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Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #39 - Vermont Spruce Tip - Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

Not Rated.
Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #39 - Vermont Spruce TipHarpoon 100 Barrel Series #39 - Vermont Spruce Tip

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
80
good

105 Ratings
THE BROS
81
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 105
Reviews: 43
rAvg: 3.52
pDev: 14.2%
Wants: 4
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
Herbed / Spiced Beer |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: johnnnniee on 12-02-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

This hearty ale is a showcase for a traditional yet seldom used brewing ingredient: spruce tips. Harvested at their tender, ripe, bright green peak in Downer State Forest, Vermont, these spruce tips impart citrus, pine, spice, herbal and earthy notes. A host of malts, a hint of roasted barley and generous use of Chinook hops complement the unique spruce flavor.

We’d like to thank the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and all of the many great volunteers that helped us with this unusual harvest.

38 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 105 | Reviews: 43
Reviews by kkipple:
Photo of kkipple
4.05/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Green's on Piney Grove, I wanted something different and got it. 32 ounce growler into a big TripKarm goblet.

Vermont Spruce Tip is a ruddy, hearty looking chestnut colored ale with a short, light and light tan head. Lace though. Clear and attentive. Nose is something like a generously malty pale ale or Scotch ale maybe, with a good dose of cool piney hops and what I imagine must be the spruce - a herbal, spicy and vegetal quality. Not bad.

The flavor is malt forward, slick and medium bodied. Rather expansive mouthfeel really, and gently spruce-y, this is quite appealing. It's different and restrained, both qualities I enjoy. The 7% is possibly evident. The malt is somewhat English and the whole thing is well-rounded and enjoyable; mildly sweet. There is a strange slickness to this one, which is a bit of a shame, otherwise, I dig it. It drinks very easily.

Give Vermont Spruce Tip a shot, it's a fun and drinkable Winter-ish brew that deserves a chance. I hope Harpoon makes this again, as I can easily see myself settling in on a cold night with a book and a fire or girlfriend or other heat-producing object, and having a grand time of it.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Jason
3.58/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bomber w/ a batch # on the label.

LOOK: Head is not shy at all and reaches three fingers high, clear amber color.

SMELL: Toasted bread, mild spruce, caramel, herbal hop, floral and fruity yeast, semi-clean

TASTE: Sweet, modest spruce, mild hop bitterness, herbal, earthy, caramel, estery, ripe pears, hint of hop oil, drying semi-bitter finish

Expected a bit more spruce on the palate or perhaps this beer could have been smaller. Still well balanced and a good quaff.

Photo of Billolick
3.85/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber with best before dating(3-15-12)

Pours clear, light amber, with a nice dark orange hue, minor light tan head, fine bubble sheen and some delicate fine lace left on the glass.

Fresh herbs and a just a hint of pine/spruce in the nose.

Fresh and clean tasting, more light spruce, I also get some juniper, perhaps anise, and caramel maltings, all with some hops in the rear end to dry a chunk of the sweatness out. Pretty good stuff, one of my better experiences with this long running series of brews

Photo of tigg924
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

Appearance: 1/4 inch head that dissipates quickly, red-brown in color, clear, high carbonation

Smell: chocolate and light spruce—although the spruce becomes more fragrant as the beer warms

Taste: chocolate is the dominant flavor with spruce that becomes more dominant as the beer warms, light hops and other woodsy flavors.

Mouthfeel: sweet with a bitter spike at the end, moderate carbonation, medium-light bodied

Overall: This is a solid beer in the upper middle of the pack of the Harpoon 100 barrel series that I have tried. It has elements of a sahti in there. I do appreciate the woodsy element, but it is not as dominant as I would have liked. I would get this probably once a year in bomber format if it became a regular offering. A solid beer worth a try.

