Harpoon Celtic Ale | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

365 Reviews
Harpoon Celtic AleHarpoon Celtic Ale

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

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Harpoon Celtic Ale features a deep amber color. The flavor is malty and complex. Celtic Ale has a moderate hop finish that, along with the generous amounts of malt, makes for a medium bodied, smooth, rich beer. Try serving Celtic Ale with a hearty stew… the beer’s robust character will complement the bold flavors.

25 IBU

Added by barleywinebrewer on 01-16-2009

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Reviews: 365 | Ratings: 767
Photo of Billolick
2.83/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours reddish(suprise) amber, slight white head, clear and no lacing. Sort of nondescript beer for my liking. This is a semi sweet brew, I also pick up a little ginger or mint. This just too dull a brew for me. No real character, nor of much interest. My wife liked it, she said "'this is much better then all that crazy strong beer you like" What can I say I like crazy strong, flavorful beer with some character. I wont buy this red ale stuff again anytime soon.

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Photo of cooncat
2.83/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured at just below room temperature into a standard shaker pint glass.

On the pour you get an orange/copper colored brew, with very good clarity. Head is a finger and a half, but short lived, with no appreciatable lacing. After 3 minutes in the glass, it looks like a flat beer.

The nose is hard to describe, since there is hardly any nose to inhale. I think it smells more like tea or some kind of soda pop .. not picking up any definitive beer aromas.

It DOES taste like beer, however ... a very bland beer. I don't find the maltiness I was expecting for an Irish red. Faint hop flavor from perhaps EKG. The carbonation is very low, giving it nearly a flat beer taste .. and mouthfeel. If you are looking for an easy drinking session brew, this one qualifies at 5.4% abv. This beer probably won't offend any of your BMC drinking friends, as its barely a step up from them.

This is my 3rd or 4th Harpoon brew, and I can't say that I've been overwhelmed by any of them. Underwhelmed might be a better description. Hey, if its a scorching day outside, and you've just finished mowing an acre of grass, and someone offers you one of these in a frosty glass, I sure wouldn't pass it up. I wouldn't go out of my way to seek this one out either, sad to say (ymmv).

Na Zdravje!

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Photo of ktrillionaire
2.86/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A – Pours a very lustrous ruby-amber hue with a frothy tan head and good lace. Solid.

S – The aroma is dominated by butter, butterscotch, caramel, vanilla, cream soda; these impressions supersede the identification of barley malt and hops.

T – The taste is an extrapolation of the nose, although the expression is quite dry. This beer has a somewhat strange taste. It has a long finish that is astringent, but still tastes of butter with notes of grain and black pepper.

M – Not so much. My throat feels like I just walked out of the Atacama Desert. (Look it up, it is not a good thing.)

D – I would try it again in the future, perhaps. It is interesting. I would never order up 'another Celtic Ale' though; one per month / year / decade is enough.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.86/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Orange-bronze with a hint of brick red that's only appreciated with strong backlighting. The head is off-white with an orangish ecru influence and doesn't rise higher than a finger or two after the pour. It's fairly nondescript and leaves only a stunted collar of lace.

The nose is a few clicks too low on the old intens-o-meter. There isn't much to go on. In fact, I'd have had a hard time coming up with the proper style if I didn't already know it. The beer is slightly more malty than it is hoppy, which is only fitting since it isn't hoppy at all. Weak, weaker, weakest.

Hibernian Ale isn't a bad little drinker. On second swallow, while it isn't that far off the mark, it isn't an especially good version of an Irish red. It's undermalted with a mildly sweet, quasi-caramel flavor that fails to impress. My guess is that it's hopped with some British variety, like Goldings. Since the brewers were overly stingy with the hops, it's hard to tell.

The finish is nothing special and differs only in that it contains a smidgen more herbal English hoppiness and some tea-like notes. Clean and tending toward dry sums it up pretty well. The light mouthfeel aspires to light-medium... and comes up short.

