A look at Harpoon’s new waterfront watering hole

BeerAdvocate: Boston’s First Beer Hall
By JASON AND TODD ALSTROM  |  February 1, 2013

FOOD_HarpoonBeerHall_cJoelVeak

Between its growing brewery scene and its scores of bars and restaurants, Boston doesn't lack for beer options. The one thing the city has lacked in our lifetimes is a beer hall — but this is about to change.

Not to be confused with a beer bar, the beer hall is a German-style pub that's dedicated to serving a ton of beer in a joyful and communal atmosphere.

A 300-person watering hole, the Harpoon Beer Hall is scheduled to open any day now at the Harpoon Brewery in South Boston. Patrons will be able to belly up and order from three of its 20 tap towers with a view of kegs being filled and Harpoon's new canning line on one side and a waterfront view on the other. Beers will cost $5.75 and be served in proper Harpoon-branded glassware, according to the brand and beer style.

We recently had the chance to walk the beer hall, designed by Boston's Studio Luz Architects, who created wide-plank floors from reclaimed oak and bar tops from salvaged live-edge Vermont butternut. "The natural deformations and imperfections of the materials add to the tactile experience of the bar," they explain. That same wood is used in the communal tables, unifying the space.

This new project is a welcome and unique addition to a once-desolate South Boston waterfront that's witnessed explosive restaurant growth in recent years — unique in that it shouldn't be confused with a restaurant. "We did not want to build a restaurant," says Rich Doyle, Harpoon CEO and cofounder. "This is about the beer and the experience of drinking it after seeing the brewery" — something that few breweries accommodate, aside from a quick tasting after a tour.

Wait, so no food? Not quite. In keeping with its German roots, the beer hall will also serve pretzels, but nothing more. "We wanted simple food that went really well with beer and was traditional. Freshly baked pretzels fit the bill," says Doyle. They'll be baked on-premises daily and include some of Harpoon's spent grain from the brewing process. Germans use butter on their pretzels, but this is America. Look for garlic-parmesan butter, IPA cheese, cheddar mustard, queso poblano, and peanut-butter sauce, along with whole-grain and yellow mustards and an icing for a cinnamon/sugar pretzel. Several of the sauces will also be infused with Harpoon beer — perfect for soaking up the suds.

Gluten-intolerant? We got word that Harpoon is working on a special gluten-free vegan pretzel recipe to accommodate. Harpoon cider and root beer will also be available.

Those really looking to geek out should take the new brewery tour. "This is a combined beer hall and visitors' center," says Doyle. "Tours have become so popular that we grew out of our old tasting room and needed to expand. The tours will start and end in the new space instead of the tasting room on the other side of the brewery. Tours will go through the brewery and stop in the tasting room to sample beer before ending in the beer hall."

The visitors' center will also feature a new retail outlet with 20 beers to go, thanks to a new state-of-the-art 64-ounce automated growler station, plus plenty of Harpoon gear. Private function room and event bookings will also be available. Learn more at harpoonbrewery.com, and for opening announcements, follow @harpoon_brewery.

HARPOON BREWERY :: 306 Northern Ave, Boston :: 617.574.9551 or harpoonbrewery.com

FOR MORE BEER BUZZ: VISIT BEERADVOCATE.COM :: @BEERADVOCATE

  Topics: Liquid , Beer, Harpoon, Beer Advocate,  More more >
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