Posts tagged ‘Balanced’

Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Dry Dock Brewing

photo 2

This unsuspecting brew came to us at the vocal suggestion of one of our blog followers and we’re glad that we listened. Announced just yesterday from The Great American Beer Festival, Dry Dock Brewing took home 5 medals, including two gold for their Wee Heavy and Mild entries. Add in the fact that they took home Brewer of the year in 2009 (and a heap of other accolades you can check out on their website), and you’ve got all the little details that make trying a brew for the first time pretty dang exciting. For our money, this entry held up to their reputation and then some. Our advice? Keep your eyes on these folks. They’re poised to become kings of Colorado’s craft brew scene.


Name: Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Aurora, Colorado / Dry Dock Brewing

Beer style / ABV%: Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 9.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale is brewerd with pumpkins in the mash and spiced delicately with saigon and indonesian cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mace, and cloves.



Very cool illustrative label, with a skeletal pirate holding out a pumpkin in Hamlet-esque fashion while a collection of wicked jack-o-lanterns grin manically in the background. Soppy Halloween vibes are plentiful. – Tim

Definitely one of the cooler labels we’ve seen. A spooky dead pirate with a jack-o-lantern makes a nice center piece and flows well with the brewery’s theme. – Rick


Color: 6.5

The beer pours a glowing copper/orange hue. It’s a little hazy to look at but you can still see the gentle trickle of bubbles as they rise to the slightly soapy looking thin head. – Brittney

Mimicking the outer rind of a pumpkin, this coloration is a ripe orange hue. A slim head quickly fades to nothing and I’m left with a cloudy disconcerting orange color. – Rick

M – 7 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 5


Aroma: 7.5

Pumpkin and malt punch through, adrift in a sea of spices. Ginger seems to poke out ahead of the others, followed by soapy nutmeg, piquant mace, and a hint of cinnamon. – Mike

Pumpkin and pie crust, with cinnamon, clove ginger and allspice, biscuit malt notes and a heady breath of alcohol. – Tim

M – 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 7.5


Mouth feel: 7.5

Medium bodied and avoiding syrupy trappings. It’s actually rather dry. The carbonation breaks up slightly what would, otherwise, be still waters. – Mike

Pretty weighty and slick bringing a medium bodied beer to the heavier end. This is also one of those occasions where you can almost feel aspects of the spice open up in your mouth. – Brittney

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 8


Tasting notes: 8.5

Wow. This has a huge pumpkin presence. It’s got a fantastic grainy, creamy pumpkin pie body. The spices, though using everything in the cupboard, are totally reigned in and in check. It’s subtle, nuanced, and complete. It’s the opposite of big, in your face, pumpkin beer. It’s pumpkin, then beer, then spice; and it’s supremely balanced and executed. – Mike

Lots of caramel malt sweetness and a fair amount of cinnamon that overpowers the other spices in the brew. But clove, ginger and allspice all manage to peek though in the end. The pumpkin finally comes though on the body but it’s getting beaten into pie territory by the spice blend. That being said, I would rank this high on a level for what an pie spice aggressive Imperial Pumpkin Ale should taste like. – Tim

This plays the traditional pumpkin ale card well, if a little on the intense end. The spices are definitely on the forefront and the buttery malt you can smell in the aroma comes through nicely in the flavor. Being an Imperial, you have to expect to experience a good amount of alcohol but once your palate is acclimated to that it isn’t too offensive or overpowering. – Brittney

Nice pumpkin flavor is backed up by some impressive spicing. Mace and ginger work well together and stand out impressively here to dry and really crisp up the body. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 8


Finish: 7.5

A lot of the cinnamon sticks with you at the end as far as the flavor of the finish goes, but the thing that really stuck with me is the sweet slick syrupy mouth feel. – Brittney

Like the mouthfeel, the finish is super smooth for a 9% ABV brew, with just a little noticeable heat coming off it. It’s also really clean tasting as well. Mace and ginger are awesome here leaving a nice crisp finish. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 5.5 / R- 7


