The following is a review from Travis Curran (@THSeamonsters), a writer, actor and semi-pro beer drinker in Portland, ME. Travis is one of the four titular “Tasty Dudes” of Tasty Dude Films, and a contributor to Potential.
The ocean is a very dark and mysterious place. Miles beneath the waves, aquatic life thrives in bizarre forms unparalleled by any land-dwelling fauna, some species still exist that humans have never documented. The Coelacanth, an ancient mean lookin’ fish, was thought to have been extinct since the late Cretaceous period until a fisherman pulled one up off the coast of South Africa in 1938. About six feet long and sixteen pounds heavier than I am, the Coelacanth is a lazarus taxon, a living fossil, and proof the deep blue sea can hold more mysteries then we high-and-mighty smarter monkeys can postulate upon. What I’m getting at is: I’m scared of sea monsters. Terrifically frightened by the mere notion of the colossal squid, who’s largest specimen was recently caught off the coast of New Zealand, weighing in over 1,000 pounds and 33 feet long. The kick in my scuba pants here is they’ve found larger beaks in the stomachs of sperm whales, suggesting there are bigger squids out there. Which is just f***ing fantastic. The Megamouth shark has only been seen 43 times since 1976, and the greatest minds in Marine Biology Science still have no idea where Blue Whales breed or give birth. By the way, they are the largest animals. Period. And we can’t even follow them to see where they get down to business. The ocean’s a pretty unbelievable place people, and it seriously creeps me out.
Enter the Harpoon Leviathan series.
I picked up a foursome of the Imperial IPA last time I was cruising Hannafordland (of all places) based off the title alone, and my fondness of Harpoon‘s other products. They’re New England-based, comme moi, and were founded just 12 days after I was born in 1986. Also radical. When I saw the Leviathan label design, it stirred up my all-too-clear childhood memories of being paralytically scared of deep water (fueled by a repressed memory of sailing with my father when we got caught in a squall). I was so bothered by the Atlantic, I zealously studied marine biology, then into cryptozoology, leading to the namesake of this “Bigger Beer” series Harpoon released last year.
The Imperial IPA is a double-IPA, brewed with 100% more hops and 50% more malts that Harpoons typical India Pale Ale. This produces a seriously bitter beer, typically with an ABV ranging between 7% to 10%. It’s a difficult beer to get a read on since the hops are so dominant in every aspect, even the nose. It pours a beautiful light amber, breaching on honey yellow. The head stays at bay if chilled, but the slightest improper pour and the frothy foamy waves rise and take a good sit to settle. You take your first sip, and this beast has you, sharp teeth clamping down on your hopelessly kicking feet and deep beneath the crisp waves you’re pulled. Don’t bother struggling, you’ll just spread more blood and attract the rest. Finer sampling will help you detail out the malty caramel, which is added subtly to give the body a very smooth and present substance and hints of sweet notes. The mouthfeel is intriguing, so you let out your line a bit longer to see what else lies beneath. The finish is everything that you’d expect and adore with a serious IPA, and demands that second sip, just to be sure what you thought you saw move through the water was really there. It was. And it’s got teeth.
The idea of great sea monsters were recorded as early as the Old Testament, whether it be a great serpent of the deep or perhaps a whale-ish cetacean misconstrued, maybe even just a big crocodile. But come on, Scientists have already determined what people thought were mermaids were just manatees or dugongs or whatever. And that’s ridiculous. I don’t care how primitive your culture is, a mass of grey blubber and meat and fins will never appear to me as a topless chick with a fish’s tail lounging on a rock calling me to leave my post on the starboard deck and leap into the water. You ever seen a manatee? It’s no siren. Whether mermaids, krakens, Loch Ness Monsters, Champie’s, prehistoric sharks, mutant crabs, or turtles so big we think they are in fact islands actually exist on this planet with us is still in question. But let’s leave that to those kooky cryptozoologists. This beer, the Imperial IPA, is a scientifically proven species of super-hoppy ferocity. Once it’s swimming around your glass, beware, notify the lifeguards and maybe bring your harpoon gun before taking the dive. Indulge.