A Tale of Two Beers

Brewery and Country of Origin: Harpoon Brewery of 306 Northern Ave # 2, Boston, MA, 02210, USA

Date Reviewed: 11-01-12

A bunch of months ago, we reviewed Harpoon's Black IPA, one of their limited, small batch 100 Barrel Series brews. Well, the Black IPA was Session 40 of the series, and we liked it a lot. About half a year later, they came out with their new White IPA, and we'll say it right out, we liked this one, too. Not as much, but it was definitely in line with the quality and taste that the label "100 Barrel Series" normally demands. Infused with citrusy orange peel, Simcoe, Citra, and Cascade hops, and a bit of coriander, this is a lighter, crisper version of the IPA, especially when compared to their Black IPA. There is a overall tone strikingly similar to that of a traditional Belgian wit, but the trio of hops keeps the coriander and orange in check. And for us, that's a bit of a rarity. It's not too often you come across a beer which drinks like two completely different beer styles seemingly equally. That's fairly uncommon, because whenever we come across interesting beers which deliver different tasting or drinking experiences, it's usually the result of a few unorthodox ingredients which add some exciting element which in itself, can't be described as a style pre se. Of course, this isn't a hybrid necessarily. But in a way, this beer, whose belonging to the 100 Barrel Series comes with the added expectation and responsibility of being great, really is. Take the Black IPA, or this beer's evil twin so to speak for example. It's added depth and dark malt create a profile which can't be paired with any particular style other than being a dark IPA. When you come across a chocolate stout, you are dealing with chocolate and stout. As much as many people might love the idea, chocolate isn't a style of beer, and neither is being malty. But a witbier is a very specific style which typically isn't associated with styles originating from the British Isles.
Date Sampled: 9-18-12 (8-24-12 original) At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: White IPA
Alcohol by Volume: 6.20%
Serving Type: At Brewery Growler, 16 oz Stange Glass
Rating: 3.42


This is a choppy beer with a medium high amount of carbonation action, resulting in a two thirds inch, fairly dense foam head with a decent amount of retention. This beer has a cloudy, hazy appearance which causes it to glow brightly in the light. This beer has a bright golden color. This beer exhibits a good amount of lacing.


This beer has a very hoppy aroma expected from the style. There is a fair bit of pale and/or biscuity malt present, as well as a small amount of fruity and citrusy notes. This beer's tall foam head gives it a rather strong/potent aroma definitely enhancing the flavor experience.


This is a medium light bodied beer with an above average level of carbonation, which gives this beer a fairly crisp and lighter feeling late summer appropriate experience. This beer has a lower viscosity and a dry and bitter finish with a moderate amount of lingering.


As you would expect, this is a very hoppy beer with only trace amounts of any malt reasonably detectable. There are some fruity and citrusy notes present, as hinted in the aroma, and the beer finishes with a very bitter and dry aftertaste which lasts for an average amount of time. There are some spicy and herbal notes as well, reminiscent of pine needles.

Our Take

This sort of two faced beer has a lot to offer, and if you're into the lighter, yet still hoppy variety, you might have just met your perfect beer. This 100 Barrel Series brew is Session 43, which is still being sold, but as the seasons are changing, so is the focus at Harpoon. Sooner than later, they are going to clean out the tanks and begin the process of creating an entirely new, and more importantly, different beer. We'll be sure to try that one as well, but for the time being, this crisp, aromatic, medium weighted beer is here for now. This beer's expected hoppy flavor is well balanced by a nice mixture of light malts, fruity notes, and a bit of spice. And now that Hurricane Sandy is long gone, we can finally enjoy a bit of sanity in the form of quirkiness. Yes, this is not a normal beer, and we're pretty sure Harpoon wanted to make that known. This is obviously going to be unlike any other IPA you've ever had, and for at least the foreseeable future, it's going to be unlike any brew you're going to have. This beer is not for heavy, dark, sweet, or strong beer fans. This is a respectable, well refined, refreshing beer which offers a bold enough flavor which can be enjoyed out in the cold and in the hot tub. Unfortunately, you better get your hands on it quick.