During a recent visit to Boston and using our alien mind control methods, we were able to procure advance tickets for a brewery tour at Harpoon. Normally, this is a first-come-first-serve endeavor and Harpoon recommends showing up early to get your tickets, which was apparent as we noticed the large number of people who joined us in line before the brewery even opened its doors. We witnessed one person buying up an entire tour in a single shot, which must have made him quite popular with his friends.
A ticket for the tour comes in the form of an informational pamphlet explaining a brief history of Harpoon and highlighting their main line of beers. Since a tour is about to begin when you receive the pamphlet, we considered it a nice touch that it is just the right size to slide into a pocket, until needed. Until the tour begins, you are welcome to sample beers in their massive tasting room with warm wood surroundings and large, picturesque windows. When the tour time nears, you are called over to a small holding room where everyone is outfitted with protective eye wear, something we Beer Aliens had not experienced on any brewery tour to date. Apparently, according to Harpoon’s tour guides, this is a state safety regulation.
The Harpoon building in Boston is a large World War II era building that has a lot of vertical space. This is apparent as you begin your tour on catwalks over their production line (and apparently only brewery employees are allowed in the downstairs portion of the building). From above, you get the impression you are watching an attraction from a zoo as people scurry around performing their daily duties.
The tour is led by experienced employees who cover all of the basics of the Harpoon brewing process. The information is geared towards satisfying a large number of people instead of focusing in on the finer details of brewing. This is, and should be, expected from any large brewery that provides tours of such large volumes (i.e., several hundred people a day). But, the brewery tour guides could not be taken off guard and knew more than enough to answer the more advanced brewing questions quite easily.
Part of the tour leads you into a back taproom where all of the beers on tap are available for tasting. This is included in the cost of your tour ticket. The pours are two ounces a piece and there is no limit (other than time) on how many you can request. But before pouring begins, Harpoon provides a sample of their flagship IPA before it has undergone clarification and carbonation. This is a fun little exercise because you can then follow it up with the finished product and taste the differences.
The two ounce pours allowed me to taste every single beer Harpoon had to offer and make a decision on what I would like to buy after the tour.
Beer Alien’s experience at Harpoon Brewery was first-class. We highly recommend it for anyone in the Boston area. Just be sure to check their current tour times and get there early!
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