The other day, I was lamenting the fact that it’s been years since I have been able to enjoy a Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic during the holiday season. Many beer geeks have lambasted that brew for years since in reality it’s not a lambic (obviously). Still, legendary beer authority Michael Jackson found it in his heart to forgive the name and in his palate to enjoy the beer. If he can do that, why can’t the rest of us? I know that I have always enjoyed it.
Anyway, just because I can’t get Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic doesn’t mean I can’t get a good cranberry beer. I certainly can with Harpoon Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale. Speaking of cranberries, I used to drive through cranberry bogs along I-95 on the way to Norwood, Massachusetts (to buy beer there, of course). I always thought them fascinating, and always thought Massachusetts the cranberry capital of the world. Not true. The Bay State is actually the second largest producer of cranberries in America, after Wisconsin.
One of the very nice things about drinking Harpoon Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale is that the brewery donates $1 for each six-pack sold to local food banks. You can read more about that at harpoonhelps.com should you so desire.
I first tried the 2011 batch of Harpoon Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale in early 2012, and I enjoyed it immensely. I had the beer in 2012 as well, though I didn’t take any notes either time (although I did record my thoughts on the 2011 in the linked video). I think the 2013 batch is the best yet.
Harpoon calls Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale a “Cranberry Amber Ale”, in other words, a fruit beer. The beer was introduced in 2010, has an alcohol content of 5.9% by volume and is made with cranberry puree. I paid $8.99 a six-pack for it in 2011 and 2012 but got it for just $7.99 a six-pack here in Canton in 2013.
Harpoon Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale pours to a dark ruby red color with a medium head formation (and that on a vigorous pour) and a remarkably tart and fruity cranberry nose. Taking a sip, this beer has some nice toasty and stewed malt up front followed quickly by the main attraction: tart, fruity, luscious cranberry flavor. The tartness makes the beer extremely satisfying and quenching while the berry flavors simply erupt in my mouth. All of this is followed by some herbal, grassy hop aroma and bitterness at the last, and really some cranberry fruit bitterness too.
I have to say it again, this beer seems to have more cranberry flavor than ever. Cranberries are by nature a bitter, tart fruit and why ruin that by sweetening them? That does not happen here, and makes this just a wonderful brew, the best cranberry beer I have ever tasted. Great with the Thanksgiving or Christmas bird, or by itself.
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.