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The Beer Friends write, review, and discuss Craft Beer as fans instead of experts.  They share their unique voice and affinity for craft beer through multiple platforms and offer a range of media to join their craft beer conversation.



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Filtering by Tag: Belgian Pale Ale

Featured Brewery: John Harvard's Brew House


Hello Beer Friends Nation! Beer is a beautiful thing - often times the Beer Friends are caught up in how great it is and the far reaching effects of good beer and the industries it supports.  If you're laughing you haven't drank enough craft beer because this is a conversation I overhear more and more as people are moving from the Sam Adams and Harpoon's (the most popular craft breweries) to the Bear Republics and Oskar Blues (up and coming breweries).  There are more choices today then ten years ago and 1,700 more then 30 years ago, and the number of new breweries applying for licenses is growing daily.  The spirit of American entrepreneurial-ism is alive and well in craft beer.  While some are growing, some are just fine doing what they do and enjoying the craft.  An example of one such place I stumbled upon on my recent Boston Area Brewery tour is John Harvard's Brew House.

Growing up in Colorado (I know you've heard this one before...) I was used to the brewery and brew pub culture, seems to be tougher to find the space and resources on the East Coast but when I do come across them I always hop in for a pint.  On the Colorado Brewery tour we came across two (of many) where you can see the kettles behind the bar and you know it's a fresh beer.  The beers aren't always amazing but you find that diamond in the rough that you want to go back for the next night, for me it was the Belgian Pale Ale from John Harvard's.

I went to Boston as a tourist with a few goals in mind; 1.) Harpoon 2.) Sam Adams 3.) Boston Cannons game and a 4.) Red Sox game.  Saturday night was the Boston Cannons game at Harvard Stadium and the public transportation system sucks (hard to get places without going into the heart of the city and it stops running, yes STOPS at 12:30a), so my party and I took the red line to Harvard Square to walk down (15 minutes and over a bridge).  During the Colorado brewery tour we found Equinox Brewing by typing "brewery" into the Google Maps on our phone.  Well, Google Maps - you're two for two.

When you walk into John Harvard's you walk down a flight of stairs and the room is completely open.  There is family dinning on the right and the bar with visible kettles on the left.  Like a un-conquerable magnetic force, I was pulled to the bar.  They had four drafts and one cask that night (see awful iPhone picture in slideshow below) and I had my to-do list.

Pilsner Falscher - was a typical pilsner in my mind.  Light and somewhat airy - it didn't grab me like I want a pilsner too.

Muswell Mild - was a surprising taste, it was mild (hence the name) but with a full flavor, it's been a while since I had a mild that kept me coming back for more.

Le Bleu - was a pale ale with Maine blueberries.  In the first Beer Friends Brewery Trip, we visited 5 or so Maine breweries and they each proudly pushed their Blueberry ale's.  This was one of the better fruit beers I've had.

Belgian Pale Ale -  was the beer I had to come back for on the second night.  This was a delicious mixture of a not-to0-sweet belgian beer and a hopped pale ale, much like the one I enjoyed at Harpoon, but better.

Cask Pull - Summer - was a beer that I was confused by.  Typically I think of summer beers to be wheats and served colder, but this pulled from the cask was delicious, in all honesty I came back for this beer the second night too, but it was gone.


All in all John Harvard's Brew House would be my local bar if I lived close to one.  With quality beers that you can only find at the brew house, it's something right up my alley, or from my childhood in Colorado.

John Harvard's Brew House has a few locations in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.  The Harvard Square location is at 33 Dunster Street


Open Mon- Thurs: 11:30a - 12:30a Fri-Sat: 11:30a - 2:00a Sun: 11:30 - 12a

Featured Brewery: Harpoon


Hello Beer Friends Nation! For you avid twitter followers out there, you'll notice that the Beer Friends checked into a few Boston area Breweries earlier this week, this was part of our Boston Area Brewery Tour 2011 (Working Title), the first stop - appropriately enough - was the Harpoon Brewery off the Silver Line (you know, the weird bus line that goes underground in Boston). Harpoon was actually the first brewery issued a license in the state of Massachusetts, and proudly display their 001 Brewers License on merchandise.

