Harpoon Leviathan - Imperial Red Ale | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

very good
109 Reviews
Read the review
Harpoon Leviathan - Imperial Red AleHarpoon Leviathan - Imperial Red Ale

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

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Gambrinus1184 on 02-16-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 109 | Ratings: 154
Photo of SawDog505
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber, with a one inch off white that leaves plenty of lace on my glass, my father got a growler at the Windsor Brewery today. Smell is pine, carmel, grapefruit, and other hints of citrus. Taste some sweet carmel and citrus and a touch of grapefruit in the finish. Body is medium large, plenty of life, a little dry, and very drinkable especially for its hefty ABV. This is excellent, especially fresh on tap.

 422 characters

Photo of BostonHops
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

pours a cloudy amber tone with a solid finger and a half of creamy beige-colored head. very good retention, patchy lacing.

nose is headlined by earthy, piney hops with some citric notes which give way to a caramel maltiness - nice aroma. taste, unfortunately, doesn't quite do it for me. overly bitter... hops are obviously very present (with a more citrus than i picked up in the nose), as is the caramel malt backbone (also some bready malts evident) and a strong bitterness in the finish... alcohol, while not overwhelming, isn't as well-hidden as i'd like.

medium bodied mouthfeel, average carbonation. not bad by any means, but not the best i've had from the leviathan series.

original review: 10-21-2010

 760 characters

Photo of woosterbill
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, bottled 2/12/10 - almost exactly two years ago. I got this as an extra from Thorpe429 (thanks Mike!) in one of my very first trades, and have been sitting on it ever since.

A: Pours a clear, deep russet body under an inch of frothy, lively, creamy tan head. Terrific retention, and lacing to match. Gorgeous red.

S: Whoa, still seriously hoppy - hoppier than the one-year-old Bigfoot I drank just a couple nights ago - with grapefruit and pine still rocking out atop the deep malt base. The malt is interesting, as it shows both straight caramel and some nice orange-peel oxidation. Rather sherry-like, fruity, spicy, and intense. This has aged well.

T: Sweet and musty up front, with caramel, sherry, and dank mustiness leading to a surprisingly dry and profoundly bitter finish. I kind of wish the hops had faded more, but I can't complain. This is quite tasty.

M: Nicely creamy medium body, but decidedly too lively for the style. A bit overcarbonated.

O: Very nice, with the malt taking on some great characteristics from the age. The hops persisted impressively, but unfortunately got in the way of my enjoyment of its oldness.


 1,159 characters

Photo of EkimGram
4.16/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: 12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Colour is a cloudy, hazy amber. Pours a 1 1/2 finger head that leaves a thick lacing. No visible carbonation.

Smell: Very powerful aromas of floral hops and a touch of yeast oh so common in red ales.

Taste: Tons of hops, lovely, bitter, floral hops. Aftertaste has some burnt, roasted malts to it. Finishes sticky and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, silky, syrupy. Mild carbonation with a little bite. Finishes sticky.

Overall: Knowing Harpoon, I had high expectations. I must say, they were met. Great complex flavour. The lacing is incredible. Beers like this remind me why I got into beer in the first place.

 674 characters

Photo of SkipWeathers
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very fragrant brew. This is like a barleywine packaged in an Imperial Red bottle, and I love barleywines. Sweet sugary cotton-candy smell gives way to a big hop flavor, which melts in your mouth. Aftertaste a little chalky. It possesses a hazy orange-red glow, with some head.

I've been very happy with all the Leviathan stuff and this is no exception.

 354 characters

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

Harpoon's Leviathan Imperial Red--the latest in what has so far been an overwhelmingly awesome line--has a strong, malty nose, ripe with caramels, brown sugars, wet wheat, and citrus aromas, all atop a good layer of hops.

On the tongue, the beer is immediately hoppy, with huge grapefruit and (lighter) pine waves crashing against the tongue in strengths that far exceed your everyday IPA. But these hops are at least somewhat balanced by a good sugar backing, with brown sugars floating gaily in the background. These are joined by strong notes of pecan and toasted grains, and deeper in the mix, hints of black cherry, licorice, pepper, chocolate malt, and orange. The mix is still, however, heavily built in favor of hops, and it is the hops that also dominate the aftertaste, which lingers on the tongue for quite a while. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is a good brew, though I think the hops do take just a bit too much of the stage, and could have been toned down to better let the "Red" part of the brew shine through. Hop lovers will of course rejoice, though I should warn everyone else that the beer packs far more of a hoppy kick than the 75 IBU's would normally hint at. Worth a try.

