Style: English IPA
Color: 17 EBC
Brewer’s Notes: “Since its introduction, Harpoon IPA has remained unique in its ability to balance hop bitterness with a strong malt backbone. Dry-hopped with Cascade hops, it has a floral hop aroma and a finish that is bitter (it is an IPA after all!) without being harsh or astringent. Combined with a malty sweetness and the fruity esters of our proprietary yeast, those hops create a beer that is wonderfully hoppy but clean and refreshing enough to enjoy a few of – and we hope you do.”
The beer’s label is another classic of the New England craft beer scene. In fact, Harpoon’s IPA is one of a very few IPA’s that are seen all around at bars that don’t even carry craft beer. The font for Harpoon’s name is block like and a little boring, but the “IPA” font is interesting and simplistic. The budding flowers around the label’s center, and the cool swirlies and harpoons and ribbons in the label are all awesome touches. I also love how Harpoon has hidden the boring government warning on the neck of their beer. I’m not sure if it is aesthetically pleasing, but it is a great way to get that ugliness away from the main label. Overall, this is a nice label that, while being a little overbearing on the eye, is still pleasant. It is definitely worth scrapbooking, but is not quite up to par with my picky requirements for shelving.
The beer pours a very clean golden color, bordering on amber, and displaying light pinkish tints. The beers body is very translucent and particle free, but the head is tiny and nearly nonexistent, which is too bad. What bubbles do appear, appear to from a small scrim-ring around the glass and are an eggshell white. The lacing on the sides of the glass is spotty and quite slick, only staying briefly before they return to the beer. On the nose, the beer smells of grassy and hay-like hops with a good sweet and slightly stale bread malt base and a light citrus touch. On the tongue, the beer tastes bitter with a great malty sweet playing alongside of it, but never fully meshing with the bitters. The beer begins with light caramel sweets and a faint bitter bite before the bitters open into a nice little punch with very slight citrus, grass, and hay notes. As the beer rounds out the bready malts build in the mouth to play alongside the bitters, and in the finish there is still a great bitter tingle with a fading sense of the bready sweet malts. Just as the beer drops down the throat there is very quick emanation of cereal malts, which quickly returns to the bready sweet aftertaste. On the mouth, the beer feels thin to medium in body, with a little tingle of fierceness from the carbonation, and a big bitter bite on the tongue. The mouth is left clean but for some slight saliva on the edges of the mouth and a bitter tingle in the tongue. Overall, this is a solid middle of the road IPA. It has a little more of a bitter bite than a true English IPA, but not nearly enough pine or citrus to be considered an American IPA. I think this is a terrific introduction to the world of hops and IPA’s, and definitely a recommendation for anyone trying to slowly convert someone else to the hops. The malts and bitters work beautifully side-by-side, but never quite mesh, which isn’t entirely bad. A great intro IPA, and a good beer that can be easily found outside of craft beer bars in New England.