Harpoon Brewery

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Harpoon Brewery
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1986
Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Products Beer
Harpoon Brewery in Boston

Harpoon Brewery is an American brewery, with plants in Boston, Massachusetts, and Windsor, Vermont.[1] Founded in 1986,[1] the brewery was the first company to obtain a permit to manufacture and sell alcohol in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in more than 25 years. In 2000, it purchased the former Catamount Brewery plant in Windsor.[2] Harpoon has played an important part in the rebirth of the microbrewery system in the United States. As of 2013, it was the twelfth-largest craft brewery and 19th-largest overall brewery in the United States.[3]

The brewery is best known for its Harpoon India Pale Ale. It brews multiple other year-round beers including the award-winning Dark, UFO Hefeweizen, UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen, UFO White, Leviathan IPA Rich & Dan's Rye IPA, and Boston Irish Stout, its latest full-time offering.[4] It also brews several house beers at Boston bars, including "Sevens Ale" for The Seven's Ale House in Beacon Hill.

Harpoon has four seasonal beers, such as an Octoberfest Marzen style Ale [5] and The Long Thaw White IPA,[6] a style blends the spiciness of a Belgian Wit and the American hop character of an IPA.[4] Another line of beers from Harpoon is its '100 Barrel Series', which consists of a number of one of a kind batches.[7]

Locally, Harpoon has become famous for their annual festivals that they hold at the brewery. Their St. Patrick's Day, Harpoonfest 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 [8] to benefit The Angel Fund and the Harpoon Point to Point to benefit the Vermont Food Bank.[9]

Harpoon used to produce several non-alcoholic sodas, including root beer, orange and cream, and cream soda, but ceased production in 2009. However, Harpoon root beer is currently available at both their breweries.


The Early Years, 1986 to 1990[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 (UFO, per the label, standing for "UnFiltered Offering"), 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. 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.

Harpoon surpasses 100,000 Barrels Produced, 2003 to 2009[edit]

The first Harpoon Helps “mission” took place in March 2003 at the Greater Boston Food Bank. Nearly 100 volunteers came out to help sort food at the Food Bank on that inaugural Harpoon Helps mission. The signature Harpoon Helps event is called Harpoon Helps Spread Holiday Cheer, which takes place annually in December. Through this event they decorate community organizations for the holidays that could use some extra cheer for the season. Hundreds of volunteers now join Harpoon to decorate dozens of shelters and community centers up and down the east coast. In 2006, Harpoon production passed the 100,000 barrels marked. In 2007 Harpoon Cider was introduced to the line-up. They get the juice of freshly-pressed local apples from a cider mill about 40 miles from Boston. Harpoon adds their proprietary yeast to the freshly-pressed juice at that's it; no added colors, preservatives, sweeteners. In June 2008, Harpoon introduced the Harpoon Leviathan Series, a limited edition line of specialty “BIG” beers. Beers in this series have included an Imperial IPA, a wheat wine called Triticus, Baltic Porter, Red Squared, Quad, and Saison Royale.

Harpoon approaches its 25th Anniversary, 2010 to Present[edit]

In December 2010 4 very large conditioning tanks were put into place and an equally huge waste water tank was installed. These new tanks, along with the new infrastructure in place for additional tanks to be installed as needed, significantly increased the capacity of the Boston brewery. To commemorate their 25th anniversary, co-founders Rich and Dan went back to their roots and to some of their favorite bars in Boston. They enjoyed a few rye beers and began thinking of how to combine the spiciness of rye with the hop aromas and flavors of an IPA. To celebrate 25 years, they decided to add a new twist to an old friend. Rich and Dan’s Rye IPA was packaged as a 100 barrel series beer in the Spring of 2011, and introduced as part of the year-round lineup a year later. In February 2013, Harpoon opened the doors to the new Beer Hall. After more than a year of planning and construction, fresh Harpoon beer began to flow through 20 taps and the Austrian-made automated growler filler. The Beer Hall has long wooden tables, a big bar, and great views of Boston and Harpoon’s canning and kegging lines. They also built a system of catwalks so that visitors can tour the brewery any day of the week. Previously, brewery tours were limited to weekends when actual brewing and canning were shut down. They also added a canning line. It was commissioned in March and has been a welcome addition to the brewery.


  1. ^ a b About Harpoon
  2. ^ Harpoon Windsor
  3. ^ "Brewers Association Releases 2013 Top 50 Breweries Lists". Brewers Association. March 31, 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-16. 
  4. ^ a b Harpoon Beers
  5. ^ [1] Harpoon Octoberfest
  6. ^ [2] Harpoon Long Thaw White IPA
  7. ^ [3] Harpoon 100 Barrel Series
  8. ^ [4] Harpoon 5 Miler
  9. ^ [5] Harpoon Point to Point

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°20′46.69″N 71°02′03.46″W / 42.3463028°N 71.0342944°W / 42.3463028; -71.0342944