What happens when two iconic New England beverage companies come together?
Seaport-based Harpoon Brewery recently teamed up with Worcester’s Polar Seltzer, bringing together the beer-maker known for its iconic IPA and the beverage company with a cult following whose seasonal seltzer flavors fly off the shelves at places like Market Basket and Stop & Shop.
The collaboration resulted in UFO Blueberry Lemonade, a take on Harpoon’s popular UFO wheat beer series made with the essence of seltzer, the stuff Polar uses to flavor its sparkling water.
What does a seltzer-flavored beer taste like? The Boston.com editorial staff cracked open a couple cans last week and got down to the serious business of tasting it.
What the companies say
About the seltzer: Polar Beverages introduced Polar Seltzer’ade, “naturally calorie-free seltzers inspired our favorite lemonade recipes,” in 2016. They’re made with “the essence of fresh lemons (or limes), bubbles and triple-filtered water, plus the natural fruit flavor needed for each of the signature recipes.” Flavors include Raspberry Pink Lemonade, Watermelon Lemonade, and Tart Cherry Limeade.
About the beer: UFO stands for “UnFiltered Offering; all UFO beers are unfiltered, leaving the yeast suspended in the beer which creates its signature cloudy appearance.” Harpoon introduced UFO in 1998 with Hefeweizen. Current flavors also include White Ale, Raspberry, and Pineapple.
About the combo: “The resulting recipe, like Polar’s famous seltzers, is subtle yet refreshing, and finishes with a crisp, citrusy note. The culinary minds behind UFO Beer recommend food pairings with summer favorites like chicken piccata, pan-roasted swordfish, summer salad, or lemon pound cake.”
What BDC staffers say
Gary: Well, it’s not blue — it’s yellow and a little hazy. Lots of blueberry in the aroma.
Nicole: It’s very fragrant.
Hayden: I’m not usually a seltzer fan, but I wanted to give this a shot. It has more attributes of a beer than seltzer, though the fruit qualities are detectable both in smell and taste.
Kevin: The blueberry comes through strongly in the initial taste, but the finish is a bit bland. The lemonade half of the “blueberry lemonade” is more subtle than it should be. It doesn’t have the crisp, refreshing consistency and flavor of other summer shandys, instead evoking a spiked seltzer with a lemon wedge.
Nik: It tastes like a less carbonated version of the Narragansett Del’s Shandy. The flatness definitely sticks out. Definitely more beer than seltzer, though.
Nicole: I think the scent elevated my expectations for the taste of the beer, which turned out to be pretty average.
Mark: Phenomenal aroma, but it doesn’t taste like much of anything — so, quite a lot like the flavored seltzer it’s inspired by. (Sorry, seltzer fans. I respect it, but I don’t get it.) It makes me crave something more pronounced like a Wachusett Blueberry Ale, a Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier, or even just a citrusy Blue Moon. What can I say? I like fruity beers.
Kaitlyn: I wanna see them do this with the cherry-mango seltzer. The stronger flavors would come through a little more, and that’s by far the best seasonal of theirs.
Gary: I get a little lemon zest at the end, which is nice.
Hayden: I could see myself drinking this at a summertime BBQ.
Kevin: Admittedly this isn’t the type of beer I’d normally choose, but I’ve had some in this family that I’d gladly try again in the right setting. I don’t think this is one of them.
Nicole: I might try it again with a lemon wedge to add some more zest. That being said, the lack of overwhelming flavor wasn’t necessarily bad — just underwhelming given my high hopes.
Editor’s note: BDC staffers are Nicole Yang, Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Kaitlyn Johnston, Hayden Bird, Kevin Slane, Gary Dzen, and Mark Gartsbeyn.
UFO Blueberry Lemonade is 4.8 percent alcohol by volume and 13 IBUs (international bitterness units, which is not very high. Harpoon IPA, for example, has 42). It’s available now on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. Harpoon expects the beer to be around through July.