Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT — something a little different this time.

Winey Woman and I decided to visit Harpoon Brewery’s Windsor, VT., location for lunch this weekend. I was smart enough to remember my two empty Harpoon growlers, as I usually find something worth taking home a lot of to share with friends. This visit was no exception. Being a Saturday, the place was PACKED, but even so, the wait for a table was only about 15 minutes. That gave us plenty of time to wander through the retail section to see the new clothing, beer glasses, sunglasses with pop-toppers built in, and of course, plenty of bottled and canned beer.

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Upon being seated, our waitress was prompt and knowledgeable about the new beers on tap. Harpoon had two pilot batches ready to serve, Boston Tea Party and Humble Braggert. BTP was described as a porter brewer with black tea, and HB was a double IPA with tons of hops. I opted to get a taste of both, along with ordering one of my seasonal favorites, Long Thaw IPA. The BTP was dark…like really dark. But what did I expect of a porter with black tea? I’m not much of a tea drinker, and when I do, it’ll be herbal or white tea mostly. This one wasn’t something I’d personally seek out, but if you like dark beers with a far amount of bitterness, this one could be right up your alley.

From L to R: Hard Cider, Boston Tea Party, Humble Braggert, and Long Thaw

From L to R: Hard Cider, Boston Tea Party, Humble Braggert, and Long Thaw

Humble Braggert, on the other hand, was awesome. So much hoppy goodness in one small sip, I was blown away. Having only had a small taste, I can’t comment on how it’ll hold up throughout an entire pint, but my small taste was enough for me to get a growler to go. Winey Woman got her standard Harpoon Hard Cider, as having Celiacs Disease makes drinking beer a rather unpleasant experience.

Might as well try a few!

Might as well try a few!

WW interjection: Harpoon’s hard cider is decent. Drinkable, but much more like fermented apple juice in taste than a highly developed flavor profile found in some other hard ciders. I much prefer Harpoon’s honey version of their hard cider. They have also done a pilot batch of dry-hopped cider that was truly delicious. Hint, hint, Harpoon!!!

WW enjoying her cider

WW enjoying her cider

Our lunches came out looking awesome, I had a BLT with beer battered fries, and WW had a tuna melt on gluten-free bread. Like usual, both meals were great, and we enjoyed our time immensely. As mentioned above, I took home a growler of Humble Braggert, and I also got a fill up of Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA. I remember having this one a few years ago when it was launched, and felt it was time to reacquaint myself with it. I’ll be doing full reviews of both of these sometime soon.

The Beer Garden has a warm atmosphere- a really nice place to grab a brew and some food

The Beer Garden has a warm atmosphere- a really nice place to grab a brew and some food

Along with Harpoon’s northern location, the light industrial park (Artisans Way) they are in features a distillery and a shop featuring Vermont food products. Since we were there and didn’t have any time constraints, we decided to wander about some. In The Sustainable Farmer, they feature a smorgasbord of local Vermont products ranging from the obligatory maple syrup to cheese, sauces, spreads, and a recent addition – Putney Mountain Winery. Much to our surprise, one of the owners was there, pouring samples of their delicious wines. After having a taste of all eight they had in stock, we picked out two, a cranberry wine and a cassis dessert liquor. Both shall be reviewed shortly by WW and myself.

Silo Distillery- just across the driveway from Harpoon

SILO Distillery- just across the driveway from Harpoon

The other alcoholic offering at Artisans Way is SILO Vodka. A vodka distillery that now offers other options, including bourbon and moonshine. I decided to sample the bourbon and moonshine, as I’d only ever had their vodka, which is amazingly smooth. The moonshine was definitely moonshine, but was clearly thought out. It had a rough taste, but wasn’t so rough that you couldn’t enjoy it. The bourbon, on the other hand, was incredible. So utterly smooth and flavorful, it was possibly the best I’ve ever had. I wanted to buy a bottle, but the price was quite steep, so I guess I’ll have to wait for my birthday or something… 😦

Overall we had an awesome time in Windsor, discovered some new drinks and revisited some old, and I can’t wait to bring you my thoughts on Harpoon’s brews.

<>Beer Man

White Birch Brewing – Double IPA

Awesome. Despite being a double IPA, it’s really smooth. I was expecting a somewhat harsh brew, but this is well balanced. There’s a big wallop of hops right on the nose, and where a typical heavy IPA hits you with bitterness, this doesn’t. It’s more of a sweet bitter, if that makes sense. There are a bunch of flavors going on – plenty of the obvious sweet citrus from the hops, but also some savory, herbal notes. And it’s right up there on the abv scale, too. Not even half way though the 22oz bottle and I’m feeling pretty good 🙂 Because it’s a big bottle, you don’t have any choice but to nurse it a little, and as it warms up, the beer loses a lot of bitterness, letting the sweet and savory shine, as I’m sure the brewmaster intended.

<>Beer Man

Throw Back Thursday- Beer Advent Calendar Reviews, Part One

WW: What do you give the man who has everything? I was stumped with shopping for Beer Man for Christmas until I stumbled upon some inspiration on Pinterest- a Beer Advent Calendar! Let’s kindly accept the fact that we’ve lost any religious affiliation to “advent” with this present and instead focus on how I may have made an amazing play for Best Wife Ever. I’ll be posting some of Beer Man’s best from his daily reviews (originally posted on facebook) during the period of his advent calendar each Thursday until we run out 🙂


So instead of a LEGO advent calendar or one of those cheesy “chocolate” ones, this year my awesome wife made, no, built, a beer-a-day calendar. Dec 1 is a special Arrogant Bastard blend. I get to remove the excellent wrapping paper each morning, place the brew in the fridge, then dream about it all day until I can get back home to pop it open. I believe, ladies, that the gauntlet for the best wife ever award has been thrown down.

