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Well, the holiday season is upon us, thus, we saw it fit to bring you a spirited ale perfect for this time of year. Harpoon's Winter Warmer is brewed with a healthy dose of holiday cheer and spice in the form of both nutmeg and cinnamon! The beer presents as an inviting copper color with a smooth, off-white head that is long lasting and just about as appealing as a warm fluffy coat on a cold winter day. A creamy lace will leave thin scarves around the glass upon drinking. We detected more cinnamon notes than nutmeg, within a medium to full body. Mild yeast esters were evident toward the end, along with a hop bitterness 'nipping at our noses' - ok, sorry about that last one, but this beer just thrust us into the holiday spirit. The hop bite is definitely present, and nicely balances the sweetness that initially develops. Overall, a well crafted holiday beer, which is not typically easy to pull off, but has been nicely executed in this brew.
The Harpoon Brewing Company first opened its doors on the Boston waterfront back in 1986. The business was founded with four employees; the three founders, who were all classmates at Harvard, and one very important employee—their brewer! It was the intent of the lads to deliver quality goods to a community they sought to contribute to in many ways. Before starting the brewery, the founders traveled throughout Europe ( product research), in search of various beer and brewery styles upon which they could model their own. And while the inspiration may have come from traditional European breweries, the results have nicely expanded and evolved to their own distinctive brews, incorporating, when they felt necessary, their own vision of stylistic improvements.Taking certain liberties in revising traditional styles was a key component of their original inspiration to found the brewery, as they wanted to offer the community (and themselves, we're sure) additional, though distinctive, choices to the many beers already commercially available at the time. A much appreciated public service, if we do say so ourselves. Although the brewery is well known throughout New England, their main focus has been on impacting primarily the local community, another feature they observed while noting European traditions abroad. As they say on their website, welearned to appreciate how much local brewers meant to their communities. They were not just manufacturers of a product; they were part of the social fabric. [Before starting the brewery] we asked each other, Why not do that in New England?’ The result of this initial desire has won them an overwhelming approval from the locals, and beyond. Harpoon staffs 60 employees at two brewery locations. One of the more interesting stats about the brewery, besides that fact that their beer was the first to be brewed and bottled in Boston since 1964, is that they brew more beer than any other New England brewery.Our panel was lucky enough to try most Harpoons ten styles, and as quite a few were solid choices, it was a tough decision as to which should be featured (though the sampling and tasting process did serve as a pay off to the stress of such difficult decision-making. What can we say, we're just slaves to the grind.)One final note, these guys run a very successful brewery, but success hasn't changed the very friendly, welcoming demeanor that the company was founded on. The lads make it a point to provide a warm welcome to customers at either of their two breweries. If you can arrange it, try to visit during one of their seasonal brewery events, which have become rather famous in the more than ten years that they’ve hosted them!For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call (888) HARPOON or check out their web site at www.harpoonbrewery.com.
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