Harpoon Ale | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

191 Reviews
Harpoon AleHarpoon Ale

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

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 09-20-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 191 | Ratings: 404
Photo of Treyliff
3.65/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
Best by 10/18/16

A- pours a clear golden-amaber color with a small foamy white head that has short retention before leaving just a thin ring around the edge

S- crisp malty nose with some light fruity hop aromas, maybe a hint of caramel

T- crisp toasted malt throughout, with light highlights of fruity hops, just a hint of caramel sweetness, crisp toasted malt finish

M- medium body with low carbonation eventually produces a foamy mouthfeel and a crisp finish, super drinkable

O- a perfectly fine pale ale that sticks to the status quo, and one that I could easily drink several of

 625 characters

Photo of Damian
1.94/5  rDev -44.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2

Drank from a 12 fl oz bottle
Enjoy by 10/15/16
Served in a pint glass

Brilliantly crystal clear, deep amber appearance. The body was capped by a near two-finger tall, tight and creamy, off-white crown that quickly fell to a thin cap. Minimal lacing.

The nose was very malt forward. Loads of dense, biscuity malts. Somewhat doughy. Quite sweet. There was a generic fruity quality and a bit of steeliness as well. No hop presence whatsoever.

The flavor profile mimicked the aroma but had a slight hoppy quality. Caramel and biscuity malts dominated. Very bready. Fairly sweet. Some hops kicked in on the back end. The hops were citrusy and tried to fight their way through all the malty sweetness, but they ultimately came up short. Hint of orange perhaps. The beer finished with more near cloying malty notes. Malt extract came to mind.

Light and fluffy mouthfeel. Fairly airy. The liquid contained a spritzy, large bubbled effervescence.

I happened to get one of the cool retro bottles of this with a nice message from 1986 about the origins of this "first beer in decades to be brewed and bottled right here in Boston." That aside, something about this just seemed "off." Though American pale ales have changed (improved) considerably in the last 30 years, I still expected something more akin to a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale than an English-style malt bomb. I feel bad slamming a classic offering by a brewery for which I have tremendous respect but, for the style, this beer is pretty terrible.

 1,498 characters

Photo of NotAlcoholicJustAHobby
3.77/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoy by 10/15/2016

L-The beer pours a clear light amber. The head is bright white and one finger high. The head recedes leaving spotty lacing and some legs while drinking.
S-The nose starts with some malty notes transitioning into some spicy hop notes.
T-The taste mimics the nose exactly in that the malt hits the palate first followed by spicy hops.
F-Carbonation is fairly light, but crisp. Mouthfeel is on the lighter side.
O- BA lists this as an APA, but Harpoons website lists it as an amber which is more in line with the color. This beer is very tame by todays standards. Still their is something in its balance and light mouthfeel that really appeals to me as a session beer that can be consumed in quantity without palate fatigue setting in. It's worth a trip down craft beer memory lane.

 801 characters

Photo of mynie
3.84/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apparently this has been out of production for a few years but they're giving it a limited re-release in honor of it's 30th anniversary. That's good. Something about the loss of original flagships upsets me. I mean, it probably shouldn't, but it does. I really wish I could try 3 Floyds old X-tra Pale, or the original Rogue Ale, even though I know full well they probably wouldn't hold up too great. Like, they're off the market for a reason, right?

Anyhow, Harpoon Ale fit the mold of stuff like New Albion--old timey craft beers that were mindblowing in the early-to-mid 80s but are now the lightest-flavored offering at any craft brewer. Pours amber and clear with a nice head. Smells biscuity with just a little kiss of spicy hops. Tastes like the smells: bread, biscuits, very light hops. American ingredients but British modesty, very tame by today's standards but still excellently balanced and very well brewed.

 928 characters

Photo of SABERG
3.62/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the recent release of the "original" ale.
A - Beautiful light copper color, steady carbonation feeds a pillowed cap of white froth.
S - Light toast, 2 row malt, a nice floral spice from the hops.
T - Slightly sweet, very nice grain quality, a touch of caramel.
M - Soft water, great on the palate, just enough carbonation and bitterness to close the deal.
O -A very nice pale ale, British in style, reminds me a great deal of Timothy Taylors Landlord Pale Lae.
I am so glad Harpoon revisited this gem.

 514 characters

Photo of Teshortall
3.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Harpoon Ale is the oldest in the offerings (since 1986) at the breweries both in Windsor and Boston. At one point a flagship of the company now is an old time favorite of guests and employees alike. You can't buy this beer off the shelves, but they are available in growlers at either brewery.

A- Light Orange with high clarity, almost no head.
S- Mild hops and a kiss of hops that finishes fruity but not quite citrus.
T- Crisp but not sharp flavor that doesn't linger long, the flavor hinges on the pale malt which some would say should be secondary to the hops, but I find it makes the beer much more sessionable.
M- Carbonation is higher than desirable and doesn't do anything to further the passive scents lingering in the nose.

