Black Forest | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

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Black ForestBlack Forest

Brewed by:
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
When the drivers of Harpoon Distributing Company are finished delivering brewery-fresh beer throughout the neighborhoods of Boston, they spend time moonlighting with Harpoon's brewers. In 2012, they developed a version of a chocolate cherry porter that was a favorite at our annual homebrew competition. It didn't take long for the brewing staff to work up a 10-barrel test batch and we knew we had to make more.

A hearty malt base is complemented by sweet cherry juice and cocoa nibs added during fermentation in this decadent take on a traditional porter. Notes of rich chocolate and a hint of cherry sweetness make this full-bodied porter the perfect treat to share now or to cellar until next Valentine's Day.

Added by Mikecap on 02-13-2014

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 32 | Ratings: 146
Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle served in a Porter Bar goblet at about 45F. Improved with some warming.

Clear but very dark red-brown body with a rather weak head; streaks of lacing.

Aroma: soft ripe fruit, faint chocolate and fruit cake.

Flavor: Moderately sweet with some light bitterness appearing in the aftertaste. Hints of dark and milk chocolate, vanilla and cherry juice. A little bit boozy but nicely compatible with other aspects of the flavor profile. A bit sweeter than I'd prefer but no sweeter than to be expected for a beer of this specific style.

Feel: smooth, near full body with light carbonation, although it does not seem under-carbonated. The 9.8% ABV is partially hidden but mostly evident.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, dated 2014

Black, with some garnet in the corners with light sneeking through. Good head retention. Mild cherry smeeling mixed with milk chocolate. Taste is well balanced, neither too sweet nor too roasty. Medium body, could be thicker.

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Photo of mzingie
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pitch black with a large lasting head. Smell isn't extremely strong but I can pick out the cherries (pun intended) and a disappointingly small amount of chocolate. Taste is balanced of cherries and chocolate, some good in the aftertaste and a tartness from the cherries that stays with you. A very interesting beer, the cherry flavor certainly goes with its porter characteristics.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

3/19...pours very dark black . Virtually no foam on top - just a small patch. Light cherry cola taste, dark chocolate mixed in. Rich chocolate taste, grainy coffee mixed in, finishes smooth and sweet. Ice cream like close. Subtle cherry fruitiness.

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Photo of B967ierhunter177
4.61/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Aroma is of dark chocolate, dark cherries, and coffee. The flavor is extremely well balanced and complex beginning with coffee, chocolate, and tart cherries with a hint of vanilla. The intensity of the flavors grows as it warms. In the finish the vanilla fades while the cherry tartness and dark chocolate are bold but smooth. It's mouthfeel is full. This brew ages well, was purchased in May 2014 and enjoyed in April 2015. Highly recommended!

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Photo of metter98
3.67/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is black when viewed from afar but when held up to a light it is clear and very dark red in color. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that died down, leaving some wisps of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of cocoa nibs and black cherries are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, but has stronger flavors of cocoa nibs and cherries along with additional hints of chocolate.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: Considering its strength, this porter is quite easy to drink because it hides its alcohol very well. It would make for a good dessert beer. With the lack of hop bitterness, this seems more like an English Porter, or an English Imperial Porter, if there was such a style.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up a while back from Whole Foods on Houston St, having never had this before. I thought that this would be a Stout or a Schwarzbier and I was a bit surprised to see that this was an American Porter. While not terribly roasted to the smell or taste, this had a strong alcoholic content to it and was full enough to resemble a Porter even thought he flavors made this feel a bit different. Strong and potent, this beer was an interesting take on a style that tended to be pretty monotonous in terms of the flavor profile.

Sure, this poured dark with a moderate tan head and a decent amount of soapy lacing left behind. Not a strong aroma here but the cherries and some bitter chocolate were present along with the strong scent of booze. This almost felt like a Fruit/Vegetable beer because of how prevalent the cherry flavor was, as opposed to the roasted nature of a Porter that wasn't terribly present here. There was some dark malt present but the chocolate was dominant here and was the base of this beer when all was said and done.

