In the crowded landscape of New England breweries, where a fable is born every day about the next unattainable double IPA, it’s easy to rag on the good folks making beer for the masses down at Harpoon.
I’m guilty of it. And I live in Windsor, where the Harpoon beer garden is easily one of the most pleasant ways to enjoy pints with friends on a late summer afternoon.
But how many of you are New England transplants like me, who a decade ago had scarcely heard of Heady Topper, much less felled ogres or solved the riddle of the troll just to sip from its can, and who aren’t too proud, even now, to admit that the first really good IPA you had? Was Harpoon IPA.
That beer was the gateway to all IPAs to follow. Did not that IPA spark a revolution?
Here’s what I’m saying: for all of Harpoon’s “safe” and crowd-pleasing over-abundance, every so often they land on something that feels essential, just right, enough.
Harpoon House Golden
“Love Beer. Love Life” goes the Harpoon slogan. And in no particular order, as is the case with this, well, golden example of a beer you want to be drinking when what you’re doing or talking about isn’t the drinking. But life. While drinking.
House Golden is actually Harpoon’s once-retired Summer Beer reborn and rebranded, and still the crisp, light, dry ale you drank indiscriminately while mosquitoes ate you alive. Now it’s year-round, so see how it pairs with that winter squash recipe.
This pours clear blonde, but you’re going to drink it from its packaging anyway. Hopped modestly, any bitter kinks are quickly worked out as it crowd-surfs the taste buds toward a patch of grass with a hint of mustard seed. It will not last long. You will keep it around, like rolled oats or hex keys.
The takeaway: To quote the Harpoon employee-owner who rang me up: “It’s dangerous.”
WHERE TO FIND IT:
The Windsor brewery has it on tap and in ample supply in bottles and cans. Everywhere else (with possible exceptions) you’ll find House Golden mixed in with seasonal samplers.