A quarter century ago, Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary were friends who enjoyed going out and grabbing a beer or two. The pair founded Boston's Harpoon Brewery, and next month, the brewery will celebrate its 25th anniversary.
A quarter century ago, Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary were friends who enjoyed going out and grabbing a beer or two.
The pair founded Boston's Harpoon Brewery, and next month, the brewery will celebrate its 25th anniversary.
"It sounds like a long time, but it doesn't necessarily feel that long," Doyle said.
"It's really incredible," Kenary said. "This is one of those anniversaries that you really notice. I'm 50 now, and I was 25 when we started the brewery, so it's been half of my life now."
To celebrate the anniversary, Doyle and Kenary went into the brewhouse together and brewed a commemorative beer: Rich and Dan's Rye IPA. The beer is part of Harpoon's 100 Barrel Series, meaning only 3,100 gallons of it have been brewed.
Both said they knew they wanted to create an anniversary beer but had trouble deciding what to do. So, like a lot of people who have tough decisions to make do, they went bar hopping.
"We were talking about different beers for two months, and a bunch of stuff we've always wanted to do had already been done," said Kenary. "We said, 'Let's go out to a bunch of beer bars and see what we can figure out."'
And what they realized is they really liked the taste of rye.
"I really like the IPA style, and I really enjoy the rye; it really gives a different wrinkle to our favorite style," Doyle said.
The Rye IPA is a well-done beer. Rye adds a spiciness that other malts don't, and that worked well. Both Doyle and Kenary said they were pleased with how the beer came out.
Doyle and Kenary said they are amazed by how the American beer industry has changed since they began. And at the time they first started, U.S. breweries were looked down upon by their counterparts in Europe.
"The United States has gone from a laughing stock of beer choice to what I think is the best place in the world to drink beer," said Doyle. "We take a trip to Europe with some of our employees every year, and now small breweries there are looking to us for inspiration."
Craft beer drinkers' tastes have also changed. When Harpoon IPA debuted in 1986, people were shocked by what they tasted.
"No one knew what an IPA was back in 1986," said Kenary. "When Harpoon Ale came out, we had to explain what that was. It's wild. With the IPA, there were plenty of times that people would say, 'What the heck is that?' People have a hard time (understanding) how much different it was back then."
Harpoon itself has also grown from a 5,000-square-foot brewery to two separate breweries: 50,000 square feet in Boston and another 40,000 square feet in Vermont.
Not only do they do the regular lineup of beers, they added the 100 Barrel Series, the Leviathan Series (high-alcohol beers) and the UFO series (unfiltered beers).
"We've been driven by our mission to make great beers and to be very accessible to our customers," said Doyle. "We want to continue to expand what we're doing here in Boston and continue to do what we've been able to do."
Despite the brewery being 25 years old, both Doyle and Kenary said they're still excited about their jobs.
"We've got so many great people coming to work everyday that it never gets old," said Kenary. "We've been blessed."
Doyle said, "In a lot of ways, I have more passion now than I had back then. We've been around for a while, no question about it, and we anticipate being part of the next 25 years.
"We're doing what we're doing better than ever, and we enjoy it more than ever."
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer in Massachusetts. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.