Flavor balance: 7.5

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

I’m saying this for the first time. It’s mostly pumpkin forward. The cavalcade of spices in this bottle must have been micro pipetted in. Astonishing balance of sweet malty pumpkin, whip cream and singed pie crust, with a spicy kiss of dryness. – Mike

Maybe a touch too heavy on the spice, but an overall great job for an imperial. Once again, I have to note my pleasure with the balance of ginger and mace on the finish. They do a great job of cooling off this imperial and keeps the sweetness in check. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 6.5

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

Sweet, but not cloying, with some heat from the Imperial ABV on the close. Cinnamon is prevalent but not harsh enough to completely dry this one it. – Tim

Usually higher amounts of alcohol can help balance out a super sweet beer but in this case not so much. Any dryness here is from the spicing. – Brittney

M – 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 7.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7.5

When I’m looking for a ‘kick back and relax’ pumpkin beer, my go-to brews tend to be Southern Tier’s Pumking and Dogfish’s Punkin. This one could settle tight into the groove with that set as a superior everyday Pumpkin Ale. – Tim

While I’m all for extreme brewing, it’s nice to have an entry just hit the nail on the head without any bells and whistles. You’re not going to get sick halfway through the bottle from a sugar bomb, and you’re still going to feel your tongue afterwards without feeling like you drank cinnamon mouthwash. This is perfect for a meal pairing. It glows in it’s own tempered radiance. At 9%, it still drinks like a session ale, and the pumpkin malt body give it a certain seriousness for the beer snob in us all. Simply put, it’s impressive in it’s humility, valuing balance and detail over loud flavors or obnoxious intensity. It’s real, and it’s really good.

M – 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 7.5


Overall: 7.50

M – 8.50 / T- 6.92 / B- 6.67 / R- 7.25


Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series) – Hangar 24 Craft Brewery


Located in an old Norton Air Force Base Building in Redlands, California just across the street from the Municipal Airport, Hangar 24 is certainly appropriately named. Further, they aren’t just messing around with their Local Fields series beers. When they tell you the pumpkins are locally sourced, they’re referring to the fact that they are grown within eyesight of the brewery. (The Local Fields series also features an array of fun and exotic local items such as wine grapes, dates, blood oranges, spruce, and bing cherries). But hey, we’re here to talk about pumpkin beer. So without further ado…


Name: Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Redlands, CA / Hangar 24 Craft Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Strong Pumpkin Porter / 8.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Gourdgeous uses 1,000 lbs of pumpkins grown at Larry Jacinto Farms just a half mile from the brewery,  hand collected, cut, and seeded by local volunteers, and then roasted in giant ovens compliments of local catering company Q-Works BBQ. It’s then turned into a rich strong porter where molasses and spices join the mix.



A rustic old country style label promises of farm fresh craft beer brewed from pumpkins grown only a half-mile from the brewery.  I always appreciate a label that takes the time to inform the consumer – this is even more important in the crowded pumpkin beer field.  Take note brewers. – Tim

Nicely done label, simply descriptive and vintage looking.  Staying true to the brewery theme of aviation, you could easily swap the gourd on this label for an airplane flying over the locally grown pumpkin patch. – Brittney


Color:  6

Put the scarlet letter on this hussy. Garnet and cola pervade this brew, barley touching on brown except in the shadows. Very nice clarity. – Mike

It’s nice and dark upon first glance, but when I really got in there to check it out, I found myself peering into a very soda like concoction. I like everything about this beer except when I hold it to the light I’m misled by the slight glow of molasses color that sways the illusion of root beer. The bone dry head, if not denser than a root beer, doesn’t help this misconception either. – Rick

M – 7 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 6


Aroma: 8 

The nose is loaded with rich caramel and pumpkin spices that with the malt create an overall smooth sense, but brown sugar and molasses are also both very prevalent bringing sweetness to the forefront of your expectations. – Brittney

