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

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BA SCORE
80
good

105 Ratings
THE BROS
81
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 105
Reviews: 43
rAvg: 3.52
pDev: 14.2%
Wants: 3
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
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 JustinAniello
4.08/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear reddish-brown with a foamy two finger head. Dissipates to a light sticky lacing and cap.

S - Heavy breadiness with a very light pine, almost too light to even smell.

T - Sweet caramel at first turning to a medley of pine, brown sugar, malts, and a hint of fruit. Mild bitterness in the aftertaste.

B - Medium body and carbonation, goes well with the flavors.

O - Quite happy with this beer. Nice flavors that jump out without overpowering each other. A better blend of aromas would have improved it. The pine and maltiness really makes this a nice beer for the winter months. Too bad it's a limited edition, because I would be willing to grab this again.

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.

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 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.

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 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 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 Gambrinus1184
3.88/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a NOLA Brewing pint glass.

A: Medium, copper amber color with a thick, foamy head of off-white foam which causes a small bit of lacing to build up around the edge of the glass.

S: Semi-roasted caramel malt sweetness couples with a spicy, fruity ale yeast complicated by a pine and woody herbal hop resin.

T: Sweet doses of fruity, caramel malts up front which lend a bit of body and alcohol to the flavor. Up next is the spicy hop bitterness brought upon by the piney, spicy addition of spruce tips. The finish is a bit viscous with a touch of booziness but also a hint of piney hop goodness thanks to the Chinook additions.

M: Full-bodied ale with some spicy, bitter notes imparted by spruce tips and dry, Chinook hops. Pretty satisfying and easy to drink.

O: This 7% ABV essentially "American Strong Ale" for all intents and purposes, was not half bad. It has some balance and identity issues, but on the whole, I liked the spicy, floral, fruity and piney effect brought on by the Chinook hops, yeast strain and craftsmanship. Not the best in the series but certainly a unique and tasty one.

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

Dark reddish amber - bright with a fine bead. Creamy head subsides fairly quickly leaving a bit of lacing.

Malty nose with some raisin and a bit of citrus - maybe lemon. Spruce is not noticeable at first but becomes apparent as the beer warms.

The spruce flavor is right up front on the palate - resiny and spicy. Sweetish bready malts blend well with the spruce and lend a nice balance to the brew.

Medium-light body with good carbonation and a nice crisp finish.

Not the most complex example, but a well crafted spruce ale worth checking out.

Photo of johnnnniee
3.86/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium copper color with a huge bubbly white head that sticks around forever as well as to the glass. Smells of caramel and bready malt with a fair amount of non descript fruitiness. Slightly earthy hop aroma mixed with a bit of herbal and medicinal aromas. Really not what I was expecting when I cracked this one open. Taste is caramel and toffee malt sweetness balanced with an earthy herbal almost licorice flavor. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet slick mouthfeel. Decent brew, but not really what I expected. The spruce is there but its not overpowering and comes across as more of an herbal nuance in this brew. I enjoyed it enough that I would drink this again if I saw it on tap somewhere.

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

A- dark orange pour with a half finger of head and some sticky lace.

S- aroma is sweet with maltiness, some hops, some of the spruce, some citrus.

T- taste starts out really bright with lemon then a nice malt character comes in. The finish is all spruce.

O- I think this needs more hops. It is a good beer, but with the big spruce flavor I wanted more citrus to balance, rather than more malt. Perhaps a personal preference. All in all, good spruce beer here, glad I tried it.

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 ksimons
3.73/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a clear amber with visible carbonation bubbles and a thin layer of white lace on the top

S-smell is not very powerful but there is obvious roasted malts and a light spruce smell as well

T-taste is better than I anticipated. Roasted malt is still predominant but there is also a bit more caramel sweetness to the beer. A bitterness becomes more apparent towards the end

M-medium body, medium carbonation, leaves a spruce spiciness in the mouth

Overall an interesting beer, not the most complex, but one that I would probably drink again.

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

Very clear copper colored brew. Pale straw colored head.

Aroma is malty, dry bread like a cracker. A musty, semi-sweet scent mixes in with the malt, topped off with a faint fruity whiff from the ale yeast. Can't place the musty smell, it must be the spruce mixed with the hops.

Taste is almost sweet up front but dries out with very mild hop bitterness. This is a very clean ale with mild yeast presence. The hops are only here for balance as I'm picking up minimal bitterness.

A musty, pollen like flavor sweetens the beer up and plays off the hopped ale base. The spruce saves the beer from being technically proficient yet lacking soul. Good body and clean finish, very high drinkability.

This tastes like a well made yet plain ale with a little something mixed in to keep you off your toes. The spruce does not dominate or overpower. In fact I could have used a bit more to get a better sense for how this unique and local ingredient really tastes. The average beer drinker however will not be offended by this craft brew and I certainly enjoyed my session with it as well.

Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice clear and transparent redish brown. There is about 1/2 a finger of white head that fades quickly. There is decent amount of lacing as it drinks.

S: I'm picking up notes of sweet malt, honey, caramel, tree (what I assume is spruce), and some mild spice. It's really interesting.

T: This beer tastes better than it smells. I get a nice mix of flavors. It's big on the caramel and honey. It's also big on the spruce. And it's really well balanced. The spice in the finish is really nice. A very well balanced beer.

M: Medium bodied beer. This brew is smooth and easy drinking. There aren't many flavors that linger on the palate.

O: This is the first "Spruce" beer that I've ever had. It's not great, but it's not terrible either. I'm glad to have tried this beer.

Photo of berliner07
3.6/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice showing by harpoon. Really unique aromas from the spruce. A bit like hops, but with a more pine-type aroma. Really interesting. The beer sips like a pale ale and the malts match that profile. Its like a pale ale with spruce instead of hops. I do with there was some more spruce in there. Towards the end of the beer, it started to dissapate. Which is a shame, because its a really good flavor.

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 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 chugalug06
3.56/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the clearest most clean looking brews I’ve ever seen. Decent lacing and great head build-ability. Head is slight off-white with think foamy appearance.

WHOA! Knock your socks-off spicy at first, but then it fades…still a great scent! Very mellow vanilla and pine. Slight citrus (orange) too. A bit too (caramel) malted.

The taste is far from the scent… very mellow and laid-back flavor. Not a forward presentation. Quite dry and quenching, but not much rounds out the flavor profile… Great carbonation and zero heat, but comparatively, the flavor lacks for the type of brew.

An awesome brew only a few steps away from being a winner, but it needs that extra kick to help push it into a different category. I think with less malt this brew would have been a masterpiece worthy of award. Subtly unique, worthy.

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 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.

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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.