Harpoon Brewery kicked off its 2015 X-Night series last night and Blondie and I braved the a cold to be in attendance. What is X-Night? Funny you should ask. Once a month Harpoon brews a small, new batch of beer and invites just under 300 of their closest friends (at $20 a head) to their beer hall for a mug-sized sample.
New in 2015, Harpoon is including a mug etched with your name, the date, and type of beer. You can bring back the mug each X-Night to get the new date and beer etched in. It’s Harpoon’s version of a Mug Club.
I’m a fan of Harpoon, especially their UFO series. Sadly though, I’ve only been to the Harpoon brewery once before for their St. Paddy’s festival last year. That festival was loud, crowded, and had the feeling of a house party held in a parking lot.
X-Night was none of that.
The event was held in Harpoon’s beer hall and was full of people without being packed. The beer hall has a great feel to it. It is lined with long tables that make it easy, almost mandatory, to meet the strangers sitting next to you. And everyone who works there seems to really like their job. The energy was refreshing.
The mystery beer was a Vanilla Porter. I liked it for the same reason I like a lot of Harpoon’s options: it was flavorful without being overwhelming. I know a lot of craft beer drinkers like some kick to their beer. Me? Not so much. I like to get a hint of the added flavor without having it sit on my tongue for 5 minutes after I finish the drink. For that, the Vanilla Porter was great. Blondie liked it too and she usually doesn’t enjoy a porter.
The one problem I had with the mystery beer being a porter is that it was the first beer of the night instead of the last. I ordered a couple of different Harpoon beers after I finished my porter but it was hard to give them an accurate assessment since my tongue was already attuned to the porter.
The best part of the night were the pretzels – salted, parmesan cheese, or cinnamon. It was the only food offered. They were big, fluffy, and amazing.
Harpoon also had a raffle if you tweeted #harpoonxnight. I used the hashtag and actually won a free ticket to the February X-Night.
The whole X-Night experience is a smart move by Harpoon. It’s a way for them to test out new beers before rolling them out to the public. But the real genius behind X-Night is that Harpoon charges its customers to be their guinea pigs. Harpoon made almost $6,000 on the X-Night cover charge alone last night to bring people in and have those people tell them if a new beer is good or not. And that’s on a weeknight. Not a bad way to run a focus group.
Blondie and I really enjoy X-Night. I’d recommend it to all. But be sure to buy your tickets early as the event does sell out.