C'mon with me for more and follow along with my tour...

The brewery tour includes a five dollar fee, mainly because you get to take the glass home. The tasting room is a great mix of displays honoring the past beers, with a corner of old beer cans of every variety and a wall of banners including every kind of beer (year round and seasonal) that Harpoon offers. Growlers are a big push and if I didn't live 4+ hours away I would've walked out with one. The tour started where seemingly every tour starts, at the beginning of the brewing process. We saw the grain hopper, the mash tun, the lautern tun and the fermenting tanks. One thing that was new from the other brewery tours was the pressurized tanks, which adds pressure to the beer allowing heating and cooling to happen faster. I could only surmise it did something to the taste because we were informed that only one other brewery in the US (a unnammed California brewery) has the same pressurized tanks.

Once among the tanks on the production floor we tasted the Harpoon IPA in its Green version, green means straight from the tank without the completed yeast process, aging and bottling. The Green beer was flatter but still had hints of the IPA which was a nice addition to this tour. After the green beer tasting we checked out the bottling line (which I always get a kick out of) and headed to "Beer Heaven" or better known as "The Warehouse". Basically Beer Heaven was ceiling to floor cases of every variety of Harpoon beer (including the UFO Pumpkin - that has yet to be released!). Think of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, with beer. Then the tour when winding back through the previous stops and into the tasting room!


First Taste - Harpoon IPA I've had this beer before, but the point of the tasting was to go between the Green beer downstairs and the finished product from the keg. The obvious difference was the carbonation after the yeast had done their job and the product was kegged. A great beer either way.

Second Taste - UFO Pumpkin UFO stands for UnFiltered Offering and typically features a Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Raspberry Hefeweizen and a White Ale. This Pumpkin offering fit in well with its brothers in the series. Having had a few Pumpkin Ales/Beers before the taste was pretty similar to what I expected. A little creaminess and hints of nutmeg pushed this brew more towards the Pumpkin pie flavor beer, but lacking in sweetness. Out of the four Pumpkin beers I've tasted (including Post Road from Brooklyn) I liked this the best. However, I still place pumpkin ales in the category of "one and done".

Third Taste - Belgian Pale Ale I, unlike Phil, enjoy all beers, but have the least experience with Belgians... you know, one of the most popular beer styles out there. Growing up in Colorado I skipped over that first step in beer-education and went right for the American Craft stuff, so I'm backtracking. Recently I've found a few Belgian Pale Ale's I really enjoyed (see Sixpoint and John Harvard Brewhouse) and figured I'd take a chance on this one. Good flavor but didn't have the kick that the Sixpoint does (I'm sure the Sixpoint is very hopped) and the full flavor profile that John Harvard does. A great beer none the less.

After this third tasting they rang the bell and kicked us out, this was the worst part of the tour.

The Harpoon Brewery is located at 306 Northern Ave [googlemaps,+Boston,+MA&aq=1&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=43.664131,66.269531&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=306+Northern+Ave,+Boston,+Massachusetts+02210&t=h&z=14&ll=42.346546,-71.034406&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

The tasting room is open Monday through Friday from 2-4pm Tours are available on Saturday (10:30a to 5p) and Sunday (11:30a to 3p) and start every half hour.

Harpoon Night at Blind Tiger: Hangover Edition


Hello Beer Friends Nation!  Good Beer Month continues into August with Harpoon Brewery at the Blind Tiger NYC.  Harpoon Brewery is from Boston and a favorite of the two Red Sox fans in the Beer Friends.  Tonight should be fun with a few common pours, a few 100 Barrel series pours and a few from the Leviathan series! Beer! Brad 1st - Harpoon Leviathan Baltic Porter 2008: Honestly hard to get past the alcoholic taste on this one.  At 12 percent I knew it was high but most times the harshness is cut by another favor - not this time.

