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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 43 | Ratings: 105
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 zoolzoo
2.88/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours clear copper, half finger cream colored head. Decent retention and lacing.

S: The aroma consists mostly of a sweet caramel malt base. There's some spicy "pine needle" floating around, rounding out the aroma. This most likely attributed to the addition of spruce rather than hops. Sort of unique.

T: Caramel malt dominates once again. Spruce exists almost only in the finish, where is mingles with an alcohol bite to create something a wee bit harsh. Sort of like gourmet pine-sol or something. The spruce lingers on for quite a while, a really nice after taste once things clear up.

M: Medium all around, standard issue.

O: Nice try Harpoon. Not bad, not great.

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Photo of Edgecrusher328
2.96/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pour from a 22 into Stella Artois Glass.

A: Clear light orange/amber in color.
Minimal head, disipated quickly, left decent lacing.

S: Sweet malt, mild pine,very subtle aromas.

T: Predominantly sweet through with a mild piney finish,
Aftertaste is a bit pine/alcohol that lingers.

M: Light/Medium. Minimal carbination.

O: Not bad, nothing special though.

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Photo of jneiswender
2.97/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured this beer out of a 24oz bottle into a 4oz sample glass. Pours a nice white head and a clear amber body. Smells like a sweet candy. Nice and subtle flavors. Nothing piney here. Only a resiny aftertaste. Well balanced amber ale in the middle. I have to say that nothing here would tell me that it has spruce in it. Its a great beer but I cannot really say that it should be advertised as a spruce beer. I expected something tasting like pine. I have had more piney beers in IPAs. Have this beer if you just want a nice Christmas beer that isn't overpowering. Avoid if you are expecting a piney beer.

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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 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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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 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 coachdonovan
3.35/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, best before 3/15/12, poured into a shaker glass.

Clear body, somewhere between auburn and copper. Tan head doesn't stick around for long. Aroma is all malt- sweet, dark, bready. I get no pine and very little hops at all. Smells almost like a bock.

Taste brings more malt backbone, but it's dry. There is a bit of spice in the finish, but again I'm finding it awfully hard to locate any spruce/pine notes. It's very drinkable and clean, but not very complex or, to be honest, all that flavorful. It's not a bad beer, but I'm disappointed by the lack of spruciness.

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

Poured a 2" custard yellowish head. Clear radiant amber body. Smell is only mildy of spruce and not much else. Taste reminds me of a very weak IPA and although the spruce taste comes through it's more like a sweet tinge to a regular beer. Medium-weight body with a fairly short sweet finish.

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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 tigg924
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

Appearance: 1/4 inch head that dissipates quickly, red-brown in color, clear, high carbonation

Smell: chocolate and light spruce—although the spruce becomes more fragrant as the beer warms

Taste: chocolate is the dominant flavor with spruce that becomes more dominant as the beer warms, light hops and other woodsy flavors.

Mouthfeel: sweet with a bitter spike at the end, moderate carbonation, medium-light bodied

Overall: This is a solid beer in the upper middle of the pack of the Harpoon 100 barrel series that I have tried. It has elements of a sahti in there. I do appreciate the woodsy element, but it is not as dominant as I would have liked. I would get this probably once a year in bomber format if it became a regular offering. A solid beer worth a try.

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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 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 Kendo
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from the bomber into a pint glass - fairly aggressively. Body is clear coppery-amber with a 1-finger off-white/light beige head that fades slowly and leaves some lace on the glass. No visible carbonation at all, which is odd.

S: Nose isn't very strong: a touch of spice, caramel malt and a hint of hops. I'm thinking I should be smelling pine, but I'm not getting it.

T: Tastes like a basic amber ale, to be honest, with just a tad bit of bitterness at the finish. Some fruity sweetness up front is followed by caramel malt and then some spice mid-sip. The malt is hearty - has a bit of the "winter warmer" presence to it (especially given the spice). Hop bitterness is light but does provide some balance. Finishes fairly clean, though with a wee bit of wet cardboard and a sweeter lingering aftertaste. Heat from the alcohol is felt in the belly but otherwise not really noted on the palate.

M: Light-to-medium body, carbonation is light. Slightly syrupy/sticky impression as a result of the low carbonation.

O: This is OK, nothing great. I expected something more like SN Celebration - i.e., a seasonal that, with the spruce tips, reminded me of drinking a Christmas tree. What I got was something between a standard amber ale and a mild winter warmer. Inoffensive, but not a standout.

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

On-tap 12/11/2011 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub, in Pawtucket, RI served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a medium brown color with a short dense off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains maple, spices, caramelized malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste has a burst of spices and fruity sweetness up front followed by flavors of maple and caramel. The malt character is hearty and the hops presence is mild but complementary bringing a little bit of balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, decent kick, decent representation of style, it’s something a bit different but not a beer I would want to drink on a regular basis.

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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 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 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 berliner07
3.6/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice showing by harpoon. Really unique aromas from the spruce. A bit like hops, but with a more pine-type aroma. Really interesting. The beer sips like a pale ale and the malts match that profile. Its like a pale ale with spruce instead of hops. I do with there was some more spruce in there. Towards the end of the beer, it started to dissapate. Which is a shame, because its a really good flavor.

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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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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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