 734 characters

Photo of Arithmeticus
3.04/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured on draft at Harpoon brewery in 4-oz glass

A: thin head, no carbonation, clear orange color
S: bit of pumpkin ale aroma; thin and malty
T: coriander, sweet; interesting, complex hops; quirky flavoring, with a hop profile I haven't seen quite before

Definitely worth a try, and would be a good regular.

 309 characters

Photo of corby112
3.38/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes:

Pours a slightly hazy goldn amber color with a one finger white head that slowly fades into a lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Earthy aroma with hints of grass, straw, biscuit malt and crisp light fruit.

Medium bodied with a good balance of earthy hops and biscuit malt flavor. I'm also picking up hints of grass and straw as well as some citrus/lemon peel and crisp, light fruit notes(apple and pear). Slight dry finish. Nothing special but a decent sessionable beer.

 502 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.3/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a tulip glass. Pours a golden amber color. White head without too much lacing but a decent amount of retention time. The nose is some light malt with a bit of caramel and bread. There are some light citrus and floral hops there as well. Taste is a bit bland with some bready malt, faint hops, and a bit of yeast. Decent body and carbonation. Nothing wrong with this beer, but a bit bland and I know that they can do better.

 455 characters

Photo of TheHopMonster
3.72/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Another Boston classic

This ale has a dark redish tint when poured into a glass. Its foam head does not stick around for long but the lacing and retention of this beer was great.

The aromas were exactly what I expected. A very faint hint of citrus and pine. These aromas were very pungent when I first opened the bottle.

Nice hoppy finish after a mouth full, with great malt flavors. The feeling of the beer was very well balanced and no two flavors seemed to over power one other. The

Harpoon is a well respected Boston brew and I attend on drinking more of this but there are more exciting ales out there.

 612 characters

Photo of bishopdc0
3.52/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer has an aroma of malt and citrus. This beer is malty through out and finishes with a slight hop bitterness. This beer become slightly harsh across the tongue. It has a amber color with good lacing. I wanted more from this pale it is more of an English style pale then an American pale.

 294 characters

Photo of wilbrew
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Grabbed a bottle of this while visiting the brewery in Boston. The style of this beer is what you would expect based on the history of the beer. Nothing very distinct about the beer, but very drinkable. Poured into a pint glass.

A - Clear amber golden brown color. Head setups at about 1/2 inch with medium sized bubbles and dissipates quickly.
S - Slight bready aroma. Nothing distinct in the smell.
T - Basic grain flavor with a little bit of lingering hops bitterness.
M - Smooth mouthfeel.
D - Easy drinking beer, but lack of a compelling flavor would lead me to choose something else after a few.

 604 characters

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

This beer has been around for more than 20 years and it never gets old. In the Boston beer sweepstakes, this is the hands down favorite over SA. This is the type of take-for-granted beer that I've had tons of but just realized that I've never written a review for the beer. It is a well deserved brew worthy of a good review. It pours a nice clear coppery color with plenty of carbonation. The head is nice, retains fairly well, and laces a bit. The nose on the beer is buttery, floral, very malty, with a touch of diacetyl, but just a touch.

This is a nice smooth, well balanced beer with a nice hop presence in the finish, a nice malty palate of light caramel and floral flavors and a bit of yeasty presence. The beer is neither crisp nor creamy, but just very well situated between the two. It has a slight buttery taste, is a touch oily on the tongue, and has a mild aftertaste. The beer is nicely carbonated. This is a go-to beer anytime of year.

 953 characters

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.22/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden/amber color with a thin head and no lacing.

Smell is balanced between the sweet malt and some hops, although it tends to lean towards the caramel malt.

Taste is similar to the aroma except it follows up with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

A fairly average APA, probably wouldn't be one of my regulars either, but it isn't horrible bad, just average.

 366 characters

Photo of dudecandle
3.64/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into pint glass (8/15 date):

A: Dark gold color, totally clear. Very thin head which was gone in seconds.

S: Caramel malt, acidic fruity tone, hops, mild breadiness

T: The apple and bread come out stronger on the palate, but the caramel and hops still round it out.

M: Medium-bodied, a tad sticky

D: Very easy to get through these guys. Not my favorite pale ale, but a respectable brew.

 410 characters

Photo of Mit
3.23/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance was a nice golden colour with a rapidly dissipating head. Some lacing on the glass.

Smell was a little sweet with some hoppy notes to it.

Taste started out with some sweet hints of malt followed by some hoppyness at the end.

Mouthfeel was a little light for me and got a little watery as it sat. Feels lighter than abv would indicate.

Drinkability was high. I could have several of these in a session or while doing yard work.

I got this in a mixer pack and would buy it again for sure.

 502 characters

Photo of mralphabet
3.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Deep amber color with a thin white head that leaves little to no lacing on the glass.

S: I'm getting a sweet aroma, some caramel, citrus and honey... with a hint of floral like hops.