Hibernian Irish Style Red Ale is a fairly lackluster offering from a brewery that is new to me (or at least to my taste buds). I know better than to judge Harpoon by one beer and will have no trouble trying other offerings as I run across them. For instance, there's an interesting little creation called Triticus, brewed by two brothers who know a thing or ten about beer, that I've been itching to try.

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Photo of tbeck
2.89/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark rose red and clear. Has an anemic whte head that disappears quickly into a thin collar. Slight laciness. Aroma has a lot of malt with a slight hint of citruis. Taste is sweet and a I picked up a lot of cereal grain. The aftertaste was on the tart side. Light and thin on the tongue, it has a little bit of carbonation. Flavor is mediocre, I feel this is an average session beer.

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Photo of shirfan
2.9/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Macro body and feel, and I agree with McCall; this smells and tastes like Bazooka. Drinkable, but doesn't compell me to do so.

Pours a firey red-copper, thin and weak head.

This isn't quite so artificial tasting as Pete's line, but it brought them to mind. Malty sweetness tastes like it came out of a can of extract, although it isn't overly strong. And there's that damned bubblegum flavor; I can't find any rhyme or reason for it.

Finishes with a light and crisp bitterness, nothing for the hop lover.
Body and mouthfeel are letdowns.

Even with the odd flavor, this isn't horrible, but I won't spend money on it again. Perish the thought of celebrating St. Paddy's day with it, as the bottle suggests.

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Photo of bditty187
2.94/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear, coppery amber in hue with a modest tawny highlight, no animation, the white head reached a half finger in height. The head retention was excellent as it sat like concrete and it had the same staying power. The subsequent lacing amounted to zilch. Still, this is a good-looking beer. The nose is way too clean, this is an ale right? Faint whiffs of nuts and trace amounts of caramel maltiness can be found, once I worked at it a little. The lack of smell removes any hope of an invitation. True, the nose is inoffensive but it is so damn lackluster! It is time to taste, even without an invite. Bland palate. I could end my comments on the taste right there. But I will elaborate a little. First of all, where is the biscuit-like maltiness? Hell, I’d settle for some yummy caramel notes. All I get out of this beer is hints of nuts, some grassiness, a moderate bite of bitterness at the back and a large dose of cleanliness. How boring. I’m not impressed; frankly it is too bland to be offensive. The mouthfeel is pleasant, the carbonation is modestly high but it seems fitting, medium in body but it could use more malt. Not only for bulk but also for flavor. It is very easy to drink, since nothing bothers to tickle the tastebuds before reaching the throat. This is a very, very run of the mill Amber Ale; nothing about it is memorable (in a positive light anyway). I can think of dozens of Ambers I’d pick over this one. Regardless I never would have had the chance to try this if it wasn’t for drweizen and BIF 5. Thanks!

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Photo of oldhippie247
2.94/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a copper-gold with fluffy white head. Decent carbonation featuring large, slow bubbles. Clear.

Aroma is somewhat muted, requiring a vigorous swirling of the glass to get anything significant--even then it's like pulling teeth.

Crisp, clean malt with an undertone of bubble gum on the palate. I noticed the bubble gum big time on their Winter Warmer, but wasn't expecting to see it here--same "house" yeast? Nothing to brag about here, but nothing awful either.

Overall a decent beer, but much better if someone else buys it. Biggest positive is that it's better than Killian's.

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Photo of jonziefle
2.94/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Apperance: Poured a clear reddish amber, with a two finger head (semi-aggressive pour). Head is just very light tan, and foamy/bubbly. Head reduces to a very thinner layer that sticks around. LAcing all the way down the glass.

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. Some bitterness, but not hoppy taste to balance. Becomes smooth and more balanced as you drink.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, but very filling. Nothing special

Drinkability: Decent enough Irish red, but nothing really special at all. It looks really good, but the taste falls short.

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Photo of morebeergood
2.95/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Had a pint on tap at Goody Glover's in the North End. Served in a Harpoon Celtic Ale glass. Reddish orange color. No real head or any lacing. Smelled a bit doughy. Taste was pretty boring. Slight bit of citrus fruit and hops. Very thin. Easy to drink, but nothing memorable. I only ordered it because I was in an Irish bar and I haven't seen it on tap a lot. A boring seasonal.

