Tag Archives: Harpoon

Harpoon Tuscan Pool Party

Every year Harpoon Brewery flies some of it’s employees to a foreign country to soak in the sights and sample some of the local brews. These trips typically serve as inspiration for new selections in their 100 Barrel Series of small-batch artisanal beer. I’ve been a fan of this series of experimental brews since its inception, I think it’s a great way for a nationally distributed craft brewer to be innovative. The most recent beer in the 100 Barrel Series is Tuscan Pool Party, inspired by a journey of Harpoon employees to the Tuscany region of Italy. Tuscany, and really all of Italy, is known for their succulent and historical vineyards, so it is interesting that Harpoon went here in search of inspiration to make great beer. Many European countries that have rich wine making history are beginning to embrace the complex flavors of American-style craft beer. You can now find hop-bomb IPAs being brewed in Spain, Italy and other countries that traditionally favor wine. Harpoon embraced the Tuscan wine culture with their new beer, Tuscan Pool Party is brewed with juice from Sangiovese and Merlot grapes. The Sangiovese grape is incredibly important to this region, it is the main grape in Chianti and other famous Tuscan wines. Harpoon Tuscan Pool Party is available for a limited time on draft and in 22 oz. bombers. I was intrigued by the idea of brewing a beer with the addition of wine grape juice, so I sought this out to try.

Harpoon Tuscan Pool PartyHarpoon Tuscan Pool Party pours a purple-tinted orange (not a color I usually write in a beer review) with a mild white head. You definitely get some wine notes in the scent along with a little floral hoppiness. The taste is very complex, nothing jumps to the forefront. The wine is there, oaky vanilla, acidic grapes, touches of cherry and plum. The hops make an appearance, a little lemon, mango and earthiness, but I wouldn’t call this a “hoppy” beer. There are also some lighter malts, crackers and toast, so you know you are drinking a beer and not a glass of wine. The beer is light bodied and drinkable, not bitter, but crisp and refreshing. I was a little surprised at the 7.6% ABV, on the high side for a beer that drinks like a pale ale. The finish is dry with some tannic notes. Honestly the idea of mixing red wine with beer wasn’t that appealing to me, but I’ve consistently enjoyed Harpoon’s 100 Barrel releases and this beer far exceeded my expectations. Hoppy Boston score 4.25/5.

Previous Harpoon Reviews:

Harpoon Rich and Dan’s Rye IPAHarpoon Citra Victorious, Harpoon The Long Thaw, Harpoon Beer Hall/First Frost Ale, Harpoon Saison Various



Harpoon Rich and Dan’s Rye IPA

This post is big #200 for Hoppy Boston. Considering the fact that I started this blog on a bit of a whim I never really thought I would get to this point, but here I am. Two hundred posts in and I am still having a blast writing the blog and interacting with my readers and fellow craft beer enthusiasts. I would like to pretend that I had a big plan for post #200, but it kind of snuck up on me. I figure it is appropriate that this post is another beer review since I started this blog as an excuse to try any and every craft beer and share my thoughts. Other blogs had been great resources in helping me find great local beer, and I hoped to do the same for my readers. I guess it’s fitting that this review is of a beer that is common in Boston, but flies under the radar a little, Harpoon Brewery’s Rich and Dan’s Rye IPA. Harpoon founders Rich and Dan brewed this beer to celebrate the brewery’s 25th anniversary, and it quickly became a fan favorite. This beer was brewed to be complex, with complicated but still complementary malt and hop flavors. Rich and Dan’s Rye IPA is brewed with Pale, Caramel, Vienna and Rye malts along with Chinook, Centennial and Falconer’s Flight hops. It is available year round in 12 oz. bottles and on draft.

