Cambridge Brewing Company: A brewery full of surprises

This weekend brought about a trek to the Cambridge Brewing Company, a brewery/restaurant I had previously heard of, yet never tried. I’d dare say the time spent ignorant of what the Kendall Square establishment had to offer was time wasted.

First off, let me just briefly note that the food offered at CBC is stellar. But that can be reviewed elsewhere. On to the beers…

I had the time and pleasure to sample four of the CBC’s offerings and I was impressed by all of them. Of the four, three were beers I’d like to have again and delve deeper into, while one was simply a solid base beer. So in the order of what I had, so I shall review.

First up was the Cambridge Amber. For what it was, it was enjoyable. A no-frills amber, it offered a malty sweetness in a medium-bodied amber-red ale with just enough hops present to make their presence known. By no means was this a bad beer; rather, it was outshined by what followed.

Like the Amber, the Charles River Porter is available year round and is an above-average offering for its style. Full-bodied and rich with a slight creamy head, the Charles River Porter had notes of toffee, chocolate and caramel, but wasn’t overly sweet while remaining smooth.

Cambridge Brewig Co.'s YouEnjoyMyStout

I followed the first two with a pair of seasonal offerings, both of which were outstanding. First up was the YouEnjoyMyStout, a rich barrel-aged stout whose commanding name I had no problem following. Served in a snifter, the first thing you notice about this oily-black imperial stout is the strong sweetness of its aroma. It’s not a ploy of any type: in fact, as an imperial stout, I didn’t expect the sweet chocolate and roasted malt flavor to wash over my palate as it did. Sweet and strong at 11%, the beer finishes with a symphony of coffee, oak and alcohol notes.

Finally, the most surprising beer of the afternoon was dubbed “Darkest Night,” CBC’s Belgian black solstice ale, which is brewed to “greet New England’s gradually awakening to longer days and (hopefully) diminishing cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Kinda of a grand goal for a beer, no?

But what the Darkest Night, a dark black beer that lets no light through, offers is a shock to the senses. The beverage is shockingly light in the mouth, with darker fruit flavors peeking through. Still, it’s hard to overcome just how light this dark beer feels on the tongue. Black and Belgian are a combination I never expected to pair so well together.

Also, the offerings are all reasonably priced. Not a single beer that I had ran over $5.50 and with the quality of the product, each was worth every penny.

Impressed with what I tried, I picked up a 22 oz. bottle of the CBC Bannatyne’s Scotch Ale. It’s one of the handful of beers offered from the brewery, which also sells growlers on premises. The brewery/restaurant offers nearly a dozen beers at any time and also has cask specials.

On my way out, I had a chance to speak to Jay Sullivan, who works at CBC as one of the newer members of the brewstaff. Sullivan said that the staff at CBC strives to offer quality beers that they would drink themselves.

“We come up with ideas and try them out, work with them a little and hopefully come up with things that people will enjoy,” he told me. “We take a lot of pride in what we do.”

After the quartet of beverages I had, I can easily say that the CBC has plenty to be proud of.

Visit Cambridge Brewing Co. on the web at http://www.cambrew.com.

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3 Responses to Cambridge Brewing Company: A brewery full of surprises

  1. 1 – Wall. Of. Text. Break it up with pictures – of the beer you bought, of what it looked like in the glass at the bar, of the place itself if possible, of anything you can use really. Blogs are best as a multimedia affair.

    2 – Definitely tell us what you ate. If it was super spicy, it may have blunted some of the alcohol tastes. Same as if it was super salty. Did you drink while eating? Did you wait until after? Did you smoke before or during the beers? Insofar as it affects your taste buds, I’d say it’s relevant.

    3 – I know this is nit-picky but: “enough hops present to make their presence known.” Say that aloud.

    4 – As a habitual loser and poor person, I really really liked that you mentioned price. So much so that I wanted you to mention more prices – how much were growlers, or the 22 oz. bottle you got? I would be tempted to encourage you to remark, even if briefly, on the price of food, but as this was a beer review and not a review of the establishment itself, that might be out of place.

    5 – Links! Does the Cambridge Brewing Company have a website? (They do! A nice one, in fact.) Put a link in, maybe just the first time you mention it. Or at the end, sort of a “If you’re interested in more, check out their website” or some such.

    The YouEnjoyMyStout looked the best to me. Chocolate, coffee, and alcohol are the bees knees.

    • Sean, these are actually all great suggestions and really helpful. I say “actually” without even the slightest bit of condescension as one usually equates with the use of that term. Honestly, I expected you to kind of tear apart the blog in some manner given the way you asked if we’d be terribly offended and basically hate your guts forever if you posted any critiques or suggestions on here. When I read your suggestions, I seriously felt like Mallard had maybe handed in a first-draft of a term paper and these were suggestions from a professor or something. Nicely done.

      • Haha, I just figured, who knows, maybe they’ll be offended? I find it’s usually best to ask if people mind before I just start shouting criticisms at them.

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