The base here is a nice porter up front. My nose is picking up decent amounts of sweet vanilla bean with a decadent mixture of dry dark chocolate for a fine finish. My initial reaction is great porter bouquet, but I’m missing the pumpkin element. – Rick

M – 8 / T- 9 / B- 7.5 / R- 7


Mouth feel:  7.5

The body here would be deceiving here based on looks alone. It’s quite full, envelopes the tongue in a decadent wash, and has only the foggiest notion of it’s upward ABV. Quite a bit heavier than a brown, but still evading the boggy trappings of an imperial stout, style wise, I’ve got to call this flawless. Bravo. – Mike

Full end of medium bodied without being syrupy or carbonated enough to notice. The noted ingredients and character of this beer could have given a little more richness and room to shine on a heavier more still platform. – Brittney

M – 10 / T- 8.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5


Tasting notes: 8.5

An unexpected burst of sweetness joins chocolate roast, creamy pumpkin, and a good bit of spice (but not overwhelmingly so). It’s like finishing a Cool Whip heaped slice of pie with a mug of hot cocoa, and it takes me back to my childhood. This could be a lovely dessert beer, or just straight up dessert, and, admirably, it leaves the mouth with just a smidge of lingering sugar and spice. Perfect piquant Harmony. – Mike

 I have to say that although it’s not traditional, I love it when a pumpkin beer can include dark chocolate notes well, and this one does.  Although it’s an overall sweet option with lots of rich molasses and brown sugar, it does have a decent (I wouldn’t say strong) presence of porter roast as well as a good notion of tasting actual pumpkin. – Brittney

Did someone say decadent? This is a top notch porter, delivering on every single promise the aroma has to offer, it’s thick and chewy which stands in direct contrast to the color of the ale. Masses of burnt caramel and molasses, roasted pumpkin and baking spices are mixed with earthy sage and rosemary notes.  It’s a full-on assault making this craft beer more of a meal than a beverage. – Tim

This is a perfect porter style with bold in your face flavoring. Sweet nutmeg, vanilla, dark chocolate and molasses all commingle well offering a grand base for the roasted caramel and molasses flavors to solidify the pumpkin porter. A very tasty brew indeed. – Rick

M – 9 / T- 9.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5


Finish: 8.5

Long and sweet, boozy and chocolaty, I can tell the ABV in this beer is on the higher end of the scale, but even with that heady afterthought, nothing could keep me from a second glass. – Tim

This one starts off sweet, but the finish really holds it all together with that dry dark chocolate. It ends up being really smooth with just a slight burn from the 8.5% ABV almost masking it’s strength. – Rick

M – 9.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7 / R- 8.5


Flavor balance: 8.5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 9

The spicing here is masterful. Yes, it is quite spiced, but as easily as this could be a sugar bomb, it is firmly wrestled into submission, and resolves exquisitely. It’s rare to find the beer that doesn’t over do something, AND doesn’t shy away from being a spiced beer. This one hits it out of the park. – Mike

I tend to like my pumpkin pie in a bottle to favor the ale side a bit more, but this is a nearly perfect blend of roasted gourd and all the classic spices with a shot of booze to top it all off.  It’s more like bourbon pumpkin pie—if that were a real thing.  In fact, can we make that a real thing? – Tim

M – 9.5 / T- 10 / B- 8 / R- 8

         Sweet / Dry balance: 8

Just a tad on the sweet syrupy side, but it’s well masked by the hops and dark chocolate finish. – Rick

The only dryness here comes a few minutes later on the finish due to the 8.5% ABV, otherwise this is decadence in all is abject glory. – Tim

M – 9 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

         Multiple Drinkability? 8

Between the sweetness, alcohol, and malt I would probably stick one or two; but I would enjoy them whole-heartedly. – Brittney

This is surprisingly approachable for a fuller bodied, boldly flavored beer. I’m left with neither regret, nor bellyache, and it eludes the mentality of some of the heavier “great taste, so damn filling you’ll never finish the bottle” ales floating around. Do you need more than one bottle provides? I’ll let you be the judge, but for me, it’s pretty darn tempting. Sadly, I only have one. – Mike

M – 7.5 / T- 8.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 7.5


Overall: 7.83

M – 8.67 / T- 8.08 / B- 7.00 / R- 7.25

Gourdgeous footer

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale (special release) – The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc.

