Walking into the Harpoon Brewery, I’d be lying I said I was excited about anything except trying out some tasty beer. I mean, that’s why I was there – to taste the Harpoon Grateful Harvest Ale and tell you about. Once I spent ten minutes with Chris Bonacci, brand manager of Harpoon, I almost forgot about the main purpose of my visit. Almost.
First, let’s talk about the Grateful Harvest Ale. I’m not a huge fan of cranberry (my one giant New Englander sin, sue me) so I was a little skeptical that it would be a beer I’d favor. One taste put that to rest. The cranberry flavor is not the overpowering aroma as it is in some fruity beers. It’s more of a compliment to the solid malty flavor (a combination of Munich and Vienna malts). It’s basically the ideal blend of of crispness, medium body, and a smooth, subtle cranberry flavor that would make this beer at home on your Thanksgiving dinner table (or any other fall Boston events you may have planned).
So, as far as seasonal brews go, Harpoon hits it out of the park by giving you an excellent ale that really highlights the best flavors of fall in New England. But even more so than a good tasting beer, Harpoon uses Grateful Harvest to give back to the community, to the tune of a $1 donation to local food banks for every six-pack they sell. This year alone, they anticipate around $35,000 will be donated to food banks all around the Northeast. Not only that, but Chris says that figure could be even higher. “A lot of times, we have our local wholesalers match. So a lot of it depends on that, which is great, because a lot of them have food banks that they like to go to, so they come to us to work with them locally.”
Although Harpoon focuses on New England as a home base, they now send donations out to New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. This is the third year of the Grateful Harvest, and they’re over $85,000 in food bank donations. This is all a greater part of the “Harpoon Helps” program, designed at giving back to the community. The program has raised almost $450,000 in 2012 for local charities, not including the Grateful Harvest donations that are still coming in. Add into that thousands of volunteer hours, support of around 300 local non-profits, some 50,000 pints donated for charity events, and you have an impressive study in what it means for a company to give back to the community. Chris says they’re lucky to have so many great volunteers. “I look at it, I’m always impressed at the number of people come out. We have more people come out to that we can handle. They respond because we have the attitude that charity doesn’t have to be painful. Finish up with a beer, bring other people and make it a good, fun, social event.”
So, do your taste buds and your fellow man a favor when you’re picking up a six-pack this month or next. Interested in volunteering? Head over to HarpoonHelps.com and check out some of their upcoming events. At the very least, grab a Grateful Harvest six-pack, and know that you’re helping the less fortunate this holiday season.