On our final day in Boston we managed to squeeze in a trip to the aquarium, a brewery tour, and seeking out one last lobster roll before catching our flight. I'm not sure we were prepared for how epic the Harpoon Brewery is. Through the front doors and up to the next level is the beer hall.
The bar runs the entire length of the beer hall, with a register at the entry way. The tickets for the tour are a little booklet about the brewery. We grabbed a few tasters and pretzels while waiting for our tour to start. The pretzels are made fresh and also made with spent grain. We got a plain one with two mustards and a cinnamon and sugar one with two different amazing dipping sauces.
The kegging line and the canning lines can be seen through the windows that make up the one wall of the beer hall. The tour starts at the far end of the bar. After donning a pair of safety glasses you are lead onto the catwalk where our one tour guide is hanging the sign. In the first few steps of the tour you start to see how large Harpoon really is, which isn't too difficult when you are two stories up on a walkway.
The entire facility used to be a Navy dry dock and Harpoon has outfitted it well for their needs. Above you can see the kegging line. They have elevators to raise empty kegs and lower filled kegs. This is just the first 5 steps on the tour before heading into the actual brewery.
The tour walkway leads into the tasting room and the brewers office, but you can see that there is a walkway to all of the fermenters and bright tanks. The tour goes through the tasting room and out onto the brew deck for the traditional ingredients talk.
After checking out the brew deck, it's back to the tasting room for the fun part. Being the first tour on a Monday at noon, the brewery was pretty quiet and our tour group was fairly small. For the tasting, you could choose anything they had on tap. Their radler was fantastic and not overly sweet. They also had a cider made with their house ale yeast.
Behind the tasting bar they have all of the bottles from their 100 Barrel Series. These are typically small one off batches. One from this series was on tap for our visit, the Braggot Rights- a braggot blend of a double IPA with wildflower honey. It is a very well balanced 8% braggot, doesn't taste heavy or alcoholic making it go down a little too easy.
At the end of the tasting portion you have to leave the glasses you were using in the tasting room, because you can't carry them back across the walkway. We were told we'd get "fancier" glasses back out in the bar area. On the way out you get to checkout the bottle packaging line, where you can also see quality control taking place. After that you are lead back to the entrance and return your safety glasses. Here we were told, by both tour guides, to get our booklet/ticket stamped at the register and to get our tasting glasses from the gift shop. Harpoon has another brewery in Vermont, where if you tour both in a year they give you an IPA glass. We got our stamp, then really confused the girl at the gift shop asking about tasting glasses. I was in no way trying to stir things up, and if anything we need to start getting rid of all of the glasses we have. I felt really bad when the girl at the register called her manager about how they don't give tasting glasses out but you can buy them. The manager, who's name I did not catch, was very nice about everything and still gave us a tasting glass. That's just how awesome everyone at Harpoon is. Thank you for the fantastic tour and putting up with my ridiculous questions.
On an unrelated note, If you need a few pint glasses I might be able to help you out.