RATTLE & HUM bar – which we “famously” wrote up a few months ago in this post – would be holding HARPOON BREWING NIGHT the very same night I sauntered in? Holy mackerel and bless my soul. Shades of the lost mid-week night spend in Oakland during GRAND TETON BREWING night last month.
RATTLE & HUM has a superlative beer selection, and I could have ignored the Harpoon hullabaloo and gone with all sorts of weirdo offerings from Bear Republic, Green Flash, Nebraska Brewing (!) and others. But HARPOON, they’re a brewer I don’t know that much about. Their web site features really fit, healthy-looking long-distance bike racers, because all the people I see sucking down pints of craft beer in bars look exactly like that. They’re big among New Englanders, likely because they’re based in Boston. When I’ve traveled out east, I’ve seen their beers in just about every store, and some of their “Leviathan Series” big bombers have caught my eye. They pulled out all the kegs on Harpoon Night and said “GO” – there were a good 12 or more different Harpoons on tap, including just about all of these 9%-and-up Leviathan beers. I didn’t squander my time with any 5% pantywaisters and headed right for the rare and the odd, like these:
HARPOON LEVIATHAN IMPERIAL RED – Could there be a style more suited to my personal palate than the imperial red, that rich collection of caramel malts paired with tongue-bruising bitter hops? I would answer in the negative. This is a spicy one, a rich red ale with sharp hops. It’s made from 7 different malts and 4 different hops, and there is indeed a lot going on here. I get a very dry hop taste, along with caramel and darker fruits. Fairly intense stuff, at 9.2% ABV, and with a long, lingering aftertaste. Very solid. 7/10.
HARPOON LEVIATHAN SAISON ROYALE – Even better was the SAISON ROYALE, an amped-up farmhouse beer that I found to be exceptionally fruity. It is pictured above. I got a strong whiff of stone fruits (yeah, I’m the dork sniffin’ his beer in the corner when you’re not looking), and then a big blast of peach, honey and apricot flavor. Not in a cloying, “fruit beer” sort of way, but with that rustic earthiness that characterizes the saison. This is not a dry beer, however. The 9% alcohol packs a little heat, and though this supposedly was leavened with white pepper and rosemary, I’m thinking they gave me the peach-n-honey version instead. Loved it, and I can now successfully make something of a case for these guys as a strong & successful brewer of interesting ales. 8/10.