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Live Chat Tuesday Recap with Harpoon CBO Al Marzi

March 17, 2010

Harpoon CBO Al Marzi

After you read the title of this post, are you wondering what a CBO is? How about Chief Brewing Officer? How’s that for a job title. Yesterday, at, I hosted Harpoon’s Live Chat Tuesday with Chief Brewing Officer Al Marzi. Al took questions about the latest addition to the year-round Harpoon beer lineup, Belgian Pale Ale.

We received a number of great questions for Al about Harpoon Belgian Pale Ale – I thought I would feature a few of them on the blog.

Harpoon's new year-round beer: Belgian Pale Ale

Q: Can you tell us about the hops and malts used in the recipe for Belgian Pale Ale?

CBO Al Marzi: The malts are – pale, Munich, caramel, and european carafoam. They create a nice malty flavor that isn’t too sweet, but also doesn’t finish too dry. we use apollo hops for the first bittering addition and that helps balance the sweetness that is in the beer. The big hop, though, is Amarillo. We use it during the brew and we also dry hop with it. Amarillo is sometimes called Cascade on steroids. It is very citrusy – major grapefruit. This blends in very well with the fruity notes from the yeast. We spent a lot of time getting the balance right, and I think this is what makes the beer so special.

Q (from Ian): Can you talk a little bit about the particular yeast strain used? What did you choose, and what characteristics lead you to it?

CBO Al Marzi: It is called the “trappist strain ” and we purchase it from White labs. It tends to lean more towards the fruity end of the spectrum – bannana, bubblegum, that kind aroma rather than very phenolic. There is a definite clovey note in the beer, but it is secondary to the fruit. We did test batches with a number of other strains, but in the end we felt this was best for us.

Q (from Nick): can you provide how many months it took to get this beer (Belgian Pale Ale) to way you wanted it?

CBO Al Marzi: Although we have certainly done it in less time, it can take over a year to to get a beer from an idea to the shelf. This one probably was in the making for over a year. I don’t rememeber exactly, because we have a number of beer ideas happening at the same time. However, we started working on test batches over a year ago. Our biggest obstacle was that we needed a yeast prop tank in order to make this beer. It took me almost a year to get that piece of equipment.

You can read the entire live chat at

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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