May The Schwarz...Bier With You

Brewery and Country of Origin: Harpoon Brewery Pilot Beer Hall of 306 Northern Avenue, Seaport District, Boston, MA 02210, USA

Date Reviewed: 4-18-13

A couple of weekends ago, we visited the Rochester, NY area Genesee Brewery, which recently opened up a pilot brewery/museum/brewpub/store (whatever you want to call it) place. The brewery, which is the 8th largest in the United States, opened up this pilot brewery for the sake of letting their employees experiment, and their customers' enjoyment. In our experience, the small batch beer that the pilot brewery produces is markedly better than the beer which is distributed nationally. Sadly, that's not saying too much, considering this is a facility responsible for Genny Light as well as contract brewing for Mikes Hard Lemonade, and Smirnoff Ice for the Northeast. Drive 400 miles east on I-90, and you come across a somewhat similar situation. Harpoon Brewery, a New England craft beer mainstay, has also recently opened up a beer drinking venue, their new Beer Hall. Unlike Genessee, which has a full food menu, real restaurant tables, and very cheap beer, Harpoon does it a bit differently. Lavishly adorned with German beer tent style long wooden tables, as well as somewhat medieval chandeliers, this beer hall attempts to bring you a full lager worshiping experience with panoramic views the boston skyline set as a backdrop (yes, even in the men's bathroom). The beer is also quite expensive: over $9.00 for a flight of four 5 oz samples, and $8.00 for a regular pint. Sadly, you don't have to ask us if we think that's a good price or not. But at least some people will find that the beer is worth it. We were at the new venue this past weekend (as you see below) and tried three pilot beers that they had on tap, including a schwarzbier which we quite enjoyed. The fact that it was $8.00 was a bit less satisfying. Still, if you do ever go to the brewery (the Boston location), you can sign up for $5.00 tours and fill your socks with as much fresh Harpoon beer you can in a 40 min period. Just get a good spot at the tasting bar.
Date Sampled: 4-13-13 At: Harpoon Brewery Beer Hall, 306 Northern Avenue, Seaport District, Boston, MA 02210, USA
Beer Style: Schwarzbier
Alcohol by Volume: 4.50%
Serving Type: Brewery Keg, 16 oz Pilsner Glass
Rating: 3.88


This beer pours fairly smoothly with a medium amount of carbonation action, giving it a three quarters inch tall foam head with an average density, and an average level of retention. This is a filtered beer with a good amount of clarity, but it's very dark reddish brown color allows for only a little bit of light through, producing a faint shine.


Harpoon's Schwarz Bier has an average strength aroma with a full, bold roasted malt character, and a sweeter overtone. This beer has some slight floral hoppy notes as well as a biscuity nuttiness. There are no fruity or alcohol aromas present.


This is a medium bodied brew with a below average amount of carbonation, a fair bit of weight, and a matching viscosity. This beer has a overall smoothness to it, and delivers a fairly dry finish. This beer has no detectable sediment in the texture, and there is no alcohol induced warming in this fairly substantial beer.


As is with many dark malty brews, this beer has a bittersweet coffee/espresso dark roasted malt overtone in its profile. There are some sweeter notes present as well, including some biscuity bread like aspects. The flavor has a good amount of trailing hoppy bitterness. This is accompanied with some citrus and a dry finish. This beer has a slightly lingering bitter aftertaste.

Our Take

Aside from the fact that this was an $8.00 beer sold at the very place it's brewed at, this was an excellent beer. Well balanced between a fair bit of somewhat sweet malt and floral and aromatic hops in both the smell and the flavor profile. This beer had a good amount of substance to it without filling you up after only a pint. And the way it looked was pretty spot on. This beer would probably benefit from a wider range in malty flavors, and a slightly more pronounced hoppy aroma. The 4.50% ABV was a bit lackluster as well. Overall though, this beer is a great meal-versatile beer which you should enjoy with one of Harpoon's Barley pretzels served in the beer hall. In fact, it's the only food that's served there, but definitely a winner. It comes with cheese and garlic oil sauce cups for dipping, and goes well with all of the lagers we tried, including this one.