Saturday, October 17, 2009

109. Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #28 Glacier Harvest ’09 Wet Hop

Our sixth beer from Harpoon. I’m calling a moratorium on maritime references, at least those of the Moby Dick variety. I’d take the pirate maritime slant, but Disney’s about killed that one forever. Thanks, Disney, for riding another one into the ground. I'll take my pirates as conceived by William S. Burroughs, thank you very much. Not quite the family friendly tales ala Disney, hmm? In that vein, how about I replace Melville with some good ol’ fashioned Edgar Allen Poe maritime references? After all, Arthur Gordon Pym is always a hoot.

Glacier ’09 Wet Hop is a redux of Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series #24 Glacier Harvest ’08. The labeling is the same, the write up on the website is the same, all the described calibrations are the same, but this beer ain’t the same one as offered last year. Maybe the soggy, wet summer affected the hop harvest that much—we’re not fully sure. All we know is that this one lacks some of the definitive hop qualities and characteristics that defined last year’s offering. But I might be getting ahead of myself...

Glacier ’09 Wet Hop is a clear reddish copper color with a creamy tan head that borders on rocky, and laces the glass nicely. The nose is bready and toasty with no real hop aromas—the closest thing to it is some graininess and low levels of a lager-esque aroma. The front opens with a dry, toasty malt flavor that moves into a slightly grainy middle—there is not much in the way of hop bitterness, although there are some low levels of astringency at the end of the beer. Besides the astringency, the end is pretty clean, with some of the malt returning. Glacier ’09 Wet Hop has a soft medium body with medium carbonation and some bite in the final third of the beer. As it warms, the body does get thinner, and there is some warmth on the palate that is not from alcohol later on in the beer. Ultimately, this beer strikes us as more of an Oktoberfest than a fresh hop—we’re not sure how or why to explain this, other than to observe that the hop profile on this beer was almost non-existent, and certainly not in line with any of the fresh hop beers we’ve ever tried. It’s a good beer, but if this is supposed to be a version of #24, Harpoon has failed miserably. And they are too good of a brewery to do that. So where does this leave us? Hell if I know. Our guess is either Oktoberfest in the wrong bottle, or this year’s version of Glacier ’09 Wet Hop just sucks as a fresh hop beer.

From the Harpoon website: “For the 28th session of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series, we’re celebrating this year’s hop harvest with Glacier Harvest Wet Hop beer, a pale ale made with fresh Glacier hops. Wet hop beers are brewed using fresh, ‘wet’ hops instead of traditional dried hops—hops contain about 60% moisture when they are first picked. Typically, when hops are picked they are quickly dried and refrigerated to increase shelf life and make them more consistent for brewing. Freshly picked wet hops, however, need to be used within hours of harvest or they will begin to degrade rapidly. Wet hops retain more of their natural aroma and volatile flavors that dissipate when dried. This gives wet hop beers a fresher hop flavor and aroma than that of beers hopped with processed hops. This yields an immersed, intense hop flavor in the beer. Harpoon brewer Ray Dobens, creator of the beer, added a heroic dose of fresh hops the day of the harvest. The hop flavor and aroma from this copper-colored ale comes from a generous late addition of freshly harvested ‘wet’ hops.”

ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 38
OG: 16° P

So I haven’t been able to find any of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #29 to sample, which kinda chaps my hide, as it was Ginger Wheat, a beer that is one of my favorites. I’ve brewed Ginger Wheat more than any other beer—probably something like 20 batches in total. So any o’ you Harpoon hombres out there reading this that want to hook me up with some of that sweet sweet Ginger Wheat, your karmic numbers will be peaking, let me tell you.

For this meeting of the BJCP class, we all traveled to Cincinnati to participate in the Cincinnati Malt Infusers Oktoberfest Home Brew Competition. We all either judged or stewarded (I was a steward). Participating was a good way to get a sense of how beer judging runs.


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