About a year and a half ago, Boston's Harpoon Brewery launched a new series of beers called "Leviathan". I usually try to keep abreast of such things, of course, but somehow this one eluded me, and I had not heard of the event. So, when I stumbled on a four-pack of Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA last July, I thought to my self, "Self, Harpoon has a new Imperial IPA called Leviathan!".
I was wrong, of course. Oh don't get me wrong, Harpoon certainly does have an Imperial IPA, and I did snag some. It's just that its not unique in bearing the Leviathan moniker, that's all. Leviathan actually is an entire line of beers, all of formidable strength and flavor, hence the name. Dictionary.com defines the word Leviathan as "anything of immense size and power".
The beers are all sold in four-packs of twelve ounce bottles; I paid $9.99 for mine at Sherlock's in Kennesaw, Georgia. Other beers currently in the series include a Baltic porter, "Big" Bohemian pilsner, Belgian-style Quad, and Saison Royale. The Quad is the biggest at 11.75% alcohol by volume with the Imperial IPA coming up next at 10%. The latter, however, does pack a whopping 122 IBUs, making it the hoppiest beer Harpoon has put out that I've seen. Some of the Leviathan beers are seasonal but this one is reportedly available year-round.
As I've often said, I'm a bit leery about Imperial IPAs, mostly because they're usually just a normal IPA with a lot more malt and hops thrown at them. That's not a bad thing per se, but often times I find the end result is not all that dissimilar to a barleywine. Of course, I like barleywine, but why call them "Imperial IPAs" if they're not?
Harpoon says the following about their Imperial IPA:
Leviathan Imperial IPA is brewed with tons of pale malt and just enough caramel malt to provide a sweet malt body to balance the hop intensity. We used copious amounts of a variety of hops including Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, and Amarillo at various points during the boil to create a complex hop flavor and clean lingering bitter finish. We then fermented the beer with Harpoon’s own versatile proprietary yeast. Finally, we dry hopped at a rate of over 1 lb a barrel to produce this beer’s massive aroma.
Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA pours to a bright orange color with a thick creamy head formation and a big caramel and herbal hop nose. A fine layer of Brussels lace follows the liquid down the sides of the glass. The palate is a big chewy caramel behemoth, and that's what I get the most of up front. The hops take over shortly after, though, and emerge in the finish with a slightly resiny, brightly citric long dry bitterness. The beer has a lot of hop aroma, too, and I think that helps keep it from being too barleywine-ish. So brownie points for that.
A decent imperial IPA, I think, but about par for the course for the style. The beer does not stand out to me from a number of other self-proclaimed imperial IPAs I've tasted. And really, with 122 IBUs against a 22 Plato original gravity, I was expecting even more hops than I got.
Still, you won't be disappointed. Harpoon leviathan is worth picking up, despite the hefty price for four bottles.
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.