Every once in awhile, a beer comes along that separates the boys from the men. Well, actually no. With Avery, that’s pretty much every day. Known for their unusual brewing practices, and some intense high ABV beers, Avery doesn’t think inside the box, they punch their way out while watching Old Spice commercials on infinite repeat. So if you’re in a climate that’s a little on the chilly side this Thanksgiving, and you just need something to break down all the Tryptophan in your gullet, grab one of these bad boys and don’t be a turkey.

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Name:  Rumpkin (October 5, 2011) Annual Barrel Series

Place of Origin / Brewer: Colorado, USA / Avery Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Triple Ale / 15.90%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Limited to 512 cases (of which we’re sampling batch one) Rumpkin is brewed with Rocky mountain water, malted barley, pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, hops, and yeast, then rested in oak rum barrels to yield spicy gourd, delicate oak, and candied molasses notes.

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Packaging:

Avery really impressed here, complete with gold foil neck and cap, and a specialty label reflecting the barrel slats, and woodcut pumpkin and rum jug with skull and crossbones adorning. They’ve also nicely incorporated a significant number of details to the labeling, including batch, cases production and bottling date, as well as the concept of the beer. Nicely done. – Mike

I love this pseudo-pirate styled label with the rum barrel branded with skulls and growlers and pumpkins and proclaiming the batch numbers (ours was No. 1) and the number of cases in the production (512) all of it speaks to Avery’s continued tradition of being a rebellious brewer. – Tim

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Color:  6.5

Cloudy molasses brown giving great credence to it’s rum referenced conception, and just a hint of burnt umber to give it an aging pumpkin feel. A mild fizzy head crowns it, and quickly becomes a menacing ring, hinting that this may be too hardcore for any frilly accoutrement. – Mike

Murky and swamp like.  I’m expecting Swamp Thing to crawl from its depths any moment now.  Even what little remains of the head and the lacing have a slight mud tinge to them. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 4.5 / R- 7.5

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Aroma:  6

Shiver me timbers with your burnt caramel sticky sweetness.  This beer is packing a seriously complex nose, with spiced rum, prunes and molasses kicking you square in the face with a ferociousness that actually frightens me a little (but in a good way).  However, I’m also a bit concerned that I haven’t found the pumpkin, or the pumpkin spices yet. – Tim

Just the smell of this is giving me a hangover.  It’s heavy on the alcohol right away.  Next is a blast of heavy dark molasses and raw oak.  Separately I love the smell of molasses and oak but this aroma is totally off putting for me.  I don’t even want to taste this. – Brittney

It smells like aged pumpkin might.  It’s musty and carries a thick molasses aroma.  I can tell right away just from the smell that the alcohol content is fairly high on this one. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 6 / B- 3 / R- 8

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Mouth feel:  6

It seems light on the tongue, then it burns over the palate smoothly.  This one warms up quickly in the glass, and I think it’s the first pumpkin brew to leave my lips numb after a few sips. – Rick

On the very high end of medium bodied, you might as well tick this off in the heavy column due to the epic levels of sweetness on display.  However that being said, it’s not a tough swallow.  It’s got some carbonation burn and some absolute heat from the super high alcohol content, but I didn’t struggle to get it down.  It’s palatable. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 5.5 / B- 4 / R- 6.5

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Tasting notes:  6

The sweet pumpkin assaults you like a belligerent pirate, and a malty black strap molasses and chocolate cake field quickly follows, with a hint of oak on the backend, that should firmly suggest rum, if my puns and the label fail you. The spices are regulated into the caramel sweetness, reminding me more of spiced dark rum, than holiday cheer. – Mike

Tastes of Dark Brown Sugar, Sorghum, Spiced Rum, Allspice and Ginger, Sweetness that just teeters on cloying with deep chest warmth from the spirits.  The intensity of the beer overpowers any pumpkin that might be in there and the big alcohol content pushes this offering squarely into the Fortified (or Barley) wine category.  In fact, I’d seriously consider serving this ‘sipping’ beer in a Brandy snifter. – Tim

This one has a unique  flavor with an oaky aged-like quality.  It’s sweet like candy with a roasted pumpkin essence, but don’t let it fool you, this beer packs a punch. – Rick

To be fair, I’m not quite certain if I can get past the aroma and mouth feel to get to the taste.  But this is just not pleasant to me.  Nor do I feel that this has anything to do with anything that has to do with being anything like pumpkin ale. – Brittney

M- 8.5 / T- 5 / B- 3 / R-  7

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Finish:  6

Fruity apple and black tea come in here, with just a hint of cinnamon. I’m most impressed with the handling of the significant ABV though, which offers a gentlemanly pound on the back, without offering the acrid burn you could easily come away with. – Mike

Long and defined by the deep malty sweetness and the trailing alcohol vapors—extending the profile for an eternity, which makes sipping this brew over an extended session an even more attractive option. – Tim

Relief. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 5 / B- 3 / R- 7

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Flavor balance:  4.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

This ale has the usual spices in it.  Although, it’s heavy with a molasses and caramel flavor, this is the most pumpkin flavored ale so far. – Rick

I’m not sure I’d call it balance since I never found the pumpkin in there but I will give Avery props for attaining some semblance of harmony with the other components in this crazy strong brew they managed to bottle. – Tim

This is a dramatically different approach, with the pumpkin winning the race to the finish, but I particularly enjoy the way the spices are handled by relegating them to an aspect of rum flavor.

M- 6 / T- 3 / B- 3 / R- 5.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

It’s sweet, damn sweet in fact, but this is barley wine to the max territory, and it finishes exceptionally well, certainly worthy of acknowledgment as a finer example, rather than a seasonal frivolity. – Mike

It’s very much like melted candy, and it starts off sweet, but finishes dry. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 3 / B- 3 / R- 4

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Avery Brewing Company is based in Boulder, Colorado where the record low once reached -31.  Rumpkin might best be enjoyed as a sipping beer in the tradition of a cognac or as a replacement spirit to help stave off frostbite in a St. Bernard’s rescue barrel.  – Tim

This is 15.90% so lets be honest here, you’re only meant to have one. But on a cold night, this boy will keep you warmer than any of Brian Wilson’s northern girls, and in Boulder, Colorado, you can be damn sure that’s a welcome thing. – Mike

This is a great tasting pumpkin ale to sip on a cold day, maybe more like a frigid day.  The ABV is super strong, but doesn’t keep this ale from exceeding in flavor. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 2 / B- 3/ R- 6

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Overall:  5.83

M- 7.67 / T- 4.92 / B- 3.50 / R- 6.83

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