It probably won’t surprise regular readers to find out that I am a pretty big nerd. I have a bunch of geeky interests beyond just beer, including science (which is also my job), video games, Star Wars, fantasy novels and board games. So it should come as no surprise that the first time I saw a bottle of Cambridge Brewing Company Arquebus I knew it was named after one of the first firearms developed in Europe. For the uninitiated, the arquebus is also an available weapon in Dungeons and Dragons (or at least it was the last time I played D&D, it’s been close to 20 years). CBC Arquebus was developed to be the beer equivalent of a dessert wine, they took a blonde barleywine recipe and added local honey and Semillon wine grapes. The final beer is then aged in French oak barrels. Cambridge Brewing Company Arquebus is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 375 mL bottles.
Cambridge Brewing Co. Arquebus pours deep orange with solid white head. The scent is a mixture of white wine and rich malt. Arquebus is a very complex barleywine, many are just malt and booze, but there is a lot more going on here. Of course there is still plenty of malt flavor, notes of caramel and bread dough along with a mild sweetness. The wine grapes add significant flavor, notes of pear, apple and stone fruit. You also get some vanilla from the oak barrels and the faintest hint of hops. Arquebus is full bodied but drinks very easy for a beer with 12% ABV. The finish is rich with a little lingering fruit flavor and malt sweetness. This is an exceptional barleywine, it has the rich flavor you expect from the style with added complexity from the grapes and barrels, but everything works in harmony. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Cambridge Brewing Co. Reviews:
Cambridge Brewing Co. Pearls of Wisdom, Cambridge Brewing Co. Le Saisonniere, Cambridge Brewing Co. Hay is for Horses, Cambridge Brewing Co. Sgt. Pepper, Cambridge Brewing Company You Enjoy My Stout, Cambridge Brewing Company Remain in Light, Cambridge Brewing Company The Audacity of Hops