notes throughout ... plus sweet fruit (cherries and strawberries). Smaller note of wood. Pleasant and tasty.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20
argo0 (13316) - Washington DC, USA - OCT 3, 2005
(GABF05) Murky red-brown body with minimal beige head. Aroma is moderately sweet, vanilla, peat, alcohol. Taste is very sweet, syrup, vanilla, alcohol, peat. Full body with some acidity.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Murphy (1759) - Fort Collins, Colorado, USA - OCT 2, 2005
GABF 2005. Murky dark brown, no head. Fantastic aroma of cookie dough, cherries, vanilla, and alcohol. Taste holds sour cherries, alcohol, and dark fruit. Hearty finish is bitter and toasted. Wow.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
ClarkVV (5858) - Boston, Massachusetts, USA - NOV 11, 2004
UPDATED: MAY 19, 2005 2004 draught @ Cambridge Brewery. Dark magenta tones swirl throughout a murky brown body with dark blacks and a creamy yellow-tan head. Aroma is yeast, yeast, yeast. It’s got alcohol, prunes, figs, musty old wood, dry vinous notes and raisins. What is this stuff reminding me of???? I had to sit there and smell it for a while but then it hit me, this stuff smells almost exactly like Kuhnhenn Fourth Dementia Old Ale! Which is great. It’s full, pungent and wonderful. Flavor is a mix of sour fruits, dry wood, vanilla, sherry and dark malts. Finish has a big vinousness, a bit of bitter dark chocolate. The complexity is astounding. Wonderfully made stuff, though admittedly not as Belgian tasting as I would expect. More like a baltic porter mixed with a really strong English Old Ale and then aged on wood. Body is not thick and syrupy and though the flavor is full, it is much more loose than I expected.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Eyedrinkale (3213) - Astoria, New York, USA - NOV 8, 2004
One of my favorite American brewed beers at the Boston Belgian Fest. This stuff is a murky reddish brown color with tiny bubbles that serve as a head. Aroma is bready with dried fruits. Taste is tart/sour cherries and grapes, light cocoa, grapefruit and more dried fruits. So complex, you could stand there all day picking out flavors as the temp on the beer rises. A truely complex fantastic beer.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 13/20
DYCSoccer17 (3637) - Woodland, California, USA - NOV 7, 2004
Draught. Bourbon aroma, but there are some sweet roasty cocoa powder notes in there as well. Hazy, muddy brown color with a small light tan head. Vinous, sour and astringent to start. Hints of vines and bourbon with some chocolate to finish. A bit thin and astringent. Needs to make up its mind...

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
GeniusGirl (221) - Boston, Massachusetts, USA - NOV 6, 2004
tap at belgian beer fest. opaque milk chocolate color... aroma of jack daniels, cocoa, amaretto... had to wait in line for them to tap this... and what to i get ... a strange prune juice lambic... not my thing

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