I got to try the Harpoon IPA as part of Harpoon’s ‘Summer Vacation’ variety packs. I love variety packs! I’ve had mixed feelings about Harpoon beers – some, like their Chocolate Stout, I thought were fabulous. Others, like their Summer Beer and Oktoberfest weren’t bad, but they didn’t have me crying tears of joy either. Know what I mean?
On the plus side, methinks that the Harpoon IPA, much like the Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA, would be an excellent choice , to try as a first IPA. Why? Well, they have the ‘typical’ IPA look, taste and feel, but are much more mainstream, less challenging to the novice palate (mine included) yet pique interest in the style.
If you recall, my first IPA was Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA. DFH-60 is widely admired by craft beer lovers, but as one of the first craft beers I consciously tried, it was simply too much! Too hoppy, too bitter, too much! As a result, I don’t think I had another IPA between 2008 and 2010!
Its a shame really, because I’ve come to enjoy the style. While I still could not identify any given IPA if given a blind taste-test, I’m getting a feel for what is more moderate, and what beers try to push it a bit.
Harpoon’s IPA will most assuredly NOT cause running in fear of the IPA to happen to you, and depending on where you are in the beer nerd spectrum, that might or might not be a good thing!
Why would it be a good thing? Well, maybe you’re just getting a feel for what an American-style India Pale Ale is. Maybe you don’t want to get beaten up with hop bitterness, but just want a feel for what its about. Well, then this Harpoon IPA is a great choice. I’d say it does everything that a good American IPA should, it just doesn’t do it in a way that stands out.
And that’s what’s not-so-good about it too. Its interesting to learn that the Harpoon IPA has been in production since 1992, long before this ‘craft beer stuff’ seems to have taken off! Back in 1992, I’m not sure how many craft IPAs were being made domestically, and in that context I could see this beer being a top-shelf example of the style.
Today, however, there are a lot of IPAs that are OK, and to me, taste very similar to one another.
So, if you’re looking for a decent American IPA that’s easy to find and doesn’t offend (or challenge) the senses, Harpoon IPA is a sure bet.