 1,231 characters

Photo of gatorbreath
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ruby color on this wif minimal head
Smell is not a twist, too much, on the leviathan IPA, was expecting more hoppiness, there is still much hoppiness apparent but very well balanced with maltiness and perhaps some dark fruit flavor..Mouthfeel is not too thick and not overly-carbonated...

This is definitely a glorious twist on Leviathan and I enjoyed every drop of the growler.


 389 characters

Photo of Boto
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draught @ Headkeeper: Served in a goblet. This one poured a clear, ruby tinged brown. There was a very small brown head that was gone almost immediately. Left almost no lacing. The aroma is nice but a little light for the style. Somewhat sweet aroma. Candi sugar, fruits and some caramel. Good taste. Fairly full bodied. Touch of caramel sweetness, plums, raisins, toffee. The alcohol was well hidden. Nice!

 407 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big hops and lots of malt and fruitiness. A treat for hopheads in bitterness, without the frontal assault of a double IPA. Malted away for drinkability, the third of a litre was just about right. A full mouthfeel. Copper body. Mild hop aromas.Clean, balanced.

 259 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.17/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A nice light brown color with a good amount of cloudiness and haze to it. Not much in the way of a head reaching up through it at all, in fact it was rather lifeless on the first pour, though the second got a bit better. Nice side glass lacing towards then end and some moderate carbonation coming up through it.

The aroma was sweet, nice touches of caramel malts and an almost candy like sweetness that was wrapped up nicely in a bit of a grassy, earthy, hop like nose. The flavor was more of the same, but I have to admit I am not terribly impressed here at all with this. Lots of alcohol in the flavor here, a bit of a hotness that I have not seen in the rest of the series. Lots of grainy malts, touches of light caramel and a mostly understated hop flavor. Lingering taste of hot alcohol and grain left me hanging again as well as I really was expecting more from this here.

Overall I am not so sure about this one.

 922 characters

Photo of seeswo
2.68/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Bottle being reviewed is about 6 months old. Pours a fairly clear reddish color with a tan head. Looks right. The nose is of slightly caramel sweet malts and some definite generic hops. Further sniffs reveal nothing other than this beer could be arrogant bastard in disguise. The unholy union of bandaids, hops and malts. Finishes with a killer bandaid bitterness. Ugh. It tastes to me like a horrible attempt at arrogant bastard. This red is waaaay overhopped and not in a good way. Nothing amount the mix works. Good carbonation with a medium mouthfeel. Overall, well, I drainpoured it, so I guess I didn't like it. Major off-flavor throughout for a beer I don't think I would have liked without the off-flavor.

 713 characters

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

A - Pours a hazy amber-brown color with a finger of frothy off-white head. The head fades down to a thin layer and ring around the glass leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is full of sweet roasted caramel malts. There is also some nice citrus hops and some spices alongside.

T - Starts off with some sweet roasted malts and some citrus hops. There is a touch of alcohol flavor at the start too. Through the middle, some bread flavor and some bitterness come through that mellow the initial sharpness of the beer a bit. The finish is a mix of sweet and bitterness from the hops and malt with some alcohol flavor and bread flavor that lingers.

M - Medium to medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. The Beer has a touch of a syrupy feeling. The alcohol feeling is also fairly present throughout.

D - Pretty drinkable. The flavors are really heavy and there is some booze that make this a sipping beer. However, the flavors are good and decently well balanced and pretty strong.

 992 characters

Photo of jorg2619
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought this beer last weekend thinking it was new. The bottle does say bottled 2/12/10. So a year out review is what I am presenting.

The appearance of this big red is wow a deep dull red. There is also lots of particles suspended which warms my heart.

The smell is tangy spicy hops first followed by the smell of sweet malts.

Tasting time... wow I get a slight touch of hops in the front of the tongue followed by a strong malt load that is semisweet ending with some hop bitterness that is earthy and mingled with the malt sweetness. A year out I get the red ale aspects of this monster the color, subtle sweet malt flavors and a touch of bitter. I also can tell this beer is older, there is a sense that it was hoppier at the front of the beer and that malts have a little to much front stage compared to other imperial reds that I have had. In fact this Imperial Red has aged as a barleywine which is not bad for a year out.

The mouthfeel is sticky but not too thick I like it.

 989 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
2.99/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. 9.2% ABV, Bottled on 02/12/10.

A - Mostly cloudy bronzed amber in color, the beer is towered-over by a four-finger cream head. Great retention with very sticky lace coating the glass.

