Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #39 - Vermont Spruce Tip | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

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Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #39 - Vermont Spruce TipHarpoon 100 Barrel Series #39 - Vermont Spruce Tip

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

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This hearty ale is a showcase for a traditional yet seldom used brewing ingredient: spruce tips. Harvested at their tender, ripe, bright green peak in Downer State Forest, Vermont, these spruce tips impart citrus, pine, spice, herbal and earthy notes. A host of malts, a hint of roasted barley and generous use of Chinook hops complement the unique spruce flavor.

We’d like to thank the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and all of the many great volunteers that helped us with this unusual harvest.

38 IBU

Added by johnnnniee on 12-02-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 43 | Ratings: 105
Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a NOLA Brewing pint glass.

A: Medium, copper amber color with a thick, foamy head of off-white foam which causes a small bit of lacing to build up around the edge of the glass.

S: Semi-roasted caramel malt sweetness couples with a spicy, fruity ale yeast complicated by a pine and woody herbal hop resin.

T: Sweet doses of fruity, caramel malts up front which lend a bit of body and alcohol to the flavor. Up next is the spicy hop bitterness brought upon by the piney, spicy addition of spruce tips. The finish is a bit viscous with a touch of booziness but also a hint of piney hop goodness thanks to the Chinook additions.

M: Full-bodied ale with some spicy, bitter notes imparted by spruce tips and dry, Chinook hops. Pretty satisfying and easy to drink.

O: This 7% ABV essentially "American Strong Ale" for all intents and purposes, was not half bad. It has some balance and identity issues, but on the whole, I liked the spicy, floral, fruity and piney effect brought on by the Chinook hops, yeast strain and craftsmanship. Not the best in the series but certainly a unique and tasty one.

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Photo of chugalug06
3.56/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the clearest most clean looking brews I’ve ever seen. Decent lacing and great head build-ability. Head is slight off-white with think foamy appearance.

WHOA! Knock your socks-off spicy at first, but then it fades…still a great scent! Very mellow vanilla and pine. Slight citrus (orange) too. A bit too (caramel) malted.

The taste is far from the scent… very mellow and laid-back flavor. Not a forward presentation. Quite dry and quenching, but not much rounds out the flavor profile… Great carbonation and zero heat, but comparatively, the flavor lacks for the type of brew.

An awesome brew only a few steps away from being a winner, but it needs that extra kick to help push it into a different category. I think with less malt this brew would have been a masterpiece worthy of award. Subtly unique, worthy.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a crystal clear amber in color with some very light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall creamy light beige head that reduces to a skin with a small thin patch and a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate lacing is observe.d

S: Overall the aroma is very mild and a little more subtle than I expected. Light aromas of caramel and spruce.

T: This beer has a fairly strong malt body that contributes some caramel sweetness upfront. That is fairly quickly followed by some very light lemon citrus and some spruce. The beer finishes with a slight amount of hop bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation.

O: Easy enough to drink and an interesting brew... Not sure that I would want to drink this as my session beer but on the other hand the beer goes down quite easily. I do not think I will be likely to get this one again but not sorry to have tried it. I was expecting and hoping for a more pronounced spruce in both the taste and the smell and that aspect was slightly disappointing (though I can see how a little too much could have made this taste like a Christmas tree).

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Photo of Jason
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bomber w/ a batch # on the label.

LOOK: Head is not shy at all and reaches three fingers high, clear amber color.

SMELL: Toasted bread, mild spruce, caramel, herbal hop, floral and fruity yeast, semi-clean

TASTE: Sweet, modest spruce, mild hop bitterness, herbal, earthy, caramel, estery, ripe pears, hint of hop oil, drying semi-bitter finish

Expected a bit more spruce on the palate or perhaps this beer could have been smaller. Still well balanced and a good quaff.

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Photo of AleWatcher
3.59/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My last blind beer from Shogo...

Beer #12.
Bomber served in an imperial nonic.

Phil left the cap uncovered on this one and it has a big Harpoon Brewing 'H' on it... So unless this is a homebrew that re-used a cap...

Anyway-- pours a reddish orange copper color with a head the color of that belonging to Coca-Cola. Pretty weak retention and virtually no lacing. Very clear.

Nose holds some caramel malt, some odd fruity ester notes, and something I associate with Xmas. Is this a spiced Xmas ale?

