Old Willy India Pale Ale | John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House

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27 Ratings

Brewed by:
John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-29-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 27 |  Reviews: 25
Reviews by jermar:
Photo of jermar
3.81/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not much in the way of a head, lace or fresh hop aroma but otherwise a nice classic (British) IPA. Had this at the John Harvard's in Framingham.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Todd
2.36/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bright ruby / amber with a thin whispy white lace. Aromas are fruity with a citric base.

Thin-bodied with an over grainy taste and feel on the palate. Crisp, dry, coarse, semi-grapefruit-like, rind, and spice in the bitterness. Sweetness is killed by a mouthful of husky grain tannins. Too thin. Too grainy. I couldn't finish the pint.

Next beer ...

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Photo of Jason
3.58/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: On tap.

Appearance: Caramel amber with a wispy cream coloured head.

Smell: Hops, hops and more hops with a hint of malt in the back.

Taste: Smooth mouthfeel, almost chewy with a well balanced caramel sweetness. Seconds later the hops kick in providing a pungent raw hop bitterness to the pallet, ending leafy and bitter with some residual sweetness and a crisp bready finish.

Notes: This is a real IPA. Very malty and extremely hoppy, probably making it close the original style of yore.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.45/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I must give Geoff at the JH in Cambridge mad props....the man knows how to create some fine brews...this IPA is no exception.
Pours a beautiful bright orange w/ two full fingers of creamy white head...lacing is so thick and sticky...goes nowhere as the beer diminishes from my pint.
Aromas are full of sweet hops, mainly citrus...and has a nice carmelized malt to balance it out.
Same goes for the flavor...an amazingly balanced IPA, and hoppy as heck for the majority of IPA's I have tried. This particular offering is a tad sweet, but with the proper carbonation and malt to counteract, it is truly enjoyable.
Mouthfeel is great...certainly not thin and just bitter enough to wash away cleanly from the pallet, begging you to continue on. I could drink this IPA all night and never become bored with it. Certainly suprised to see this one below 85...I urge you to head on over to JH and try this one. I consider myself a hophead, and while this is no double, it is one of my favorite American IPA's.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Pittsburgh location,

Appearance: Ruby copper vibrant tone with a cream colored nice sized head leaving speckled lacing sporadically throughout the session. Aroma: Pine cone scented, floral hops with sweet robust malt forms a complex aromatic approach from this beer. Taste: Rich malt tone full of flavor great pine, earthy, and flowery hops wonderful IPA pretty damn good they have this one on as a regular not as balanced as some but still delicious version. Mouthfeel: Fuller bodied hops resin oily texture, what an IPA. Drinkability: Very good in your face hops, hopheads come and praise thee.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

AP: A rusty, copper-amber color, very active and lively looking with a very bubbly center and a scattered, thin head that left some decent thick lacing behind.

Nose: This is a very aromatic Herbal, and very citrusy/fruity nose...you can feel the tingle way in the nose!!

Taste: This IPA features a great fruity and mildly citrusy hop flavor that is never bitter...not even in the aftertaste.The flavors hit like ...herbal>spicey>fruity and finishes with an amazingly clean and crisp medium-body feel. There is no trace of the earthy "leafy" flavor that many IPA's are featuring right now. Nice change of pace.

This one could go down easy all day long. well done.

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Photo of carln26
3.48/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I dropped in at John Harvard’s for lunch today, and had a chance to try 3 new beers. This was the first. It poured a dark copper color with a medium white head. The head settled into the glass quickly, and left a sparse lace on the glass. A very fruity aroma came off the glass. Citrus character (grapefruit)with floral hops. This was echoed in the flavor with more citrus floral hops, backed by mild malt. This was a very bitter beer (I mean that in a good way) with a slick mouth feel, and a medium drinkability. This beer seemed very 1 dimensional (hoppy), just a touch more ,malt would have gone a long way.

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Photo of plaid75
3.81/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep amber hue with a two finger foamy head. There was excellent retention and good lacing.

The smell was subtle malt and subtle spicy hop.

There was a strong citrus and peppery hop taste with a strong malt backbone.

The mouthfeel was full and spicy. Dry finish.

Good drinkability. I was told that this will be permanently on cask.

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Photo of zoso1967
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of sliv
2.83/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Normally, I’m not a big fan of IPAs. Too much hops for me. But sometimes, the extreme bitterness is what I seem to want. If I really didn’t like them, I wouldn’t drink them. On a hot day like this one, however, an IPA was the right choice to make. However, I changed to a more balanced blonde ale after a few pints.

