Harpoon was officially born on June 19, 1986 when the Mass Bay Brewing Co. was incorporated, though its origins precede the actual date. Rich Doyle wrote the business plan for the Harpoon Brewery during his second year at Harvard Business School. At that time, he was unable to find the variety of beers that were available in Europe, nor the rich beer culture he had enjoyed there. Harpoon Winter Warmer has been brewed since 1988. Since then, this beer has become a New England seasonal classic.
The beer pours a light brown color with red highlights. As the beer enters the glass is seems to be light bodied. The head is thin, sandy in color and dissipates rather quickly.
The initial whiff knocks you over with sweet spice notes. The spices are reminiscent of those used in mulling but sweeter, like mulling spices coated in sugar. There is a fruity note that blankets a more subtle malt note. When the two aromas combine together it resembles that of a fresh baked fruit cake.
On the palate the sweet dried fruit notes enter first. Think dried candied cranberries laced with a hint of candied orange peel. The fruit notes mingle on the midpalate with a spice bouquet, which is dominated by nutmeg. Amidst the nutmeg there is a hint of cinnamon which is all that is needed to accentuate but not over power the fruit. The finish echoes the midpalate with no particular component lingering. Although the beer is light bodied, the carbonation carries the flavors well and it still possesses a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel.
This is beer is not one that is over – the- top or super complex. It is simply everything a winter warmer should be. It tastes like a traditional New England Holiday in liquid form and conjures up all kinds of happy memories.
The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 Pints out of 5
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