Harpoon Leviathan - Baltic Porter | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

very good
239 Reviews
Harpoon Leviathan - Baltic PorterHarpoon Leviathan - Baltic Porter

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

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Leviathan Baltic Porter is a dark, strong beer of considerable complexity. Brewed with a highly alcohol-tolerant strain of lager yeast, it has a smooth, full flavor with dark fruit and licorice notes in the aroma. De-husked roasted malt lends a dark chocolate character without being sharp or harsh. Raw sugar and dark crystal malt give some raisin and molasses notes while East Kent Goldings hops make for a long, earthy finish.

38 IBU

Added by lpayette on 11-16-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 239 | Ratings: 364
Photo of mostpoetsdo
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'09 vintage, 12/11.

A: Dark brown, close to black, but little transparency. A quarter inch tan head, a couple blotches of lacing.

S: Toasty oatmeal, vibrant grains, smoke, bacon, pepper.

T: A lot of roasted malt, good barley taste, bittersweet chocolate, charred animal flesh of the pork variety; pretty robust flavors: tobacco, cracked black pepper; but subtle sweetness: molasses, brown sugar, sugar cane.

M: Medium body and carbonation on the lower end. ABV well masked.

O/D: While the alcohol has mellowed, it's gained more smokey/roasty characteristics. It's a fairly different beer, and hard to judge if better or not. In it's current stage, I only wish I could have more.

A: Awesomely opaque brown. Great big tan head that stays for a while. Great lacing. (4.5)

S: Nice and dark, malty, little chocolaty. (3.5)

T: Very good. A lot more flavorful than the smell would lead you on. Nice malt and little chocolate flavor. The alcohol is definitely prevalent. Masked okay, but nice and warm going down. (4.5)

M: Lightly carbonated, good medium to full body. (4)

D: Pretty high for a boozy beer. But, at $10 a 4 pack, something you'll want to savor more. (4)

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Photo of jondeelee
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the most unusual, discussion-worthy porters I've tried. The nose is heady with toasted grains, with light promises of coffee and caramel.

In the mouth, the first flavor is of fruits, but heavy and dark; perhaps roasted apples, or black cherries dipped in dark chocolate. Still, there's a fair bit of sugar surrounding those fruits, resulting in an interesting melange of dark and sweet that proves quite tongue-tingling. Somewhere deep beneath those flavors--lying at the bottom like the proverbial leviathan of the label--is a porter base, redolent with chocolate malt and toffee. However, it takes a while for those flavors to surface; they might even be missed, so subtly do they influence the palate. The finish is notably spicy, leaving a slight tingling on the tongue and soft palate.

Overall, I rate this beer a wild success, as it seems to me that it combines the best of not only porters, but perhaps barleywines as well, with a little port wine thrown in for good measure. Definitely worth trying.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A fairly typical Baltic Porter- not bad, just not anything to really distinguish it from a myriad of others. Pours black with a thin white head. Smells roasty, but with some style typical fruit as well- prunes and sultanas. Notes of licorice give it some depth, and I think I taste some cola notes lurking there as well. The fruitiness carries through in the taste, so in that sense we have a true Baltic style Porter here. In the mouth it's smooth, a bit thick, and creamy. Definitely decent.

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Photo of indesertum
3.61/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured in a tulip

nice three finger caramel head. head retention isn't too long, maybe 5 minutes. retains lacing. pitch black liquor.

nice floral and rich malted caramel aromas

tastes of coffee and cocoa nibs, caramel. good hops, good structure

rich mouthfeel. velvety smooth, thick enough, finish is pretty short

overall a good beer, but it has that fruity bubblegummy ester feel that i feel the leviathan series has in general. not a fan.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very dark black color with just a tiny hint of brown around the edges and a half-finger of tan head. The head fades down to a ring around the glass leaving behind some touches of lace.

S - Aroma is full of chocolate malt and coffee aromas. Some nice oak and deep roasted aromas also pouring out of the glass. Touch of vanilla.

T - Starts out very roasty with lots of roasted chocolate malt flavor. Through the middle some nice coffee flavors and oak comes out very nicely. The finish is full of roasted flavors with some good oak and vanilla flavors coming out that linger nicely.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth and a touch creamy. Finish is nice and strong and has some elements of alcohol warming.

D - Very drinkable. The flavors are a bit strong so a bit of a sipping beer, but every sip is really enjoyable. The oak flavors are present and really nice on top of the porter elements.

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Photo of rodney45
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: If held up to the light, this beer has a hazy ruby red reflection only seen when looking deep into the beer, some would say too deep. The head is faint and lingers only a short while. It has the color of an ocean foam in the dead of winte.r

S: Smells a lot like a good scotch whiskey tastes. Burnt and smooth, with vanilla notes.

