Charles M. Storey ’82, Michael D. Smith, and Joe Zaccaro, all affiliated with Harpoon Brewery, educated approximately 50 people at the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub on what it takes to make quality beer.
The “Beer School” event featured a tasting of three types of Harpoon beer and one cider, each paired with a different appetizer. Storey spoke on the history and philosophy of Harpoon—which has a brewery in Boston—while Smith focused on the craft of brewing.
Storey, Harpoon’s senior vice president for marketing, said that the company was founded in 1986 by two of his classmates at Harvard to meet a demand that was not being filled for interesting beers made by local breweries.
“We had some great beer-drinking experiences at Harvard with extremely ordinary beer,” Storey said in an interview before the event. “What the founders later did is travel to Europe after college and had other great beer-drinking experiences with much better beer. That was the idea behind Harpoon Brewery—a good beer can really enhance that experience.”
Smith, a brewer for Harpoon, added that the founders’ experience in Europe also led them to value local beer. “In America, beer was almost a commodity, whereas in Europe, there was a lot more geographical authenticity,” he said.
Storey also said he was excited about returning to Harvard to talk with students about beer. “I have an abiding loyalty to Harvard,” he said.
Storey also spoke about how Harvard specifically influenced the formation of Harpoon Brewery.
“We all had a blast drinking beer, but we were never that impressed by the beer itself,” he said. “So there was the beginning of that idea that there’s better beer out there,” he said.
The participants said they enjoyed the opportunity to drink and learn about beer at the same time. Vincent J. Tuohey ’01, who is currently in his final year at Harvard Business School, said that he was excited to hear from both a brewer and head of marketing for Harpoon.
“We got the perspective of the person making the product and the person selling it. I thought that was interesting, and something you usually don’t get at a beer tasting.”
Christian M. Mahler, also a student at the Business School, agreed. “To actually have someone talking to you about the beers is a great way to start your beer education,” he said. “It’s a gateway to better beer.”
Students can continue to educate themselves about beer next Wednesday, when representatives from Sam Adams will speak at the Pub.
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Timeline: Beer at Harvard1637: John Harvard moves from England to Massachusetts Bay Colony. He dies later that year, leaving money to New College, which is later renamed for its greatest benefactor. Harvard develops plans to build a brewery on its campus. Legend has it that Harvard learned the art of beer brewing from family friend William Shakespeare. One could say that the College’s on-campus brewery used recipes directly from the “First Folio.”
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