Graham #1 - Harpoon Landbier.  This German lager is a light, easily drinkable session beer from Harpoon's 100 Barrel Series. Tan in color, slight malt aroma and very light body, this easy to take down 6 of lager is not compromising on taste. It's got a burst of malt flavor that stays with you through a clean finish. If this was in sixers it'd b perfect for a summer day outside.

Paul's 1st - Landbier: This is a delicious session lager. It's hard to disagree with Graham's assessment about how often this beer could be consumed. I would love to drink this beer after work on a cool late summer day.

Brad #2 - Leviathan Imperial IPA; I love this beer.  The regular IPA is too light for me but this one does well with the 4 (Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, an Amarillo) Hops used. Easy to drink and spicy enough to feel it, plus the 10 ABV is hidden under the hops taste which is fantastic.

Graham Número Dos - Harpoon Single [Delta] Hop ESB: Using a new hop variety with this one gives it a different hop character than the regular ESB. Easily drinkable with an herbal aroma and a bronze color, this brew has an earthy hop flavor to it that is delicious.

Paul's 2nd - Belgian Pale Ale (cask): I am already a big fan of this beer and having it out of the cask doesn't disappoint.  It's very light and sweet, the Belgian part of it gives the pale part of it a lot of flavor.  It's very easy to drink and the lack of carbonation from the cask makes it really smooth.  It's cloudy out of the cask and looks more like apple cider.  This was my favorite of the night and I was looking forward to it as soon as I saw it on the menu.  I only wish it came in a larger glass...

Brad #3 - Harpoon Leviathan Triticus: Triticus is Latin for "wheat" and this is a dark wheat wine-style ale and is delicious.  Slightly sweet and easily drinkable, this was the winner of the night for me.

Graham Number Trois - Harpoon Bohemian Imperial Pilsner: This brew is  part of the 32nd release of their 100 Barrel Series. It is definitely a bog beer with the 9% ABV and the increased malt sweetness. The hops are even more pronounced. It is definitely an "assertive but not overly aggressive beer" as Harpoon describes it, however it leaves me wanting it more aggressive. When ordering it I more wanted a punch-in-the-face mugging in the park imperial pilsner not a brisk walk through the hop/malt tourist part of the park.

Paul's 3rd - Munich Dark: This dark lager has a great bite to it.  It starts smooth but quickly jumps out and let's you know it's there.  This would be a great beer for late summer or early fall. Honestly, it would be a pretty good beer anytime, but it was a hot day in NYC today and I think I'm in a certain mindset... a hot, dehydrated mindset.

Graham 4th - Harpoon Triticus: Wheat Wine. I'm not sure what that conjures up in your mind...perhaps a barley wine style brew made with wheat malts instead of barley. High in alcohol taste with a sweet malt that will hope to overpower the 12% ABV. Well take that notion, drop the sugary malts, keep the ABV and add a boatload of roasted and burnt malts that blow this brew out of the water. This one drinks like a coffeeish, dark flavored imperial stout. Bit don't let it fool you, it's still 11.1% ABV.

Harpoon Blind Tiger FrontHarpoon Blind Tiger Back

Victory Beer Night at the Blind Tiger Ale House


A long, long time ago (less than a week) in a bar far, far away (about 3 subway stops) Victory Brewery held a night of epic craft beer proportions.  The Blind Tiger Ale House hosted Victory Brewery last Wednesday night, 7/14/10, showcasing 20+ of their brews.  Two of the beer friends made this long trek and their account of the night follows below.  Enjoy! Graham's Beers:

I arrived here about an hour before Paul did, just to check out the scene.  It wasn't too busy, but it was also early-late night, which is when this bar shines in my opinion.  You can always get a seat or a table and one has little trouble ordering or chatting about the beers with the bartender.  Even though it was 10ish (the event started at 6) there were still some of the Victory guys there.  Notably their regional marketing/sales guy and one of the head brewers.  And since it wasn't terribly busy they were available to discuss some of their beers with us (notably the difference between the holletaur and the holledaur).

