[OSBURN ON TAP] Shipping Up to Boston

If you have ever seen the movie The Departed, you’ve probably heard the Dropkick Murphys’ song “I’m shipping up to Boston” that plays during the opening sequence. The song tells the story of a pirate who lost his peg leg and looks all over for his missing appendage, to no avail. He decides to sail to Boston to search for it. I love the song as I am always in favor of anything related to pirates. I even thought I was going to grow up to be a pirate for the first five or so years of my life. Sadly, I didn’t end up as a scourge of the seven seas. I can, however, ship up to Boston from time to time in search of something else as equally important to me as a missing leg, great beer.

I haven’t done as much traveling as I’d like in my twenty-seven plus years. But, so far, Boston is by far my favorite city that I’ve ever ventured to. Perhaps, it’s because I’m a Red Sox fan living in enemy territory and it’s the only time I really feel free of the tyrannical persecution of “Yankee Universe.” More likely, though, it’s because Boston is a big enough city to have an amazing culture and personality, but not too big to be imposing and scary.

There was only one reason for a recent weekend trip to Boston, the Harpoon St. Patrick’s Festival. A magical two days of beer and Irish food and culture. And, let’s face it, if you are going to visit a city for a St. Patrick’s Day event, you couldn’t choose a better city than Boston (besides Dublin). In 2006, there was a reported 36,495,800 people in the U.S. who catagorize themselves as Irish Americans. That’s 12% of the total American population, with German Americans being the only larger ethnic group. The state of Massachusets is the most heavily saturated Irish state, with roughly 1/3 of all residents claiming Irish heritage. So, Boston is definitely the place to be in the United States for anything and everything St. Patrick’s Day related.

Chris, Byron the Leprechaun and Matt. This picture actually appears on the Harpoon website.

The Harpoon Brewery hosts this festival every year (usually) during the first weekend of March. This year it took place on March 6th and 7th. My brother Matt (a former beer columnist) and I went to the festival this year. During the festival, our friend Byron, who works for Harpoon, was dressed up as a leprechaun and spent both afternoons getting his picture taken with rowdy beer fans.

Twenty dollars got me a novelty beer glass (actually plastic so that even those who got a little rowdy couldn’t create a mess) and one drink ticket (beers were five dollars each, but were well worth it). Once inside I found food vendors selling hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches and of course corned beef and cabbage sandwiches. They had booths containing most of the brewery’s beers available including IPA, UFO, Raspberry UFO, Celtic Ale, Winter Warmer, Cider and Rauchfetzen. A large stage stood at one corner of the massive, heated tent and Irish themed music played throughout the evening including a U2 cover band, The Joshua Tree, and a large group of bagpipers and drummers.

I am a huge fan of Harpoon and had tried many of their products in the past. I have said before that UFO is my favorite beer to drink in the summer and I stick by that. I am very much looking forward to lounging on my front porch with a tall glass of UFO and a lemon slice in a few months. That’s still a long ways off, and since this festival took place during the first weekend of March, I tried to mostly stick to brews that fit the time of year better.

It was a festival, and I wasn’t driving since we took the T to get there, so I must admit I had a few that evening. I enjoyed a Celtic Ale, an IPA and a magical treat that you had to be in the know to order. Byron told us to go to the winter warmer booth and ask for an “Apple Pie.” They were more than happy to make it for us. It was a mixture of two of Harpoon’s products, their cider and winter warmer. The spiciness of the Winter Warmer works perfectly with the tart and sweet cider. It was equally delicious and perfect as the evening grew colder. I’ve since made them at home.

The “Apple Pie” was made in the vein of beer concoctions known to beer aficionados as a Black and Tan or a half and half. Most people know the black and Tan as Guinness Stout and Smithwick’s Irish Ale, but the combinations are limitless. Mix and match two beers that aren’t overly similar or any beer and any cider you want and you might find a new favorite drink. Give it a whirl; you never know what you’ll end up with. I wouldn’t suggest mixing bud light with Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout though, but what do I know?

For more information about Harpoon Brewery and the St. Patrick’s Festival visit: www.harpoonbrewery.com

We were still in Boston for one more day after the festival. We decided to walk all over the city, stopping at all the places that we try to hit up every time we go there. One of those can’t miss, rather touristy, areas is Quincy Market. It’s more or less a big outdoor mall with a giant center food court. My brother, the chef, bought some Japanese food. I. being a giant man-child purchased a bowl of cheeseburger macaroni and cheese at a place called “Mmm..mac and cheese”. I didn’t even know they had fast food restaurants catering to those of us who still like to eat the same food we enjoyed when we were ten. Overall, it was a great weekend trip. I highly recommend Boston as vacation destination.

*My question of the month is this: What brews are you most looking forward to as the weather gets warmer (at least in the northeast)? I mentioned my affection for hefeweizens, UFO in particular. What’s your spring beer of choice?

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