As Ashley and I look forward to the adventure we’ve laid out before ourselves, all of the natural and manmade landmarks, the roads both oft and less traveled, and, of course, the beer, it is important for us to look back and reminisce over the people and places that led us to this point in our lives. When it comes to our love for tasty brews there is perhaps no one more responsible for our beer nerdery than the folks at Cambridge Brewing Company.
Nestled into a corner front in One Kendall Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, just mere footsteps from the pioneering, cutting edge labs of MIT and the booming Tech Square, CBC sits as a trailblazer in its own right. Opened in 1989 by Phil “Brewdaddy” Bannatyne, CBC is a proven innovator having claimed some notable firsts in the U.S.’ brew scene such as the first commercially produced Belgian style ale with its award-winning Tripel Threat, and the first solera barrel aging system, which has produced such marvels as the cherry sour Cerise Casée. It was Cerise that really opened my eyes to the the wider, wondrous world of beers outside the mass produced stouts and pale ales I was drinking at the time and in many ways was the catalyst to this whole journey. Aggressively tart with just a hint of sweetness, full of oakiness and jam-like fruit, and the most beautiful deep garnet color I’d ever seen in a glass- how could this be beer? How could I be missing out on THIS? Especially given how close I grew up to the brew house?
That is in some ways one of the most perplexing things about Cambridge Brewing; how has it managed to remain so under the radar over all these years while consistently making such fantastic beer? CBC has begun broadening its profile by canning and bottling some of their beers, such as the crushable Flower Child IPA, for distribution, which I expect will bring them more attention in the consumer market, but for me the magic still has to be experienced at the brewpub. Having been a regular there for years, it still amazes me that they always manage to have some number of brews on that I’ve never seen before and likely will never see again thanks to Brewmaster Will Meyers and his team’s constant experimentation with new ingredients (malted sunflower seeds? yup; heather flowers? you bet) and new styles, whether it’s reviving an ancient ale recipe or conceptualizing something original like a sake-beer hybrid. But despite this continuous effort to push the envelope and tell new stories through their beers, CBC always manages to ensure a sense of home to its patrons, and consistency with its commitment to the integrity of their craft.
So the next time you beer geeks, hop heads, malt mavens, and sour savages make a trek to Massachusetts for your trade bait #whalezbro from Treehouse and Trillium, do yourselves a favor and make some time to plop down on a stool at the bar at CBC and experience the artistry of a true member of the old guard of the craft revolution.
P.S. Jackson really wanted me to add that CBC’s patio is one of his favorites as it is super dog friendly!
- Cerise Casée – Wild Ale barrel aged on cherries: An absolute gorgeous brew; complexly layered sour cherry, oak aged barrels, and wild yeast come together in a symphony of color, aroma, and flavors.
- Flower Child IPA – American IPA: A classic American IPA with sweet, juicy fruitiness coming from stalwarts like simcoe and amarillo hops layered over more grassy, herbaceous and resinous hops like Centennial and Chinook resulting in a beer that is exceptionally balanced between the West Coast bitterness and New England sweetness of most modern IPAs. Light, grassy, and totally quaffable.
- LEMMY/YouEnjoyMyStout/Any CBC Barrel Aged Stout – Various, barrel aged stouts: While unfortunately a byproduct of being a constant innovator means there are a lot of one-and-done beers, but truly anyone fortunate enough to hit the brewpub while there is an expression of a barrel aged stout should 100% get at least a taster if not a full pour. While many breweries struggle to find a balance in their barrel program, CBC’s practiced hand works magic.
- The Great Pumpkin Ale – Pumpkin Ale :Holding a very special place in our hearts, The Great Pumpkin Ale is brewed each fall with real, actual, honest to goodness pumpkins! Moderate doses of pie spices help completethe expected taste of this brew. CBC’s annual Pumpkin Fest has been a tradition for us and our friends and we are really, REALLY, bummed this is the first year in a very long time we won’t be there!