Pursuit Pale Ale  - Amarillo

The Pursuit Pale Ale series is a bunch of pale ales brewed with different types of hops.  I started with the Pursuit Amarillo, which by name, is brewed with Amarillo hops.  The Amarillo is very drinkable, which is the pale ale part, but the Amarillo hop presence gives it a taste approaching that of an IPA.   The smells off draught is almost non existent which probably lends to the light mouth feel and easy drink-ability. How ever the flavor from front to back is straight Amarillo hops. Very pleasing and very much in the sense of earthy herbal Victory hop brews.  Hop Devil is next.

Scratch Hop Devil Sean, the New York City Regional Sales Manager (don't worry, he wasn't a suit and was very well versed on everything Victory Beer related) bought us a round of CBC Hollertaur - Belgian single hop.  CBC stands for the Craft Brewers Conference and is a series of beers that Victory brews.  They brew many different styles for the CBC series, most of which you can only get at the brewery.  Those of us at the Blind Tiger for the event however were lucky enough to score some of the CBC brews.

CBC Hollertauer

CBC Hollertauer is a Belgian Pale Ale.   It pours a nice golden color, which a good sized head.  The smell of bread and spicy noble hops greats me as I go for the first sip.  Very easily drinkable, approaching a medium body, the yeast flavor gives it a mellow Belgian underpinning but, like this beer is supposed to do, it completely showcases the hops. It is single hopped, of the Hallertau variety I believe.  Very herbal and satisfying. Easily drinkable with that good fruit/bready presence. Truly showcases Victory's range in the craft beer world in which they are already legends.

After the Hollertaur, I had to move on to the CBC Hollerdauer - a Bavarian Pale Ale.

It pours with a similar golden color to the Holletauer, slightly more on the copper side.  The smell is more of a weiss, with a similar bready smell that is complimented by a slightly caramel malty presence.  The brew approaches medium body but even though it is hopped with, I believe, 5 different hop varieties it comes off as less herbal and spicy that fades quickly leaving a very present weiss taste. It takes away from the 5 hop variety and lends to a much smoother finish.

Hop Devil

After having those Belgian brews that are showcasing the hops you are a bit let down with the Hop Devil. The beer is copper in color and smells of dominant bitter hops.  There is a strong bitter hop there and the malts are present but in comparison it is so easy drinkable.  I have had it many times before and very much respect it as a beer, but it comes off as being more of a strong bitter hop, rather than the herbal showcasing of the Belgian and Bavarian Pale Ales I had previously.  Still a great IPA and is a readily available Victory product here in NYC.

Old Horizontal Barleywine

To finish the night I went with the Old Horizontal Barleywine.  It's exactly as I remember it.  Darker copper/reddish in color and smelling of a strong alcohol burn that is almost perfectly complimented by that malts.  The taste is strong and bitter, there is a sweetness that runs side-by-side from start-to-finish with a strong alcohol burn.  It definitely leaves a warm feeling inside, that maybe was too warm for the temperature of a hot NYC summer night, but it left a nice haze perfect for the end of the night.  Have one of these and then have a cab driver get you home.  Which I did!

Paul's Beers:

Victory Helios - Saisons is a style I'm not incredibly familiar with but I generally like them. This one is a good ale. Smooth start that rolls over sweet and leaves with a taste you'd expect from a saison. This was one of the first Saison's I ever had. This is what I am expecting when I order a Saison.

Victory Scarlet Fire - what a delicious Rauchbier. This is another style that is new to me, but a lot of my friends like to call rauchbiers  "bacon" beers, but this is a different type of pork.  This is ribs, delicious smoky  ribs...

Victory Grassy Jack Bitter- very tasty beer. Its hoppy, but not overly hopped. The flavor is good and strong.  Its a beverage that I would like to have after work. Strong enough to let me know the day is over and shows me the gateway to the night.

Thanks Victory and Blind Tiger for a great event!  We hope to see Victory being showcased in the city soon and more often!