Though not born in New England, I’m forever ruined when it comes to maple syrup. Since I’ve had maple syrup fresh from the boil at my good friend’s farm, I can never go back to the “fake” stuff. So, suffice it to say I LOVE anything maple. (Doubt me? Check out my review of the Peak Maple Oat Ale…) So, when I saw that the next Harpoon Signature Series was maple beer, I got really excited.
Like all of the 100 barrel series, these are available in limited release, and in the large bottles only. This one is described as a “crisp wheat ale that is warming and delicious.” It contains real Vermont Maple Syrup – definitely a good thing. And I always appreciate brewers trying to use local ingredients.
It pours an orange/copper that’s fairly clear with a foamy tan head. The smell on this one is mostly wheat, not a lot of maple in the scent. I was happy to see that it was the color a wheat beer should be, and I eagerly took my first sips.
The taste? A nice warming wheat flavor with thin malt undertones. The maple in this is subtle – and comes in at the very end. The maple flavor is not adding sweetness, however, and its almost like the taste that happens when you mix maple syrup with something savory (like bacon). Just a little tad of something interesting.
It is very drinkable and I found myself at the bottom of my glass sooner than I might have thought. It isn’t heavy, but is very tasty. It also lacks the “wheaties” overkill that some wheat beers have. In general, though, it’s not a home run. The flavor is subtle, and I think that people going in expecting maple may feel a little slighted. That being said, it’s a very easy to drink brew, and I applaud their efforts here.