Big Boss “Harvest Time” Pumpkin Ale is 4.5% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a “craft beer glass”.
Appearance: I poured this carefully, after noticing some yeast at the bottom of the bottle. This pour brought about just a dollop of off-white and very thin foam, which lasted no time at all. The color is a mostly clear medium orange/amber. This looks to have light carbonation.
Smell: I get some sweet vegetal pumpkin, some slightly sour notes, and a prominent spice profile. For spices I get something like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. It is hard to discern, though. This has a lot of smooth malt to it, and some brown sugar. Overall, this smells nice, like it will bring a lot of spice in the flavors.
Taste: To start I get some strong spice, along with more roasty pumpkin than I was expecting from the aroma. The spices contribute nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon (I think). There is a nice brown sugar component, with a smooth and mellow caramel-like malt presence. I also get some round vanilla. This finishes with a bit more sweetness and vanilla, which fade nicely. The aftertaste has just a touch of fine and almost peppery spice, as well as some slight astringency. This has great flavor, good pumpkin presence, and an overall nice balance.
Feel: This is light to medium-bodied, with mild carbonation. The feel has some warmth. The spice, pumpkin, and sugar are balanced against each other to give a really good feel. Good marks here.
Drinkability: This is good for drinkability. The ABV is low, and the flavors are pretty smooth. Nothing hangs or drags, though the spices are a bit forthright at times. Great here.
Overall: I really do like this one. The roasted pumpkin is enjoyable, and sort of a surprise given the aroma. This has a considerable amount of flavor for a beer of 5.5 percent. This is the first time I am having it, and am very pleased to taste it. What I have to say in terms of criticism is that the spice bill really hits a bit hard up front, and detracts some from the otherwise enjoyable roasty pumpkin flavor. Regardless, this is a solid pumpkin offering from North Carolina. While there aren’t a ton of pumpkin offerings from North Carolina, this is certainly the best I’ve had from the state. And it is competitive among the middle-of-the-road-for-ABV offerings outside of the state.
Overall Rating: ***1/2
About Big Boss and their “Harvest Time”: Geoff Lamb and Brad Wynn, who is formerly of Native Brewing, Victory, and Wild Goose, started Big Boss in 2006 in Raleigh, North Carolina. They then began distributing their beer in 2007. Since then Big Boss has developed 5 year round beers, with their “Bad Penny” brown ale being one of the most popular. This year, they also put out 12 different seasonals. I spoke with Dave Rogers at Big Boss, who told me about a couple of new projects that they have on the scene. One is a newer barrel program, which has been sparked by the purchase of a large load of used wine barrels, as well as 2 new 100-barrel oak foeders. Big boss also hosts a lot of events. Their most recent large event of October 3rd was their “Casktoberfest”, which they bill as a Real Ale Week from the UK meets a German Oktoberfest. Casktoberfest is a cask conditioned and barrel aged beers celebration, which this year offered 33 different casks from a number of breweries.
Big Boss makes their pumpkin ale with real pumpkin, and a “secret blend of spices”. I have to say that the spicing is good with this one. So let it be proprietary. I wish I could have had it on cask 3 different ways last week at their Casktoberfest. But alas, I can’t have it all.