In 2006, I crossed the ocean blue to watch France play South Korea in Liepzig, Germany. Play each other in a match of football, that is. Real football, where feet kick balls, none of this American hand+egg nonsense. During that big event that happens sometimes. It’s called the World Cup, I think.
My little adventure had me back on European tides for the first time in a long time. My family is British (my little, squishy baby self appeared unto this world in Manchester, England some 26 years ago) and I’ve spent a decent amount of time gallivanting in the countrysides of those neighboring members of the EU.
My earlier trips back to the motherland were during that tragic age where it wasn’t socially, mentally, or physically appropriate for me to be drinking beer. Thank the maker those days are behind me. I missed out on countless pints of traditional British Ale, slowly pulled Guinness in the pubs of Ireland, and myriad tastes of masterfully made German brews.
But in 2006, I was 21. The magical age when your body magically becomes able to process the magic inside of beer that makes it just so…magical. I was also able to legally buy it and not get thrown out of bars, which was a definite plus.
I drank all sorts of beer, most of which had names I couldn’t pronounce. Most of it was good. Some of it was very bad. But I distinctly remember that it was all of the highest quality, served at the perfect temperature, served in proper, made-of-glass glasses. It was like being in my own personal heaven for a week.
I remember thinking that some of the beer tasted funny. Not bad, not off, just different. The ales were a little more pale, somehow. Fewer hops, more yeast.
Harpoon Belgian Pale Ale is brewed in this tradition. It tastes as though it were brewed with aged hops, offering a much more understated hop flavor, which allows the traditional Belgian yeast to permeate the rest of the beer. The hop flavor is not completely absent; it offers just enough flowery citrus to truly put this in the pale ale category.
It maintains a solid, craggy head for a good few minutes after de-bottling. At 5.8% ABV, it’s a tad on the strong side, giving a bit of alcohol aftertaste. But hey, it’s beer; that’s to be expected.
As I finished my glass, my memory sparked. This is the kind of beer that makes you want to go back to Europe. Sit on a little table outside of a pub, watching the soccer hooligans flood the streets and set fire to anything flammable. It’s orange body reflects all of the adventures you had in the days of your misspent, drunken youth.
It washes back a lot of fond memories.
8 out of 10.
Next up: Brooklyn Brown Ale!