Harpoon Brewery in Boston
Harpoon Brewery is an American microbrewery, with plants in Boston, Massachusetts and Windsor, Vermont. Founded in 1986, Harpoon has played an important part in the rebirth of the microbrewery system in the United States.
The brewery is best known for its Harpoon India Pale Ale. It brews five other year-round beers: the original Harpoon Ale, the award-winning Munich Dark, UFO Hefeweizen, UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen, and Harpoon Brown, its latest creation. It also brews several house beers at Boston bars, "1636 Brew" for the Harvard's Cambridge Queen's Head Pub and "Sevens Ale" for The Seven's Ale House in Beacon Hill. It is rumored that these house beers are simply Munich Dark.
Harpoon has four seasonal beers, such as an Octoberfest lager and Celtic Ale, a beer made in the style of an Irish red for St. Patrick's Day. A few of the more popular 100 Barrel Series have been reissued as the 'Encore Series', again in limited quantities.
Locally, Harpoon has become famous for their annual festivals that they hold at the brewery. Their St. Patrick's Day, Summer BBQ and Octoberfest festivals have become a staple in the Boston party scene. These are normally weekend long events filled with music, food and of course tons of beer. Harpoon also organizes an annual 5-mile run and a brewery-to-brewery bicycle ride. June 2010 was the 10th Anniversary of the "B2B Ride" with over 300 participants in the 148 mile ride.
Harpoon used to produce several non-alcoholic sodas, including root beer, orange and cream, and cream soda, but ceased production in 2009.
The Early Years, 1986 to 1990
Harpoon was officially born on June 19, 1986 when the Mass Bay Brewing Co. was incorporated, though its origins precede the actual date. Rich Doyle wrote the business plan for the Harpoon Brewery during his second year at Harvard Business School. At that time, he was unable to find the variety of beers that were available in Europe, nor the rich beer culture he had enjoyed there. Breweries in the U.S. had changed from being a part of the local community to remote facilities serving national markets. The craft brewing revolution had yet to bloom. Rich teamed up with Dan Kenary and George Ligeti, who also shared a passion for local brewing, to form a company.
The U.S. Craft Brewing Revolution, 1991–1996
Harpoon was an early participant in what would become a major resurgence in local, craft brewing in the U.S. Small breweries were sprouting up, particularly in the Northwest and in New England, eventually giving the U.S. more breweries than any other country. The Harpoon Brewery enjoyed this surge in interest, during which time annual production increased nearly 8 times, going from 7,200 barrels to over 55,000.
Brewing Capacity Continues to Expand, 1997 to 2003
In 1997, Harpoon installed a state of the art bottling plant and substantially increased its production capacity. With a line-up of beers that now included UFO Hefeweizen, Harpoon continued to grow. When the former Catamount Brewery went up for sale in 2000, Harpoon purchased the Windsor, VT brewery and began brewing there in October of that year. The tradition of festivals was continued in Vermont, with two annual events held in the fields surrounding the brewery.
Harpoon Approaches its 20th Anniversary, 2001 to Present
The steady growth of Harpoon, along with an abiding commitment to quality, led to further changes to the brewery in Boston. Starting in 2002, fabrication of a new brewhouse began in Germany. It was later transported to Boston via containers and installation began in late 2002. 2003 saw the first brews from a new, state of the art brewhouse. Having become the largest craft brewer in New England, Harpoon took a page from its early days with the launch of the 100 Barrel Series.
December 2008: Harpoon Expands Its Boston Brewery