Tag Archives: ale

Harpoon pt. 1…

12 Dec

Well, there’s the rivalry—Yankees vs. Red Sox, Giants vs. Pats, Bruins vs. Rangers, Celtics vs. Knicks (and add the ‘Nets to that now), but we’re talking about sports, not beer here.  And when it comes to Harpoon, well, maybe we can try to compete a local New York brewery against them, but why would you want to?

NYC already embraces Harpoon:  We see their flagship IPA at a number of local bars with its signature orange tap, and I can’t help but want to be whisked away to Boston’s “hah-bah,” drinking their beers on a sail boat, possibly whale watching…

But there’s much more to Harpoon than just their IPA.  I’m sure you’ve seen their UFO’s (UnFiltered Offering for all of you neophytes) and most likely their seasonals.  You may have even been privileged enough to pick up a recent 100 Barrel Series at your local great craft beer store.  But if you’ve never been to Boston and visited their brewery, well you don’t know beans (apparently beans are a big thing up there).

Two Girls One Pint (along with StevieAnn from Sassy Beer) were fortunate to venture up there last Monday and experience it for ourselves—this place is the real deal, with great, drinkable beer.  They should know good beer—they have been around since 1986.  And Harpoon doesn’t need fancy commercials to get its point across…the beer speaks for itself.

The brewery was the first company to obtain a permit to manufacture and sell alcohol in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in over 25 years.  This is thanks to their founders, fondly referred to as “Rich & Dan,” who attended Harvard and after traveling Europe, were inspired enough to start their own brewery.   For us, it’s hard to believe that Harpoon is “that old” (ok so 26 is not old by any means but in the craft beer world, it’s ancient).

Upon visiting the brewery, one is greeted with a metal gate displaying the four essential ingredients: Water, grains, hops, and yeast.  The tasting room is warm and friendly—samples are offered two times a day (at 2 pm and 4 pm) and full brewery tours are offered on the weekend.  We were surprised not only by the warm greetings from our tasting room hostesses, but also but the diverse offerings.

Aside from their signature IPA complete with its orange tap handle, also available were the UFO (and its raspberry version), 3 current Leviathan offerings (more on them later), some experimental beers from their 400 gallon series (basically a home-brewer’s wet dream), their current seasonals (Winter Warmer and Chocolate Stout), their newest 100 Barrel Series brew (El Triunfo Coffee Porter), their amazing cider, their Dark (formally called Munich dark) and their new all-round Rye IPA.  The selection is overwhelming, especially on a Monday afternoon.

Without leaving the room, guests are lucky enough to be poured samples of any beer they desire (it’s really hard to choose one) then given a story behind the beers and the brewery between swallows.  Twenty-first birthdays are celebrated, old friends reunited while new friends are made.  The tasting room becomes a meeting place for a bunch of strangers with one thing in common: Their love of great beer.

If you haven’t tried it yet, the not-even-one-year-old Rye IPA is a highly enjoyable beer for those of us who lean toward an everyday IPA (not overly bitter or hoppy).  The citrus notes from the hops are balanced by the spiciness of the rye.  I’ve been drinking this baby all week like it’s my life support!

The Chocolate Stout is solid (I’m ashamed to say this was my first introduction to it).  Now that I’ve had it, I’m not quite sure how I went without for so long—it’s dark and roasty but sweet enough without being too dessert-y.  Chocolate milk for grown-ups!  And what girl (or boy) doesn’t love chocolate?  It’s also perfect for this time of year (it is a seasonal, after all).

For those of you who’ve never enjoyed a Harpoon Cider, you’re in for a real treat.  It’s extremely natural tasting (from an apple orchard 40 miles away) and employs their signature yeast so it doesn’t just taste like you’re drinking a sparkling apple juice.

Try it mixed with a Winter Warmer.  While I normally don’t advise mixing beer, we can make an exception with this, a concoction called “Apple Pie.”  The sweetness of the cider paired with the spices of their winter seasonal creates a perfect treat for a cold day.

Their Leviathan series are the high ABV ones (Imperials).  All of them are great but strong—approach with caution!  On tap currently in their tasting room was their Imperial IPA (sooo good), a Russian Imperial Stout (one to take home and age), and a Baltic Porter.

