You’ve been waiting three years for this. The ever-expanding Harpoon Brewery has just released its next beer that will be brewed year-round for you: the Belgian Pale Ale. After Harpoon first tested this ale style roughly two years ago in-house, and then at BeerAdvocate’s Belgian Beer Fest in Boston, and it was well received by all, it was time to begin perfecting this concoction for the masses.
As each experimental batch produced brought Harpoon closer to the final product they desired for their new offering, they also decided to purchase a new piece of equipment to support its development. Assembled from parts made in Germany and Missouri, amongst others, and costing the brewery about $100,000, Harpoon’s yeast propagator is one of the first in New England. Unlike most of Harpoon’s beers, which are brewed using proprietary house yeast, the Belgian Pale Ale is made with a Trappist yeast strain from White Labs, which the impressive yeast propagator will grow in large quantities required for the volume of beer now being produced regularly, yet will also ensure its consistency. (Yes, I know all the non-beer geek readers might not find this to be exciting, but trust me, it’s very, very cool!)
While enjoying a glass with Liz Melby, Harpoon’s Director of Communications, and Al Marzi, the Chief Brewing Officer, he told me that his goal for the Belgian Pale Ale was to blend the right varieties and quantities of hops with the yeast he had selected. After you have a chance to try the beer for yourself, I think you’ll agree that he found a well balanced result. For the colder autumn and winter months, this beer’s Trappist yeast will warm you up with the delicate clove and subtle spicy, fruity finish it produces. In hotter weather, its combination of four American malts plus American hops, including Apollo in the bittering and Amarillo in the dry hopping processes, will help you cool down as fresh, hoppy tones first hit your tongue and then a pleasant citrus presence emerges to keep you chilled. All in all, this is a session beer for all seasons that’s uniquely complex from other session microbrews like Samuel Adams Boston Lager, but with Harpoon’s newest addition to its regular lineup weighing in at 5.8% ABV, you’d best respect this contender, especially if you’re a lightweight in the fight.
As we speak, the Belgian Pale Ale is rolling out to bars and stores in all 25 states in which Harpoon has distribution rights. If you’re reading this article and you live west of the Mississippi, I suggest you cross the river and join the rest of us now getting our hands on a fine new craft ale!