Review Date 8/23/2012
Way back in 1986, a little microbrewery opened in White River Junction, Vermont. The brewery’s name was catamount, and it quickly became known not only as one of the preeminent craft brewers in New England, but in the entire nation. It was certainly a staple brewery for this, at the time, budding beer geek, and I recall fondly sipping their soft malty Amber, robust and roasty Porter, and amazingly hoppy Christmas Ale.
Sadly, despite an expansion to a bigger brewery in Windsor, Vermont in the nineties, Catamount fell on hard times and was acquired by Harpoon in 2000. I often wonder what things might have been like if Catamount had made it out of the critical eighties and survived into the current beer boom. I can only imagine how far and wide their beers would be sold today had that come to pass.
Harpoon took over the Windsor facility for its own purposes. For a time, it did continue to produce the Catamount brands, but they were not what they once were in this guru of brew’s recollection. Eventually, Harpoon allowed the Catamount beers to wither and die.
While the brand may be gone, however, it is not completely forgotten. That’s because Harpoon commemorates Catamount in their 100 Barrel Series of beers with a limited release beer, Catamount Maple Wheat. The beer appears to be very popular, as it has been released three times in the series: as Session 26, Session 35, and the one I have a bottle of tonight, session 41.
Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Session 41: Catamount Maple Wheat pours to a reddish orange color with a light creamy head formation and a sweet and tangy maple syrup nose. Taking a sip, the beer has a crisp maltiness up front that’s quickly overtaken by the richness of the maple. Catamount Maple Wheat is made with real Vermont maple syrup (apropos to Catmount’s home state), and it shows. The beer is creamy and rich from the fermented malt and maple sugars, packs plenty of genuine maple flavor, hints at banana, and retains just enough sweetness to reinforce that maple impression. Have I said maple enough times? I can’t with this beer, truth be told.
The richness of the maple hides the normal tartness I get in a wheat beer, but that’s ok: the finish is still nicely balanced, and not at all cloying. I enjoyed a pint at Taco Mac back in May, it was reasonable at $6 a pint. The bomber bottle cost about the same.
All in all, a really wonderful beer, especially if you’re a real maple aficionado as I am.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.