Harpoon Rich and Dan's Rye IPAHarpoon Rich and Dan’s Rye IPA pours a clear deep amber with a moderate cream colored head. The smell is mostly earthy and floral hops with some muted malty notes. The hops are the first thing you taste too, touches of pine, cut grass and a little lemon. The malts meld well with the hoppiness contributing a bold and spicy rye flavor and just a hint of caramel. The flavor is accompanied by a solid but not mouth puckering bitterness. This is the right combination of malt and hops. It is challenging to find the right hop profile to complement the spiciness of rye, but when done right I love rye IPAs. The beer is medium bodied and drinkable, but packs a little punch at 6.9% ABV. This is a really good beer, Harpoon’s flagship IPA is one of the beers that introduced me to the style, but I like this beer significantly more. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Harpoon Reviews:

Harpoon Citra Victorious, Harpoon The Long Thaw, Harpoon Beer Hall/First Frost Ale, Harpoon Saison Various

Harpoon 100 Barrel Series: Citra Victorious

I am a strong believer that the best way to learn about beer is to brew it yourself. Many breweries make an active effort to involve all of their employees in the brewing process, assuring that they all know where the product they are selling comes from. Every year all of the employees at Harpoon Brewery can participate in a homebrew competition, and the winner is determined by a taste test at their company outing. In 2013 over 30 teams submitted their own brews and the winner by popular vote was Citra Victorious. Citra Victorious is an American Pale ale brewed with Cascade and Citra hops along with grapefruit peel. I thought it was especially interesting that Citra Victorious was brewed by a team of five women. There is still an all-to-pervasive mentality that beer is a man’s drink, even though women are playing an increasingly prevalent role in the brewing industry. I think it’s great that it was this beer that won the blind tasting, and that Harpoon thought so much of the beer that it became the 50th brew in their 100 barrel series.

Harpoon Citra VictoriousHarpoon Citra Victorious pours a deep amber, slightly cloudy with a mild white head. The smell is strong, mostly grapefruit and citrus with a little pine. The taste is also hop forward, with notes of grapefruit, lemon, woods and earth. Even with all of the hop flavor and aroma this is clearly a pale ale and not an IPA, the bitterness is pretty mild. There is a significant malt character, whole grain bread and a touch of caramel. The body is medium, nicely balanced between some malty sweetness and bitter hops, and drinkable at 5.8% ABV. The finish is also clean and with just a touch of sweet and tart lingering on the tongue. This is a very solid version of an American pale ale, tons of hop flavor and aroma without being overly bitter. It is no surprise that Citra Victorious won Harpoon’s employee homebrew competition! Hoppy Boston score 4.25/5.

Previous Harpoon reviews:

Harpoon The Long Thaw, Harpoon Beer Hall/First Frost Ale, Harpoon Saison Various

Harpoon The Long Thaw

Harpoon Brewery in Boston originally built it’s reputation on a solid stable of year-round beers led by their flagship English style IPA. Recently they have drawn praise for their more adventurous and experimental beers, including their 100 Barrel Series and Leviathan Big Beers. Harpoon also makes a number of seasonal beers, including the popular and long running Summer Ale, Octoberfest and Winter Warmer. This year Harpoon released a new Winter into Spring seasonal, a white IPA named The Long Thaw. I’m a big fan of the white IPA style when it’s done well, the Belgian yeast and citrus flavors of a witbier can nicely complement pungent American hops. The Long Thaw is available on draft and in 12 oz bottles from January through March.

Harpoon The Long ThawHarpoon The Long Thaw pours straw gold with a solid white head. It is a little surprising how clear the beer is, the use of wheat malts usually gives a beer a cloudy character, but this has been filtered. The smell is pretty subtle, some piney hops along with spicy coriander. The malts and spices come across first in the taste, some wheat and bready flavors from the malt along with orange and coriander. There are some hop flavors afterwards, notes of lemon and earth, but much more muted than I would expect in a beer labeled “IPA”. The Belgian yeast adds some peppery flavors, but it’s pretty subtle. The Long Thaw is light bodied and easy to drink, but pretty solid at 6.2% ABV. The finish is mild, with a touch of spice. If The Long Thaw is pretty good as a witbier, but doesn’t quite fit the as a white IPA, it needs more hop character. Hoppy Boston score: 3.75/5.

