Harpoon Brewery is one of my favorite New England micros and one that Dipietros in South Portland thankfully carries. Based in Boston with a branch brewery in Windsor Vermont, they consistently produce interesting quality brews. It was nice, then, to find this small batch brew available during my last run south of the border, 3.99 for 650 ml or 1 pint, 6 fl. oz at Party Source. Their ESB and IPA are regular buys for me when there.
Union Street Revival Ale is the seventh in the 100 Barrel Series, described by Harpoon "one-of-a-kind creations fashioned by a Harpoon brewer, limited to a single 100 barrel batch". This one was brewed on 1 October 2004 by Sean Cornelius at the Vermont facility. The beer is 6.6% and has a bit of heat which stands out slightly above its medium body. There is lots of nice fruit from the high quality pale malt used - suggestions of apricot and pears. Though it says it is "unfiltered, rich, hoppy" I think at 36 IBU these days hoppy is a bit of a stretch - hoppy to me now means the throat-ripping Ruination IPA from Stone. Rich it is, however, reminding me a lot of Propeller Extra Special Bitter from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The grain is nicely textured in the brew, accenting the bitter hops with its own roughness. True to style, there is also biscuity sweetness with a hint of raisin.
The Beer Advocates do not jump up as one. 13% are against it, some saying too sweet others finding the range of flavours a bit jarring. It is awfully complex - when you have a mouthful you could swish it around for quite a while thinking of all the adjectives you could come up with. A nice thing to do with an evening, come to think of it. One called it a session beer. I think not. At 6.6%, sessions would not last that long and, frankly, I think your mouth would get tired of all that work. A very good ale and representative of one brewer's notion of a fine ESB. Worth having for that signature note alone.