Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale


Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale

Pale Ale / Harpoon Low / 4%

League is a crushable hazy pale ale brewed with tropical modern hops and a groundbreaking blend of ingredients (buckwheat kasha, chia seeds, and sea salt).

It is no secret that IPAs and pale ales have been the hottest trend in craft brewing for years now – perhaps only overshadowed by the recent sour craze. And while many beer makers, from hyperlocal microbreweries to those with nationwide distribution, have been focused on creating double and triple IPAs with ever-increasing alcohol content, there is still a market for drinkable low-abv brews. Whether you are someone who has begun counting calories and wants to reduce their intake, or if you just want something a little less boozy so you can take down more of them, there are offerings out there to meet your needs.

One of those such beers is Rec League, a hazy pale ale crafted by the brewery Harpoon, which originated in Boston, Massachusetts. While not designated as a session ale or anything to tip off it’s lowered alcohol content, this brew comes in at just 4.0 percent abv and a modest 120 calories per 16-ounce can. Sometimes, when breweries attempt to lighten up these pale ales, there are some extra elements that get lost in the process and it can result in something of an incomplete beverage. But I will keep an open mind through this tasting experience and compose a fair Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale review that explains whether this one is worth your time or not.

Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale Review

I have to say that I very much enjoy the aesthetic that this can gives off. I have played in plenty of recreational sports leagues myself, and the colors and designs on this label remind me of a basketball jersey straight out of the 70’s. In fact, it might as well be modeled after the Will Ferrell film Semi-Pro, with sharp lines and bright pastel shades. Definitely an attractive option as you are perusing the shelves of the local liquor store.

Poured into a pint glass, this beer has the look of a traditional hazy IPA, more so than many of the other low-abv hazy ales that I have sampled in the past. It is the color of a bright orange sunset with plenty of juicy opaqueness that leads me to believe it will have a nice full flavor profile. It is also topped by a very generous head that I did not expect and dissipates slowly while maintaining some good lacing around the edges.

Aroma-wise, it also seems like it might be an improvement on the other beers that I have tried in this realm. Many of the familiar qualities are present, such as citrus and a grassy vegetal element, but here they are balanced out much better than I have found in previous low-alcohol hazys. The orange citrus takes charge, with the grass and hops settling in underneath at pleasant levels.

While there are some signs in terms of appearance and scent that this will brew might be a standout in its field, there is no way to be sure and answer the question, “Is Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale good?” without taking the first swig.

Is Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale Good?

The good news that is almost immediately noticeable upon the beer touching your lips is that the tongue follows the aroma pretty well. The fruity citrus notes are the star of the show, which is very pleasing to my palette. I can even sense some light grapefruit and mango alongside the orange. The hops are also present, with the grassiness underlying all of this at a toned down level.

While the body isn’t exactly the lightest – rather a pretty solid medium – the citrus character helps to make it very drinkable and still rather refreshing. I do think that substantial body might make it difficult to take down too many of these, which is one of the appeals of the low-abv, so that’s a little less than perfect.

The can points out that this pale ale is brewed with chia seeds and buckwheat kasha, things that I enjoy in other aspects of my life but I’ve never know to be present in a beer. I don’t notice those flavors anywhere, so it isn’t much of a big deal but still worth mentioning.

There are some minor wort and malt components that are detectable but don’t truly affect the beer that much. One other strong characteristic in my mind is that the finish is rather sharp, without a lot of lingering hop.

While the overall profile of this beer is pleasing enough, it could maybe stand to have a little more complexity, with an extra element or two providing some new dimensions. It’s pretty consistent all the way through the tasting, which isn’t a bad thing but doesn’t make for the most lively experience.

There is no doubt that this brew scores pretty highly in a lot of the categories that are important to me, but as I dig deep there are still areas for improvement. Let’s see what that ultimately means for my final Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale rating.

Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale Rating

I may have developed a bit of a strong grading curve, having sampled quite a few low-calorie, low-abv hazy pale ales and walking away largely unimpressed by many of them. Oftentimes the vegetal quality is what stands out the most, and while that isn’t necessarily an offensive flavor to me, it doesn’t make for the most refreshing or drinkable brews. While that element is still present in this beer, it takes a rightful back seat to the hops and the citrus, and everything ends up in pretty good balance.

Still, there is something about this beer that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it prevents it from being truly outstanding to me. Perhaps I would prefer just a touch more hops. Or some other ingredient that would differentiate it a little bit more from all of the other options that are available on the market. Whatever the case may be, it seems fair to me to arrive at a final score of 4 out of 5 stars to wrap up my Harpoon Rec League Hazy Pale Ale review. I don’t think many people would be disappointed to find out what’s in this can, but I’m not convinced that it will stand out as a favorite.


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