2015 BEER DISCOVERY TOUR: Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA (July 5th, Brewery Stop #28) (recovered post) The 28th brewery visited during our cross-country beer discovery tour (click to read about the whole trip) was Harpoon Brewery in Boston Massachusetts. After a great 4th of July visit with family in rural Maine, we said our goodbye’s and drove down to Boston to find some lunch and give this well known brewery a try on the 5th. We first stopped at Pauli’s in the North End for a quick sandwich that was just awesome, I had a Lobster grilled cheese! We did walk around a bit after to take in this historic Italian neighborhood, then drove in a few circles trying to get to Harpoon (damn you one way streets).
We weren’t sure where to park, as their lot was completely full and it was located in the middle of an industrial area. I have a little bit of concern about how popular they are and having such a small parking lot. We ended up finding parking a few blocks away and plugging a meter. If you’re in Boston and want to go there, I suggest you try to catch a brewery tour bus or something and not deal with the parking situation. Once we arrived, we had a bit of a stair-climb up to the restaurant/taproom. The stairs to the second floor open up to their swag area, where you can get all kinds of clothing and beer related products (off-sales).
We did walk around a bit before settling down at the bar, which was a bit busy. There production area is visible from the south wall through some large windows. They do offer free tours of the brewery on a pretty regular basis. You have to go up to the counter and put your name on the list as they limit the number of people that can go per tour. The interesting thing about their setup is that they have multiple bars within the same area. The back bar doesn’t have all of the same drafts that the main bar does. So keep that in mind when you’re looking to order your beer.
We had just eaten, so we didn’t order any food and one could guess that their food is decent. When we spoke with the bartender about sampling, we discovered that they only offer their three taster trays that are pre-set. This was a bit dissappointing, but we went with it. You can ask for a ‘taste’ of something if you prefer, but full on tasters are limited to what they have listed. Once we ordered up and started sipping, we ended up spending a bit of time talking with the bartender about the local brewing scene and learned that it’s not as easy to get into as it is in other cities. He was pretty informative and friendly.
Overall, this was a great place to stop by and give a try. Their beers were pretty solid, and the reviews are below. The taster lists are shown on the big chalkboard above the bar. I’d definately visit this brewery again if I was back in Boston, but I’d also like to try and find some of the smaller production breweries to give them a go. As pictured below, the sampler trays go in this order: Specialty Sampler, Harpoon Sampler, then followed with the UFO Sampler last with the reviews going right to left from each tray. My favorite beer out of the 12 we sampled was the Harpoon Dark, a really great Dunkel that matches to the style with great accuracy.
Harpoon Brewing • Kölsch • IBU: N/A • ABV: 4.8% • SRM: 4 • OG: N/A
Clean, bright yellow hue, solid white foamy head with good retention. The aroma is sharp grassy hops. Front mouth is dry, hints of lemon zest, and a thin crakery malt. Lingers to a softer hop bitter/resin and is a thinner bodied beer.
|Ales FOR ALS (2015)
Harpoon Brewing • Belgian Dubbel • IBU: N/A • ABV: 9.6% • SRM: 24 • OG: N/A
Mid-amber colored draft with a minimum head that fell to a sheen quickly and little lacing. The aroma is sweet sugars with a little bit of barnyard funk. The front mouth expresses a lot of alcohol and some sweet caramel notes. There isn’t as much funk or spice as the nose shows. The mid to back show more yeast funk, but the sweetness overcomes them.
|Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #41: Catamount Maple Wheat
Harpoon Brewing • Pale Wheat Ale • IBU: 21 • ABV: 6.8% • SRM: 18 • OG: 15.6
Semi-hazy orange hue, bright white head with small bubbles that lingered well to the end. The nose is clean and sweet, hints of dry hay. The front mouth is sweet and chewy with the Vermont Maple Syrup showing up as a good addition to the lighter malt build. The tongue is coated with the sticky nature of this beer.
