100 Barrel Series session 49: Brown IPA (Harpoon Brewing Company)

Style: American Brown Ale

5.6% ABV

60 IBU’s

Color: 80 EBC

Brewed On: January 2014

Brewer: John Cataldo – Quality Team, Boston, MA


Brewer’s Note: “John wanted to take our ongoing exploration of IPAs in a completely new direction, layering classic American hops over the malty base of a rich brown ale. Sweet, roasted notes of chocolate and honey malts combine with the pine and citrus of Chinook, Simcoe and Amarillo hops in this hearty and welcome addition to our family of IPAs.

Description: Sweet, roasted notes of chocolate and honey malts combine with Chinook, Simcoe and Amarillo hops in this welcome addition to our family of IPAs.”


The beer’s label is classy but a little text heavy. It is very similar/exactly the same as previous labels for the 100 Barrel Series, such as Saison Various’s, which I have reviewed on this blog already…


The beer pours a deep, dark, candied brown, almost like maple sap. Its sits in the glass as nearly black, with a fat head of medium sized, pebble-like bubbles of an off-white, nearly khaki coloring. The head settles to about a half finger’s width above the glass and lasts for quite a while, leaving a fat sheet of lacing on the wall of the glass. On the nose, the beer smells of dank pine and soft citrus lemon-grapefruit. Close on the hop-scent’s heals is a smooth coffee roast, suggesting touches of baker’s chocolate alongside delightful medium roast coffee. Pine and roast are the two main players on the nose, and they are exactly what I want from a beer of this type. Great smell. On the tongue, the beer delivers much of what the nose promised. Prickly, citric and pine bitters smooth into soft roasted bitters with touches of malt sweetness that provide a great balance, though still allow the bitters to shine. Acidity is light in the beer, providing just a soft pop alongside the bitters and the malt. In flavor, the beer begins as bitter pine which opens into grapefruit dipped in medium roast coffee with just a touch of baker’s chocolate. As I sip more, I even pick up touches of mango and other tropical fruits. The finish is really short on this beer, which is my biggest complaint I would say, leaving me little time to contemplate the flavors before they’ve slipped off my palate. As I drink more, I think I pick up slight metallic flavors and a touch of smoke towards the end of the sip. The aftertaste, however, is bizarrely rich in classic IPA flavors of bitter grapefruit, a touch of medicinal aspirin, and beautiful fresh pine resin. In the mouth, the beer feels oddly light, perhaps on the light side of medium, but with very little weight on the tongue. Carbonation is moderate, and provides a nice prickly scrub to the tongue, but the mouthfeel is quite watery, which allows for great drinkability, but leaves me wanting more grip on my tongue. After the beer leaves, the mouth is left sticky with hop resin, and saliva. Overall, this beer has great flavor and balance, but it is just too light. I want the malt bill amped up and I want to feel a little bit of weight on my tongue. As I sip more and more of the beer, I lose the more delicate flavors that tasted brilliant when I began drinking. With the brown IPA ‘style’ I need some weight on the tongue and a little more of that malt character for flavor. As is, this beer is terrifically drinkable, if a touch watery. I like the flavors, but I want them amped up a little more. This is nice beer, but Harpoon has better IPA offerings at the current time. If brewed again, they should amp up the malt and the ABV a little.



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