Boston, MA/Windsor, VT
It all started on a snowy Boston night in 1995, a friend and I walked back to my college house from the liquor store; in my arms, a case of Lionshead (at $9.19 out the door, the steal of my college days) in his, a six-pack of Harpoon IPA, also about $9.19. Add a label with flowers on it, and I figured I had him dead to rights. I asked him what the deal was with his girly flower beer. He didn’t say anything, he simply handed me a bottle. That night I became a hop head.
There are so many IPAs now it is hard to keep your head around them all, many are good, however few really stand out. Sierra Nevada set the gold standard of the great American IPA and gets the majority of the praise, but Harpoon offers us another main stream delight, that is in the same league as our good friends in Chico.
Of the many great things about Harpoon, the color is the first noticeable attribute; deeply copper in hue, its frothy head sits atop like a thick cumulus cloud.
The aroma, as the label suggests, is quite floral, almost like an English garden with many varieties in it.
The “mouthfeel” as my eloquent brother calls it, is full and easily the most perfectly hoppy grog ever. Even with its huge hop-a-long, there is a wonderful caramel overtone that keeps everything in check, balancing all the fruit, flower and almond flavors like a symphony. The finish is mega-smooth but with equal hop strength throughout. Too many IPAs try to dazzle either right at tongue impact or conversely in the throat. Harpoon IPA offers so many different flavors simultaneously but keeps it even throughout.
It’s been a long time since college, it’s been about five minutes since my last Harpoon.