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Craft Brew of the Series - Boston College

We're back for the first weekend of ACC play. Tune to TN for the best Seminole baseball analysis out there. And grab a brew or two for the game.

The Brewery: Harpoon

Selected Beer: Celtic Red Ale

First game of the ACC schedule is against Boston College. It's almost St. Patrick's Day, so it's time to break out the themed brews. Harpoon, out of Boston, has a solid offering in their Celtic Red. This one's a no-brainer, and a great choice for an early March game in Tallahassee.

Notes on the Brewery:

Harpoon is the second-best known craft brewery in Boston, which is saying a lot because Boston is a great craft brew town. We profiled the big one here, where I mentioned Harpoon's ‘100 barrel' and ‘UFO' series.

Basically, their offerings break down like this: ‘UFO' are a series of unfiltered wheat beers, the ‘Leviathan' series are high gravity (high alcohol) brews, the ‘100 Barrel' brews are small batch beers with creative ingredients and/or wood aging, and then there are a set of standard Harpoon label brews, including several Harpoon IPAs and the Harpoon Celtic Red, among others. Harpoon has distribution in 27 states. That's pretty good coverage. It has an odd distribution in Florida, though, as their beers are available in Tampa and most of the panhandle, but admittedly absent from Tallahassee unless you want to make a quick trek up to Thomasville. If you're in Tally and not game for a beer run, there are a lot of craft breweries offering seasonal Irish Reds. Might want to nab one of those instead.

Notes on the Style:

Irish Reds, like Scottish style ales, are all about malt and yeast. They get their color and flavor from roasted malts and caramel malts, which lend flavors of toast and toffee, usually sweet up front with a lingering roast flavor. The generally come in at a low 17-30 IBUs, with beers on the higher end having a hoppier flavor, though neutral hops are almost always used. You generally won't get hop aromas and will only get some mild to moderate bitterness. They are balanced toward malt, with classic ale yeast strains that impart a touch of fruitiness. Irish Red Ale lacks the sweeter, slightly smoky punch of a Scottish Ale, but the flavors are a bit more harmonious with the sweetness toned down. Love me some ales. Occasionally you see Irish Reds as a lager. Usually this means a similar grain bill and malt flavor, but very different flavor profile for the beer as a whole. An interesting experiment would be to get one of each and try them side by side to see which strain - ale or lager- your palate prefers.

The game day brew:

Harpoon's Celtic Red is a nice and somewhat unique representation of the style and isn't too heavy at 5.4% ABV. It pours an amber red color with a nice frothy head, which dissipates to a solid lace atop the brew. Hops are present, and add a very light floral/fruity scent to the nose, along with the malt character. When you drink it, there's a good bit of fruity flavor in this one, along with the caramel up front and roasty aftertaste you expect from an Irish Red. Overall, this probably has more yeast and hop flavor contribution than most beers within the style. Even so, it is well balanced and an easy-to-drink, pleasing brew. Maybe it's called ‘Celtic Red' because it leans slightly outside the Irish Red category.

Alternate Brews:.

See my notes on the brewery above. The Leviathan line is generally solid, but probably a bit more difficult to find if you aren't in the Northeast. The IPA, UFOs, and some of the seasonals seem to get the widest distribution. Harpoon does a good job with their beers, and similar to other breweries profiled in these series, have something that will probably suit your taste.

As to other Irish Reds, look to Smithwick's or Kilkenny (both brewed by Guinness) for the classic iterations, or see what you can find from a local brewery. For those in the region, Great Lakes brewery in Ohio has a very solid take in Conway's Irish Red.

What about you? What are your thoughts on Irish Reds, on baseball brews, on St. Patrick's brews, and what are your favorites? What will you drink this weekend when you tune into the series?

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