Fork You is pleased as punch to be partnering with Charleston Gazette beer columnist Rich Ireland to bring you this review of Harpoon Brewing’s Leviathan. You can find his other reviews at his blog, “Beers To You“.
Take it away, Rich!
Harpoon Leviathan is Big, Bold and Balanced
On July 9th, West Virginia finally broke the chains of its outdated “post prohibition” laws restricting the alcohol content of beer that can be sold in the state. The ABV (alcohol by volume) limit on beers previously had been capped at six percent. Though not a total buzz-kill, the restriction tended to limit selection for WV consumers. The new ABV limit has been raised to that closer to wine at twelve percent. Some will say that can be a bad thing for those who tend to overindulge, but for most of us it means more World class brews and an even better selection of American craft beers to choose from.
Starting the very day the law changed, the beer watchmen were out in force to spot the first “High Gravity” beer to make it into WV retailer’s beer-coolers. The first to cross the finish-line was the Imperial India Pale ale called Leviathan from Harpoon Brewing of Massachusetts.
No sooner that I heard the news, I rushed down to the Wine Shop (Beer Shop) at the Capitol Market to pick-up a couple of bottles; one to drink and the other for posterity. Then came the task of writing a review of the beer.
When reviewing a beer, I find that the reader is better served when the review is conducted by a few beer geeks and not just one. It’s also more fun than drinking alone!
My fellow beer geek and brewer Tim Lepley made the very difficult decision to help me taste the beer for review. We cracked the bottle while floating peacefully (except for some Weller on the stereo in the background) on a pontoon boat somewhere on the Kanawha River. As always, we allowed the beer to reach a reasonable temperature to allow for the flavors and aromas to come through; about 55 or 60 degrees. We poured the beer into odor free clear plastic cups. The beer pours with a slight cloudy rich deep-golden color and a decent off-white head that fades to the edges. This beer gives off a host of hoppy and fruity aromas with pine and citrus at the forefront but then you can catch a bit of something that smells like peach cobbler, attesting to the malty- bready characteristics of the beer.
The beer delivers a fairly chewy mouthfeel along with fairly high carbonation for this style of beer. The PNW (Pacific Northwest) Hop character comes through even more in the initial taste. There is a definite fruity character which once again tastes peachy. Upon swallowing, the beer’s bitterness kicks in to balance out the front-end sweetness. A bit of alcohol warming and spiciness linger. The beer finishes very clean for such a “Big Beer”. This is a well-made and balanced beer.
Big imperial-hoppy beers like this tend to do well when served with big spicy dishes, especially Indian cuisine. Beers like this also do well at dessert when served with sweet, rich treats like carrot cake. As for cheese pairing, go with big creamy blue cheeses like Stilton and let the “palate ballet” begin…