The beer starts off sweet with a decent dose of caramel malt before the Xmas tree vibe takes over and dries it out. The finish is dry and somewhat bitter with an odd lingering resiny vibe. Pretty noticeable boozy note in the finish too. It almost makes me think the was aged on wood or perhaps put in a barrel for some period of time.

Feels pretty decent, medium body with a bit of an oily feel. Lots of carbonation leaves me belching between intermittent sips.

I am thinking this must be some sort of spiced barleywine or strong ale, perhaps even a winter warmer? If it is spiced, it is done so sparingly...

REVEAL-- Harpoon 100 Barrel Series; Vermont Spruce Tip.

Wow-- this is called an herb/spice beer. And it's only 7%... I would have guessed more than that!
Well, after reading the description (and the name!) I totally see that 'Xmas trees' as a flavor descriptor wasn't too far from the mark.

Am interesting beer, as I don't know that I've had a beer made with spruce tips before, but this is not one I'll have again.
To be fair, the booziness I was getting now seems to be more of an abrasive resiny dryness on my tongue than a true boozy bite.

Now that I know what this is, here are my ratings;

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.18/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle.

Pours clear amber with an inch-plus head of white. A partial skim coat and dotted lacing throughout the glass.

Aromatics lead off with biscuity, chaulky malt with a hint of spicy hops. No spruce to be found.

Medium bodied with a slightly tacky, crisp mouthfeel.

Malt and a kiss of bitterness starts the palate. A minerally, drying character runs underneath and the beer finishes quick.

A malt-forward English style pale ale with zero Spruce character. False advertising or an extreme failure?

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Photo of abgba121
2.85/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: pours a light amber with about 1cm of off white head that recedes very quickly and leaves behind a light lace down the glass

S: very sweet up front and slight pine and very little citrus or hop notes

T: sweet then a little spruce/pine, could use more hops to balance the high maltiness

M: high carbonation, medium body

O: an ok beer but needs some work

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Photo of Tschnab
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- dark orange pour with a half finger of head and some sticky lace.

S- aroma is sweet with maltiness, some hops, some of the spruce, some citrus.

T- taste starts out really bright with lemon then a nice malt character comes in. The finish is all spruce.

O- I think this needs more hops. It is a good beer, but with the big spruce flavor I wanted more citrus to balance, rather than more malt. Perhaps a personal preference. All in all, good spruce beer here, glad I tried it.

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Photo of JustinAniello
4.08/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear reddish-brown with a foamy two finger head. Dissipates to a light sticky lacing and cap.

S - Heavy breadiness with a very light pine, almost too light to even smell.

T - Sweet caramel at first turning to a medley of pine, brown sugar, malts, and a hint of fruit. Mild bitterness in the aftertaste.

B - Medium body and carbonation, goes well with the flavors.

O - Quite happy with this beer. Nice flavors that jump out without overpowering each other. A better blend of aromas would have improved it. The pine and maltiness really makes this a nice beer for the winter months. Too bad it's a limited edition, because I would be willing to grab this again.

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Photo of ixodus
3.32/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours clear amber with red hues presenting a small white head that leaves small traces of lacing

S: Not strong smelling but I got hints of pine resin, maple syrup, caramelized raisins, and orange peel.

T: Piny hops, brown sugar, sweet caramel, maple syrup. Not strong tasting.

M: Medium-light bodied with moderate carbonation. Easy drinking.

O: Over all this is a easy drinking beer. Kind of reminds me of what DFH does when they make beers with interesting ingredients and it just comes out weak. It's not bold but it's still an interesting brew, although I wouldn't seek this one out.

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Photo of hoptualBrew
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber of this session #39 of Harpoon's 100 barrel series. Name & description sounded enticing, so I couldnt pass it up. Beautiful pour with a crystal clear light mahagony color and a creamy off white head. Nose is mostly roasted & sweet caramel malts with a touch of spice in there. The pine isnt as dominant as I would like it to be - it comes in the disguise of spicy floral hops, but just enough to compliment the malts. It works, and smells fantastic, just was expecting something different. Carbonation up front sets the pace for the flavors to follow; roasty bready sweet malts give way to spicy hops & an aftertaste of mild pine. It works, but just not up to par with the expectations set forth. Balanced & easy drinking for sure, I would recommend giving it a try.