T: Very nice and malty... A couple of other people said they can taste the alcohol in this... i cant... but it tastes a lot like walnuts or pecans, with plums added... i cant say it any better than that...

M: Smooth, and dry, but not dry like a white wine... dry like a summer baseball game in early spring, where youre thirsty, and as soon as you look, there is the beer guy, and as soon as he hands you the awful yellow beer, a home run is hit, and it lands in your plastic cup... but instead of a baseball, its harpoon's baltic porter... and you drink that baseba... i mean, beer... and you take in the sound, and smell... that is the taste of this beer... and no one, no one can tell me different.

O: i like it, but i wish they didnt do this whole hanky panky 4 pack nonsense anymore... i guess it started with dogfishhead, and im rarely critical of DFH... but look, i want 6 beers... i dont want to buy my beer in 4's... i feel like it makes me a communist. At best, it makes me look like a snob when i walk up to the counter. and it doesnt feel right, holding a 4 pack and a 6 pack, it just doesnt balance out...

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Photo of chugalug06
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Thin black caramel with a thin tan ring of head. Extremely thin selective lacing is left behind

S - AMAZING, one of the most aromatic beers I've had it smells of cherry, chocolate, coffee, roasty malt...

T - Smooth chocolate, but a little harsh due to the strong presents of alcohol. I'm going to sit on a few and try one again in a few months

M - Near perfect carbonation and sweetness

D - It leaves me very thirsty, however, not for more brew, but for water. It does however drink nicely, just not quite as nice as I'd wish

Would definitely recommend to a friend. I can't wait to see what this brew does with a year on it.... Thanks Andy.


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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into dimpled mug. Clear coke coloured pour covered by a light beige head which recedes to nothingness. Fair malty nose where blackberry fruitiness meets woodsy, leafy spiciness in an odd melting pot. A slight metallic tang joins the absence of fun, likely due to inherent overcarbonation. Not too bad up to here, but it gets more complicated. In mouth, disturbing higher alcohol, bordering phenolic notes are an annoyance, so is the burnt wet bread astringency that lives on after each sip. The vinous, tartish fruitiness could have been interesting were it not for its messy neighbors.

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Photo of nezelrac
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had this on draft at the Tap and Mallet on 1/20/11 - they held a keg of the 2009; served in a 12oz snifter

A - pale mahogany; about 1 finger off-white/tan head; dissipates after a few minutes with no lacing

S - vanilla note is embedded in a chocolate, roasted, rich and earthy malt core; hops are in the background

T - excellent malt; hints of roasted and chocolate, slight nuttiness; good bitterness at the back end; good length

M - very smooth with a good roasted malt edge; CO2 is spot on

D - highly drinkable porter! the age didn't hurt this a bit

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Photo of Bung
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. This one has been in the cellar for about 10 months, forgot to review it originally.

Standard dark brown/ruby edged pour. Maybe a finger of beige head. Frothy layer sticks around. Laces the glass pretty well.

Nice very malty aroma, caramel then some chocolate and peat.

Taste seems to have smoothed a bit. Malty chocolate malt, caramel and some amount of roast malt. Finishes with some cocoa and almost lactose like qualtity and the faintest amount of coffee and herbal hops.

Nearly creamy medium bodied and coats well. Alcohol is very well hidden. Could be considered a tad thin, accentuated by the very low carb, but that's the only problem. Goes down real easy though with the abv it is only so drinkable.

I like it, my favorite of the Leviathan series.

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Photo of YouSkeete
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark brown, close to black. Teensy-weensy dark tan head, disappears quickly leaving moderate lacing.

S: A mixture of subtle dark chocolate and medium-roast coffee beans. Thick fruit aroma and smoked wood is there also.

T: Fresh coffee and both milk and dark chocolates. Sweet flow with the chocolate rather than a bitter bite. Malty and definitely smoky. The body of this beer is utterly smooth and rich. Notes of anise can be determined as well. For it's 9.5%, it's only fair to have a reasonably boozy finish

M: Medium to full body with medium carbonation. Rich, very flavorful. Great finish.

D: Really amazing. It gets heavy after a few bottles, so take your time.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown with ruby highlights. Minimal brownish head.

S: Chocolate. A little bit of sweetness. Kind of a tight nose.

T: Chocolate. Anise. Mild roast. Touch of coffee and a little bit of alcohol in the finish. The anise was not that overwhelming and I am an anise super taster.

M: Medium body. Low carbonation.

D: An enjoyable beer with a nice balance to it.