Previous Harpoon reviews:

Harpoon Beer Hall/First Frost Ale

Saison Various


Harpoon Brewery Beer Hall/First Frost Ale

Harpoon is established as one of the preeminent craft breweries in New England. Their IPA and UFO series of beers are staples at nearly every bar in Massachusetts and beyond. Harpoon is currently brewed in two locations, Windsor, VT and on the Boston Waterfront. The Boston brewery recently opened up a large beer hall where you can grab a pint of fresh Harpoon or a flight samples to taste different styles. They also have a shop with Harpoon gear, growler fills, and they give tours of the brewery. My lovely wife and I stopped by on a recent Saturday around 2:00PM hoping to take the tour and then grab a beer. We were shocked to find that there was already a line just to get into the beer hall, and that the next available tour wasn’t for over four hours. Needless to say, the Harpoon brewery is a popular place to be, and if you want the full experience you should get there early. We still decided to grab a beer and check out the new beer hall.

The Harpoon Beer Hall is beautiful, a long, spacious room with high ceilings. Picture windows frame one side of the bar room, while the other looks into the brewery itself. The room is dominated by a massive rectangular bar, with multiple tap areas. The majority of the seating is long communal tables, perfect for socializing. There is clearly an effort to mimic an authentic German beer hall, and the energy in the room is palpable. They only sell Harpoon beers and ciders, and the only food is their signature massive soft pretzels. My only issue with the beer hall is the price, $8 for a beer, which is pretty steep, but it doesn’t seem to keep anyone away. The best feature of the Beer Hall is the availability of experimental beers. While Harpoon has a solid lineup of flagship beers I find that some of their best brews are often the ones that are not mainstream, such as their limited edition 100 barrel series. The brewers at Harpoon are constantly tinkering with recipes, and the experimental batches from their 10 barrel pilot plant get sold as brewery-only, limited time selections.

Harpoon First FrostOne of the pilot beers on our visit to Harpoon was First Frost, an American Pale Ale (I assume based on the flavor profile, they don’t give much in the way of details). Harpoon First Frost pours a clear straw gold with a mild but sustained white head. The smell is all American hops, solid citrus and resin aromas. The taste is also hop-forward, but balanced by some malt sweetness. The hops give notes of lemon, orange and pine, while the malts add some baked bread notes and sugary finish. The beer is clean, crisp and easy to drink, with a light body and solid carbonation. The aftertaste is interesting, there is a cloying sweetness you wouldn’t expect from a hop-forward beer. The sweetness isn’t overwhelming, just enough that you notice it, and it adds some interesting complexity. Overall a solid offering, the kind of pilot beer that makes the trip to the brewery worthwhile. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

Harpoon Saison Various

The Harpoon brewery is a staple of the Boston beer scene. Established in 1986 on the Boston waterfront they have become one of the biggest and most successful craft breweries in the country. It is hard to find a bar in Boston that doesn’t serve their popular English style IPA, unfiltered UFO beers, as well as their series of successful seasonal offerings. While these beers are pillars of the Boston craft beer scene, Harpoon stretches their creative muscles with the 100 Barrel series, a set of one-off brews that range from wet hopped IPA’s to beers brewed with Vermont maple syrup or Island Creek oysters.

Saison’s are great for these type of experimental one-off brews. Traditionally brewed in Belgian farmhouses, saisons have a wide variety of flavor profiles due to the distinct ester flavors imparted by the Belgian yeast strains, along with the variety of grains and hops used in the brewing process. In Saison Various Harpoon had four different brewers make their interpretation of a saison and then blended the four beers, a technique that is common with wine but hasn’t been used as much with beer. It is available for a limited time on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.

Harpoon Saison VariousHarpoon Saison Various pours a golden yellow with a small but sustained white head (I drank it on draft). The estery flavors of the Belgian yeast are immediately evident on the nose, along with some grassy hops. The flavor is distinctly Belgian, fruity esters, a little spiciness, hints of pepper and green apple. All of the flavors are subtle and balanced, the beer is crisp, clean and easy to drink, perfect for the last warm days of the fall in New England. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.