Baker's Brew

Brewery and Country of Origin: Harpoon Brewery of 306 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210, USA

Date Reviewed: 6-12-15

Beer in general is a very simple and yet, entirely delicate thing. Even subtle changes in a recipe can impart extremely large changes in the end result, making it essentially a good living example of the butterfly effect. One such "commonly practiced" change, is replacing the ale yeast in IPAs with bottom fermenting lager yeast to produce an IPL. And because the malt, hops, water, containers, equipment, and most of the brewing steps are exactly the same, to the average person switching between a top and bottom fermenting yeast doesn't sound like a big difference, but of course, when you are talking about something that really has only four main ingredients, you're going to end up in a completely different world. Yeast is the microorganism responsible for the delicate biology that goes into transforming the ingredients of beer into actual beer. Making up about 1% of all species in the fungal kingdom, Yeast reproduce asexually through budding (mitosis), and are about 3-4 micrometers (1*10^-6 meters) in diameter. The species officially known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is responsible for converting sugars into alcohol, heat, and carbon dioxide through a metabolic process called fermentation, when used in brewing applications. Brewer's ale yeast is the same species as common baker's yeast, but different strains are cultivated and used for different characteristics. For example, baker's yeast is aggressive, with the aim to produce as much CO2 needed to create the bubbles in dough as quickly as possible. Top fermenting ale yeasts, however act more slowly, are less prone to produce distinct off flavors, and can tolerate the harsh environment of alcoholic beverages, sometimes beyond 20% ABV. In addition, certain yeast strains can not only tolerate living in certain temperature ranges, but some best ferment and reproduce in fairly narrow ranges. Ale yeasts ferment at higher temperatures (~70F) than lager yeasts (~41F), which take even longer to complete the fermentation process. Both kinds can be killed instantly if pitched into boiling wort, which is still cooler than bread in an oven. There are many different strains of yeast that a brewer can use for similar beer styles which impart completely different profiles, aftertastes, and bodies. In the case of this lager, we have a perfect example (when compared to a comparable IPA such as the one which Harpoon happens to make) of what results when you use a different strain of yeast.
Date Sampled: 5-15-15 (10-23-14 Original) At: 7 Priscilla Road, Brighton, Boston, MA 02135, USA
Beer Style: India Pale Lager
Alcohol by Volume: 6.90%
Serving Type: 22 oz Bottle, 16 oz Can Stange Glass
Rating: 3.11


Cambridge Uncommon pours fairly choppy with a medium high amount of carbonation action, producing a full inch tall foam head with a mostly white color, a good retention rate, and a medium high density with a creamy texture. This beer has a small amount of chunky sediment included and a high amount of effervescent effect is visible, though there is no settling. Despite the included sediment, this is a mostly clear beer with a bright golden shine in light, and a bright glow. There is a good amount of lacing that shows up on the glass.


This beer's aroma starts off with an immediate presence of grainy pale malts which is complemented with a strong amount of hops making up an all around crisp, delicate, yet complex aroma full of various secondary notes. This aroma includes a bit of light floral notes mixed in with a fairly strong presence of fruity citrusy aromas. There is an overall somewhat fruity secondary and a biscuity undertone. The aroma does not contain any metallic or alcohol tinges and is medium in strength overall.


This is a medium bodied brew with a crisp overall feel, a medium weight, and a below average viscosity which in total, makes this a fairly easy to drink beer which is suitable for all seasons. This beer contains an average amount of carbonation and finishes with a very dry lingering close. There is no added texture from any included sediment, and there is no alcohol bite or warming toward the end. In general, this is a smooth beer which offers a small amount of refreshment and can be enjoyed in moderate quantities.


If you are looking for a mostly well balanced beer, then this should hit most of the notes you're looking for. This beer's flavor profile is dominated by a crisp hoppy bitterness extracted from the use of both European and American hops. This is kept somewhat in check with a good amount of pale malt derived grainy note, and a hint of lemon citrus fruit. There is also a hint of spice present as well. This is supplemented with a subtle biscuity undertone. The flavor is bittersweet overall and finishes with a strong, dry lingering finish which has a bitter aftertaste. There is no alcohol or metallic tinge in the flavor.

Our Take

Though far from our favorite 100 Barrel Series installment to date, this is a well rounded beer which promotes a style which doesn't come around too often. As an IPL, this style was expectedly bitter, with a bit more of a pale malt inflection than a normal IPA would convey. Those looking for something on the more traditionally bitter are probably going to be slightly turned off by this limited edition, but overall, this is a unique opportunity for some to try a fairly well balanced, mainly hopppy lager that is easy to drink, comes in a nice package, and overall does not deliver any overwhelming or overly strong notes. As this is a pale lager, there is a good amount of the expected grainy pale malt flavor and aroma, but this is a secondary note compared to the diverse array of premium hops used in this batch. This beer does, however, fail to bring about an enhancing aromatic experience and the aftertaste leaves a bit to be desired from a flavor standpoint. Despite some shortcomings, this is a good casual drinking beer with a somewhat elevated alcohol strength, but you won't notice it in this beer's aroma or flavor. Because this beer shares qualities with both pale lagers and IPAs, this beer is fairly versatile in pairing with edibles, but we'd recommend roasted chicken/poultry, leafy salads, spicy foods, some seafood, and Trefoil Girl Scout Cookies.