S - This brew has a predictable aroma of pine and resin-rich American hops with a slight citrus character overshadowing toasted caramel, amber, and Vienna malt. A little bit of warm alcohol on the finish, but overall it's like any other amber out there.

T - Solvent alcohol cuts through the flavor even after it's been aging for just under a year. Hot boozy finish dissolves the previous pine resin hops that continue to overwhelm the malt profile.

M - Medium-bodied and a bit flat feeling, this brew finishes as a mess. Bitter pine resin hurts the teeth and a hot alcohol stings a wee bit in the throat. Far too solventy.

D - I've got half a mind to pour this brew out. The lack-luster profile of this beer needs some work. And I'm fairly surprised at how hot the alcohol continues to be with the amount of age on it. I definitely wouldn't want this fresh if it would be even more potent.

 1,134 characters

Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.64/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

Appearance: A monster head is the most noticeable thing about this beer. Tan and frothy, it fills 4 oz. worth of space in my pint glass. A full amber color, brownish in the center is the color. Lots of particulate matter, including some not-so-good looking black flecks that rest on the bottom. I guess I am not drinking the whole glass. Generous lacing on the glass.

Smell: Traditional red aroma. Nice caramel notes, along with a burst of citrus zest. Some herbal aromas add depth. A tiny bit of booze hides in the background.

Taste: Starts with some toasted bread, toffee sweetness, and a bit of spice. Next up are some herbal hops, grapefruit juicy hops, and a sweet and bitter finish. A little bit of booze never fully pokes through but is always present. The aftertaste is mostly clean, with a bit of herbal residue.

Mouthfeel: The toffee and herbal hoppy character create a sticky feel. A high alcohol content and some spicy hops impart a light tongue tingling. The carbonation bursts in the appearance but is restrained in the feel to a medium level. The body is medium to full.

Drinkability: Nothing about this beer really drove me to love it. The big body and semi-complex flavor made things interesting, but this is not my favorite red.

 1,300 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Better a red face than a black heart."

--Portuguese proverb

Equal parts pumpkin orange and brick red with a flurry of yeast chunks suspended within. Almost half the glass is filled with golden cork colored foam that looks to be in no hurry to depart. Once the bumpy, bubbly surface slowly starts to sink, fine sheets of spider web-like lace appear.

Despite the fact that this bottle celebrated its one year anniversary 8 days ago, it's still impressively citrus zest hopilicious, with an caramel malt character that is classic for the style. There are plenty of fruity esters and no appreciable alcohol.

Leviathan Imperial Red Ale is outstanding big beer that has aged incredibly well. Man oh man, there must have been a few daisy cutters' worth of citric hoppiness in this sucker last winter. Too bad the cap wasn't cracked sooner... like 8-10 months ago.

Tastes like a big bowl of sticky toffee pudding with date chunks and a generous amount of grapefruit and orange zest. Great flavor balance and great sweet-bitter balance, with each side of the scales weighted down heavily. This is an Imperial red ale to be reckoned with... and is one that tastes like it might have been brewed by Rogue (a compliment).

Thankfully, the chunky appearance does not translate to a chunky feel. The beer is big without being thick, and has an ideal amount of laid back carbonation. Almost went with the next highest score here.

Imperial Red Ale, while only my third Leviathan brew, is the best of the lot so far. This is big beer done right and is one of the best one-year-old hoppy ales in recent memory. If this isn't the best thing that Harpoon has ever created, it's definitely in the running.

 1,691 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear reddish amber color with a good sized fluffy off white head. The aroma was a bit disappointing because other than some weak resiny hops and light citrus, there wasn't much going on. The flavor was resiny hops up front with more caramel malt to back it up. The finish was dry, bitter and showed hints of the alcohol. Some subtle flavors of citrus and a weak fruitiness came out as it warmed. Medium plus body. One of my preferences from the Leviathan series however (outside Imperial IPA, Quad, and the Tri).

 521 characters

Photo of jbphoto88
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fantastic looking beer poured from a brown 12 ounce bottle with the familiar leviathan label in blood red. The brew is the color of heated copper and is super clear except for some suspended bottle conditioning. The head is huge, tan and fluffy. It rises close to two fingers high and lasts for days.

The nose reminds me of a barleywine with it's giant hop profile. You can detect the bitterness right off the bat by the smell of things. Following closely is a sweet caramelized malt scent that brings the entire nose back to a balanced position. Very nice.

