Boston-based Harpoon is the king of collaborations, and this one’s as nutty as its prior collabs: A partnership with New York’s Kings County Distillery to create a beer that is inspired by the Manhattan cocktail. It’s a brown ale that uses chestnuts and tart cherries in the mash, then ages the finished product in Kings County bourbon and rye barrels. The label is an exact replica of Kings County whiskey labels, which were originally typed out using an old Smith Corona typewriter.
The finished product, well, is transformative. A lovely light brown hue with minimal head, it’s unassuming in the glass, but it immediately bursts to life on the palate. Rich chocolate, dark caramel, and a touch of cherry all pop immediately. It’s sweet but not overblown, with a whiskey kick that comes along as it evolves on the tongue. A coffee element slowly builds alongside a familiar note of figs and syrup — all classic whiskey barrel stuff — before finishing with a slick of spice and a second round of chocolate syrup.
It’s really well done… and it does make me want a Manhattan.
A / $17 per four-pack of 16 oz cans / harpoonbrewery.com