BOSTON—What do wine grape must, an afternoon of rock and roll, and an evening of sipping beer poolside in the Tuscan countryside have to do with beer? They were the inspiration behind the Harpoon Brewery’s newest limited batch offering, the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Tuscan Pool Party. This beer is a collaborative effort between Harpoon brewer Charlie Cummings and Italian craft brewer Moreno Ercolani of Birrificio L’Olmaia.
Each spring Harpoon employees celebrating a certain anniversary (5th, 8th, 12th, etc.) are taken on a weeklong overseas “beer culture” trip. During these trips, the Harpoon group is taken on special tours of breweries throughout various regions of Europe. The 2014 trip took the group to Italy, visiting breweries throughout Rome and Tuscany. The last brewery visit of the trip was a stop at Birrificio L’Olmaia in Montepulciano, Italy. When the group arrived at the brewery, brewery founder and owner Moreno Ercolani welcomed them with bottle after bottle of his renowned Italian craft beers, explaining each as they were sipped. Moreno’s passion for beer, brewing, and rock and roll was infectious, and the idea for the collaboration took root.
In the weeks and months following the trip, Moreno and Charlie tossed ideas back and forth by email on various techniques for brewing a wine grape beer. They sampled a handful of American-made wine grape beers and began to formulate the recipe, then Charlie brewed three test batches on Harpoon’s 20-gallon homebrew system. The final recipe uses a blend of high-quality Sangiovese and Merlot grape juice. Amarillo dry hops add a fruity, resin character. The beer was aged on oak spirals to accentuate the wine character. But perhaps the most important ingredient, a portable CD player that was hung on the fermentation tank cranked Led Zeppelin, Moreno’s favorite band. The result is a unique ale that balances juicy hops with a touch of sweetness from the grape juice.
Harpoon Tuscan Pool Party, the 52nd installment of the 100 Barrel Series, is now available in 22 oz. bottles with limited draft availability. Charlie posted a blog about the trip and the development of the Harpoon Tuscan Pool Party; read it here:http://www.harpoonbrewery.com/
Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Tuscan Pool Party Beer Specifications:
Style: wine grape-infused beer
Color: 19 EBC
Past destinations of the Harpoon employee beer culture trip have included Germany, Belgium, Austria, England, Ireland, Poland, and Hungary. Other beers in the 100 Barrel Series inspired by the annual trip include Refsvindinge Danish Farmhouse Ale and Polskie Mastne.
About the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series:
Harpoon introduced the 100 Barrel Series in 2003 to showcase the individual brewing talents of its employees. Every couple months, a different Harpooner is invited to choose a style of beer, formulate the recipe, and brew the beer. That brewer’s signature can be found on the bottle label. The beers in the series are one-offs; they are brewed in limited batches and are available only until the batch sells out. Since the series began in May of 2003, 53 different styles of beer have been brewed. For a complete list of beers that have been released as part of the 100 Barrel Series, visit www.harpoonbrewery.com.
About the Harpoon Brewery:
The Harpoon Brewery was founded by beer lovers Dan Kenary, Rich Doyle, and George Ligeti. In 1986 Harpoon was issued Brewing Permit #001 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, since it was the first brewery to brew commercially in Boston after a dormant period of about 25 years. Harpoon’s line of craft beer features its award winning IPA and UFO White beers, along with special seasonal selections. In 2000 Harpoon purchased a second brewery in Windsor, VT, making Harpoon the 12th largest craft brewer in the US. Harpoon has since introduced the limited batch 100 Barrel Series and the as well as the all-natural Harpoon Craft Cider made from freshly pressed apples. In August 2014 Harpoon became an employee-owned company. For more information about Harpoon beers and visiting the breweries, visit www.harpoonbrewery.com.