You know you’re dealing with a class act when they’ve got Thoreau quoted on the bottle. And to celebrate Schlafly’s 20th anniversary, they seem to have spent some extra special attention on this year’s offerings. Without exception, of course, is their pumpkin ale, and we all seem to agree, that if you’re looking to “celebrate the bounty of harvest and season of plenty”, than you’ll find quite the opportunity in this bottle.


Name:  Schlafly Pumpkin Ale (special release)

Place of Origin / Brewer: Missouri, USA / The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 8.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Schlafly is brewed with Pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove, and features the use of Marynka hops, 2-row and Crystal malted barley, Munich malt, wheat malt, chocolate malt, and American Ale yeast, for a malty and slightly bitter backbone.



Taste and simplicity are embodied on this packaging, from it’s relaxed autumnal color scheme, it’s clear pumpkin marking, and poignant quote, it both recalls the spirit of the season, and a boastful-yet-understated reflection of the spirit within. – Mike

Very monochromatic color scheme works well with the simple design elements.  A pumpkin centered quote by Thoreau is a nice touch while staying unobtrusive. – Rick


Color:  7

Pours a stunning deep pumpkin pie color with noticeable sediment and  a fizzy cream head that diffuses pretty rapidly leaving zero lacing but keeps sending sheets of carbonation bubbles dancing to the surface. – Tim

Pours a murky golden brown with pretty active carbonation.  An initially pretty decent tan head had respectable staying power. – Brittney

M- 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 7


Aroma:  7.5

This suckers smells like liquid pumpkin pie, putting that sweet roasted pumpkin flavor together with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.   It has a thick, almost dense, bouquet that rumors of a very bold beer. – Tim

Dirty raw pumpkin all up front.  As the beer warmed up a bit the clove, cinnamon and nutmeg became quite apparent and pretty intense. – Brittney

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


Mouth feel:  7

On the heavier end of medium bodied, the malts seem to lend a creamy smoothness here that is velvety and slick on the tongue, while the subdued carbonation invite you to swish it around a bit to unlock the flavor hidden just beneath the surface. – Mike

Medium bodied with a tendency toward the heavier spectrum, it feels weighty on the tongue with a soft carbonation that belies all the dancing bubbles the beer exhibited on the pour. – Tim

The bite from the 8.0% ABV is small but noticeable.  Otherwise it’s smooth and foamy over the tongue with a medium body.  My lips are left slightly tacky reinforcing the sweet nature of this ale. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 6


Tasting notes:  8.5

There are really nice sweet malts here that are complimented by the allspice and nutmeg.  It’s a good strong tasting ale without being too heavy. – Rick

The pumpkin at the front of this lulls you into a false ideal that this is a good representation of a pumpkin beer but nothing special. They then use the spice as their ace in the hole.  It’s slightly over-whelming to the palate, but in a good way.  This beer has just enough earthy pumpkin up front and an assault of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon at the end. – Brittney

So many pumpkin beers mask their flavor with overpowering noses while others craft ales so dense that the flavor struggles to escape the body.  Schlafly is the rare beer that tastes exactly like it smells. It’s concentrated with notes of brown sugar, clove, allspice and roasted pumpkin.  It’s sweet and malty but not overbearing or sticky.  It might be the closest thing to liquid pumpkin pie I’ve yet to taste.  – Tim

Smooth and creamy malt enters the palatial plane, and when allowed to warm on the tongue, transforms into an intensely full baked pumpkin, complete with brown sugar and toasty pie crust notes. But what really blows me away on this sucker is how nicely the spices separate, giving you that true pie experience, while still managing not to overwhelm the pumpkin, and in fact vanish cleanly and quickly on the finish. – Mike

