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 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 KMcG
3.82/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into tulip glass.  It's a nice amber color that doesn't produce much head. A slight lace develops. 

S: Caramelly roasted malts, spice and herbs - maybe sage.  Nutmeg and cloves, and a walk through a spruce stand!

T: Sweet malty backbone with spruce tones that breakthrough.  Some bitterness and lemon coming from the Chinook hops is clearly there and a spiced bready flavor make this one quite enjoyable, especially during holidays. 

M: slightly bitter and sweet, fine carbonation, light to medium body. 

O: a nice spiced ale and perfect for the holidays in front a Christmas tree.  

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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 avalon07
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a clear texture. There was an inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: Smelled of hops, malt, and a lot of pine.

T: Tasted predominantly of pine, with a lot of malt, caramel, and some hops in the finish. An interesting flavor that's pretty tasty, but definitely hard to pin down.

M: A fair amount of carbonation with a somewhat bitter finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is one of those beers that's kind of familiar, but also kind of an oddball. Still, worth a try.

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

On tap at the Pony Bar in NY.

Pours a clear golden brown color with a tight cream colored head that left a wall of lacing.

The aroma was weak and neutral. Some sweet malt with a subtle earthy spice. Nothing really stood out.

The taste was quite bready with some tea like malts. There was some brown sugar sweetness with a light spruce flavor. The spruce was not bitter at all. Some fruit punch berry sweetness as well.

The feel was smooth and balanced. The beer had a moderate body with light carbonation, slightly dry in the finish.

Not as sprucey as I thought. I thought there was going to be a lot of spruce like hop notes but that wasn't the case. It is tastey and very balanced.

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

Beautifully clear, deep amber color. Decent head that settles to a thin layer of bubbles. Leaves good ring lace.

Smells like a Scotch Ale with a very light pine touch--mostly light crystal malt. Relatively neutral.

This is a complex beer. It is sweet, yet dry (in the swallow). The evergreen comes through, but Ina subtle way. There's enough hop to provide bitterness, but is otherwise nondescript. Full bodied with a decent dose of carbonation.

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

Dark reddish amber - bright with a fine bead. Creamy head subsides fairly quickly leaving a bit of lacing.

Malty nose with some raisin and a bit of citrus - maybe lemon. Spruce is not noticeable at first but becomes apparent as the beer warms.

The spruce flavor is right up front on the palate - resiny and spicy. Sweetish bready malts blend well with the spruce and lend a nice balance to the brew.

Medium-light body with good carbonation and a nice crisp finish.

Not the most complex example, but a well crafted spruce ale worth checking out.

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

Bomber with best before dating(3-15-12)

Pours clear, light amber, with a nice dark orange hue, minor light tan head, fine bubble sheen and some delicate fine lace left on the glass.

Fresh herbs and a just a hint of pine/spruce in the nose.

Fresh and clean tasting, more light spruce, I also get some juniper, perhaps anise, and caramel maltings, all with some hops in the rear end to dry a chunk of the sweatness out. Pretty good stuff, one of my better experiences with this long running series of brews

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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 jondeelee
4.2/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vermont Spruce Tip Ale doesn't smell like it's been brewed with "locally gathered spruce tips," which in my opinion is a good thing, as beers that smell like Christmas trees have, in my experience, also tasted like them. Instead, this one comes across with a heavily malty body, thick with brown sugars, toasted wheat bread crusts, caramels, vanilla, and biscuit. Noticeably light is the hop aroma, which largely lingers around the periphery, adding only subtle hints of citrus and pine. From the nose alone, I would assume this to be a well-made brown ale.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a sweet, sugary, malty note full of brown sugars, vanilla, bread crusts, and caramels. Soon after the presence of hops washes over the tongue, bringing bitter grapefruit and pine, as well as some peppery eucalyptus. The spruce tips arrive soon afterward, sneaking their way in with a sweet sap-like overtone, much like what a tea brewed with spruce tips would taste like. The effect is very light and subtle, adding just a touch more pine to the hop profile than would be normally expected, and lending the beer a slight spicy Christmas feel. There is just enough sugar in the beer to nicely balance this sweet sap addition, and indeed, had I not know spruce tips were used in the beer, I would have assumed the flavors came entirely from the hops. The aftertaste is a continuation of the spicy, sappy hop-and-spruce flavors, with just enough sugars remaining to balance them out (though the sap does slightly overpower them after awhile), and lingers for a good while. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is one of the more successful of Harpoon's 100 Barrel Series I've tried, and one of the few that I would consider purchasing on a regular basis. Again, the spruce tip addition shouldn't scare off potential buyers, as the flavors are not overwhelming, but rather catalytic, bringing out more of the hops' natural pines and oils. Well worth trying.

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Photo of ksimons
3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a clear amber with visible carbonation bubbles and a thin layer of white lace on the top

S-smell is not very powerful but there is obvious roasted malts and a light spruce smell as well

T-taste is better than I anticipated. Roasted malt is still predominant but there is also a bit more caramel sweetness to the beer. A bitterness becomes more apparent towards the end

M-medium body, medium carbonation, leaves a spruce spiciness in the mouth

Overall an interesting beer, not the most complex, but one that I would probably drink again.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.86/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium copper color with a huge bubbly white head that sticks around forever as well as to the glass. Smells of caramel and bready malt with a fair amount of non descript fruitiness. Slightly earthy hop aroma mixed with a bit of herbal and medicinal aromas. Really not what I was expecting when I cracked this one open. Taste is caramel and toffee malt sweetness balanced with an earthy herbal almost licorice flavor. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet slick mouthfeel. Decent brew, but not really what I expected. The spruce is there but its not overpowering and comes across as more of an herbal nuance in this brew. I enjoyed it enough that I would drink this again if I saw it on tap somewhere.

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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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