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Photo of Cord018
3.03/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- a deep amber color, copper like. A light frothy head.

S- malty and bread like. You also get a sweetness and the spruce.
A bit of caramel as well.

T- sweet biscuit followed by the spruce. Light malty flavor as well by the sweetness and spruce are the overpowering flavors. Mild hoppiness, even a hint of maple syrup. Finishes crisp and clean.

M- similar to a pale ale but a little more thin. Very little carbonation.

O- I thought this could have been more balanced. I found it hard to have more than one glass due to the sweetness. The spruce tips did balance it out a bit. Maybe some more hops would help counteract that sweetness. Overall I thought it was ok but certainly different and interesting.

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Photo of neophilus
3.66/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very clear copper colored brew. Pale straw colored head.

Aroma is malty, dry bread like a cracker. A musty, semi-sweet scent mixes in with the malt, topped off with a faint fruity whiff from the ale yeast. Can't place the musty smell, it must be the spruce mixed with the hops.

Taste is almost sweet up front but dries out with very mild hop bitterness. This is a very clean ale with mild yeast presence. The hops are only here for balance as I'm picking up minimal bitterness.

A musty, pollen like flavor sweetens the beer up and plays off the hopped ale base. The spruce saves the beer from being technically proficient yet lacking soul. Good body and clean finish, very high drinkability.

This tastes like a well made yet plain ale with a little something mixed in to keep you off your toes. The spruce does not dominate or overpower. In fact I could have used a bit more to get a better sense for how this unique and local ingredient really tastes. The average beer drinker however will not be offended by this craft brew and I certainly enjoyed my session with it as well.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.97/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into tulip. As all #39 - brewed on 11/3/11. Drank on 1/13/12.
Pours an amber clear, almost like a maple syrup. Nicely carbonated pour, but head disappears quick. Leaves behind some ok lacing.
Aroma is of sweet malts; almost quad like? but you smell a bit of hops, alcohol, and yes, pine.
Taste is very similar to the smell...sweet malts, again almost quad-like, but a bit more hops than I thought. The spruce is present, along with alcohol, in the aftertaste.
This is a really great brew...drinkable, unique, and just awesome that the spruce was harvested in Vermont, by volunteers. Cheers.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice, clear copper with very little to no head after pouring. Drinking leaves a little bit of lacing.

A strange caramel smell and a really crisp and piney smell. The smell is similar to hops but crispier and fresher.

Strong caramel malts and after taste. The pine taste is nice but not as strong as hops but could definitely be mistake for it. The caramel overpowers the pine taste.

Smooth, biting and very little carbonation.

A fairly nice beer and definitely worth drinking because of its novelty.

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Photo of jlindros
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fizzy 1/4 head fades quickly, crystal clear orange honey red color.

Nose is sweet malts, maple, candy syrup, juicy reddish malts, caramel, etc. hint of pine sap and resin.

Taste sweet with syrupy malts, reddish malts, caramel, candy syrup, maple, light gritty biscuit like. Then light pine sap and resin, and hops, earthy herbal hops with a light phenolic herbal taste and decent bitterness. Finish is more maple candy, sweet, not as sticky as I thought, and on the back of the tongue a pine taste that is like chewing on a fir tree and earthy dirt taste.

mouth is med bodied, lighter but dec carb.

Overall meh, not bad but not great, the spruce isn't bad at first but gets weird, and plenty of sweet flavors, although the malts add a nice heavy beer feel for winter.

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Photo of mlazzaro
3.43/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear as can be, caramel amber color. Off white head that won't stay up. I feel like it smells more like yeast than anything. Slight crystal malt sweetness in the aroma as well. Taste is much lighter than I expected. Chinook's piny characteristics compliment the spruce nicely. Light bitterness. Thin body. Spruce comes off as sweetness towards the end of the sip. Slight dark caramel sweetness to it mixed in. Compared to other spruce beers I've had, this one is quite modestly spruced. Tastes much better warm. Fun to drink. A lot of spruce beers come off as soda like, this one hasn't lost it's beeriness, just very light beer.

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Photo of shand
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

Pours a clear copper color with a tiny head. Aroma is malty with some earthy and spicy hops. The taste is good, it's got a nice bready base with a slight earthy hop and a bit of the spruce on the finish. Nothing mindblowing, but a good drink. The mouthfeel is smooth and drying, and the drinkability is quite good. Overall, a decent brew, but nothing really worth a premium price and bomber release.

