Harpoon Brewery Czernobog
By: Ashton Kirol
The winter solstice brought eleven degree temperatures to Vermont this year. I knew I would need a beer hardy enough to stand up to that cold, and I turned to a new imperial stout by Harpoon Brewery. Harpoon started in Boston in 1986, and they later opened a second brewery in Windsor, Vermont. Czernobog stout is actually a second run of a beer that was featured in Harpoon’s high alcohol Leviathan series of beer. I missed it the first time around, and was glad to get a second chance at this big stout.
First Impression: The bottle has been redesigned from the Leviathan days. It is available in 22oz bombers instead of the 12oz Leviathan pack, and the Harpoon name is much more prominent. The name Czernobog itself comes from Slavic mythology and means ‘Black God’. Fans of the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman will recognize Czernobog as the old world god that wins Shadow’s life in a game of checkers. These cultural references were more than enough to get me interested in this beer.
Pour: This color of this dark black beer is fitting of its namesake. The pour from the 22oz bottle resulted in an off-white head that fell quickly.
Aroma: The roasted malt gives this beer a strong chocolate aroma. There are hints of dark cherries, vanilla, and earthy hops in the background. The high alcohol content comes through in the aroma, but is not harsh.
Taste: As with the aroma, bitter chocolate dominates the scene. The hops are secondary to the big malt profile, but they do add to the bitterness of the chocolate notes. As the beer warms, more of the dark fruit flavor comes through. This is a fairly dry stout which is surprisingly drinkable for a beer packing double digit abv. A slight alcohol burn warns you of proceeding too quickly.
Final Impression: Harpoon’s rebranded imperial stout got me through a dark, cold winter solstice just fine. This dry, warming beer is more akin to sitting by the fire than wrapping up in blankets to fight the cold. It is a sipping beer due to abv alone. The taste keeps you coming back for more. I will be revisiting this beer again to fight the winter blues.