Dunkin’ and Harpoon Just Brewed Up a Fresh Batch of Doughnut-Flavored Beers

A strange combination, perhaps, but also a clever way to emphasize New England roots

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For those with the taste for it, the flavor of doughnuts can be found in a variety of products that aren’t actually doughnuts.

There are Jelly Donut Oreos and donut flavored Cap’n Crunch cereal. The Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip convenience chain loosed a limited-edition coffee-flavored potato chip on the world last year called Urge Glazer. And the 360 spirts brand even cooked up a donut vodka.

But donut beer? It was only a matter of time.

Earlier today, Harpoon Brewery announced a collaboration with Dunkin’ to roll out a trio of donut beers: Boston cream stout, jelly donut India pale ale and pumpkin spiced latte ale, which is technically a coffee and donut-infused brew.

For those who might well ask the question, “Why on earth?” Dunkin’ thoughtfully provided the backstory on its blog this morning.

“We know that many of our guests start their busy days with a cup of Dunkin’ coffee and end it by kicking back with one of Harpoon’s famous craft beers,” said Dunkin’. “In talking with our friends over at Harpoon, we also learned that Dunkin’ coffee has played an essential role in getting the brewery up and running each morning. So, it only made sense to bring the brands together for another cool collaboration featuring the two favorite brews.”

This isn’t the first time that the two brands have collaborated. In 2018, they introduced Harpoon Dunkin’ coffee porter, a 6% alcohol “malty-tasting brew that has a smooth mouthfeel with aromas of espresso and dark chocolate,” as Dunkin’ put it.

a six pack of beer that says harpoon dunkin' pumpkin on the left and a twelve pack on the right that says harpoon dunkin' dozen
Dunkin’

The beers introduced today will be sold in six-packs and also on draft. There’s even a 12-pack sampler pack that includes three cans of each new flavor and the 2018 coffee porter.

Seasonal brews of both beer and coffee are nothing new, of course, and fall marks the approach of pumpkin spice latte flavor for both Starbucks and Dunkin’ and pumpkin beer season for beer brands. For Harpoon, however, the Dunkin’ collaboration isn’t just a fall offering. It’s another opportunity to affirm its regional roots with an audience that already appreciates the brewery’s Boston heritage.

Talking to Adweek last month as Harpoon debuted its new packaging, CMO of Mass Bay Brewing Company, which includes Harpoon among others, Jon London explained that it’s become critical to remind beer drinkers that Harpoon is a dyed-in-the-wool New England brand that’s still brewed there and has not become part of some massive conglomerate. When Harpoon surveyed customers and asked them what mattered most about the brand, “we heard [that] it’s all about our history, our authenticity, our sense of community,” London said. “People talked about how meaningful those things were.”

So while donut-flavored beer might not be to everyone’s taste, a collaboration with Dunkin’—which started in 1950 when William Rosenberg opened his first shop in Quincy, Mass.—does at least reinforce the brand’s local pride.

For the record, Harpoon not only holds the very first brewing permit issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but it also brought IPAs to Beantown (and the rest of America) in 1993. It’s a good bet that nobody thought of infusing IPAs with jelly donuts back then, though.


@UpperEastRob robert.klara@adweek.com Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.
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