M- 8.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 8


Finish:  8

In the realm of short and clean, this is a masterpiece. They’ve managed to take a full bodied swig of pumpkin and spice to the very crescendo of good taste, and pull it back to nothing at the end, so you can experience it again with every sip. – Mike

I’m left with a caramely sweetness and just a bit of a bite.  It’s fairly light though with an almost sour note from the pumpkin. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 6.5


Flavor balance:  8


–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

There is a fair amount of pumpkin in there but the spice dominates.  However I don’t find it any more distracting in there that I do in a rich pumpkin pie.  That is, this is not pumpkin puree or fresh cut pumpkin on display, this is mama’s homemade pie fresh out of the oven. – Tim

There is really a good pumpkin flavor here.  The spices are nice and sweet without becoming too spicy as some pumpkin ales can tend to be. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 7.5


–         Sweet / Dry balance: 

There’s an upfront sweetness that masterfully blends out to just a touch of dry finish, but ends so clean, you won’t even know it was there. Very impressive. – Mike

It’s not very dry at all, but there is a good sweetness that seems to be the backbone of this brew.  It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a noticeable undertone of sourness from the pumpkin elements, but in no way is this a bad thing. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 6


–         Multiple Drinkability?

I think there is way too much going on here to have many of these.  I would enjoy one maybe two very much but I think after that my palate would be blown. – Brittney

The 8% ABV is masked so well that I almost can’t believe this beer stacks up that high.  I don’t even get that ‘chest warmer’ vibe off this brew.  As tasty as this is, I could session this beer…and then call some friends to come drive me home afterward! – Tim

Looking for that perfect pumpkin session beer, but don’t dig the cloying sweet, or the choking spicy? This sucker is your new go to ale. With an emphatic approach of moderation, but simultaneously not being gun shy, I can hardily applaud Schlafly for creating a smooth and delicious brew, that’s not only easy, but all too tempting to return to again and again. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 9 / B- 6.5 / R- 6.5


Overall:  7.67

M- 8.17 / T- 7.75 / B- 7.33 / R- 6.91

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale – The Boston Beer Company

Available only in the Sam Adams Harvest Collection pack, you’re going to have to commit to drinking a few beers to get to the two included of these included. Ironically, this made this one of the most expensive beers we’ve acquired yet. Then again if you’re going to a Halloween or Thanksgiving party, you might be very happy to see that someone has sprung for this assortment, and not the usual cheap ass beer.


Name:  Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer:  Massachusetts, USA / The Boston Beer Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Amber Ale /  5.7%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Deep roasted two row pale and caramel 60 malts, as well as special B and smoked malts compliment 11 pounds of pumpkin per barrel, along with the usual suspects of pie spices.



Let’s face it gang.  Sam Adams is well branded and very colonial traditional and this rare pumpkin offering from the legendary Boston brew company is exactly what you’d expect with the traditional blue label offset with the contrasting tones of autumn orange.  – Tim

This definitely fits the standard Sam packaging style, which is tasteful if slightly boring. They’ve nicely altered the color scheme to a deep malty orange and true blue feel, but considering this should be one of the crowning items in their sought after harvest holiday pack, I would have liked to have seen it get a little bit of special treatment ala my favorite Sam one off from the Christmas package, “Old Fezziwig”.  – Mike


Color:  7

A true amber so dark it’s almost garnet, and a thick whip cream head that didn’t dissipate for a number of minutes hugging the sides for dear life all the way down the glass. – Mike

Pours a clean, ruby amber that looks just like a….well…a Sam Adams.  Capping it off is a pretty enormous 2-finger head that lasts for what feels like an eternity leaving a gorgeous tapestry of lacing in it’s wake. – Tim

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


Aroma:  6

Bold nutmeg right off the bat hints at a sweet bouquet, then transitions to smoky cloves.  All of that and a touch of citrus-like fruity notes that lead me to believe that this brew is more complex than first meets the eye.  – Rick

Bready malt sweetness with notes of roasted pumpkin and the standard mix of spices, but a touch of smoke lingers just long enough to pique my interest. – Tim

