You know what sucks? Ever since we opted to do this countdown, I’ve had the band Europe stuck in my head. I’m sorry if you think that’s kind of awesome. Trust me, it sucks.

Number three here might disagree with you though. A quick perusal of the Big Boss website proves that there’s definitely a lot of geek love flowing through this brewery. From LOTR jokes to an obvious dark humor and a “we’re doing this for us, not for you” attitude, I can’t help but be a little charmed.

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Name:  Harvest Time

Place of Origin / Brewer:  North Carolina, USA / Big Boss Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Fall Ale / 5.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed with pumpkin and a subtle proprietary blend of spices. Suggested pairings: zombie rituals, walks in the graveyard after midnight, and vampire hunting.

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Packaging:

I’m digging the clean black and white vibe of this label that announces “Harvest Time” in Misfits-style letters and features a skull and scythe  with a little box to check off if you “Reap” or “Sow”.  I assume most beer drinkers “reap’ since planting bottles of brew isn’t the ideal way to store them. – Tim

A wicked looking skull and scythe front this dark grayscale looking bottle, rendered in the spirit of such artists as Guy Davis and Mike Mignola. The clever double entendre of “Harvest Time” is not missed, but in case it eludes you, there’s a checkbox for both “reap” and “sow”. Probably don’t want to get those mixed up. – Mike

Gotta love the skull with eyeballs, and the reaper’s scythe is pretty sick as well.  Also, the black and white color scheme is pretty unique but haunting in it’s own way. – Rick

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Color:  7

A bloody knife left to rust in a pint glass, and a perpetually lasting smoke ring head that’s about three millimeters thick all the way down the glass. How morbidly festive.- Mike

A murky unfiltered auburn with noticeable sediment and almost no head to speak of–just a creamy ring of color pressed up against the side of the glass that rather unexpectedly leaves a tiny little trail of lacing. – Tim

Like a haystack during sunset, this ale has a cloudy straw color with glimpses of golden amber.  The lacing is thick around the edge and mesmerizing across the top. Just as in moments when you can’t really tell whether you are welcoming day or night I am confused as to what to expect from this ale from Big Boss.  – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 6 / B- 8/ R- 7


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Aroma:  7.5

It’s not big, but there’s an undeniable element of creamy pumpkin cheesecake and a menagerie of spices blended so nicely, that it’s hard to single any one out. Having claimed an aim for subtle, I’d say they’ve nailed it. – Mike

It smells like a pumpkin patch baking in an oven.  It’s yeasty, vegetal, earthy and without question pumpkin.  The spices are faint but they are present, mostly nutmeg and clove with hints of cinnamon. – Brittney

Fresh cut pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg greet the intrepid imbiber with the trappings of our favorite fall libation.  However, the aroma is high on the pumpkin pie charts but low on the complexity scale, which worries me right off the bat that this offering might be all artifice. – Tim

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 8 / R- 7

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Mouth feel:  7

Crisp medium bodied with a snap of flavor bursting on the tongue. Like many other unfiltered beers this one is low on carbonation so it’s super smooth and easy to put past your lips. – Tim

For as active as the carbonation looks, it’s definitely faint in the mouth.  It enters light and thin and follows through slightly creamy yet refreshing. The mouth feel seems to take the back burner allowing for the intricacies of the taste to shine.  – Brittney

The carbonation is teetering on almost flat, giving the ale a smooth swallow, but ultimately declares it’s a light bodied beer. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 6.5

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Tasting notes:  6.5

There’s a lush and buttery cream note to this, and it’s really quite nice, particularly since it seems to have laid in toasted marshmallow and rolled around in hops. The spicing plays an eventful part as well, keeping everything very well in check and in congruity with the nose. No surprises here, but it’s an impressively balanced ale. – Mike

Thirst first sip was a little shocking.  It starts off kind of sweet, then derails with a sour apple, ginger like dryness that I found to be pretty bitter and unexpected.  There is a generous helping of cinnamon in there, but it just doesn’t quell the sourness that is mostly dominant on the finish. – Rick

Caramel sweetness from the malts play against the high spice content and drown out any real pumpkin from the brew. Brown butter crust and a high concentration of ‘pumpkin pie’ flavor delivers a beer that, while not unpleasant, feels decidedly one-note. – Tim

M- 9 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 4

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Finish:  7

This is where you will find that missing pumpkin if you really take the time to savor the finish of this beer.  – Brittney

I’m kind of thrown back and forth between the sourness of the pumpkin and the bitterness from the spices.  I find it strangely reminiscent of whiskey when I exhale, which I don’t exactly find appealing to this brew. – Rick

Pumpkin and clove seem to dominate the end, along with the toasted marshmallow element, and a woodiness mixed with pie crust for probably the most definition this ale has to offer. It’s a nice final stamp to the swallow. – Mike

A really clean understated finish as the sweetness from the malts are given over to the dry close of the hops–leaving you without any lingering unpleasantries (or much of anything else) on the palate.  I really appreciate a beer that forgoes the long finish and doesn’t compete with other things your palate might appreciate (like food). – Tim

M- 8.5  / T- 8 / B- 7.5 / R-  3

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Flavor balance:  6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

For all the gloom and shuffling from this mortal coil labeling, this is down right elegant. Those looking for a wilder brew might find it a touch boring, but I find it a tasteful reigning in of all the elements of the “pumpkin pie” and not forgetting it’s beer, but not trying too hard to prove it’s either, and focusing more on pleasure, than poise. -Mike

It smells sweet, but all I really come away with is the feeling that I’m chewing on cinnamon. – Rick

If you take everything into account, from nose to finish and everything in between Harvest Time is very well balanced. – Brittney

Way more fresh pumpkin in the bouquet than on the actual beer itself.  It’s heavy-handed with it’ spice blend, even though no one spice superficially overpowers another.  This one would wear on you after a while. – Tim

M- 9.5  / T- 5 / B- 8 / R- 3

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

This might be one of the best beers I’ve had in terms of a sweet body masking a crisp dry, finish.  I just wish that level of detail were applied to the rest of the ale’s structure. – Tim

The light carbonation and body takes any lean toward this one being a little more on the sweet side away.  Again, taking every aspect into account the balance on this brew is phenomenal. – Brittney

There’s a good bit of sugar in here, but in a very unusual and subdued light, and still just enough of the hop gold shines through, particularly in the end. I think this is the perfect middle ground for a crew of people who might lean towards opposite ends of the bitter / sweet divide. – Mike

M – 8.5 / T- 8 / B- 7.5 / R- 4

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Light on the stomach, full on the senses, and completely devoid of being overwhelming, while at once consistently interesting? I could seriously drink this all night. – Mike

Not enjoying the sour, bitter, spicy combination on this one at all.  – Rick

Mark a few more pumpkin tallies on the bottle for me.  The body and balance of this ale make it super easy and enjoyable to drink. – Brittney

M-  10 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 2

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Overall:  6.92

M- 8.50 / T- 6.42 / B- 7.83 / R- 4.66

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