Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Braggot Rights
Rich red color. Sweet flavor, but not as sweet as I expected. Rich white head and a bitterness rating coming in at 40 IBU.
Braggot Rights is double IPA brewed and “infused” with wildflower honey. Typically, in my admittedly still limited experience, double IPAs are more or less exactly that. A double downing on whatever IPA they were based upon. Often with greater hop and sometimes added bitterness, the additional flavors are likewise doubled in presence, making for a typically enjoyable experience. However in this, which in addition to calling itself an IPA also bears the distinction of Braggot (which is generally regarded as a halfway point between a beer and a mead) the mix of styles almost brings the whole package to something more resembling a straight ahead ale than anything else. The bitterness and hops are almost nullified beneath the sweetness, which is also why the syrupy sweetness you’d expect from the honey infusion is also sort of absent.
This is not to say however, that this particular Harpoon offering is in any real way a let-down. Much to the contrary, the full and flavorful body, as well as the very mild nose are actually quite enjoyable and quite easy on the palate. With a respectable 8% alcohol volume, a relatively low 40 IBUs and a full pint to the bottle, the Braggot Rights presents a very well balanced and highly palatable sip, with a number of follow ups offered up by matter of simple volume. In its claim of being uniquely balanced, it comes across as just that and then some, going beyond the sometimes confusing conflicts between flavors that other creative fares often provide and instead delivering a rich and robust general experience that allows one to ponder the nature of what they’re drinking.
As this release comes to us now, as spring just begins to tease us with sights of sun and melting snow (for those of us in the north, at least) the timing makes perfect sense. Whereas darker heavier ales, as well as porters and stouts are typically most popular in the winter months when the darkness and cold make one wish to simply lose themselves for a time in a glass of dark, black malt and alcohol content, and alternately the warm summertime almost demands a lighter, crisper fare such as a lager, pilsner or IPA, this flirtation between mead and beer just seems reasonable as the nation keeps its feet straddled between the opposing climates. While being of a darker and more complex variety than most easy sippers, yet more light-hearted and fun than the shadowy seriousness of the heavy weights of winter, Braggot Rights sips in a manner that almost serves as a reassuring pat on the shoulder that things will get better.
Sure, it’s not yet party time on the lawn with this big, juicy amalgamation from Harpoon Brewing, but it lets you know it’s coming. It reminds you that it wasn’t cold and miserable for your entire life and that it won’t always be that way going forward…at least, in respect to the weather.
Nicholas Goroff is a beer lover, writer, actor, ex-political professional and devoted anti-ideologue. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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