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Photo of mdvatab
2.98/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle into imperial pint glass.

Aroma: Honey, cinnamon, melon, and even some faint banana-like esters. Hop profile very reserved, and could not find a descriptor.

Appearance: 2 finger head settles slowly to a thin layer of off-white foam that remains. Deep amber body. Light lacing remains on the side of the glass.

Flavor: Light brown sugar, apple butter, a very faint touch of mint from the hops, and a touch of mineral at the end. Finish is bittersweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium CO2. I'd say the body is a bit on the watery side for the style.

Overall: Highly drinkable, however a bit less malt than I'd like for an Irish red to have. The beer lacks the unmistakable slightly pungent malt profile one would expect from an Irish red. I can't help but wonder whether Harpoon dialed this one back a bit to shoot for more of a "gateway"-type beer. Not bad, but could have been better IMO. (I did not review it, but remember enjoying the Hibernian Ale more a few years back.)

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Photo of RedBrewer83
2.98/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aggressively poured into pint glass...

A: Pours a bright amber red hue with one finger head that dissipates quickly.

S: Unfortunately it is very muted, only a faint malt aroma nothing distinct about it. Not bad, just not good.

T: Follows the nose, nothing great, just a beer...typical Irish Red IMO, these beers just tend to be light bodied and lackluster in the flavor category so this beer is perfect for the style! ;)

M: Light medium body, crisp dry finish.

D: Very drinkable as it is an Irish Red and that is the point of these beers...am I wrong?

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Photo of LPorter33
2.99/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Purchased single 12 oz bottle from Martignetti's

appearance = opaque amber not too dark or cloudy, small head, not too much carbonation

Smell = not much of a scent at all, little bit of sour hoppiness. Not impressed

Taste = A little torn on the taste here. There's a certain watery blandness that cuts through which is extremely bothersome. However, trailing that is a delicious sweet aftertaste that is very enjoyable. Not very hoppy at all, malt flavor is present but not overwhelming.

Overall = An OK beer but nothing spectacular; I'm slightly disappointed and can't really recommend it as it's not much of an improvement over Killians.

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Photo of mactrail
2.99/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

A lovely coppery amber color in the wine glass. Even the last pour has fine foam all down the glass. Fizzy and well carbonated. Musty aroma.

Flavor consists of a schmear of sweet malt followed by a mineral sensation. Dry and bitter to the finish. For a light beer that is not even on the low-alcohol side, this is very unrewarding. Resiny and medicinal. This and cardboardy. So attractive and well made, but so unpleasant. And Harpoon has made some very good beers.

From the 12 oz bottle bought at Trader Joe's in San Diego.

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Photo of jwc215
3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Best by 06/15/09:

Pours copper - not quite red - with an off-white head that dissipates. Virtually no lacing sticks.

The smell is musty, with some caramel and green apple. There is a hint of herbal spicing.

The taste is of some caramel with metallic notes and a powdery dust. Caramel struggles to stay ahead of a chemicalish dryness. There is an odd, but interesting, nutmeg spiciness.

The body is thin, though the carbonation is fine.

Not a fan of this one. There are certain (metallic/chemicalish) detractors. It's a little harsh, as well. With all these "complaints", it's still not "bad", or "horrible" as it has an "interesting spiciness and there is a maltiness to it. But, it's not "good" either.

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Photo of BeerKangaroo
3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Into a pint glass:

A: clear amber colored body with some carbonation seen rising and a creamy lasting white head, it leaves ringy foamy lacing

S: roasty malts and caramel, light hops ever so slightly in the background

T: caramel comes back and has some roastiness to it

M: medium, sessionable, smooth, no aftertaste, quick caramel finish

O: not a bad beer, but nothing to scream about, might have again ... ?

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Photo of taez555
3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer poured an amber/red body with a small white/tan head.

