Switch to Mobile Site

Harpoon History from 1996 - 2001

1997: Harpoon bottling line is installed in the Boston brewery
1998: The UFO line is launched
1998: The Friend of Harpoon Program is introduced
2000: Harpoon purchases the former Catamount Brewery in Windsor, VT
2001: 1st Harpoon 5-Miler, Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue, and Harpoon Octoberfest, Vermont

1997: Harpoon bottling line is installed in the Boston brewery

We started bottling at our brewery when the first Harpoon Ale was brewed in 1987. As Harpoon continued to see steady growth, our old bottling line just wasn't cutting it anymore. While we searched for another option, we bottled at FX Matt in Utica, NY. In 1997 we welcomed a beautiful new bottling line from Krones. The new line enabled us to fill 225 bottles per minute - up to 3,200 cases in a day.

It was great to have the bottling back in Boston, and even better to be able to send beer to the growing number of craft beer drinkers.

Brewing Permit #001


1998: The UFO line is launched

The UFO series was inspired by a trip to the Pacific Northwest in the mid-1990s. Craft breweries there were producing hefeweizens, and the sight of a bartender pouring a big, cloudy pitcher of hefe then dropping in a few lemon slices was both lovely and impressive. The taste was even better.
At home in New England, however, hefeweizens were relatively unknown. What is more, the idea of cloudy beer, lemons, and names like “hefeweizen” was completely foreign – no pun intended.
It all added up, we had to brew a hefeweizen. The name UFO, which stands for UnFiltered Offering, had some “alien” overtones which seemed appropriate. In the spirit of keeping things completely different for UFO, the first tap handle was fashioned from a chair leg and some hardware parts. The 6-packs were also unusual: instead of the ordinary “basket”-style carriers, they were completely enclosed boxes that resembled 12-packs, only smaller. UFO Hefeweizen slowly caught on.
During Harpoon festivals, we were encouraged to see how popular it was. Over time, we introduced a raspberry hefeweizen, a Belgian-style white, an unfiltered pale ale, a pumpkin ale, a grapefruit shandy, and our latest UFO beer: UFO Gingerland. Check them out! Unfiltered wheat beers are now a common sight in bars and stores throughout the US, and cloudy beer with a slice of citrus is no longer alien. We have come a long way from those early days of UFO!


Original Harpoon Ale label






1998: The Friend of Harpoon Program is introduced

The Friend of Harpoon program is the extended Harpoon family. The official Friend of Harpoon program was born in 1998, but the origins go back to the days when we collected the mailing addresses of visitors to the brewery, then sent them a newsletter.

At that time, the list was known as H.I.P., Harpoon Important Person. As the list grew and grew, we were sending out newsletters by the truckload.

What about using this new electronic mail that everyone else was using? Harpoon's graphic designer was pretty good with computers, so the task of transitioning the mailing list to an e-mail database, and sending out the e-mails, fell on his shoulders.

He is still around today, and his title is Creative Director. Friends of Harpoon will recognize his name: Adam Bailey. Say hi to Adam next time you're at the brewery, and encourage your friends to become Friends.

Welcome to the family!

Harpoon Winter Warmer


2000: Harpoon purchases the former Catamount Brewery in Windsor, VT

At this point in time we were brewing at full capacity at our facility in Boston - 24 hours a day, seven days a week - but we struggled to keep up with the demand for Harpoon. Around the same time, the craft brewing industry mourned the loss of one of its early leaders as Catamount went out of business. As they did, however, they left a beautiful brewery on the market. Desperate for capacity, we were also happy to play a part in keeping the rich heritage of brewing in Vermont alive, and, in June of 2000, the final sale went through. We were now the proud owners of a brewery in Windsor, Vermont.

These days, tens of thousands of people now join us to celebrate Harpoon Octoberfest in Boston and Windsor each year. We celebrate with oompah bands, Bavarian fare, and barrels upon barrels of fresh Harpoon beer! Prosit!
Harpoon Octoberfest



2001: 1st Harpoon 5-Miler, Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue, and Harpoon Octoberfest Vermont


This was a big year of firsts for major Harpoon events! It was the first running of the annual Harpoon 5-Miler, the first judging of the Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue, and the first Harpoon Octoberfest celebration at our Windsor brewery.

We just love having beers with you all! Beer and BBQ...mmmmm...

Harpoon Winter Warmer