Harpoon Brewing • Altbier • IBU: 46 • ABV: 6.1% • SRM: 30 • OG: N/A
Dark red draft with some slight off-white head that left decent lacing on the rim. The nose is sweet burned sugars. The front to mid is a solid, creamy mouthfeel with a bite of burned crust and sweet roasted nuts. The mid to back lingers with the roasted malt build that speaks to hazelnuts and walnuts.
Harpoon Brewing • Kölsch • IBU: 26 • ABV: 4.8% • SRM: 8 • OG: N/A
Bright yellow straw hue, white foamy head with great retention and tons of lacing. Nose is citrus and some dry crakers. Front mouth is a bit watery and thin, with the herbal/grassy hops barely showing up. Mid to back are clean with some citrus resin being expressed with the thin crackery malts.
Harpoon Brewing • Session IPA • IBU: 43 • ABV: 4.3% • SRM: 10 • OG: N/A
Yellow to orange hue, some bright white small bubbly head that left good amount of lacing on the rim. The nose is somewhat tropical dried fruits. The front mouth is hop forward with lots of tropical fruit and orange peel, astringency lingers to the mid with some pine resins. The malt build shows up on the mid-back and helps carry the stronger hop profile. Mid-bodied, overall a good sessional east coast style IPA.
Harpoon Brewing • Munich Dunkel Lager • IBU: 35 • ABV: 5.2% • SRM: 30 • OG: N/A
Dark brown some slight red hues showing up. Bright white foamy head with long-lasting retention and lots of lacing. The nose is roasted grains to toasted breads. The front mouth has a dry hint of smoke hidden among the stronger roasted malts. Dried cocoa and some hops show up on the mid-back mouth. Solid tasting, solid mouthfeel, great overall dunkel.
Harpoon Brewing • English India Pale Ale (IPA) • IBU: 42 • ABV: 5.9% • SRM: 12 • OG: N/A
Straw yellow to orange hues, bright white foamy head with good retention. The nose has some pine and floral notes. The front mouth expresses a strong hop profile with pine resin, citrus, and sweet bread malts to help it along. The mouthfeel is solid, with crisp refreshing citrus lingering into the back.
Harpoon Brewing • American Pale Wheat Ale • IBU: 18 • ABV: 4.8% • SRM: 10 • OG: N/A
Hazy yellow and straw colored hues, solid white fluffy head with larger bubbles. Nose is bananas and clove with dried wheat. The front mouth is strong banana’s and clove with a strong backing from the yeast funk. The pale malts do help out this with a medium carbonation, the mouthfeel is solid and smooth.
Harpoon Brewing • Fruit / Vegetable Beer • IBU: 10 • ABV: 4.8% • SRM: 10 • OG: N/A
Cloudy and rose colored draft, minimal head that dropped to a sheen quickly, some small bubble lacing. The aromatics are sweet and sour fruit (raspberries). The front mouth is lighter bodied and the fruit is not as forward on this as expected. Sweet notes from the fruit show front to back, hefeweizen style is hidden by this. The yeast is just there to balance the soft malt-crackers on the back.
Harpoon Brewing • Witbier • IBU: 11 • ABV: 4.8% • SRM: 10 • OG: N/A
Lighter orange hue, hazy with a small bubbly foam that dropped quickly, little to no lacing. The nose is a bit of orange oil bitterness and spices. The front mouth is forward with the orange pith bitterness, corriander and peppers show up on the front-mid. The mouthfeel is medium with some slight dry hops and low cracker malts expressed on the back. Stronger bitters than most wit’s have.
|UFO Big Squeeze Shandy (Radler)
Harpoon Brewing • Fruit / Vegetable Beer • IBU: 13 • ABV: 4.5% • SRM: 15 • OG: N/A
Hazy dark orange hues, no head to speak of, some slight small lacing. Aromatics have some orange zest sharpness with dried grains. The front mouth has a lot of effervescence with plenty of tart fruits and dried grassy hops. The mid to back has a watery approach with some bright juicy sweetness and medium mouthfeel.