T: Taste is much like the smell but the citrus is missing.... The sweetness is all over at the first taste.... near the end is a nice hit of hoppy bitterness that balances out the sweetness.. The aftertaste has a slightly sweet maltyness.... Very nice..

M: Very smooth yet crisp, has med body, just the right amount of carbonation and a clean finish.

D: I'm not a big APA kind of guy but this stuff is tasty. everything is bang on. It goes down very easily, pretty complex and not to over powering.... Could be a great session beer !

Another good beer from Harpoon ...

 799 characters

Photo of mempath
4.08/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a nice hefty head...nice lacing and a head that retains for a good while...after 10 minutes, it's surface lace.

smells of slight sweet malt, more like an english pale...nutty fresh nose that doesn't suggest much hoppiness. a good sniff later and i get something like...bananas?

wow. ok, i thought maybe i had one of these years ago...but i would remember this fresh, full-bodied taste of malts and some hoppy flash. an american version of an extremem emglish pale...or lighter IPA...sort of. another sip and i get some mystical english/caramel tone. a very unique flavor that is also rather traditional, drinkable (highly), thanks to the wonderful, creamy (not quite chewy) mouthfeel.

i really like this but i can see after 3 or 4, i might focus on the sweetness...the hops are always lurking in the background, but i would need a hop fix before long.

all in all, a VERY WELL BALANCED brew.

a very sturdy, admirable brew. will not think twice about reaching for one if available.

 991 characters

Photo of JohnL9013
3.4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is actually a fairly boring Ale. I'm surprised this is Harpoon's standard product because their other stuff is much better than this.

A: Amberish.

S: Hoppy, but not much else going on.

T: Bitterness is appropriate. Little to no sweetness. Very few other flavors involved, but nothing offensive, either.

M: Crisp.

D: It's drinkable, but I wouldn't drink it again unless there wasn't anything better around.

 415 characters

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

Crystal clear amber color with a large white head. Several splattery lace rings and thin swirly retention.

Smells of hop spice and buttery yeast.

Taste: Nice blend of hop spice, perfectly crisp carbonation, ginger bread and buttery fruit. Hop oil and butter aftertaste. Flavorful and balanced but I got kinda sick of the butter towards the end.

 346 characters

Photo of JayNH
2.93/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a clear light copper with a decent foamy head.

S- A faint biscuity malt scent with a tea like hop note.

T- Very bland, just a hint of bready malt. Not much going on here.

M- Light bodied, carbonation is appropriate. Finishes watery.

D- OK, just a very, very bland brew.

 282 characters

Photo of cottonkoozie
2.39/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - Good color, nice light honey-ish amber. Head was small and didn't last at all. Tried to leave a a little lacing from the tiny ring of head at first, but even that didn't last. Really should be more head on an APA than this.

S - Not bad. Lots of malts and yeast smell though and could use more hops to balance.

T - This is below average for me. Very yeast and to much malt. This beer desperately craves hops. Falls far short of what I expect from something that is supposed to be in the APA category. Aftertaste, bleh! Very yeasty and becomes somewhat mettalic the longer it lingers.

M - Mouthfeels pretty good here. Nice body and carbonation levels.

D - Not very drinkable for me. One is definitely enough, the yeastiness of this one just gives and aftertaste that is pretty unpleasant to me.

I'm not impressed at all with this beer. Maybe this is a bad batch or something. I can only hope. Very yeasty taste and little hop flavor at all. I feel kinda like I'm drinking liquified bread. I have liked other beers from this brewer so far. 2 left in the variety pack to try, I hope no more are this big of a let down.

 1,123 characters

Photo of Bagman007
3.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- Has a clear orange coloring with a little bit of white head.

S- Slightly hoppy scent to it, but also can smell some caramel malts. Just a hint of it.

T- Nice and hoppy beer with a slightly dry finish. This beer actually reminds me a lot of an English Pale Ale. It's say it's a good mix between an EPA and an APA.

M- Somewhat bitter with a dry finish, but not overpowering.

D- Pretty drinkable beer. Can probably have two or three of these in a sitting.

 505 characters

Photo of Duhast500
3.2/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz. bottle.

The color is a burnt orange or amber, with a foamy white head.

The smell is malty, with a bit of a caramel sweetness.

The taste is of caramel, light malt and some hoppy touches. Great balance.

A good bodied beer that has a nice creamy smoothness to it. Highly drinkable, and makes for a nice session beer.

 355 characters

Photo of jonziefle
2.83/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Apperance: Pours a golden amber color, with very little whitish head. Appears to have good carbonation.

Smell: A malty, bready nose with a bit of sweetness. Very slight hint of fruits and the hops.

Taste: Very malty and bready, with little sweetness. Good amount of bitterness and not much to balanced Hops aren't really there. The bitterness tends to linger in the mouth. Too malty for me in an ale.

Mouthfeel: Thin to medium bodied, and decently filling.

Drinkability: A very malty ale, which is not my type of thing. Might be better with food, but not for just savoring.

 577 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Harpoon Ale from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
3.52 out of 5 based on 404 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.