This was strong but a beer like this was able to hide it well since the alcohol fit in well with the chocolate in this case. This could have been a bit more full and had more dark bread malt in it but as a dessert beer, it fit in fine by itself. Just a bit too sweet, this would worth aging to see if it mellows out a bit and has the nibs from the cocoa emerge more. Decent beer that doesn't fit into one particular category.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.07/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pouring a cellar temp 22 oz bottle into a snifter. The beer pours a deep mahogany color with some garnet highlights on the edges that is apparent when held to the light. Fizzy tan head of 2 cm foams up and rests on the surface. The head fades to a sturdy edge layer fairly quickly after the first sip.
Aroma is chocolate malt and roasted notes with hints of brown sugar. Im not sure I get any cherry on the nose, but it is advertised as a fairly sweet and boozy beer.
First sip reveals very fine and fizzy carbonation that tingles across my palate with each sip. The body is medium thickness and has a bit of a syrupy texture, could also be described as chewy. Definitely coats my palate on each sip.
Flavor is sweet malt with chocolate, roasted malt, some brown sugar, and a little cherry candy note. THere is a hefty dose of warm peppery booze on each swallow, making this a bit of a sipping beer. Hops dont make much of a showing here and this is a fairly large beer. May be better to split with a friend, but I am enjoying it as I drain the bottle into my glass.
Worth buying if you like boozey malt brews. I like it and would buy it again.

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Photo of Oldejoe
4.49/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look. Nice dark, dark mahogany look with very little head.
Smell. Slightly fresh and crisp, but not a lot happening for me.
Taste. Strong cherry, some chocolate/coffee, pleasant balance malty up front, medium dry finish.
Mouthfeel. Nice robust medium heavy feel, with more sparkle than the looks would imply.
Overall. Boy, I do like this beer!

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Photo of Kendo
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Black Forest - Harpoon

A: Ommegang tulip glass. Body is black with thin wisp of a greyish head. 3.75.

S: chocolatey malt, chocolate-covered cherries, touch of alcohol. 4

T: chocolate, cherries - booze-soaked cherries. Touch of molasses. 4

M: slightly slick; carbonation is modest. Call it medium in heft. 3.75

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Photo of JamesBondGA
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Color poured a black with reddish highlights. Very little head and no lacing. Smells of Cocoa and cherry. Tastes of chocolate and the cherry. Not sure why people call this a dessert beer. Chocolate and cherry flavors don't have to mean dessert beer. very little carbonation. also doesn't seem thick enough to be a real porter.

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Photo of mick303
3.71/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bomber into snifter, colour is thick black with minimal lacing.

S- cherry, graham cracker, hot cocoa, moist Black Forest cake, chocolate malts, not much in the way of hops, this is sweet, somewhat boozy, dessert beer. Hints of liquor and creamy chocolate notes.

T- starts with milk chocolate, cherry, coffee malts, creamy body, lighter liquorice notes and kirsch, towards the end it gets a bit drier and has some warming alcohol. Altogether it is rather sweet and boozy, but. The cherries and chocolate come through for a pleasant dessert beer.

M- boozer and sweet upfront, moderate carbonation, dries out and couldn't be a bit fuller and dextrinous, which I think would help with a more porterish feel rather than a spirity bf cake.

A decent dessert beer that is what it claims to be, for better or worse. Quite a bit thinner than a typical porter, and the flavour doesn't stray too far from the black forests cake notes. However I don't believe this is a gimmick because together it works decently, but a beer you have to be in a mood for and know what to expect. More spiritous and less creamy and roasty.

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Photo of TheEMillerShow
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%

Poured from a 32oz growler into a pint glass.

A: dark, syrupy looking with a centimeter or two of creamy off-white head.

S: not much on the palate, alcohol and mild cherry (maybe).

T: too boozy. Cherry tastes fresh and tart, not sweet/candy - it's just too mild to cut the booze. Not a whole lot else going on in the flavor profile - a bit malt/roasted yeast, no chocolate notes apparent.

M: pretty full bodied, not the easiest sip on the planet.

