Maple, eh?

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

Date Reviewed: 3-24-12

Time and time again, Harpoon releases liquid magic in the form of their routine 100 Barrel Series brews. These are usually very high in quality, distinct and pronounced in taste, and as a result, appropriately rated high. The last group of 100 Barrel Series beers we've tried have all been phenominal, usually earning ratings above 3.80. Unfortunately, it appears as though going back in time may not necessarily be the best thing to do when trying or brewing a new beer. When we had heard that the bar we were at got their hands on a new version of an old session that we hadn't tried before, well, the usual excitement ensued. Harpoon came out with a third version of their maple infused wheat based ale that is supposed to remind oneself of the quintessentially New England Catamount maple forests. Fresh maple products, fresh air, fresh skiing powder, and fresh New England craft beer. What drove us to this beer was the prospect of experiencing (even for just a short lived moment) those very same sensations in the form of beer. What we got however was not exactly what we were expecting.
Date Sampled: 3-23-12 At: Sunset Grill and Tap, Brighton Ave, Brighton, Boston, MA, USA
Beer Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 6.80%
Serving Type: Nitro Keg, 12 oz Pilsner Glass
Rating: 3.13


This is a clear, amber colored beer with a moderate amount of carbonation and a quarter inch foam head. The foam lines the glass through the entire consumption of the beverage. Because this is a filtered beer, the rich dark amber colors stand out when held up to the light.


The Catamount features a pronounced fruity and clove like aroma, implying that this is a sweeter beer brewed with darker malts. The smell is reminiscent of most fruit ales. And this is where things start to get hairy, because we couldn't detect any hint of maple from the aroma.


This is a dry and crisp brew with a low viscosity and a thin bodied presence. This is very easy to drink and light on the palate.


And here is where this beer sort of missed the boat. Drinking this beer without knowing what it is would lead you to believe that this is in fact a blueberry wheat ale of sorts. We like blueberry ales, but that is not what we were expecting, or what Harpoon was going for. The beer features a fruity and dry aftertaste that does not linger. Sweet fruity flavors with a somewhat hoppy secondary note. And still, no substantial hints or flavors of maple.

Our Take

Harpoon needed to rebrand this beer like Hyundai needs to rebrand their Equus. Same product, different name. There was almost nothing to convince anyone that this is a maple wheat. The beer itself was pretty good, receiving a well deserved 3.13, but that is more charity than criticism. To be honest, we were somewhat dissapointed in this, especially because it was a part of one of our favorite beer series, and it was riding on the successes of its two predecessors (Sessions 26 and 35). The fact of the matter is that this beer could be improved considerably without even changing the recipe. It is like taking a bite of eggplant parm expecting it to be chicken parm. You may like both, but when you're mind is expecting one thing, and your mouth tastes another, chances are, you won't be plesantly surprised. A word of advice to the guys down in Boston: If you brew the Catamount again, call it the Catamount Maple Blueberry Wheat Ale. You probably won't get as many confused looking faces on first-tryers.