Dan Kenary of Harpoon Brewery Continues to Make Great Beer

October 4, 2018
Independent and employee-owned harpoon is the second largest brewery in Massachusetts, behind Boston Beer Co. Now 32 years young, it’s also Massachusetts’ oldest, continually operating brewery. Ranked 16th largest craft brewer in the U.S. last year, the staying power of this brewery is impressive.
With returning holiday favorites like Harpoon Winter Warmer and UFO Winter Blonde, as well as new collaboration beers like the highly anticipated Dunkin’ Coffee Porter, Dan Kenary and company have plenty of innovation on the docket to carry the portfolio into 2019 and beyond. Harpoon continues to stay true to their motto: Love Beer. Love Life.
Here are 10 things Kenary wants you to know about Harpoon…
1. Harpoon is an independent, employee-owned craft brewery. But, Kenary says that even before they became employee owned, they already had the right mindset. “We were focused on working together to grow a company that would outlast any of us. When we added ownership to that, it changed the dynamic entirely. For the employees, it’s a real financial incentive to succeed.”
2. Harpoon is currently available in 27 states and Puerto Rico.
3. Kenary says he doesn’t worry too much about staying relevant in a crowded beer market, rather he focuses on staying true to what he and his team do well. “It’s really easy to feel like you need to do everything. That’s a tremendous amount of pressure – and it’s just not a feasible expectation. Our founding vision was to make great beer fun.”
4. Harpoon’s collaborative brews began as a result of their annual, employee beer trips. “Everyone who works here for five years gets to travel to Europe for a week,” says Kenary. “And they get to go again on certain anniversaries after that. More often than not, we find breweries that we love while we’re traveling.”
5. Their latest collab with Dunkin’ Donuts, available in October, grew out of an existing friendship. “We had crossed paths with the Dunkin’ team over the years – at conferences, events, etc., and found we had a lot in common. We had worked together on some small projects over the years – a pilot batch for our Beer Hall, for example – but over time we started to think bigger. We couldn’t be more excited to launch Dunkin’ Coffee Porter.”
6. This year Harpoon introduced three hazy IPAs – Juicer 1, 2 and 3 – but they’re only available in New England because Kenary says, “The reality is these beers are hard to make, and they are a challenge to distribute. More than other styles, freshness is key. We’d love to see these available in markets throughout our footprint, but if we can’t guarantee freshness, we just won’t do it.”
7. Harpoon Winter Warmer, the first craft seasonal on the East Coast, will be back this November for its 30th year. This seasonal classic is a rich combination of holiday spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, with a hearty, malt backbone.
8. For the 10th year, Harpoon and local volunteers will decorate the Women of Change House in Philly for the holidays, through the Harpoon Helps charity initiative. Women of Change is a safe haven residence for women. It’s part of the Project Home organization, where residents are offered personal recovery services, healthcare, education, social enterprise and employment opportunities.
9. In 2019, Harpoon will introduce some traditional styles that will round out their core lineup, as well as a few things that are “unlike anything we’ve seen anyone else do before,” Kenary says. “It’s the most ambitious year we’ve had in a while, and it’s more than 18 months in the making.”
10. If Kenary could only drink one Harpoon beer for the rest of his life, it would be, “Harpoon IPA, without question. It has all the flavor and complexity I love about beer, but it’s balanced enough to be sessionable.”
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