Thursday, January 7, 2010

Harpoon Chocolate Stout


4.4
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - JAN 6, 2010
There are certain breweries that have a bad rapport with me (or is it I with them?). Chief among them is Harpoon, a Boston-based craft brewery. I’ve found most of their beers to be average at best, so for a beer from them to earn a high rating from me is quite an accomplishment. Or maybe it’s just because chocolate stouts (the NON-imperial types) are a favorite of mine. Either way Harpoon Chocolate Stout is a winner since it’s very tasty and easy to drink. The only caveat is it’s a difficult beer to find.

APPEARANCE AND AROMA


Considering its name, do I even have to go through the formality of describing the appearance and aroma of this beer? It is exactly what it claims to be: an opaque black body with just the slightest hint of dark ruby red around the edges. It forms an average-sized, dark tan, foamy head. I was a little surprised the head didn’t lace the glass that much, though.

The aroma is identical to a high-end dark chocolate bar or candy piece. There is a slight hint of other malts present, but mostly it’s screaming “chocolate!” all the time. I don’t think there could be a more inviting aroma from a beer.

TASTE

There’s something really impressive about a beer that is so chocolaty that you’re able to taste the palate when the foam hits your lips! That’s exactly what happened with Harpoon Chocolate Stout. Once the liquid itself made it way to my palate it was even more pleasing.

Up front I get a very intense flavor of dark chocolate, reminiscent of a Godiva or Ghirardelli candy. Its quite rich, but not to the point of being gimmicky or overpowering. On the finish is a dry bitterness like semi-sweet baker’s chocolate. This could be from the hops since this is a fairly hoppy beer at 40 IBUs.

What’s interesting about this beer is that as good as the palate is, there’s a noticeably thin, almost watery texture to the mouthfeel. I’d probably prefer something more thick and velvety since the flavor does not linger in the aftertaste as much as I’d prefer.

DRINKABILITY

As much as I love beer, one of my small pleasures as a beer geek is drinking a beer that does not taste or drink like beer and Harpoon Chocolate Stout is a beer like that. Its chocolaty flavor is very satisfying and it’s delivered via a surprisingly thin body. This is a demerit, in a way, because the beer lends itself to slugging rather than savoring.

At 5.9% ABV this is a pretty robust, full-bodied beer that works very well as an alternative to dessert or pairing with something light (i.e. a piece or two from a première chocolate brand or simply fresh strawberries). One bottle alone is enough to satisfy the average drinker as the weight is proportional to the flavor and potency.

FINAL THOUGHTS

A good chocolate stout after dinner, especially during the colder months, is a special treat. Harpoon Chocolate Stout is available in mixed packs of Harpoon beers (approximately $16) or alone in its own sixers (approximately $10). I’d probably opt for the latter, mostly because it would be difficult to find another beer, especially from this brewery, whose quality can stand up to this beer.

Grade: 9/10