Their Dark (formally called Munich Dark, but the name seemed to intimidate people) is a perfect example of the kind of beer I am really into drinking right now—A Dunkel, the dark color is a ruse to the light-bodied, velvety textured beer disguised behind its cloudy brown (mahogany, for you fans of wood) color.  This seems to be the favorite in the Harpoon world, amongst staff and fans alike.

So what other beers did we try?  And what was it like being taken on a one-of-a-kind brewery tour by Harpoon’s Chief of Brewing Operations, Al Marzi?  What does Harpoon have in store for 2013?  For answers to all of those questions, stop by later this week for the Second Part of our series on Boston’s Harpoon Brewery!

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Looking for something to spice up your weekend? Go to the Staten Island Yankee Craft Beer fest! Not in NYC? Why not host your own tasting party?

15 Oct

I’m sure you’ve been to a beer-tasting event, whether held at your local beer shop or bar or at a beer festival, where hundreds of different beers are at your fingertips, and you most likely don’t have the time (or physical endurance) to taste them all.

But what about hosting your own?  Maybe you’ve acquired unique bottles on your summer travels and haven’t had the opportunity to try them.  Or you pick up a rare bottle one day because you are feeling adventurous and are “saving it for a special occasion” (like my bottle of ‘Hops N’ Roses’ from Captain Lawrence that I haven’t gotten around to opening yet).

Trying new beers is always exciting, especially for us beer geeks, but sharing them with other craft beer connoisseurs is even better.

Recently we were invited to our friends’ apartments to put a dent in their pretty impressive beer selection.  What was even better: Many of these beers (or rather, most) aren’t even available for purchase in the NYC area.

So how do find a community of fellow craft beer lovers to share your beer with?  If you’re as lucky as me, then all your friends have good taste (in beer at least) and it’s not hard, but joining a local craft beer appreciation society (like my local Richmond County Beer Club) or joining your local craft beer bar’s beer club is a good start.

Also, in past years, I’ve turned birthday parties into beer tastings.  Put some records on (yes I have a vinyl player) and put some snacks out—along with a bunch of your favorite brews.  Give your guests a glass and taste away.  Sure beats pizza, soda and cake (ok, well don’t skip the cake if it’s a birthday party).

And cheese pairs beautifully with beers—pick up some stilton and some brie from a local dairy and you’ve got yourself a party.  Crusty bread and crackers are necessary too.  Use some of your beer to whip up some beer cheese or mustard and serve with pretzels.

At this recent tasting I was lucky enough to sample Kentucky Dark Star, an Imperial, bourbon-barrel aged oatmeal stout from Fremont Brewing Co. in Seattle (where my friends hail from).  It was an impressive bourbon barrel aged beer, creamy and oaky, with hints of vanilla, chocolate balancing with a roasted bitterness.

We compared this to an Imperial Schwarzbier also aged in bourbon barrels, from restaurant/brewery Flossmoor station outside of Chicago.

The nice thing about hosting your own tasting party as you can try any beer you want at any time, but to really enjoy all flavors you’re experiencing, it’s good to start with lighter styles (we started with some sours) and move from there.  Save the palate-wrecking IPAs for last.

Or maybe you just want to stick with one style: Everyone seems to be really into sours these days but perhaps have not tasted a lot or even found one they like.  Have everyone bring one or two examples of their favorite sour beer and drink away.

You can make your upcoming Halloween party a pumpkin beer party.  Have your guests bring their favorite pumpkin beer (you could even include some ciders in here since its cider season and drinking it is more fun than bobbing for apples).  Offer some sweet treats and pair them with your pumpkin beers—even better than trick-or-treating.

Hosting (or attending) a beer tasting party can make your usual weekend plans a little more exciting.  Watching the alumni football game with the guys this weekend?  Bring a six-pack or a growler of your current favorite session beer.  Sure beats choking down “The King of Beers,” in the back of your buddy’s fridge.

And if you want to get fancy, you can make your next dinner party revolve around beer and food pairings.  Your guests will be impressed.

 

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