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Cambridge Benevolence
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RATINGS: 45   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.74   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 378   ABV: 12.6%
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COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
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.


4.8
   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
fbennett (293) - Portland, Oregon, USA - MAY 10, 2006
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.

4.7
   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
MartinT (8024) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - JUN 29, 2009
UPDATED: JUL 7, 2009 My Bottom Line:
This grandiose achievement in brewing harmoniously marries bourbon, sour cherries, medjool dates and wild yeast flavors into a luxurious body worthy of meditation. This ambitious project has bloomed into a most marvelous osmosis of Flemish Sour, Fruit Beer and Barley Wine.

Further Personal Perceptions:
-A slice of foam surfs the mahogany-tinged dark brown.
-Alcohol seems to vary a lot from batch to batch; from 8.6% to over 12%!
-Vinous fruitiness, tartness and wooden dryness meld beautifully into the vanilla sweetness.
-Alcohol is remarkably well hidden for a 12% brew.
-The soft tiny bubbles are effervescent, making this a very classy, easygoing sipper despite all the present flavors.
-Complexity here is endless, yet all flavors seem to coexist on the same plane. Very impressive!

On tap at the brewpub.

4.4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Bacterial (1677) - Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA - MAY 21, 2014
Wow what a nice surprise to find. Brewed again for their 25th anniversary. Dark brown pour with a reddish hue and almost no head. Nose is huge raisin with a hint of lactic tartness. Taste is wonderfully complex with lots of things happening, yet working together so very well. Raisin, oak, tawny port, awesomeness.

4.3
   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...

4.3
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
willblake (2654) - Bel Air, Maryland, USA - OCT 8, 2005
09.30.05 GABF Murky brown. Queer nose is like a barleywine crossed with an oude brune. Molasses, fresh caramel, honey, peanuts, prune juice, old cask. Fascinating sniffer. Smoky notes dance throughout. Tastes like sugar, wood, cherries, white sour balls, pineapple, bubblegum. Damn this stuff is wild and delicious. Palate is more like a sour than a strong ale as it’s unctuous but medium in heft. Really could be a dangerous quaffer.

4.3
   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 19/20
tiggmtl (4548) - Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA - DEC 7, 2005
Woody, minty, herbal, maple, tart aroma with some Belgian yeast character, dates and raisins apparent. Opaque muddy brown body with very low, off white head that recedes to ring. Chocolate, raisins, dates, fig-like fruit flavours with some funky vinous character and some alcohol. Tart in the woody, bitter finish. Medium body is quite dry with lively, lightly prickly carbonation. Sampled at GABF 2005. This gets my vote for top overall beer at the festival for this year!

4.3
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 19/20
Miguel (1181) - Saint-Ours, Quebec, CANADA - MAY 8, 2006
En fût au Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge, MA. Robe noire sans mousse. Arômes de chocolat noir, de porto, de caramel et de fruits rouges. Saveurs de madère, de chocolat noir, de cerises noires, de porto et de malt caramélisé.

4.2
   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.

4.2
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Rastacouere (6136) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - OCT 10, 2005
Deep reddish brown pour with quickly fading head. The nose is immediately heavily vinous, shaping a date and grape richness that is only matched by the equivalent earthiness. Bourbony influence shines among the vinous nature, adding a generous dose of complexity, smoky and oaky to the already massive brown Belgian. Nutty, chocolatey, caramelic etc. maltiness has to cope with a fair bit of roastiness that, while it rounds the alcohol out nicely, may not have been the most competent complement to the liquorous and strong acetic environment. Sticky full body, very sweet. Decadent stuff.

4.2
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
lilannie (384) - Adamstown, Maryland, USA - OCT 16, 2005
GABF 2005
Aroma: peat, molasses, bittersweet chocolate, mustiness, earthiness
Appearance: murky brown, little head, no lacing
Flavor: plums, raisins, chocolate covered cherries, brown sugar, mustiness, and red wine
Palate: smooth and creamy


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