This beer was delivered to me with no head whatsoever, and a slight bit of lace around the edges of the glass. It was a pale yellow in color, absolutely clear, showing no haziness.

It was immediately clear that this was an IPA. Hops. Strong hops. Very strong hops. Then, it went back to merely strong hops after a few sips of the beer saturated my sense of taste and smell. I couldn’t smell anything but the bitterness of the hops.

There are some light malt flavors that seemed to be drowned in strong hops. Slightly more bitter than average. The bitterness was overwhelming the good floral overtones that I could slightly detect. It had a very bitter aftertaste that mellowed after the first pint.

Mouth feel:
As usual with the various IPAs that I’ve tried, this beer was light-bodied, but “firm.” It felt strong on the tongue, with a moderate to strong carbonation. The feel was crisp and dry. Very refreshing after the hot day with no A/C

This beer is very easy to drink. Especially on a hot day, it is more than refreshing. The crisp taste and feel helped wake me up after the hazy afternoon tried to put me to sleep. It had more of a hops flavor than I typically enjoy, but was true to style. I could see drinking more than one, but would proceed slowly. Not one I would end up drinking all night, as I would look for something more balanced.

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Photo of yoko
3.48/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was just put on today and they guessed at the ABV of 5.3/5.5. The presentation was a beautiful cloudy bright cooper amber with red tones, contrasted with a whipped cream off-white head. Difficult to clearly know what I saw in that John Harvard's and the bar itself are so dark. The head settled quickly to a thin cream wash with a sparce stick of lace. The initial nose was a rising up of bitter disappearing into a sweet floral hops. This bitter rises as well to the roof of the mouth and sits there until washed away by another mouthfill. Bitter it was but with good intention, supported by soft malt and florals with gesture of citrus. It was of medium body. The first taste lead me to believe something good was possible. It was close. There was a dry yeast powder sensation that left residue. This certainly cut into the drinkability.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.27/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This arrived with a foamy, tan head right from the beer engine. The color was a slightly cloudy deep-amber. It had a nice hoppy nose with a light malty sweetness underlying it. The mouthfeel was full, not quite creamy, but still very smooooth. There was a light combination of hops and sweetness in the mouth. The finish had a really nice, hoppy bite to it. There was a decent, sticky lace created throughout.

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Photo of smcolw
3.83/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Golden-amber in color, quite clear. Excellent lace, decent head.

Fresh hop aroma as expected--nothing surprising here.

The quintessential classic IPA flavorings here. It lacks a little of the oiliness that is sometimes present in an IPA. The alcohol content is low, but the flavor is quite pleasant.

This is an easy beer to drink regularly, particularly if you enjoy highly hopped beers.

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Photo of Gavage
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Cambridge location.

Appearance: clear amber in color with a one finger head that fell to a surface foam in about a minute. Mild lacing develops. Nice carbonation level.

Smell: caramel sweetness and a floral hop note.

Taste: well balanced IPA here as the malt sweetness, decent floral bitterness, orange citrus, and honey tones are easily distinguishable.

Mouthfeel: crisp at the start, lighter crispness and mildly dry at the finish. Pleasant bitter aftertaste. Medium bodied.

Drinkability: this beer went down easy and several could have been quaffed in a session. Must try this if its on tap.

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Photo of mikeys01
3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a growler obtained from the John Harvar's in Harvard Square, Boston, MA, drank 2 days after the growler was filled. Pured out a bright copper color, topped with a foamy light tan head that left nice laginf on the way down the glass. Aroma is of grapefruit hops and sweet malt. Body is medium with good carbonation. Taste is very hoppy up front, a bit astringent, but full of citrus hop flavor, with the malt coming into play later but not quite keeping up with the hops. Very tasty IPA, and definitely quite drinkable, finishes sharp and clean.

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Photo of danadeny
4.03/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on cask at the Harvard square location. Grate billowing fluffy head, off white and speckled with particles. The body was similar in look to a hefewizen, murky and cloudy. The smell was excellent. A complex mix of hops, some floral and some bitter. The taste was a very well done IPA all together. The balance was obviously on the hoppy side, but not too heavy compared to the sweet and malty. The stars of this beer are the hops and their mix. A great blend of bitter and floral. Oh and just a bit sticky. Mouthfeel was watery, I assume from being from the cask, and the drinkability was good. My only negative comment is that it was a hint too bitter for my taste, but I am not a huge IPA fan to begin with. Overall this is one of the best IPAs I've ever had.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.1/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

NBS #14 beer, on tap at JHBH in Pittsburgh.

