I received a surprise, early Christmas gift this month on the news that Harpoon IPA is finally, at long last available in New Orleans.
This is probably not a big deal to you, unless you happened to learn to drink in New England. Harpoon IPA, the hoppy, full-flavored India pale ale from the Boston-based brewery Harpoon, quickly became my favorite. The company started brewing in 1986, the same year as Abita Brewing Co., and was a fine, rare craft beer at a time when few other options outside the produce of mega-breweries were around.
But while it is served and sold widely around New England, it was unavailable in the Deep South until very recently and in New Orleans until this year. I pleaded with beer retailers to stock it, but there was always some kind of distribution hang-up. When I traveled home to Rhode Island, no Dunkin' Donuts, grinder shop or chowder joint would do until I had a homecoming pint (or so) of Harpoon IPA. New England friends flying down for Jazz Fest knew to pack up a six pack for me, a task which became much more difficult after TSA restrictions on liquids and gave me a new, personal stake in the War on Terror.
Last spring, I found bottles of the stuff in a bar in Mobile. I mentioned this to several ex-Bostonians living in New Orleans and they agreed that a two-hour road trip was not excessively far to travel for a taste of home.
Then, in December, the cell phone picture was texted to me from a friend standing rigid with disbelieving joy in the beer aisle of a local grocery store: the range of Harpoon had finally reached my new home.
So far I've seen the beer at the Uptown Whole Foods and at Cork & Bottle, though it must be available elsewhere in the area too. The day I find it on draft somewhere local will be the day I'll have to organize a second line to celebrate.
- Ian McNulty