Usually in this column, I share my favorite places to grab a beer or my favorite beer for the season, and this article is no exception. I am, however, going to ask you wait until the end for the review of the Harpoon Beer Hall in Boston and the two great beers I had there. Trust me, the beer and the venue is worth the wait, but the cause before it deserves your attention, as well.
Back in the December 2015 issue of Pulse, I spoke with Dan Kenary, the CEO of Harpoon. We spoke about his connections to Worcester, including his family members attending Holy Cross and Harpoon’s long ongoing relationship with Atlas Distributing. We lightly touched on Harpoon’s philanthropic arm, Harpoon Helps, and recently I got an up-close look at a Harpoon event that benefited the Movember Foundation.
For the past nine years, Harpoon has hosted a fundraising event for men’s health in November. This was the fifth year it was officially held in conjunction with the Movember Foundation. The mission of the Movember Foundation, as the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, is to stop men from dying too young. According to movember.com, “The state of men’s health is in crisis. Men experience worse longer-term health than women and die on average six years earlier. Prostate cancer rates will double in the next 15 years. Testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50. Three-quarters of suicides are men. Poor mental health leads to half a million men taking their own life every year. That’s one every minute. The goal of The Movember Foundation is to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by 2030.”
Craft breweries and craft beer bars are known for their staff being on the forefront of facial hair trends. Years before it was cool to have full, lush beards, these guys not only grew them but maintained them well. Some employees at Harpoon grew their beards for a portion of the year, or just November, (you have heard of No Shave November, right?). They then shaved it all off – except for the mustache – and held various contests, raising money for their “Mustache November.” On Nov. 30, Harpoon hosted a public event to raise funds and educate the public on men’s health needs.
The Private Stache Black IPA at 8.1% ABV was specially brewed for this event, and $1 from every pint went to the Movember Foundation. Entry tickets and raffles were also sold to raise money. This event is one of the top fundraisers for the Movember Foundation. There were fresh-baked pretzels with various delicious dipping sauces and even prizes for the best mustaches. This was less like a stuffy charitable event and more like your neighborhood bar, where everyone felt welcome and had fun. That’s right, I said “fun” and “charitable” in the same sentence. Now, on to the venue and beers as promised.
The Harpoon Brewery Beer Hall is at 306 Northern Ave. in Boston. If you are in the area or there is a special event that interests you, do not hesitate to attend. There is ample street parking, and the hall itself is large enough to not feel crowded, while it retains a warm intimate feel with large panes of glass and warm wood and brick walls.
I counted 19 beers on tap. However, I only tried two. Private Stache is a Black IPA weighing in at 8.1% ABV. It was not overly bitter from the dark malts (used to get the dark color), nor was it overly biter or floral from the hops. It went quite well with the fresh pretzels and, in my opinion, is a small step up from the regular Harpoon IPA. The other beer I sampled was Craig, a red IPA. This was 7% ABV and cloyingly hid the alcohol. Oh my, was this drinkable and possessed of a different hop profile than the other IPA I tried, a more fruity – perhaps tropical – one. Both beers were pilot batches, meaning they were small batches, brewed once and only available in the beer hall. When you go, there will be others to try, and try them you should.
Check out The Movember Foundation at Movember.com. There is a wealth of information there, an online store and ways you can help. Check out harpoonbrewery.com for specifics on tours, hours, what’s on tap, etc.
By Kerry Cyganiewicz