Spelling Mistakes Intentional

Spelling Mistakes Intentional

End of Day One Update: I have fully consumed beer #1. Lukcy Basartd as it’s called is quite nice. They call it a dry-hopped beer, but it doesn’t particularly come through at first. The malt profile is “large and in charge” with this one, and at 8.5% abv, it’ll kick your ass. The hops come through as the brew warms up slightly, making for a nicely rounded drink. Having a genuine German stein that will hold 22oz is definitely a must, allowing the beer’s flavor to expand.

<>Beer Man

Sierra Nevada – Beer Camp – Chico King Pale Ale & Coffee Milk Stout Ale

So here’s a report from Beer Camp…yeah yeah, I know, “What happens at beer camp stays at beer camp”….oh wait, that’s deer camp….but anyway….

I had the fortune of being able to try two of Sierra Nevada Brewing’s “Beer Camp” beers, a special case of one-offs they made to showcase some of their talent and to bring some local as well as far-away flavors to their fans. First I had their Coffee Milk Stout Ale, which is kind of an oxymoron. How can you have a stout ale, exactly? That’s technically two different beers. An ale is medium body and a stout is heavy and dark. Regardless of their creativity, this one was really good. Coffee is my “other woman” besides beer, so combining the pair is, well, kind of what fantasies are made of….but I digress. Sierra did an awesome job on this one, creating a super smooth brew with a perfect coffee flavor, combined with some light sweetness from the added lactose.
Beer Camp- Truth in Advertising

Beer Camp- Truth in Advertising

Chico King Pale Ale was described on the bottle as having “plenty of bright, fruit-forward, resinous hop varietals atop a robust malt body,” and boy are they telling the truth here. I’ve never read a label and then actually experienced what they described so precisely. Their choice in hops is a pleasant mix of citrus-heavy as well as other stone-fruit and apple-ish varieties, plus the malt profile is a perfect compliment to balance the fruit. Neither overpowered the other, but both came through independently while still complementing each other. I could definitely add this to my list of sessionable beers without question…if I can find more….

<>Beer Man

Beer Camp- Great Beverage for Card Playing :-)

Beer Camp

White Birch Brewing Hop Session

White Birch Brewing, Hooksett, NH — Hop Session.

White Birch Brewing Van at the Brewery (Winey Woman made a quick stop there on NYE).

White Birch Brewing Van at the Brewery (Winey Woman made a quick stop there on NYE).

So good. Just such a wonderful hoppyness (yes, that’s a word….now.) The initial aroma is a little weak, brewer’s notes suggest serving at 50-55 deg and I poured it straight from a VERY cold refrigerator, but the citrus nose makes up for it. There isn’t an overpowering citrus profile, just enough to let you know this beer has plenty of hops. The malt is kept in check, and neither it nor the hops outwiegh the other; everything is well balanced.

Enjoying this brew with some tortilla chips is nice – the salt from the chips brings the pine flavors forward, completely changing the overall flavor. As the glass warms up, the aroma is released, much like red wine opens up as it sits in your glass. Overall another awesome brew from a simply wonderful nano-brewery where the norm is “Not NorMal.”

MINI Coopers and their owners are known for being "Not NorMal." Both Winey Woman's MINI (pictured here) and Beer Man's MINI have these stickers on their sunroofs.

MINI Coopers and their owners are known for being “Not NorMal.” Both Winey Woman’s MINI (pictured here) and Beer Man’s MINI have these stickers on their sunroofs.

<>Beer Man

Kona Brewing Golden Ale- a not-so – Hawaiian beer

Kona Brewing Golden Ale. Meh. It was a beer. Definitely not anything special, it was almost watered-down tasting.

Kona Brewing is a company supposedly brewing in Hawaii. They have three other locations listed on thier bottles, including Portsmouth, NH. I seem to recall reading that Red Hook Brewery does some of the brewing for Kona, using ingredients local to New England, yet somehow it is being passed off as “Hawaiian.” I’ve had another of their brews a few years ago, thinking “Oh cool, a beer from Hawaii!” Wrong. That’s when I found out it wasn’t necessarily Hawaiian….oh well.

Beer Man

Super Kitty!

Super Kitty. I’ve never seen such a great name for a beer. Too bad the beer isn’t so super. An ale aged with honey and oak chips, it is quite sweet for something that is traditionally a brew on the dry side. I think being aged in some sort of tank, likely stainless, with oak chips added makes for a less woody taste, as I’ve found some of the oak barrel aged beers come off like you’re chewing through an oak stave instead of drinking a beer.

Super Kitty

Super Kitty (photo credit: Winey Woman)

OK, now that I’ve completely turned you off to trying this one, let me focus on the good part, because it does have one. Super Kitty is well-rounded, even if a little sweet. This sweetness cuts though some of the bitterness that usually accompanies an oak-aged beer, which is a nice change. I’ve got three more bottles of S-K awaiting my glass, so hopefully my feelings on this one change. Hudson Brewing has come up with a unique offering, and I’ll certainly seek out more of their beer in the future.

<>Beer Man