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.

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DaSilky1 (2608) - San Diego, California, USA - SEP 27, 2009
GABF 2009: Settles in the glass in a dark haze with an off-white topping. The nose is alive with bourbon, toffee, vanilla, wood, and chocolate. Moderately acidic mouthfeel brings notes of bourbon, chocolate, toffee, and sour wood notes. By far my favorite offering from this brewery at the GABF.

notalush (5955) - Lakewood, Colorado, USA - SEP 26, 2009
GABF2009 - holy hell! - this beer is huge in more ways than one - loads of sour cherry, fruit skin tannins, and light earthy funk in the nose, with a light touch of oak and acidity - date, raisin, sour cherry and other dark, heavy fruits in the flavor - warming, but not overpowering alcohol - some earthy wildflower honey qualities through the middle - red wine and oak characteristics cut the sweetness - this is some serious stuff.

Lubiere (14262) - Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA - JUL 28, 2009
A nice reddish amber ale with a thin creamy moka head. A wonderfully pleasant dark fruits in aroma, molasses, treacle and maderized porto, enticing and intense. In mouth, an interesting mix of dark candy cane extract, sour molasses, and raisins. Challenging in a good way. Rich and warming. On tap at brewpub, July 1, 2009

MartinT (10155) - 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.

elihapa (1554) - Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - MAY 19, 2009
On tap, poured in snifter, at Cambridge Brewing Company. Pours dark brown-purple, with no real head. Downright ominous. Aroma has huge dark fruit and oak. Tons of raisin, dates, black cherry, and sherry-something. Flavor hits with equal bang, such a deluxe sweet and complex blend. I could go on and on about what is present, but I’d say that plum and sweet raisin dominate the entry, followed by chocolate covered fruit, oak, and sour cherry. No alcohol showing through at 12% ABV makes this beer all the more special. Excellent, too bad Cambridge doesn’t bottle this!

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.

GonZoBeeR (3061) - ste-catherine, Quebec, CANADA - MAY 8, 2006
Vintage2001,On tap at the pub... Aroma:Chocolat,toffe,strong,alcohol.... A brown,small head..... Flavor:Strong chocolate,molasso,malt caramel....

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.

SuIIy (1984) - Burlington, Vermont, USA - MAY 6, 2006
Draught snifter at CBC 5/5/06. Pours a dark brown/black color with no head. Texture is very smooth with a bit of bitterness in the finish. Aroma is dates and raisins, some light chocolate notes. The taste is very datey and raisins again, some of the chocolate is there too. Some light wood notes and hints of sweetness.

Ernest (7890) - Boulder, Colorado, USA - APR 15, 2006
GABF 2005. Body is medium brown. Aroma is moderately malty (roasted grain, caramel), with notes of cherry, sherry, and wood. Flavor is moderately sweet, lightly acidic. Finish is lightly sweet, moderately acidic, lightly bitter. Medium body, watery/syrupy texture, soft carbonation, moderately alcoholic. Had several samples of this due to the buzz surrounding it on the floor, but could not form an affection for it. Aged too long or improperly (fairly strong oxidation that took away the charms it may have had). Looks great on paper, but rather disappointing to sample.

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