I had some time to kill last weekend so I took a little trip across the orange and red lines to Cambridge Brewing Company. This is an awesome brew pub that has been putting out some excellent beer for over 26 years now. While they don’t seem to get the same hype as some of the newer guys, make no mistake about it: this place is legit. They offer up a wide variety of excellent house beers, good eats, and even wine for the non-beer drinkers that come through their doors. Being a bit of hike to get there using transit I don’t visit frequently, but when I do it has always been worth the trip. This time was no exception.
Since they had about a dozen different beers pouring that day, I went with a pair of flights to make sure I got to try at least a sample of everything that caught my eye. So here we go with flight number one. Starting from the left, I began on the hoppy side with Double Dry Hopped Tall Tale Pale Ale. It poured an innocent pale yellowish-golden body, but wow was this aggressively hoppy! Resiny bitterness joined forces with citrus zest to make this one intense Pale Ale. Checking in at 5.7%, this was a solid beer that should satisfy the hop heads out there. The next beer in line was BRAAAAAINS!, a 5% Session IPA brewed with shredded pumpkins and a healthy heaping of hops. This beer was a bit more balanced than the previous one, with a more moderate pine and citrus hop bitterness backed by hints of wheat, malt, and ever so subtle pumpkin. Beer number three was called Brett Semetary, and it has back story as interesting as its name. Last year on Halloween they put a batch of their Great Pumpkin Ale in an oak barrel with some Bretanomyces and kept it there until breaking it out for Halloween this year. The result was a sweet, deeply funky brew with hints of cinnamon and pumpkin spices. The near hay-like funkiness comes on pretty strong up front, blends with a bit of oak, and comes to more mellow end. Smooth to drink with a slightly syrupy finish, there was a lot going on with this beer, and all of it was good. Too bad I already finished my pumpkin beer rankings! Rounding out the flight was a Wild Ale called Family Meal, which they list as having been aged with both Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. It poured a deep amber, almost red-wine like body. The taste was primarily sweet dark fruits with a wonderfully funky, tart backing. It was really easy to drink at 6.0% and it was probably my favorite beer of the day.
I started the next flight off with something a bit more traditional, their Cambridge Amber. This beer was quite solid in its own right and was a shining example of what a non-hoppy Amber Ale should be. It poured the color you’d expect and presented a pleasing blend of toffee and caramel malts before coming to a slightly roasty finish. Super smooth to drink, an easy choice if you’re looking for a pint. Next up was the strongest beer of the day, an 8.5% Bourbon Barrel Aged Old English Ale dubbed Old Butternuts. Brewed with squash, this was a very rich and malty beer with a slightly hot, oaky finish. Personally, I was not as fond of this beer and thought it had too much oak for my tastes. I will say that it was getting praise from some of the other customers at the bar, so don’t let me scare you off of it. You know what you like. Following this came The Brett Conspiracy, another Wild Ale. The story about the yeast strains used in this beer on the company website is interesting and worth a read, but for my purposes here it was a delicious golden bodied ale that drank a bit thicker than I expected. The taste was dominated by tropical fruits and the clear influence of all that wild yeast, though there was also a bit of a grainy backbone that held these flavors together really well. I’d say that this was my second favorite, edging out Brett Semetary for that distinction. I finished the afternoon off with a Saison barrel-aged with Brettanomyces called Barnyard Bash! The funky fruity smell of this beer offered only a hint of what was come after taking the first sip. It had a tart fruit and bold hay blanket taste that came on strong. I was OK with the sample but I’m not sure I would go for a larger pour of it than that. It was much lighter bodied than the rest of the beers in this flight and the low/moderate carbonation in theory made it easy to drink, though I think this one was almost too funky for me to handle.
That concludes my trip to Cambridge Brewing Company. I had a great time checking out some amazing beer and everything sampled I found to be very complex, well developed, and perfectly executed. Family Meal, Brett Semetery, and The Brett Conspiracy were particularly fantastic and get my highest recommendation. Even the two I didn’t like as much, Old Butternuts and Barnyard Smash!, I wouldn’t necessarily call misses. From reading the descriptions online, I think they totally nailed what they were going for, they just stylistically were not for me. In short, Cambridge Brewing Company offers a wide variety of really good beer that you need to come in and check out. From their finely tuned core lineup to some serious Wild Ales they are an excellent part of the local beer community.