-The BOTB guys take aim at Harpoon! Do their beers hit the mark or does the Great White Metaphor get away?
- Ron and I travel to Puerto Rico to answer the burning questions: Is there craft beer in the Tropics? And does this mean I can write the trip off as a business expense?
-Mike and I check out a home brewing DVD. Top Chef look out, we're pitching Top Brewer as the next big reality show. And ourselves as the judges.
|A tube of Sangria - alas not beer!|
Luckily we were headed for Old San Juan on Wednesday, so Old Harbor Brewery became one of the places we had to get to. And how fortuitous that we did. Located at 202 Tizo Street in Old San Juan, it's definitely worth your while to stop in if you get to the island. Unfortunately for us we arrived at a time when they were down to only three taps: Cerveza Old Harbor Pale Ale, Cerveza Coque Golden Lager – a German Helle, and Cerveza Santo Viejo Pilser (winner of Best Pilsner of the South in 2008 and 2009). These are three of their year round offerings. All good, but for our money, the Pale Ale was the best. It's brewed with Cascade hops imported from the US and it is an excellent pale ale. Unfiltered, with a strong malt backbone and generous amounts of hops. It has a nice clean finish. Good beer.
|Flowchart from PDF|
This month we decided to check out six of Harpoon's year round brews: Raspberry Hefeweizen, UFO White Unfiltered Wheat Beer, UFO Hefeweizen, Belgian Pale Ale, Munich Dark, and IPA (their best seller).
We used the same basic rating formula - looking at Color, Pour, Aroma, Body, Taste and Overall Impressions (ranging from "Leave it on the shelf" to "Can't get enough.")
Ultimately this line-up batted a respectable .500 with us. Keeping in mind that we are a bunch of unrepentant hop-heads (as I may have mentioned a time or two before) and three of the beers were wheat beers which tend not to have a strong hops presence, that's a pretty good percentage.
Comments: "Hoppy flavor right up front; A little bitterness to it - nice; A little hint of spice - cloves?; Much better than the wheats in my opinion."
Munich Type Dark - 5.5% ABV - 35 IBU - Harpoon's take on the Munchen Dunkel style of beer gives this traditionally malty, sweeter type a bit of a friendly hop kick that results in a very tasty brew. It is a rich mahogany color. The head is about two fingers and very lacy. The aroma had a hint of malt with stronger alcohol scent than you would expect. It's a slightly more than medium bodied brew with a flavor evocative of chocolate and malt. It starts out sweet and ends a little bitter.
Comments: "Pretty color and aroma; I kind of like that; Good aftertaste; Definitely deep roasted malts; Could have a few of these!"
Comments: "Now this is good beer!!!; I'll tell you what!!; Nice white lacy head; Once this is in a can - great for the boat or a golf cart; This is just a terrific beer!!"
NOTE: Harpoon plans to start rolling out their IPA and their Summer Beer in cans this summer. Our "Craft Beers in a Can" competition can't be too far off as more and more good beers are being produced in cans.
INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: On our way back from Puerto Rico we ate at New York Sports Bar in JFK while we waited for our connecting flight to the Cuse. They had a nice selection of beers including Harpoon IPA and Lagunitas IPA on tap so Ron and I decided a quick informal competition. Ron ordered the Harpoon and I ordered the Lagunitas. Both were very good - the first IPA's we'd had in a week - but we had to go with Harpoon. It had a much more distinctive hops presence. This beer on tap is absolutely marvelous. As good as it is bottled, it's even better on tap. Here's hoping our Uno's keeps it there.
The BOTB Guys