O: less booze,'more cherry, any chocolate, some caramel/malt. Won't be picking this up again. Just too much booze keeps it from being session able or even enjoyable really.

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Photo of louisianajones
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Poured into a pint glass. No head, no how, no way. Dark, almost black with reddish undertones. Booze, cherry, hints of chocolate on the nose. Winey, boozy notes, like a porter should have. Not much in the way of chocolate or cherry at all on the palate. Smooth carbonation. Maybe just a little thin for a porter, but certainly nothing egregious.

So it's a porter with a little chocolate and cherry. Nothing earth shattering, nothing that would cause me to write my congressman in anger. S'okay.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 8/14/2014 at Doherty’s Ale House in Warwick, RI, served in a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, cherries, some coffee, some chocolate and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty roasted malt character. Then some bitter-sweet flavors of black coffee and cherries. The hops presence is mild and brings a little balance. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is just a mediocre beer over all. There are certain several other choices in the style that are better.

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Photo of HamdenHector
2.85/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

A: dark brown with crimson at the edges; almost no head; a thin ring that stuck around; no lacing;

S: a little like cough syrup; better smelling cherry as it warmed;

T: cherry cough syrup up front; a little porter showing through at mid-palate; the finish was back to cough syrup;

M: seems syrupy to me, but that might be my mind playing tricks on me because of the flavor; low carbonation;

O: disappointing; no chocolate and the cherry aspect was off putting;

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2014 vintage bottling. Pours fairly pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of milk chocolate, lightly tart cherry, cocoa, toast, dark bread, roasted malt, brown sugar, light coffee, raisin, plum, herbal, and yeast/roasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt, cherry, and light-moderate yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of milk chocolate, lightly tart cherry, cocoa, toast, dark bread, roasted malt, brown sugar, light coffee, raisin, plum, herbal, and yeast/roasted earthiness. Minimal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cherry, cocoa, toast, dark bread, roasted malt, brown sugar, light coffee, raisin, plum, and yeast/roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness, complexity, and balance of dark/roasted/bready malt, cherry, and fruity yeast ester flavors; with a good malt/fruitiness balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth and fairly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very good imperial English porter style. All around good balance and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt, cherry, and fruity yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. I would have liked a bit more cherry presence; but as an general English imperial porter, it was very enjoyable overall.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.47/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"A hearty malt base is complemented by sweet cherry juice and cocoa nibs added during fermentation in this decade take on a traditional porter. Notes of rich chocolate and a hint of cherry sweetness make this full-bodied porter the perfect treat to share now or to cellar until next Valentine's Day." Brewed in the style of an American Imperial Porter with cherry juice added. Available as a limited run beer in 22 oz. bottles and limited draft.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a pint glass. Served above 55º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a chocolatey brown head of a crisp frothy consistency over a deep cola brown body with crimson highlights. Retention is average, and there is no lacing. 3

(Smell) Moderately roasted barley, unsweetened cocoa, and a hint of slightly tart cherry juice over a pale syrup malt body. Slightly sweet, clean with a porter-appropriate lightness to the aroma. Potency is medium/high. 3.5

(Taste) The cherry impact is slightly better found in the flavor, up front with a tart fruit juice profile, medium dry. The sweetness of the beer is understated in the flavor, with slightly more specialty malt defining it than sweetness or fullness. It finishes with a earthy touch of licorice and roast and a pinch of sharp ethanol. There isn't any noticeable hop character in the flavor, with much of the balance coming from the roasted malt as well as the tartness of the cherry juice. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, chalky and medium dry. Carbonation is high for a crisp, zippy mouthfeel. Body is medium+ for the style, medium/heavy amongst all beer. Balance is slightly tart and roasty over sweet. Alcohol presence is medium with a slightly exposed ethanol booziness in the finish that slightly hampers drinkability, although the flavor profile is varied and enjoyable enough to where I could easily enjoy the beer despite this setback. 3.5

