A few weeks ago I patronized the Harpoon Brewery with all intentions of touring the establishment and receiving a fine beer education. I took the MBTA Silver Line and happily discovered Harpoon just along the water’s edge. However, I couldn’t enter the building due to the line of folks winding out the door and into the ample parking lot. Apparently I shared something in common with these strangers; an inkling to drink good beer in the newly renovated German-style Beer Hall. Alas, the wait for the tour was three hours, and while I am the kind of girl to enjoy both a cold beer and an educational experience, there is nary a tour in the grand land of Italy I would wait that long for. Here’s the good news: there is no need to take the tour; in the Beer Hall the beverages flows aplenty and you learn (almost) as much. Especially if you situate yourself correctly. It also doesn’t hurt if you’re an obnoxious brunette with a fierce way of peppering the bartenders with perhaps a few too many questions. Here’s how to enjoy the brewery, sans tour.
1. Seat Yourself Near the Window(s)
The Beer Hall is the spot where visitors can enjoy themselves while they wait for their ticketed tour. In my case, I just enjoyed. The Beer Hall houses long, family-style reclaimed oak tables in a relaxed pub setting. On one side of the hall, there are huge paned windows allowing visitors to peek into the heart of the brewery and watch the intricate canning assembly line. On the other side of the Hall are western-facing windows overlooking South Boston’s waterfront views. Both views are grand, so either window spot will make you a happy camper.
2. Get Sample Happy.
In my experience, Beer Samplers lord over any singular beverage in the brew kingdom. The Harpoon Beer Hall offers an extensive draft list, but the real jewels of the menu are the 3 beer samplers. Each sampler offers 4 3-oz. mini mugs, allowing the visitor to taste-test an array of options. This is where you can ask the Beer Captain (their fond way of referring to the bartender) about the different kinds of beer. Like hops? Hate hops? They’ll cater to it. Some of my favorites include the Chocolate Stout, the BarrelSeries Director’s Cut, and the new summer seasonal Watermelon Wheat.
3. Order a Pretzel.
Maybe two. I’ve saved the best news for last. Harpoon serves hot, fresh-baked pretzels (available for purchase) to enjoy along with your beverage of choice. Kiss Auntie Annie’s goodbye, these pretzels are utterly satisfying. Available with six different tasty options of dipping sauce (the American twist on this German classic), these deliciously salty, melt-in-your-mouth pretzels should NOT be avoided. Screw your bikini-diet for the day. Being seduced by these wheaty wonders never felt so right.
4. BONUS: Take Home Taste.
Forget color-blocking and espadrilles; my favorite trend of this season is the rising availability of growlers. Harpoon is no exception. You can taste test a range of brewskies and take home your favorite in a sealed container. Growlers typically come in 64 oz., so not only can you tote your preferred beverage home, you can enjoy it for a time or two to come.
As a proud partner to an OE almost-grad, I am doing my darndest to explore the best of Boston before our time here expires. Harpoon is an excellent spot to visit with your section mates or even your visiting friends and family. Though I’m no longer a student, but I think it’s about time we organized a class field trip. Any takers?
Full Disclaimer: I enjoyed my first Harpoon experience SO much that I went back this weekend with friends from out of town. And took the tour. Look at those sexy beer goggles. You know you want some.
Note: This article was written specifically for the Harvard Business School community. Check it out in The Harbus where it was published this week!