M- 5 / T- 6 / B- 6.5 / R- 7


Mouth feel:  5

Medium carbonation with light to medium body. It’s creamy without being syrupy.  Not obtrusive but not overly unique either. – Brittney

About as true to the term medium – bodied as you can come. It’s respectably full without trying to push into European territory, and a nice reminder of why Sam Adam’s has been a staple gateway beer to the craft beer world. – Mike

It’s got that high carbonation that I’d expect from a mass produced American beer, too watery and innocuous to be really interesting with a slight burn from the bubbles. – Tim

M- 6 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 3


Tasting notes:  5.5

I like the basic mixture of spices in this brew.  It seems like there is a nice addition of brown sugar hiding under all that nutmeg and cinnamon, but just not enough to overshadow it’s lightness  Ultimately, the super light body is very disappointing. – Rick

There is no denying that this is a pumpkin beer done well.  But it seems like in order to create a really great pumpkin beer you’ve got to be willing to think outside the box.  What we have here is the Starbucks of pumpkin beers. – Brittney

I don’t generally go gaga over a Sam Adams and this one is no great exception.  Generations raised on Bud Light and Miller would probably be bowled over by any beer that didn’t adhere to those low standards and for me Sam is just one-upping a market that is competing at a Kindergarten level.  With that said, there’s some pumpkin in here and too much spice but most interestingly, there seems to be notes of Banana bread tossed into the mix. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 4 / B- 7 / R- 5


Finish:  5

I really enjoyed how this beer had so much bite up front and how pleasantly it mellowed into a gently sweet confectionery feel.  A bit of nut and spice comes at the very tail, and I could see it nicely complimenting a thanksgiving turkey. – Mike

Leaves at the same level it enters, pleasant and drinkable, one that I would use as a buffer mid season but probably not one that I would seek out to impress. – Brittney

The finish is watery smooth with indications of a bite from the spices.  I find it to be slightly sour as well as smoky at the very end.  There seems to be something missing from this one. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 3 / B- 6.5 / R- 4


Flavor balance:  6

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

The roast on the nose is more pumpkiny than the meat in the body, the spice mix is large but very one note.  So, the brew favors the spice even though the spice is dull…that just speaks of fail in my book. – Tim

A nice amount of both pumpkin and spice.  Not too much, not too little, not too interesting. – Brittney

There is a bit of fruitiness in this one that can be attributed to the amount of pumpkin that was brewed with the ale, or the addition of ginger.  The spices are nice and subtle on this brew making it enjoyable on that level at least. – Rick

I’d say Sam is a particularly noteworthy brew in this category. Not only is there a nice pumpkin to spice ratio, but it doesn’t interfere with the beer leaning too malt or too hops. It’s a true combined effort, and I can definitely applaud that. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 4 / B- 6.5 / R- 6

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

If it wasn’t for the weird bitter finish that kind of sucked what little joy was in my mouth straight out into something that resembled the vacuum of space, this ale would have had a pretty descent balance on the palate, but that finish killed it quick. – Tim

I like the balance here between the sweet nutmeg and the light dryness offered by the underused hops. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 4 / B- 6 / R- 6.5

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Smooth and inoffensive, this would be an excellent thanksgiving game day run for the serious beer drinker that doesn’t want to shell out for the whole family. Of course, we found them two to a pack, so you’re going to have to bogart them in a private stash to even have a shot at getting them away from your uncle. – Mike

I’m gonna go with a no here.  And since Sam Adams actually makes the beer hard to acquire (maybe they know something we don’t about the quality) it really isn’t gonna matter anyway. – Tim

While it is definitely smooth and easy to drink with a nice pumpkin flavor, this brew just misses the mark where I want more body and complexity, I’m left with a simple and generic ale. – Rick

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


Overall:  5.75

M- 6.83 / T- 4.50 / B- 6.78 / R- 5.08

Harvest Time – Big Boss Brewing Co.

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.


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.



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Overall:  6.92

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