(Overall) The appearance of this beer was reminiscent of fizzy cola, and I feared a very sweet and syrupy canned cherry presence prior to this beer, but was pleasantly surprised that the cherry character is mostly a fruity tartness with a nice roasted malt backbone to pair. The sweetness is kept reasonably withdrawn, perhaps slightly to my criticism given the specialty malt build, but is genuinely a porter in its lightness and drinkability. My biggest complaint is the slightly boozy edge this beer has, which is a negative impact on drinkability. Overall it was a decent beer with a unique tart cherry profile and a moderate drinkability. 3.5

Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall's
Black Forest Imperial Cherry Chocolate Porter

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An excellent cherry chocolate porter from Harpoon. Pours a thick dark brown with a very large tan head that dissipates to a light lacing that clings slightly to the side of the glass. Cherries, chocolate, and dark roasted malts---pretty much as the name says, on the nose. Taste of raisins, sweet cherries, brown sugar, silky smooth roasted buttery caramel, and cola on the taste, light hops bitterness and moderately carbonated mothfeel. Very well rounded with the cherries taste muted and not overpowering, everything in a great balance. Often one could say save fruit for a famine and water for a draught, yet this one embraces everything in a nice even flavor profile. Cheers.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

On tap at the Owl House in Rochester, NY.

Pours a fairly dark brown, with a tan colored one inch head, and a little bit of creamy lacing down the glass.

Smells like chocolate, roasted malt, sweet malt, and the slightest hint of cherry.

The taste is similar. Very creamy silky chocolate taste, like Hershey's syrup, with some cocoa powder, a faint hint of chocolate covered cherries. Some alcohol is noticeable, but it's not detracting at all, it's more of a pleasant warming buzz.

Medium bodied, creamy silky mouthfeel. Basically no carbonation, with a flat mouthfeel, the only big knock on this one.

I wish the cherry was a little more pronounced here, with some additional roasted malt and a less flat mouthfeel. Despite these complaints, the beer is undeniably tasty.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 ounce bottle, 2014 vintage. Served in a DFH snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch light tan head. Head retention is good, and there's a small amount of lacing. Aroma is nice but light, the brew smells like cherries, milk and bittersweet chocolate, roasted malt and some caramel. Luckily it's stronger in flavor. Similar to the aroma, it tastes like roasted malt, tart and sweet cherries, bittersweet and milk chocolate, coffee, and some cola and caramel. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit coating with moderate carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden, it sure doesn't seem like it's almost 10% ABV. I liked this brew, I'd pick it up again in the future. $5.99 a bomber.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.57/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three finger khaki head that fades quickly to a ring leaving no lace. Black color, no highlights. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Faint chocolate nose and flavor has some chocolate with hints of cherry. Higher ABV totally hidden. $5.99 for a 22oz bottle from Market Basket Concord, NH.

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Photo of DrJay
3.49/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown with clear ruby highlights and a thin cap of tan/beige foam. A bit sticky on the glass. Tart/sweet cherry aroma, a bit of alcohol and dark malts. More of the same in the flavour, a bit of bittersweet chocolate and malty sweetness, alcohol, mild hop bitterness, cherries. Full body, moderate carbonation, decent texture with a bit of dryness, warmth. Not a bad balance and worth trying again.

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Photo of Billolick
3.97/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle, "2014" version... for what its worth.

Pours near black, with a quickly departing dark mocha head. Leaves nondescript strands and bars of stickage.

Nose of milk chocolate and a hint of dark cherry.

Tasty and rich porter with waves of chocolate and more then moderate cherry adding to the mix, but not over staying its welcome. Nicely done. Nice night capper or with a chocolate dessert. Well worth a try.

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Photo of smcolw
3.59/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nearly no head. Leaves no lace either. Deep dark brown color. Light does shine through...barely.

Equal parts dark chocolate and alcohol. There's a bit of dark cherry to the nose as well.

Mild start but the swallow has a good chocolate pudding flavor with the aforementioned cherry. Definitive alcohol presence with a touch of hop in the aftertaste. Thin bodied with an average carbonation level.

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Black Forest from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
3.74 out of 5 based on 146 ratings.
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