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Photo of bfflo
3.33/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a mostly-opaque reddish-brown, with minimal cream-colored head. Solid lacing at first, which dissolves to loose swiss cheese as you drink. Smell is surprisingly dominated by dark fruit, particularly prunes and black cherry; much different than the Left Hand Fade to Black Baltic Porter I was sipping an hour or two before. Taste follows suit with a lot of pungent sweetness, more akin to the Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter than the Left Hand Fade to Black. The sweetness is dark fruit based, as per the smell, with strong licorice notes, a full body, and a little less alcohol heat than I expected (though there is certainly some). Mouthfeel is syrupy, bitterness is low. While this boasts a complex flavor profile and is by no means a mediocre brew, it is not really my kind of porter, personally - it is too sweet, with a medicinal twang, leaving me feeling as if I were drinking some kind of bizarre, fermented prune juice. B-.

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Photo of bamojr
3.48/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Yet another great brew from the Leviathan series. I personally have never been a fan of porters, but this is one of the few exceptions in my book. Pours a very dark color with a fluffy tanish head that sticks around for a while. As is expected with the series it has a very high alcohol content that does so through in the flavors a bit but is by no means overpowering. Because of its strong flavors that accompany a good porter, it does not have the greatest drinkability but is still quite a tasty beer.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured awhile back at Bocktown, served a bit too cold but I did let it warm up to open it up a bit. Pours a pitch black body that absolutely eats up all visible light waves, creamy tan colored head. Aromatics offer up dark fruits soaked in a bit of booze, with some cocoa/strong coffee and mild molasses with more of an herbal hop presence in the back end. Flavor forms a cohseion of caramel/cocoa/ripened fruit plums/a touch of cherry. A slight sherry finish, very smooth dark roasted malts blend with a mild booze finish. Herbal hops for balance this beer just works. Mouthfeel is full bodied evenly carbonated big brash but full of finesse, this is well planned out and excecuted. Nice to see the Levithan series ruling in both quality and consistency, a great brew that I will reach for the next time I see it around. I will throw a couple in the cellar with my Triticus and Bigfoots.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.46/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Gift from Thorpe, thanks. Poured into a RR wine glass. Beer is brown dark and forms a thin off white / tan head of small bubbles that cling to the glass leaving lace lines. Looks good.

Aroma is very very weak and a little soapy.

Beer is medium to light in body and finishes really dry. Forward its a little sweet and it finishes OK. There is some alcohol in the forward palate and some bitterness at the back. Its OK, I've had better Baltic Porters.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a tulip glass. Pours a very, very dark brown that is almost entirely opaque unless it's held up to the light. Pretty good tan head with a tiny bit of lacing. The nose is roasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee, and some small amount of dark fruits. The taste is roast and chocolate for the most part with some light caramel and date flavors. Good, full body. Not the best baltic porter I've had, but quite nice.

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Photo of BMoney575
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on 10-16-10
Bottled on 11-13-09

Pours completely opaque and black, with a little translucent red peeking around the edges. An off-white head quickly settles, leaving a thin ring of lacing.

Smell is deep, roasty malt, with notes of caramel and burnt sugar. The booze is there, adding a great depth. Very good, if not overly complex.

Taste is big malt, very sweet, with more subtle flavors of smoke and anise. The alcohol is very prominent, adding depth as well as a sharp kick at the end.

Mouthfeel is slick and sticky to go with the malty flavors, but a little more thickness would be nice.

Drinkability is decent, but the big flavors and heavy alcohol can be tough.

Overall, a good beer, maybe just a little too extreme.

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Photo of Florida9
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black in color, with just the slightest bit of light coming through on the edges. Surprisingly white head forms and recedes to a stable surface coating. Some light lacing.

S: Rather subdued. Roasted malts, cream, and just a hint of vanilla.

T: The mild sweetness of roasted malts and molasses, with mint and licorice faintly in the background. A little bit of alcohol on the finish.

M: Medium in body (thinner than expected) with appropriate carbonation. Feels soft across the tongue.

D: Strong flavored, but not overpowering, with the lighter body making for an easier drinking beer.

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Photo of Lldeegan
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark brown with chestnut highlights. It has a minimal ring of medium, off-white bubbles.
The aroma is rich with sherry and oak notes, with roasty malt and roasted coffee and a hint of earthy hops and dark fruit.
Super rich chocolate malt up front on the tongue. The minor sweetness fades to bittersweet flavors with wood and earth tones. Cocoa and espresso blend in a roasty, dry and bitter finish.
It is crisp and dry with a prickly carbonation. This porter is quite a balancing act. It is not too sweet, and not overwhelmingly roasty or bitter. It is smooth but delivers a crisp finish.

