Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Tag: Harpoon (Page 1 of 2)

Harpoon – Triticus (Leviathan Series)

So far I’ve had a lot of fun with the Leviathan series from Harpoon. Honestly, Harpoon does some nice session ales (I am especially a fan of their “Winter Warmer”) but these are really high-quality brews available in four packs- a nice “step up” from their typical lineup. They tend to have more depth of flavor and character, and I always like exploring that.

This one is a “dark wheat-wine style ale” according to the label. Triticus is Latin for wheat. It pours out a nice dark color – light barely gets through but just a little red peeks through when held up to a bright light. The smell is at first very boozy – but this rings in at about 11% ABV so it’s nothing too extreme. There’s a little raisin smell underneath the alcohol aroma, but it’s kind of hard to pick out.

The taste is very pleasing – with lots of depth. It starts out with a nice plum and raisin flavors, but is then eclipsed by the almost whisky-like alcohol notes. I like this one, but it seems to erase itself on the tongue. I don’t mean that it doesn’t have flavor – it does – but that after each sip the alcohol cleanses your palate and makes you forget the last sip, leading you to take another. It’s an odd thing to have to describe.

I enjoyed this very much, and I think I will continue to look forward to the rest of the series. If you’r looking for something with warmth, a little bit of alcohol character but also some depth and complexity, this one is for you. Not overwhelmingly boozy or hoppy, this one strikes a pretty nice balance. I’d love to try this with some cheese, and it would make a great beer to curl up with after a filling holiday meal.

Harpoon – Ginger Wheat

I’ve become a ginger beer convert. At first, I balked at the idea, thinking the two tastes were pretty much incompatible and couldn’t possibly go well together. But, being the ‘adventurer’ that I am, I decided to give it a go. And after a few good beers that included ginger, I was pretty hooked!

29_gingerwheat_labelGinger can be a good palate cleanser and in beer can provide a crispness or a freshness that you can’t otherwise get. The aroma of this one is more like candied ginger than the picked ginger smell that I was expecting. Previous ginger beers I’ve tasted have taken on almost a savory quality, and this one does not seem like it will go in that direction.

The taste is sweet and crisp with a definite ginger note – a little bite. It reminds me of sugar coated ginger candies, but not in an overwhelming way. I would almost pick this as a dessert beer. After doing a little research I also found out that it uses local honey (from New Hampshire) and lemon to balance out the ginger flavor. I don’t taste the lemon, but the honey can definitely be responsible for taming the ginger’s bite in this brew.

The sweetness is really on point and delicious – I think it would pair well with anise cookies or Russian tea cakes. I highly recommend this beer, though leave your expectations at the door!

Harpoon – Leviathan Series Saison

So far, I’ve been a bit fan of everything that’s come out of the Leviathan series. Its an example of a brewery that does its standard stuff well, but really takes advantage of an opportunity to step up into a different realm.

saison_royale_4pkThe saison almost deceived me because its blue label is very close to the Baltic Porter, and I didn’t realize it was a new one until I got up close. But I am glad I realized it, and took it home.

This pours a cloudy yellow amber with plenty of sediment. For those of you who don’t know, a saison style is, according to beer advocate,

Saisons are sturdy farmhouse ale that was traditionally brewed in the winter, to be consumed throughout the summer months. Not so long ago it was close to being an endangered style, but over recent years there’s been a massive revival; especially in the US. This is a very complex style; many are very fruity in the aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Lots of spice and with a medium bitterness. They tend to be semi-dry with many only having touch of sweetness.”

So, it isn’t summer, but saisons are now brewed year-round. The spices in them also go very well with the crisp and inspiring feeling of late fall. I like the complexity of saisons, so I was really happy to see Harpoon attempt one.

The aroma is great – very fruity. According to Harpoon, they also added rosemary and white pepper to enhance the spice. I wish I had known that yesterday, when I made a rosemary and onion roast chicken. It probably would have pulled out the spices quite well. This tastes to me a bit peppery, but very sweet still underneath. I can’t honestly say that I can pull out the rosemary flavor, but I do like the balance of the hops and malts, giving this almost a nutty flavor. This is very savory, and calls for you to take another sip after eveyr taste.

I recommend this one, and I ‘d say its another great winter/fall beer because of the spices. I love this time of year – especially when the frost start forming on the ground. Trying beers like this that warm you with their alcohol, spices and wonderful flavor. Perfect for this season, I’d highly recommend this Harpoon Brew.

Harpoon – Big Bohemian Pilsner (Leviathan Series)

You may have noticed that I don’t often review pilsners on this site. What is a pilsner, you ask? It is a Czech beer style that is the basis for most of our American domestic beer (Budweiser, for example, is a pilsner). Pilsners are characterized by their clear yellow color (something that Greg Koch would probably label “fizzy yellow beer”) and thin, dry taste. They’re the beer equivalent of a mild white wine.

But, I thoroughly enjoyed the other offerings in Harpoon’s Leviathan series, so I picked it up anyway.
It pours like the perfect beer commercial – clear yellow with dancing bubbles and a fine, rising head that spills a little bit over the edge of the glass. But that’s where the similarities to Budweiser end. The smell is flowery, hoppy and absolutely inviting. The taste is thicker in the mouth (more syrupy) than any other pilsner I’ve ever tried, and has a nice level of malty smoothness. Its finish is slightly dry, but not as much as I expected. This could be because Harpoon has added quite a bit of malts in here and the alcohol flavor might take away some of the dryness too. For me, that’s a good thing, and I enjoyed drinking this a lot.
There is a vague hint of that “beery” taste that I can only describe as what happens to cheap beer when it warms – I don’t know where it comes from but its one of the reasons I don’t drink domestic beer very often. Maybe its the particular types of malts used that make it a pilsner. I will say that the tiny hint is enough to give it character, without making it a “beer for wussies.”
The 9%ABV also speaks to that, and I don’t think I’ve had anything in a long time that’s that color and that light packing so much of a punch there. Harpoon has another winner here, and if you thin you know all about pilsners, watch out, this one will change your mind quickly.

Harpoon – Catamount Maple Wheat (signature series #26)

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.  

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