The Burchell Arms Regulars/Beerandnuts Harp

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Another brew review from the BAR newsletter!


Booze Review: Harp Lager

Greetings my thirsty BAR members,

They couldn’t stop me. I’m back with another beer review and I’m going for controversy this month!

Last month I review an American craft brew, so I thought I’d go to the continent this month. I went into my beer fridge and I have planet of American beers, some homebrew, and … nothing German, nothing Belgian. What I had was Harp. It was on sale for a good price and it’s a reliable crowd pleaser that I can serve to relatives and droppers-by. Harp is an Irish beer and that’s as close as I can get to the continent this month.

Or is it Irish? In the U.S. Harp is marketed as “From the brewers of Guinness” and many Americans think of it as Guinness Light. This is far from the case. For starts it has many more calories than Guinness (Guinness should be marketed as a light beer as it has far fewer calories than most). Secondly, less than a third of the Harp bottles and kegs sold in the world are brewed in Ireland. Much of it is brewed in England, and if you’ve ever drank a Harp in North America, that Harp was brewed in Canada. Thirdly, Harp is not really an Irish style lager at all. It is a German/Czech style European lager. It is sourced with Irish barley and I suspect Irish or British hops. I think the yeast is all German lager. So, it does have a claim to being an Irish beer, but I think that is at least 50% marketing.

Well, let’s have a drink, then. Harp is clean and refreshing and inoffensive. It has a pale golden color, but not much head to speak of. It tastes and smells like you expect beer to taste and smell. It is a bit more malty than most (that’s a sort of grainy flavor), and I like that in a beer. It’s a little highly carbonated for my taste. At 5% alcohol by volume it is in the midrange for alcohol content. Overall, it’s a very, very middle-of-the road lager with a slightly grainy flavor.

In case you’ve been drinking, I rate my monthly brews as follows: 1 mug = bad, 2 mugs = drinkable, 3 mugs = good (recommended), 4 mugs = excellent (top choice in most establishments), 5 mugs = world class. I give Harp 2 mugs. I recommend it for keeping in the back of the fridge for friends who are not too adventurous.

Your friend in barley, JS

Harp Factoids:

1) Harp used to be sold with blue labels, but is now sold with green ones (to appear more Irish is my guess).

2) In the U.S. a "half & half" is often sold in Irish-themed bars, mixing Harp on the bottom and layering Guinness on top.

3) Harp is the largest growing larger in Nigeria, according to Diageo (the label owner).