The Italian Hop

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

Date Reviewed: 9-28-15

Well, here we go again. Another few months, another 100 Barrel Series brew. Now we'll admit, the very idea of a Tuscan Pool Party sounds fairly enticing, though we initially had some questions. One question that wouldn't asked is what beer would be served at said party, which of course, would be Harpoon's latest limited release. This is a beer whose name sounds much like a short lived, yet highly popular internet meme. Inspired by an annual employee trip to Italy (the trip is the annual bit, but they travel elsewhere obviously), the inspiration for this beer came from the red wine and the traditional music being played while they enjoyed kicking it back in the rolling hills of Tuscany. This beer combines the American hops used in their flagship IPA including Amarillo, with the juicy fruit of Italian red wine grapes, specifically grapes that you'd find in a Chianti, the main red wine of Tuscany. Of course, as this beer's name does include the words "pool" and "party," this is meant to be a fun experimental kind of beverage for you to enjoy. The brewers go on to say how a mutual love of rock music between the employees and the Italian brewers they met helped mesh the two groups further than just being brewers from different parts of the world. We've come across some beers brewed with some interesting fruits and other ingredients, but none so far that actually included grapes made for producing alcoholic beverages not called beer. Even the brewers admit that while they had fun brewing this special fusion of cultures, it isn't exactly perfect, and not everyone will find it entirely appealing. There isn't a style specifically listed for this kind of beer because it doesn't actually belong in any. Therefore, you can't also determine whether it fits or not. But in reality, that doesn't matter. What matters is that this is the result of a simple, yet unfamiliar idea coming together, and having a group of fun loving people fully committing to its existence.
Date Sampled: 8-15-15 At: 7 Priscilla Road, Brighton, Boston, MA 02135, USA
Beer Style: Fruit/Vegetable Beer
Alcohol by Volume: 7.60%
Serving Type: 16.9 oz Bottle, 16 oz Can Stange Glass
Rating: 3.45


This 100 Barrel Series installment pours choppy with a high amount of carbonation action, producing a full, thick inch tall white colored foam head with a medium high density, a thick, creamy texture and a good retention rate. This beer shows off a high amount of effervescent effect and has a clear and filtered appearance with no visible sediment or settling. This beer has a brilliant, rich golden light amber colored shine in light, a bright glow, and displays a medium amount of lacing on the glass.


This ale gives off a fairly balanced aroma which starts off full of fruity malt with a good grapefruit and mango canvass as well as a good amount of sweet wine like aroma. This is overtaken by the presence of a good amount of dull hops which contain a hint of citrus as well as some spice toward the tail. There are no metallic or alcoholic tinges despite a somewhat elevated alcohol strength. Overall, this beer has an average strength aroma.


This is a medium bodied brew with an above average amount of carbonation, an average weight, and a viscosity that is lower than most. All of this, on top of a 7.60% ABV makes the Tuscan Pool Party a definite sipping beer but it is still easy to drink in pretty much all seasons. This beer finishes with a somewhat dull and lingering close with a subtle alcohol warming without any bite, and a small amount of refreshing crispness.


This beer's flavor profile is one of the more fruity limited releases from the 100 Barrel Series. Full of juicy grape and citrus grapefruit flavors, this beer is sweet and great for summer, but malty and hoppy enough to remind you that this is a somewhat bigger beer. This beer is very well balanced and finishes with a slightly dull hop filled lingering bitter aftertaste. This is a malt oriented beer with a good amount of grain and cereal like notes as well as a noticeable biscuity undertone. There is a small amount of alcohol flavor toward the finish.

Our Take

This is one of the more unique 100 Barrel Series sessions we've had in a while, not because it was a crazy overpowering bold extreme of a particular style, but because it was a beer that seemingly incorporated the guts of many different styles. This was a well balanced, complex beer with many pronounced flavors, each one coming out at different tasting points. In general, this was a pleasant, easy going (as far as big beers go) brew with a relatively smooth presence, and no overpowering characteristics. And because this beer has a complex, full spectrum covering flavor profile, it either can cater toward a large number of people's tastes, or very few. Unfortunately, in the small sample size of our friends who were with us when we were reviewing this beer, we found that it was closer to the latter. Still, in our opinion, this is a good beer that should go well with a large range of occasions and should be pretty well suited to satisfy during all four seasons, especially the autumn time. And since this beer is fruity, malty, and hoppy, it offers some unique pairing options with soft cheeses, leafy greens, poultry, and the simplicity of Shortbread Trefoil Girl Scout Cookies.