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 http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=306+Northern+Avenue,+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.