Wayne and Leah bring you the latest from the world of beer.
In honor of St. Patrick’s day, which though an Irish holiday has a special meaning and is celebrated arguably more enthusiastically in the US, we chose an American-brewed ode to Irish beer: Harpoon Celtic Ale. Harpoon is New England (Boston and Vermont) brewery that produces a range of unique craf-tey beers, and the Celtic Ale is their early spring seasonal offering. Harpoon Celtic Ale is an Irish style red ale, and according to our perfunctory web research, this is a style of sweet, malty ale brewed by many Irish breweries. The red color comes from the use of small amounts of dark or roasted grains.
Wayne’s Taste Take
Harpoon Celtic Ale (HCA) was a pleasant surprise. I have had Irish Reds before and am most familiar with Killian’s Irish Red (which is fairly decent), but hadn’t found any, other than Killian’s, that I was crazy about. I popped open the HCA and poured into a frosted mug. Both Leah and I agree, HCA has a very nice caramel color with a slight reddish hue, very pretty. I took a sip of the head and let it rest in my mouth, what was this? Now I will interject, I am not sure that it was what i had eaten with or prior to taking this sip that did it, but that bubbly head as it rested in my mouth had a faint taste of cotton candy. I followed with another sip, this one of ale, and was surprised a pleasant taste, a little bitter, but perfectly so. A light pang of hop and the ever so slight ping of sweetness, very very slight. I can’t say that there was anything overlty distinctive about the taste, but overall it was very good. A good mixture of flavory, no aftertaste at all, a perfect accompaniement for many types of meals, I picked one out in particular, as you will soon read.
Leah’s Taste Take
Celtic Ale comes in a cute bottle but should be enjoyed in a clear glass so one can appreciate the reddish color. It is indeed malty as advertised, but lacks some of the bitterness I sometimes notice with this style of beer. It did have a faint sweetness, but was nicely balanced and I could drink more than one pint without having to switch to something lighter or more dry. It was not unlike some other Irish reds I’ve tasted, but was probably one of the better ones I can remember trying, though I can’t exactly point to a single characteristic that distinguished it. I just liked it.
Wayne’s Meal Pairing
I enjoyed the St. Paddy’s day pairing with some Irish Gouda. The faint bitter and sweet tastes of Harpoon Celtic Ale (HCA), went well with the creaminess of the cheese. Not to sound too stereotypical, but HCA would be great with a rich, thick, creamy potato soup, outiftted with all the baked potato toppings, if they all suit your fancy. Does everyone remember Bennigan’s? Not to get too off topic, but they had a pretty decent potato soup, I thought of it for this review. Anyways, HCA would go great with a potato soup or even a thick clam or other seafood chowder.
Leah’s Meal Pairing
We tasted Harpoon Celtic Ale ON St. Paddy’s Day to be fully in the right frame of mind, and served it before dinner with some Irish Gouda-cheddar-ish cheese. It was great with the cheese, but I would also pair it with a nice corned beef sandwich with mustard and fries. The faint sweetness of Celtic Ale would complement the briney greasy beef and salty fries.
We would say that there is no need to wait for the next St. Paddy’s day to try a HCA, if it isn’t just a March seasonal find some and give it a try, we both enjoyed it very much.