Sweet, malty nose. HInts of fruit and that classic harpoon english earthy yeast strain.

Medium bodied with a biscuity, cracker, subtle caramel malt taste. There's an initial hop bitterness taste and punch that seems like it'll build but quickly fades only to reemerge in the finish. Sort of a swooping U shaped bitterness flow. Course malt more as it warms, again though barely moving beyond the basic biscuit toasted malt flavor.

I don't know. A decent beer, but sort of a MOR red ale aimed more for the Macro crowd that is willing maybe try a micro. Decent, but not my favorite from this great brewery.

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Photo of animal69
3.01/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

something new in my supermarket was this ; pours a clear brownish-amber w/ a fluffy head which dissipates quickly leaving moderate lacing in my pint ; very light smell, some hints of crystal malts and vinous alcohol present as well ; taste is a bit thin as well but rounded out by a grainy flavor and some hop flavor as well, tastes of poss. adjuncts linger underneath toasted malt w/ a touch of dark fruit ; a bit out of style, a bit thick for an irish red, but not cloying, not much co2 ; not on my top 10 but i'd drink it again...

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Photo of benmiliron
3.03/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This is the strangest red ale I've ever tried. Imagine was IIPA is to Pale Ale, Hibernian is to Red Ale. Somehow Harpoon isolated the "Red Beer" flavor and magnified x100. Lovely crystal clear dark burnt red, good muddy head too. Smell and taste quite overwhelming with the Irish Red Ale malts. The taste gets to you after a while and not in a good way. A nice beer to visit but I wouldn't want to drink this every day.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
3.03/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a weak 1 finger head that dissipates quickly. color is transparent amber.

smell is of caramel malts accentuated by a light fruitiness.

mouthfeel has a touch too little body and a touch too high of carbonation.

this brewery has yet to really impress me. this one falls a bit short. not bad, but what is the point?

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Photo of david18
3.03/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had this beer becuase it was the only new one on draft that day at my local beer bar. I'm not a big fan of Irish Reds but as far as the style goes, Harpoons is quite nice. Good red/amber color, not much aroma but a refreshing flavor that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes irish beers and even those in the mood for an "American Light Lager"

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Photo of jneiswender
3.04/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a small, straight sided tasting glass.

A-reddish-amber body and a light beige head (thick head)

S-bread, some floral scented center, and a slight smell of minerals

T-dominant caramel/toffee flavor. grainy, some fruitiness (almost spicy). floral hop middle somewhat of a fruit stone aftertaste.

M-medium and average carbonation

D-Not a bad tasting beer but I have had better than this one. All flavors are a bit muted and the fruit stone aftertaste is not something I am into. That said, given a limited number of choices I would certainly drink this again.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
3.05/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This was a nice red color, as I expected from an Irish ale, especially one from Harpoon. The nice head and sharp biting hop tang were enticing, to say the least.

The problem with this beer is that while it had the bitter foretaste the aroma promised, it mellowed out much too quickly. This was a good average drinking beer, but overall I wsn't impressed. I don't think I would go out of my way to have another.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.06/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

so I'm at the beer store and I'm picking up a couple of beers I'd been looking for and there in the cooler is this harppon celtic ale. can't recall seeing this before so I figured why not. pours a nice red color with a solid white head. taste is malt, tea and an oxidized note. light bodied and proably if it had not come across as oxidized, it would've been nice with dinner.

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Photo of WaltTrombone
3.06/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a pint glass, reddish body with a tall white head that disappeared about a third of the way through. Vague laciness.

Not much aroma, just an indefinite sweetness. Taste was a little better, mostly malty sweetness, and just a wee bit of hops trying valiantly to hold back the malt. Thin, but not too thin mouthfeel. The hops make themselves known more in the finish, but not overtly so. Pretty drinkable, I didn't have to force myself, a good alternative to macros, and would probably be good for educating macro drinkers to better beer.

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Harpoon Celtic Ale from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
3.51 out of 5 based on 767 ratings.
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