Photo of jondeelee
4.2/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vermont Spruce Tip Ale doesn't smell like it's been brewed with "locally gathered spruce tips," which in my opinion is a good thing, as beers that smell like Christmas trees have, in my experience, also tasted like them. Instead, this one comes across with a heavily malty body, thick with brown sugars, toasted wheat bread crusts, caramels, vanilla, and biscuit. Noticeably light is the hop aroma, which largely lingers around the periphery, adding only subtle hints of citrus and pine. From the nose alone, I would assume this to be a well-made brown ale.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a sweet, sugary, malty note full of brown sugars, vanilla, bread crusts, and caramels. Soon after the presence of hops washes over the tongue, bringing bitter grapefruit and pine, as well as some peppery eucalyptus. The spruce tips arrive soon afterward, sneaking their way in with a sweet sap-like overtone, much like what a tea brewed with spruce tips would taste like. The effect is very light and subtle, adding just a touch more pine to the hop profile than would be normally expected, and lending the beer a slight spicy Christmas feel. There is just enough sugar in the beer to nicely balance this sweet sap addition, and indeed, had I not know spruce tips were used in the beer, I would have assumed the flavors came entirely from the hops. The aftertaste is a continuation of the spicy, sappy hop-and-spruce flavors, with just enough sugars remaining to balance them out (though the sap does slightly overpower them after awhile), and lingers for a good while. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is one of the more successful of Harpoon's 100 Barrel Series I've tried, and one of the few that I would consider purchasing on a regular basis. Again, the spruce tip addition shouldn't scare off potential buyers, as the flavors are not overwhelming, but rather catalytic, bringing out more of the hops' natural pines and oils. Well worth trying.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.41/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle at about fridge temp poured into an SA perfect pint glass, split with friends. Best before 3 15 12.

pours a clear light amber color with a nice retentive off white head and some decent looking lacing.

no real spruce in the aroma, maybe a touch of spice. not much hops either. a grainy, biscuity malt is mostly noticable.

again, grains and biscuit malt rule, a little minty pine, slight herbal hop, and the slightest hint of spice.

medium bodied, average feeling carbonation.

this was my first beer with spruce tips, and if i didnt know, i prolly wouldve never figured out thats what it was made with. not really a bad beer, just nothing i would buy again.

Photo of Edgecrusher328
2.96/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pour from a 22 into Stella Artois Glass.

A: Clear light orange/amber in color.
Minimal head, disipated quickly, left decent lacing.

S: Sweet malt, mild pine,very subtle aromas.

T: Predominantly sweet through with a mild piney finish,
Aftertaste is a bit pine/alcohol that lingers.

M: Light/Medium. Minimal carbination.

O: Not bad, nothing special though.

Photo of hoptualBrew
3.88/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber of this session #39 of Harpoon's 100 barrel series. Name & description sounded enticing, so I couldnt pass it up. Beautiful pour with a crystal clear light mahagony color and a creamy off white head. Nose is mostly roasted & sweet caramel malts with a touch of spice in there. The pine isnt as dominant as I would like it to be - it comes in the disguise of spicy floral hops, but just enough to compliment the malts. It works, and smells fantastic, just was expecting something different. Carbonation up front sets the pace for the flavors to follow; roasty bready sweet malts give way to spicy hops & an aftertaste of mild pine. It works, but just not up to par with the expectations set forth. Balanced & easy drinking for sure, I would recommend giving it a try.

Photo of KMcG
3.82/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into tulip glass.  It's a nice amber color that doesn't produce much head. A slight lace develops. 

S: Caramelly roasted malts, spice and herbs - maybe sage.  Nutmeg and cloves, and a walk through a spruce stand!

T: Sweet malty backbone with spruce tones that breakthrough.  Some bitterness and lemon coming from the Chinook hops is clearly there and a spiced bready flavor make this one quite enjoyable, especially during holidays. 

M: slightly bitter and sweet, fine carbonation, light to medium body. 

O: a nice spiced ale and perfect for the holidays in front a Christmas tree.  

Photo of Gmann
3.66/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Pony Bar in NY.

Pours a clear golden brown color with a tight cream colored head that left a wall of lacing.

The aroma was weak and neutral. Some sweet malt with a subtle earthy spice. Nothing really stood out.

The taste was quite bready with some tea like malts. There was some brown sugar sweetness with a light spruce flavor. The spruce was not bitter at all. Some fruit punch berry sweetness as well.

The feel was smooth and balanced. The beer had a moderate body with light carbonation, slightly dry in the finish.

Not as sprucey as I thought. I thought there was going to be a lot of spruce like hop notes but that wasn't the case. It is tastey and very balanced.

