Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
With the warmer weather comes a glut of lighter, more drinkable beers – that still have plenty of flavor – and today’s specific creation comes from Boston-based Harpoon Brewing. Started in 1986, Harpoon is one of New England’s older craft beer makers, with a well-established name that’s branched off far beyond just the East Coast and while it has year-round staples, there’s plenty of seasonal products to try — like Fresh Tracks.
Fresh Tracks, a Single Hop Pale Ale, was first introduced last year to the brewery’s Spring seasonal lineup — which also includes Spring Cider and The Craic Irish Red IPA — as somewhat of an alternative from traditional bitter IPAs that flood the market during this specific time of year. The 6.2% alcohol by volume beer, which is a 38 on the International Bitterness Units scale, prides itself on being bright, floral and hoppy. And, like many beers, there’s a story behind its creation and a reason as to why Harpoon believes it’s the perfect beer for this time of year. As indicated on the label: “Our brewery parking lot can be a pretty good indicator of the season. Some cars have ski racks. Others are decked with bike racks. Some even have both. Spring here keeps us on our toes. So we’re always ready for anything.”
Harpoon describes it as golden in color with citrus and pine notes, making for a clean, light and ready-for-spring ale. But enough about the details, how does it taste?
Upon popping the cap off of the bottle, I noticed that there wasn’t too much of an aroma, though what I could smell was an extremely faint floral and pine scent. Fresh Tracks was a simple pour, proving to be light-bodied, with a high carbonation the likes of which you might see in champagne, making for a decent, but quickly dissolving, head – the kind that proves to add to the flavor, rather than be a hindrance. The first taste proved to be a refreshing one with a slight hint of hoppiness and quickly Fresh Tracks proved it was an easy drinking beer. You could definitely drink four of five of this Harpoon creation with little effort while outside at the lake, tailgating a baseball game or just sitting around a campfire. But don’t be fooled, there’s not much pale in this ale – in fact, it’s really more reminiscent of a kolsch.
If you’re someone that tends to lean more to the IPA way of life, with a bitter and dank consistency, this is not the beer for you, as it is much similar to a mass-produced light beer. The taste is slightly bready, with a hint of roasted maltiness – though the floral aspect of the beer seems to be missing completely. It’s really an underwhelming simple effort but it’s certainly refreshing and the price is very reasonable – a six pack of bottles at my local establishment went for $10.99. I think I’ll just save our money next time and get Harpoon’s UFO White, which is by far the company’s best beer!
Overall, Fresh Tracks earned a score of 3.59 (out of 5) on BeerAdvocate and I would give it 6 (out of 10) beer glasses. Next week, I will dive into Cape May Brewing Company’s Coastal Evacuation Double IPA.