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Photo of dogfishandi
3.41/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle at about fridge temp poured into an SA perfect pint glass, split with friends. Best before 3 15 12.

pours a clear light amber color with a nice retentive off white head and some decent looking lacing.

no real spruce in the aroma, maybe a touch of spice. not much hops either. a grainy, biscuity malt is mostly noticable.

again, grains and biscuit malt rule, a little minty pine, slight herbal hop, and the slightest hint of spice.

medium bodied, average feeling carbonation.

this was my first beer with spruce tips, and if i didnt know, i prolly wouldve never figured out thats what it was made with. not really a bad beer, just nothing i would buy again.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice clear and transparent redish brown. There is about 1/2 a finger of white head that fades quickly. There is decent amount of lacing as it drinks.

S: I'm picking up notes of sweet malt, honey, caramel, tree (what I assume is spruce), and some mild spice. It's really interesting.

T: This beer tastes better than it smells. I get a nice mix of flavors. It's big on the caramel and honey. It's also big on the spruce. And it's really well balanced. The spice in the finish is really nice. A very well balanced beer.

M: Medium bodied beer. This brew is smooth and easy drinking. There aren't many flavors that linger on the palate.

O: This is the first "Spruce" beer that I've ever had. It's not great, but it's not terrible either. I'm glad to have tried this beer.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours bright clear medium amber with a slight cream colored head. some nice foam clinging to the side of the glass.

Light toasted malt, a little caramel, maybe a little herb.

Uh...how does this differ from their pale ale? Moderate toasted malt up front, leading to a a bitter/and slightly tart palate clear -- bitterness has an herbal edge. Decent maltiness in the finish. Looking for something unique here- not getting it. Very decent ale, but could be any common pale ale.

Seems a bit thinner than I'd like.

Not horrible, but a very common, average brew. A little acidic and bitter in the end makes this different, but barely. Kinda disappointing.

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Photo of metter98
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a thin off white head that died down and left a thin ring of bubbles on the surface around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of pine resin in the nose.
T: The overall taste has malty flavors with hints of lemon citrus and pine resin from the hops.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate to high amount of carbonation.
O: Nothing really stands out about this beer as being interesting but it is quite easy to drink.

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Photo of kkipple
4.05/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Green's on Piney Grove, I wanted something different and got it. 32 ounce growler into a big TripKarm goblet.

Vermont Spruce Tip is a ruddy, hearty looking chestnut colored ale with a short, light and light tan head. Lace though. Clear and attentive. Nose is something like a generously malty pale ale or Scotch ale maybe, with a good dose of cool piney hops and what I imagine must be the spruce - a herbal, spicy and vegetal quality. Not bad.

The flavor is malt forward, slick and medium bodied. Rather expansive mouthfeel really, and gently spruce-y, this is quite appealing. It's different and restrained, both qualities I enjoy. The 7% is possibly evident. The malt is somewhat English and the whole thing is well-rounded and enjoyable; mildly sweet. There is a strange slickness to this one, which is a bit of a shame, otherwise, I dig it. It drinks very easily.

Give Vermont Spruce Tip a shot, it's a fun and drinkable Winter-ish brew that deserves a chance. I hope Harpoon makes this again, as I can easily see myself settling in on a cold night with a book and a fire or girlfriend or other heat-producing object, and having a grand time of it.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.02/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a bottle with an expiration date of 03/15/2012. Sampled on December 29, 2012. It begins with an attractive darker-amber pour with a short-lived hea that disappears quickly. The aromas are finely balanced between sweet malts and earthy, piney hops, which makes sense considering how it was brewed. The body is medium to bold. The taste comes off stronger than the aroma with the same characteristics of pine tree, earth, and sweet malts with a vaguely dry finish. At the same time the piney flavor is something a little different and difficult to describe. Overall likeable.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.1/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pristinely clear copper colored beer with a quick to fade head. Smells like sweet malt, pine resin and log cabin.

Tastes bready, malty sweet and herbal. Lil' bit fruity. There's an odd herbally harumph in there which I'm guessing is spruce residue - now I know what spruce tips taste like.

My least favorite 100 barrel since the oyster stout.

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Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #39 - Vermont Spruce Tip from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
3.58 out of 5 based on 105 ratings.
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