Photo of puboflyons
4.02/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a bottle with an expiration date of 03/15/2012. Sampled on December 29, 2012. It begins with an attractive darker-amber pour with a short-lived hea that disappears quickly. The aromas are finely balanced between sweet malts and earthy, piney hops, which makes sense considering how it was brewed. The body is medium to bold. The taste comes off stronger than the aroma with the same characteristics of pine tree, earth, and sweet malts with a vaguely dry finish. At the same time the piney flavor is something a little different and difficult to describe. Overall likeable.

Photo of metter98
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a thin off white head that died down and left a thin ring of bubbles on the surface around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of pine resin in the nose.
T: The overall taste has malty flavors with hints of lemon citrus and pine resin from the hops.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate to high amount of carbonation.
O: Nothing really stands out about this beer as being interesting but it is quite easy to drink.

Photo of coachdonovan
3.35/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, best before 3/15/12, poured into a shaker glass.

Clear body, somewhere between auburn and copper. Tan head doesn't stick around for long. Aroma is all malt- sweet, dark, bready. I get no pine and very little hops at all. Smells almost like a bock.

Taste brings more malt backbone, but it's dry. There is a bit of spice in the finish, but again I'm finding it awfully hard to locate any spruce/pine notes. It's very drinkable and clean, but not very complex or, to be honest, all that flavorful. It's not a bad beer, but I'm disappointed by the lack of spruciness.

Photo of HattedClassic
3.53/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance:
A nice, clear copper with very little to no head after pouring. Drinking leaves a little bit of lacing.

Smell:
A strange caramel smell and a really crisp and piney smell. The smell is similar to hops but crispier and fresher.

Taste:
Strong caramel malts and after taste. The pine taste is nice but not as strong as hops but could definitely be mistake for it. The caramel overpowers the pine taste.

Mouthfeel:
Smooth, biting and very little carbonation.

Overall:
A fairly nice beer and definitely worth drinking because of its novelty.

Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.97/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into tulip. As all #39 - brewed on 11/3/11. Drank on 1/13/12.
Pours an amber clear, almost like a maple syrup. Nicely carbonated pour, but head disappears quick. Leaves behind some ok lacing.
Aroma is of sweet malts; almost quad like? but you smell a bit of hops, alcohol, and yes, pine.
Taste is very similar to the smell...sweet malts, again almost quad-like, but a bit more hops than I thought. The spruce is present, along with alcohol, in the aftertaste.
This is a really great brew...drinkable, unique, and just awesome that the spruce was harvested in Vermont, by volunteers. Cheers.

Photo of shand
3.85/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

Pours a clear copper color with a tiny head. Aroma is malty with some earthy and spicy hops. The taste is good, it's got a nice bready base with a slight earthy hop and a bit of the spruce on the finish. Nothing mindblowing, but a good drink. The mouthfeel is smooth and drying, and the drinkability is quite good. Overall, a decent brew, but nothing really worth a premium price and bomber release.

Photo of jneiswender
2.97/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured this beer out of a 24oz bottle into a 4oz sample glass. Pours a nice white head and a clear amber body. Smells like a sweet candy. Nice and subtle flavors. Nothing piney here. Only a resiny aftertaste. Well balanced amber ale in the middle. I have to say that nothing here would tell me that it has spruce in it. Its a great beer but I cannot really say that it should be advertised as a spruce beer. I expected something tasting like pine. I have had more piney beers in IPAs. Have this beer if you just want a nice Christmas beer that isn't overpowering. Avoid if you are expecting a piney beer.

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.1/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pristinely clear copper colored beer with a quick to fade head. Smells like sweet malt, pine resin and log cabin.

Tastes bready, malty sweet and herbal. Lil' bit fruity. There's an odd herbally harumph in there which I'm guessing is spruce residue - now I know what spruce tips taste like.

My least favorite 100 barrel since the oyster stout.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.53/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 12/11/2011 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub, in Pawtucket, RI served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a medium brown color with a short dense off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains maple, spices, caramelized malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste has a burst of spices and fruity sweetness up front followed by flavors of maple and caramel. The malt character is hearty and the hops presence is mild but complementary bringing a little bit of balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, decent kick, decent representation of style, it’s something a bit different but not a beer I would want to drink on a regular basis.

