There is a commercial that is currently airing that states: as adults, we do not get “do-overs”. Oh, that is such a wrong statement. Look at Donald Trump. He was a multi-millionaire that went bankrupt and now he is a multi-millionaire again. The Donald even got a “do-over” twice in the bedroom… Ivana, Marla and now Melania. Donald is the king of the comb over, of course he deserves a do-over or two. The one do-over he wont get will be of this horrid season of the Apprentice in L.A.
A do-over does not imply that the previous time we did something it was flawed in some way. It simply means we found something enjoyable to do and want to repeat the process. This seems like exactly what Harpoon did this winter when they re-released their Barleywine from the 100 Barrel Series.
For those of you unfamiliar with this series of beers from Harpoon, let me bring you up to speed. Harpoon, in wanting to add a little variety to their catalog of beers, decided to let their brewers brew one off 100 barrel batches of beer. These styles were to be style never before brewed by Harpoon and were to be brewed once and never to be brewed again. It is a bit dramatic for my tastes but that was the plan and they ran with it.
There was a flaw in Harpoon’s plan… the beers were phenomenal. From the very first batch to the latest these are some of the best beers the market place has seen. How can you brew a great beer once, fall in love with it, and never brew it again? You can’t. And so began Harpoon’s quest to get themselves out of a pact with themselves.
One ale to get rave reviews and one of the first to be brewed was Brewer Todd Charbonneau’s Barleywine Style Ale. This 10.3% ABV, 80 IBU nectar of the gods was quickly grabbed up when it was first released roughly two years ago. Within weeks of it’s release it was pretty hard to find a bottle anywhere in the city of Boston (Harpoon’s home market) but here I am almost 4 years later with a fresh bottle of Harpoon Barleywine on my desk writing this column. What happened?
I will tell you what happened… in a Clintonesque way Harpoon re-released a beer from the series that would never be released again. It depends on what the meaning of the words ‘100 BBl Series really means. To Harpoon’s defense, this is not a 100-Barrel release, this is the 100-Barrel Encore series.
See what they did there was pretty slick, just like our Ex-president Slick Willie. Also, 22 oz foil-capped bottles are the usual packaging for the 100 BBL Series. These are 12 ounce bottles that come in a six pack each bottle labeled “encore” twice lets me know that Harpoon didn’t break their word to me.
So is the Encore series your opportunity to try some of the great beers you have missed in the past from Harpoon? Yes. More so, this is the premier opportunity to horde some. I now have a case of Harpoon Barleywine nested regally between my Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and Stone Old Guardian… where it belongs. Hopefully next winter I will be tucking another case away.
So as you get ready to put away your shovels, snow blowers and boots for another year. Remember to tuck away a case or two of your favorite winter beers with them. Not all beers get an encore. This spring, keep your eyes open for Harpoon’s next curtain call Brett Simmons’ Smoked Porter, yet another one-off brew that has made it’s way back on the shelves.
Harpoon, keep lying to me and keep them coming. What did Stevie Nicks say? “Tell me lies, Tell me sweet little lies.” As long as the result is these great beers, I’ll be happy.
Harpoon Encore Series: Barleywine: It is amber in color with touches of red and is crowned by a thin white head. The aroma is yeasty with a big alcohol presence and evidence of a huge malt backbone. The mouthfeel is medium with a big earthy malt flavor, there are touches of toffee and caramel. The finish has a nice hop washing over the tongue of noble hops giving a dry bitter finish. This beer is amazingly balanced. Seeing it’s size, I would imagine it would be sweet. A generous dose of hops makes sure it stays in check.
Commercial description: Todd Charbonneau originally brewed this beer in 2003. The Barleywine pours a reddish, golden hue with a slight carbonation. The piney, citric aroma and flavors coupled with the sweet malt character reflect the generous amounts of ingredients used to brew this beer. The warming finish of this rich, full-bodied ale make it the perfect cold weather companion.
– Bruce G. Owens, Jr.