What’s on Tap: Beer and Cupcakes at Sam Adams, A Grateful Harvest at Harpoon

On Wednesday night, Sam Adams sampled their new Single Batch brews and, for the first time in the history of my palette, convinced me that it might actually be worth buying an IPA. That’s because their Third Voyage Double IPA doesn’t actually taste a whole lot like an IPA. Described as a “bright and intense double IPA with a vivid hop punch,” the citrus may be the most prominent of its flavors, despite not being in the name.

Maybe it wasn’t the IPA. Maybe it was the baked macaroni and cheese that accompanied it. Or maybe it was the red velvet cupcakes at the next table over, because when Sam offers up their beers, they don’t just make it about the beer.

Meanwhile, at the next table, a beer with “chili” in the name never really brought up the taste, which isn’t to say that the Chocolate Chili Bock, named The Vixen, was something that I wouldn’t recommend. Instead of setting your mouth on fire, the variation on Sam’s Chocolate Bock goes down smooth with just a little warmth left behind from the ancho and chipotle chilies that it’s brewed with.

The other offerings, a Red IPA aptly titled Tasman Red and a barleywine named Griffin’s Row, weren’t quite as memorable, and that lack of memory has nothing to do with the fact that the latter, an 11.5% ABV oaked blonde, packed quite a bit more punch than its sister offerings.

All four single batch brews are available in local stores now, but don’t wait to get your hands on them. They are, after all, single batch brews.

If you’re looking for a more interactive beer experience this weekend, take a look at Harpoon, which hosts its fourth annual Thanksgiving Beer-B-Q, a charity event in conjunction with the New England Barbecue Society that will feature chefs from throughout the area competing to see who can grill up the best turkey dinner. With 500 pounds of turkey to go around, they’ve got some room to get creative.

Harpoon will also be selling six-packs of its Grateful Harvest Holiday Ale, with $1 of the proceeds going to local food banks. That donation applies anywhere that the beer is purchased, not just in Boston on Sunday, and it’s brewed with New England cranberries to give it that authentic Thanksgiving flavor.

I was able to visit Harpoon and get a sampling of the Grateful Harvest, which hits you with an earthy taste complemented by just a hint of cranberry. So, if you’re one of those who passes when the cranberry sauce is passed your way on Turkey Day, there’s no reason to avoid this brew, especially since its purchase helps a good cause.

The cost of tickets for the Harpoon Helps Grateful Harvest Beer-B-Q (try fitting that on a banner) all go to benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank. According to Liz Melby over at Harpoon, the event is sold out, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t help out by grabbing a six-pack of the beer, which I’ve seen at every liquor store I’ve been to over the past week.

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