Last night I had the distinct pleasure of taking my beautiful girlfriend out on a date, and because she is so awesome, she said we should go to the Cambridge Brewing Company, so we did. The CBC is tucked away in a lovely little building on Kendall Square, and it does take a little intuition to find the place, but the rustic brick interior, the proximity of the stainless steel fermenters, and the smells wafting from the kitchen make this place a beautiful brew pub with the perfect look. I’d been reading up on the CBC all day and was just dying to get in there, not only for the beer, but for the food, and it did not disappoint me when I walked through the door. (Though the fact that I parked 2 miles away instead of at the parking garage right next to the CBC did disappoint me a little.)
The CBC was founded way back in 1989 and is the oldest brewery-restaurant in the Boston area. They also claim on their menu that esteemed beer writer Michael Jackson (No relation to the crotch grabbing pop star) said that the CBC was the first brewery in America to make a Belgian-style ale which is pretty neat. They also claim to be the original New England brewer of the pumpkin ale with their Great Pumpkin Ale! made from local organic sugar pumpkins and local malts from Valley Malts in Hadley, MA. It is always nice to see an environmentally friendly business, and even better when you see such a superb business that still takes the time to be environmentally conscious. Cheers to the CBC for being both of those things!
On top of the CBC’s superb beer selections, they also boast a very pleasing selection of foods that rotates regularly, and is specifically designed to help pair with their beers. My favorite thing about the CBC as I walked in was how classy they were. They had their “go-hang-out” bar, but they also had some lovely dinning sections and an overall upper-level dinning feel that is not common in other brew pubs. Just by walking you could tell they cared about all parts of the brewpub from the beer, to the food, to the ambiance, and that is awesome. My only complaint about the atmosphere is that the wait staff were dressed a little too casually for the overall feel of the place, but that might just be for their own comfort, which I totally understand and support.
To start off the night my girlfriend ordered the famous Great Pumpkin Ale! while I went with an armada of sampler’s from their seasonal selections. My sampler selections included: Remain in Light their American Light Adjunct Lager (like a Budlight…) which was wonderfully sessionable and surprisingly tasty and hoppy, leaving me to wonder why the CBC doesn’t just can it and throw it in a 30-rack and blow all the macro-breweries out of the water. Mind Left Body, their sessionable IPA which had a great grassy citrus hop profile with a nice light body to knock back. I also had a saison called Bachelors Buttons, which proved to be quite fruity with an almost strawberry-like sweetness to it. The final two selections from the seasonal beer list were both “pumpkin ales” and were truly quite intriguing. First I had the Coach And Four, a dark Belgian-style ale brewed with a touch of brown sugar, hand-chopped Cinderella pumpkins, and just a hint of the pumpkin spices so that the pumpkin flavor was more prominent. I found this beer very intriguing and actually quite pleasing when paired with our appetizer, the Arepas Con Pollo which the CBC’s site describes as “Griddled American Corn Cakes, Pumpkin Ale Braised Chicken, Sour Cream, Pepitas & Pickled Vegetables.” The final sampler I ordered was the Proximus Maximus, yet another superb “pumpkin” ale, only this one was actually brewed with 300 lbs of Blue Hubbard Squash, which can grow to be forty pounds or more. The beer was wonderfully malty with a nice vegetal tinge from the squash, and a great bready ester from the house yeast strain that was used.
The Arepas Con Pollo was also phenomenal, with a spicy kick from some unexpected jalapenos, but as I said, they played very nicely with the dark pumpkin samplers I had.
For entrees, we both ordered a pint of the CBC’s Regatta Golden, which is an American cream ale with a very light flavor profile that gives off slight bread and earthy German hops taste and a very creamy and desirable mouthfeel. For food, my girlfriend ordered the Pumpkin Ravioli, which was warm and creamy, though a little too sweet for an entrée, though still quite delicious.
I descided to splurge and ordered the New England Shellfish Cioppino which included littlenecks, lobster tail, scallops, and Maine lobster all thrown in a wonderfully brothy stew with potatoes, onions, herbs, and two phenomenal rolls of sourdough that lapped up the broth perfectly. The Regatta Golden paired well with both meals, as it was low in flavor profile and really just worked to clean the palette and make every bite fresh. I do almost wish there had been a spicier saison on the menu to pair with the seafood cioppino and highlight the wonderful herbs found in it, but oh well, it was still to-die-for.
To close off the night I ordered a nice black coffee to help me prepare for the drive home while my girlfriend ordered a small sampler of the Charles River Porter, which proved to be light with notes of roasty chocolates, but not nearly as much as she or I was hoping for.
At the end of the night, the real star from me from the beer selection we sampled was, surprisingly their classic Great Pumpkin Ale! which was quite stupendously spiced and malted to create a beautiful balance with a light buttery bread taste mixing with the heavier pumpkin and spice flavors to make a beautiful marriage on your taste buds. If I were to compare it I would say that it tastes like Shipyard Pumpkinhead (which does not deserve the shit that some people give it) only better in every way, as if all the good flavors were turned up and the spicy burn you sometimes get were taken away. It’s also comparable to a lighter, more sessionable version of Southern Tiers Pumking, though it again does not carry that spice burn nearly as much.
The Cambridge Brewing Company proved to be a delicious experience. So good, in fact, that I might even say I liked it for its food even more than I did for its beer, though both were quite spectacular. If you ever have the chance to go I highly recommend it, as everything that came out of the kitchen smelled amazing, and you could really tell they knew what they were doing. Check them out!