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Photo of dragonWhale
4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aged a few months on this one, thanks, Bill.
This lovely brew pours cocoa with a light spot of head upon the brim. Upon opening the bottle, chocolate, alcohol and dates permeate my living quarters, leaving my nethers aquiver. This will be a delight.
The flavor does not disappoint, chocolate bringing A game without totally dominating the flavor, allowing the subtle
alcohol flavor to mingle with the dates in the background, a formidable front. The lager yeast makes for a smooth finish, the flavors linger the longer the glass remains wet.
Now that I am empty, they still hang like warnings to those who would dare to trespass again. I wasn't sold until now, whilst I behold these stalactital flavors.

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Photo of bamadog
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Review is from notes taken on 9/19/2010 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is the black of fresh brewed coffee; starts with a 1/2 finger of creamy tan head that fades immediately to nothing other than a thick ring and scant wisps; body is entirely opaque; a thin strand and a few spots of lacing are left behind along with an oily residue.

Smell: Dark burnt and raw roasty malts; bittersweet chocolate; slight hints of dark sweet cherries; a bit of a charred, woody smokiness to it as well as it continues to warm; smell is very robust.

Taste: Wow - nice deep dark and bitter burnt roast malts; the presence of chocolate creates a wonderful sweet and semisweet balance; a very faint presence of cherries (dark and very ripe) and a definite lingering presence of warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Feel is thicker, with some soft carbonation that allows it to feel creamy; body is medium to heavy in weight; a thick, semi-dry coating is left all over the palate; gums are let tingly and the belly is left warm.

Drinkability: A little better than moderate -- nice and big robust scents and flavors; a thick and hearty mouthfeel is very enjoyable; weight is heavy and the ABV is pretty high, but well worth picking up; I may get some more to age for a year or so and see how it does.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. III Issue I:

Pours opaque and nearly pitch black with dark ruby edges and a foamy, two-finger tan head that clings to the glass. Hint of metal in the nose with some major higher alcohols (think vodka or isopropyl), bicuity grains, dark breads, light hop spice and touches of caramel and molasses. Creamy and fluffy on the palate with a silky-smooth feel. Body is lighter than anticipated, yet a bit syrupy as things warm. Tons of complex and rich malt character up front, including: coffee, molasses, tobacco, toffee, caramelized sugars, and suggestions of marshmallow and malted milk balls. There's a center of dark ripe fruits, followed by some slight acidity that moves in to break up the sweetness with a hint of burnt raisin. Leafy hops. Mild wisp of smoke toward the finish, along with some grainy tannins. Dries and cleans up nicely, except for the fusel alcohol on the breath--hide your matches.

All the expected flavor profiles are present. In fact, they're nearly spot-on compared to all of the Baltic Porters we've had the pleasure of meeting. That said, our only gripe is that the alcohol is way too hot, too boozy and deters from the experience as a result.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a mug.

Appearance: dark brown near-black hue with some brown around the edges and a ruby tinge when held up to the light. Head is a solid finger of bubbly tan head. Not bad at all.

Smell: big globs of dark-roasted barley. Hints of coffee and chocolate in the mix, but it's basically like smelling a handful of 400 SRM malt.

Taste: big roasted flavor with a little bit of estery fruitiness, helped along by the big alcohol. Hops are noticeable but not prevalent and are vegetabley in nature. The fruitiness here is not quite as good as some other Baltic porters I've had, and I feel like there's a little too much emphasis on the roastiness than I typically like. Harpoon's Baltic isn't bad, but I think it could use a little work.

Mouthfeel: medium body with an alright silkiness; still, I feel like there isn't a whole lot of texture here to keep things interesting. Passable, but not great.

Drinkability: this isn't a bad beer, but I'd choose almost any other Baltic porter before I'd pick this one up again.

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Photo of charliedvrs
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz. bottle poured into tulip glass.

A - A hard pour gives a small beige head over an opaque black beer.

S - Dark, roasted malts with bits of dark fruit and chocolate in the background. Alcohol comes in towards the end.

T - Followed pretty much with the nose. What I couldn't get over with this beer was how overpowering the alcohol was. It seemed like a RIS without all of the intense flavors to cover up the alcohol. The first half of a sip was pleasant, but by the end it seemed like all of the flavors had dissapeared.

M - Smooth and medium bodied, but way too warm. Carbonation is slightly high as well.

D - As I mentioned earlier, the inability to cover up the 9.5% ABV killed this one for me. Had trouble finishing off the glass.

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Harpoon Leviathan - Baltic Porter from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
3.98 out of 5 based on 364 ratings.
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