A: Murky amber in color. Head very nice at first, but now just a collar of suds. Nice bubbles seen.

S: Nice pungent hop aromas. Citrusy and just a bit floral. Smells like a good IPA should.

T: Sharp hop bitterness from start to finish. Malts only come through late in the taste. Nice bitter finish.

M: Pretty big body on this one. High levels of CO2 help carry the flavors, this is the first beer I've really noticed that retro-olfaction thing. Sweet. Alcohol is fairly strong.

D&N: Fresh beer tastes best, eh? This one was pretty fresh and I'm starting to see the light. I really want to meet the guy who brews up these wonderful beers, he's really impressing me with his offerings.

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

Got a growler of this after having it on tap last night. Expensive growler--$12.55

A: Pours a dark amber color with an initial one finger off white head that dissipates quite quickly. No retention.
S: Good combination malt and hop presence in the nose. Floral and pine notes. Theres also some citrus fruit in there too.
T/M: Subdued pine and floral hops up front with a nice subtle caramel malt background. Good bitter ending that lasts awhile, but theres also some malt notes that dance in there too. Smooth but sticky mouthfeel thats coating. Has a more hoppy front with a maltyness in the middle and a bitter ending.
D: Definately a drinkable beer and one of the better ones I've had from John Harvard's. Glad I got this in the growler--tastes less hoppy than on tap.

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Photo of Jacobier10
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap in Cambridge, MA.

Deep-orange color with a great fluffy, off-white head. Darker colored than most IPA's I've had in the past. Floral hops aroma but nothing too strong. Great tasting beer that has some bite to it without being overpowering. The hops are balanced well with a small amount of malt. Good beer that you probably couldn't drink too many of.

This brew paired great with the buffalo chicken salad that I had. The spicyness of the buffalo sauce was offset nicely by the aromatic hops.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.23/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at the Harvard Square location a while ago. Poured a slightly cloudy orange with an okay head and nice lacing. The smell is citrusy and a bit soapy and is sharp with grain. The taste reminds me abstractly of certain white wines- oaky, slightly acidic, tannic, and sharp. No clean hop flavors, instead they are muddled in with the rest of the sharp flavors. Mouthfeel is smooth but with a sharp finish. Can't say I would order this again.

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Photo of AllThingsNinja
3.77/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sampled at Harvard Square, this beer was served with little head and no retention. It's aroma's were surprisingly fruity - rather like peaches and not as citrusy as I had expected. The flavors were also surprisngly fruity, but on a solid, but subtle malt background. This is a traditional, British IPA. It was light bodied, drinkable, and I would enjoy having it again.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served colder than a cask beer should be served. Poured a rich mahagony brown with a thick foamy head. Nose was hops and some nutty malts. As the beer warmed up, the hops came out a bit more and were just slightly piney. Sharp tones opf wood varnish surrounded this beer. Picked up some apples. Also got some hints of scotch. Medium body. The cask made this beer. Not too sure how much I would like this beer if it were not served in a cask.

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Photo of shamus
3.96/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has been retired? But I had some in April 2006 at John Harvard in Harvard Square? In anycase it was a pleasurable beer, especially after the flat and sour beers we had at Boston Beer Works.

As an pale ale I was expecting a more fragarent hop smell but there wasn't much there for the nose. However after the first sip I experienced a tasty well balanced richly hopped beer.

If this were on tap locally I would be a regular drinker. I still wish I understood why it says that this beer has been retired. Did they bring it back just recently?

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Photo of beergeek279
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served as a 5 oz. sample at Harvard's. The color was copper, with a nice white head. The smell was a nice citrus hop. The taste was a very citrusy hop, with a bit of grassy bitterness in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel was a bit thin. As for drinkability, could definitely have a few of these.

Definitely my favorite beer at Harvard. A good IPA with a nice hop balance, and certainly one I'd have again.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.33/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on-tap at the brewpub in Harvard Square in Spring 2006. Listed as "Old Willy's IPA".

This IPA poured a hazy, peach color with white foam that settled but left some lace on the glass. The smell was floral and fruity hops. The taste was foremost floral and fruity hops (mango) with good rich, slightly sweet malt to balance. There was moderate hop bitterness. The mouthfeel was smooth and relativelly dry with medium-full body and good, strong carbonation. This was a very nice IPA with delicious hops flavor.

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Old Willy India Pale Ale from John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
Beer rating: 3.73 out of 5 with 27 ratings