It's hard for me to truly judge this beer's taste because it's kind of a catch all style. The reminiscence to a barleywine is consistent from the nose to the taste. Heavy on the hops but a huge malt back that carries the beer. Sweet toasted and caramelized grains balance the bitterness somewhat and make it a pleasurable taste. I think I'd prefer a heavier malt profile then hops which in this case dominate the beer in the finish. This leviathan does taste damn good despite the ambiguous style.

Balanced up front and quite nice the mouthfeel slips a little because the hops over finish the beer and rough up your throat. Bubbly but not overly aggressive carbonation gives this beer a soft feel on the tongue. I never even notice the 9+ ABV. So far I'm a fan of this leviathan series. I will defeinitly keep an eye out for more of the imperial red and others in this series.

 1,438 characters

Photo of Fnord
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Cloudy red with a dense, medium-sized off-white head. It's not obvious because of the dark color, but it's got tons of floaties in there.

Smell - Grapefuit, caramel, alcohol, brown sugar, maple, and pine.

Taste - Sweet and bitter in the start, with the finish characterized by bitter and alcohol. Well balanced between the three flavors. The aftertaste is unsurprisingly dominated by hops.

Mouthfeel - Creamy, with a medium body and medium carbonation.

Notes - This is pretty much a DIPA, but it's a good one so I don't mind. I'd like to try this side by side with the Leviathan DIPA and pick apart the differences.

 632 characters

Photo of bamojr
2.82/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

*notes from 2/8/10*

This is by far my least favorite in all of the Leviathan series. Pours a very mirky cloudy amber brown. This has the most propionate alcohol taste of any I have had in this series thus far and don't like it. I usually like Reds and I'm always a fan of Imperial brews, but this one has much to be desired to be able to bare the Leviathan name.

 363 characters

Photo of BigPlay1824
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a ommegang wine glass

A: pours a nice cloudy deep amber color with a thin head that is creamy and a very like brownish color. Head lingers for the life of the brew

S: nice citrusy scent also a sligfht hopiness and an overall sweetness prevails

T: slight citrus taste, slight oaky character, finnishes with a slight alcohol note

D/M: drinks incredibly smooth for an imperial brew, slight alcohol finish does not hurt the brew at all, drinkabilty is hurt slightly by the depth of the brew however

 508 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a tulip glass. Pours a moderate amber color with a nice light-tan head plus a good dose of lacing on the edges of the glass as it goes down. The nose is really nice with some citrus, floral, and piney hops atop an amber-malt base. The taste is slightly-malty with a bit of toast. The dominant force is definitely the hops with some citrus rind and pine coming through. Good bitter finish with a tiny amount of malt backing. Drinks quite well.

 474 characters

Photo of NefariousR
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

A - Reddish amber with a thick, foamy white head that sticks to the glass. Some debris can be seen floating in the brew.

S - Piney hops, citrus fruit. A malty quality is present, but does not characterize the aroma.

T - Strong hop flavor, but not overly bitter. Grapefruit flavor is also present.

M - Sticky and thick, with only a little carbonation apparent. Slight warming from the alcohol is felt in the throat.

D - A fairly heavy yet enjoyable beer. Tasty, but a little overpowering.

 544 characters

Photo of perrymarcus
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

pours a cloudy amber tone with a solid finger and a half of creamy beige-colored head. very good retention; lacing is somewhat iffy - it is present (blotchy), but given the head retention i was expecting much better.

nose is headlined by earthy, piney hops which give way to a caramel maltiness. nice aroma.

taste, eh, doesn't quite do it for me. a bit too bitter... hops are obviously very present (with a bit more citrus than i picked up in the nose), as is the caramel malt backbone (also some bready malts evident) and a strong bitterness in the finish... alcohol is a player but not isn't overwhelming. not bad by any means, but not the best i've had from harpoon.

medium bodied mouthfeel, a bit creamy... drinkable if you like a lot of bitterness in your beers; personally i don't, so this for me imperial red is more middling on that score.

 897 characters

Photo of stephens101
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reddish orange with a body full of sediment and cascades of bubbles which quickly fall from the two-finger, slowly diminishing light-tan head. Lacing is sporadic and substantial. Aroma is fruity (apples and pears) with a big malt presence, a prolific earthy and piny hoppiness and a Belgian yeastiness. Big oily hops hit the tongue initially. A core of citrus and malt exists. Some spicy notes are noticed. Goes down hot and a bit rough like a rocky downhill after a long day of riding; fun and challenging, but slightly dangerous. This is a definitive hop bomb and perfect for when you're jonesin' for nothing less than extreme bitterness.

 640 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Harpoon Leviathan - Imperial Red Ale from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
3.84 out of 5 based on 154 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.