Sampling New Releases And Old Favorites From Harpoon Brewery

A few new offerings from Harpoon Brewery should be making their way into North Texas: the New England company's first offering of a Belgian Pale Ale, a new Imperial Red (as part of its Leviathan series) and the annual return of Harpoon Summer Beer.

Harpoon is a veteran craft brewery, dating back to 1986 when it began in Boston. Since then, the company has grown enough to warrant the 2000 purchase of a second plant in Vermont, as well as expanding its Boston brewery in December 2008. The company is best known for its excellent IPA, as well its UFO hefeweizen.

As for the Belgian Pale Ale and the Summer Ale, both were fine beers, but I was way more excited about a couple of other brews that arrived in a sample pack the brewery sent my way this week. After the jump, three of them get thorough analysis in the patented Hophead Beer Ranking System.

Harpoon Belgian Pale Ale
Appearance: Golden-orange and clear with a sticky, creamy white head with the texture of sea foam. 10/10
Nose: Floral hops with a slight hint of Belgian yeast. Not very intense. 7/10
Taste: It's reminiscent of a soft British-style pale ale. The yeast seems very subdued for a Belgian-style beer. It has some soft citrus hoppiness and a bit of spice. Overall, pretty subtle and not especially memorable. 30/40
Body: Nice carbonation, but a bit thin. 7/10
Finish: Dry and bitter, as expected, with some spiciness. Very refreshing. 9/10
Style/Originality: This is no Orval. A nice attempt, but a bit bland for a Belgian pale. 5/10
Party Factor: Mine was free, but this retails online for $8.99 a six pack. At 5.8 percent ABV, that comes to a factor of 3.86, rounding to 4.
Total: 72

Harpoon Summer Beer
Appearance: Very pale yellow. Looks almost like a Budweiser, except with a lacy head. 8/10
Nose: Citrusy, grassy, dank and a bit bitter. 9/10
Taste: Very soft and mild with some grassy notes. Not too exciting. 30/40
Body: Very light and drinkable, with a bit more texture than a cheap lager. This would be a good beer to drink during or after outdoor work or play during the summer. 8/10
Finish: Crisp and refreshing. 9/10
Style/Originality: It's hard to get terribly excited about a kolsch beer in the first place, and there are plenty of better kolsch beers available. 5/10
Party Factor: Mine was free, but this retails online for $7.99 a six pack. At 5.5 percent ABV, that comes to a factor of 4.13, rounding to 4.
Total: 65

Harpoon Leviathon Baltic Porter
Appearance: Cola black, translucent with ruby highlights and a thin, persistent tan head. 10/10
Nose: Very complex, with hints of dark fruits, bitter espresso and cocoa. 10/10
Taste: Toffee, caramel, expresso beans, dark chocolate, some molasses or brown sugar notes. Fantastic. 40/40
Body: Rich, thick and smooth. It goes very well alongside ice cream. I'm sure it would make a great float. 10/10
Finish: Slightly earthy and bitter with a bit of alcohol warmth. 9/10
Style/Originality: Excellent example of an uncommon style. 10/10
Party Factor: Mine was free, but this retails online for $9.99 a four pack. At 9.5 percent ABV, that comes to a factor of 3.8, rounding to 4.
Total: 93

Haven't finished off the sample pack yet, so a future Hophead column will address the Imperial Red (a very curious style), the Single Hop ESB from the 100 Barrel series and Imperial IPA (one of which I already tried and loved). 

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