Photo of abgba121
2.85/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: pours a light amber with about 1cm of off white head that recedes very quickly and leaves behind a light lace down the glass

S: very sweet up front and slight pine and very little citrus or hop notes

T: sweet then a little spruce/pine, could use more hops to balance the high maltiness

M: high carbonation, medium body

O: an ok beer but needs some work

Photo of dbrauneis
3.53/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a crystal clear amber in color with some very light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall creamy light beige head that reduces to a skin with a small thin patch and a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate lacing is observe.d

S: Overall the aroma is very mild and a little more subtle than I expected. Light aromas of caramel and spruce.

T: This beer has a fairly strong malt body that contributes some caramel sweetness upfront. That is fairly quickly followed by some very light lemon citrus and some spruce. The beer finishes with a slight amount of hop bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation.

O: Easy enough to drink and an interesting brew... Not sure that I would want to drink this as my session beer but on the other hand the beer goes down quite easily. I do not think I will be likely to get this one again but not sorry to have tried it. I was expecting and hoping for a more pronounced spruce in both the taste and the smell and that aspect was slightly disappointing (though I can see how a little too much could have made this taste like a Christmas tree).

Photo of jlindros
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fizzy 1/4 head fades quickly, crystal clear orange honey red color.

Nose is sweet malts, maple, candy syrup, juicy reddish malts, caramel, etc. hint of pine sap and resin.

Taste sweet with syrupy malts, reddish malts, caramel, candy syrup, maple, light gritty biscuit like. Then light pine sap and resin, and hops, earthy herbal hops with a light phenolic herbal taste and decent bitterness. Finish is more maple candy, sweet, not as sticky as I thought, and on the back of the tongue a pine taste that is like chewing on a fir tree and earthy dirt taste.

mouth is med bodied, lighter but dec carb.

Overall meh, not bad but not great, the spruce isn't bad at first but gets weird, and plenty of sweet flavors, although the malts add a nice heavy beer feel for winter.

Photo of AleWatcher
3.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My last blind beer from Shogo...

Beer #12.
Bomber served in an imperial nonic.

Phil left the cap uncovered on this one and it has a big Harpoon Brewing 'H' on it... So unless this is a homebrew that re-used a cap...

Anyway-- pours a reddish orange copper color with a head the color of that belonging to Coca-Cola. Pretty weak retention and virtually no lacing. Very clear.

Nose holds some caramel malt, some odd fruity ester notes, and something I associate with Xmas. Is this a spiced Xmas ale?

The beer starts off sweet with a decent dose of caramel malt before the Xmas tree vibe takes over and dries it out. The finish is dry and somewhat bitter with an odd lingering resiny vibe. Pretty noticeable boozy note in the finish too. It almost makes me think the was aged on wood or perhaps put in a barrel for some period of time.

Feels pretty decent, medium body with a bit of an oily feel. Lots of carbonation leaves me belching between intermittent sips.

I am thinking this must be some sort of spiced barleywine or strong ale, perhaps even a winter warmer? If it is spiced, it is done so sparingly...

REVEAL-- Harpoon 100 Barrel Series; Vermont Spruce Tip.

Wow-- this is called an herb/spice beer. And it's only 7%... I would have guessed more than that!
Well, after reading the description (and the name!) I totally see that 'Xmas trees' as a flavor descriptor wasn't too far from the mark.

Am interesting beer, as I don't know that I've had a beer made with spruce tips before, but this is not one I'll have again.
To be fair, the booziness I was getting now seems to be more of an abrasive resiny dryness on my tongue than a true boozy bite.

Now that I know what this is, here are my ratings;
A-3
S-4
T-3.5
M-3.5
O-3.5

Photo of smcolw
3.88/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautifully clear, deep amber color. Decent head that settles to a thin layer of bubbles. Leaves good ring lace.

Smells like a Scotch Ale with a very light pine touch--mostly light crystal malt. Relatively neutral.

This is a complex beer. It is sweet, yet dry (in the swallow). The evergreen comes through, but Ina subtle way. There's enough hop to provide bitterness, but is otherwise nondescript. Full bodied with a decent dose of carbonation.

Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a clear texture. There was an inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: Smelled of hops, malt, and a lot of pine.

T: Tasted predominantly of pine, with a lot of malt, caramel, and some hops in the finish. An interesting flavor that's pretty tasty, but definitely hard to pin down.

M: A fair amount of carbonation with a somewhat bitter finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is one of those beers that's kind of familiar, but also kind of an oddball. Still, worth a try.

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Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #39 - Vermont Spruce Tip from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
80 out of 100 based on 105 ratings.