In most versions of the “basic” fall meme, there’s a person standing beneath brilliant foliage, wearing a cozy sweater and sipping on some kind of pumpkin-spice flavored beverage.
Many of us really do turn into this person when the weather gets crisp, and companies have long capitalized on that, maybe most notably Dunkin’, the Canton coffee and doughnut giant known for pushing its seasonal coffee flavors.
I’ll admit off the top that I’m not much of a Dunkin’ guy, though for a while my go-to order from August through November was a large pumpkin-spice iced coffee, and I still do get the occasional pumpkin cream cold foam. And unlike many of you who say you hate pumpkin beer, I generally like it. The rich, malty flavor of beer goes well with pumpkin and cinnamon, and the drink matches the weather, so maybe we should stop being so serious about it.
Enter the Harpoon Brewery and Dunkin’ mixed pack. Back for a fifth season and with three new beers for 2022, the companies’ collaborative Box O’ Beer once again features Harpoon Dunkin’ Pumpkin Spiced Latte Ale, as well as Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Roll Cream Ale, Harpoon Dunkin’ Cold Brew Coffee Porter, and Harpoon Dunkin’ Hazelnut Blonde Stout.
I recently sampled all four collaboration brews, and ranked them from my least favorite to the beer I liked best.
4. Harpoon Dunkin’ Pumpkin Spiced Latte Ale: I saved this for last thinking it might be the most dessert-y and it wasn’t. The problem here for me was that the cold brew coffee and oat milk were too forward, while the cinnamon and pumpkin puree took a back seat. The coffee roll beer (see below) tastes more like what you think a pumpkin beer tastes like than this one. 5.2 percent ABV
3. Harpoon Dunkin’ Cold Brew Coffee Porter: This is what you’d call a classic dark beer, and it’s the second-strongest of the bunch, with the cold brew packing a serious, bitter punch. Maybe unsurprisingly for Dunkin’, though, it’s also on the sweet side — people who ask for one sugar in their Dunkin’ coffee and are upset when it tastes like four or five scoops might not like this. 6 percent ABV
2. Harpoon Dunkin’ Hazelnut Blonde Stout: We’ve turned a corner. There’s rich coffee flavor here in a deceptive package, and while the beer drinks with a little sweetness at the end, it’s not too cloying. 6.2 percent ABV
1. Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Roll Cream Ale: Is there cinnamon in this? Definitely. Were actual, real-life Dunkin’ coffee rolls used in the brewing process? Yep. Do I like this beer despite those things, even though it comes in higher on the sweetness scale? Absolutely. 4.6 percent ABV