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A Big Ol’ Pumpkin in Your Glass 

10 Barrel joins the creeping late-summer pumpkin ale frenzy

Just as Halloween gear now lines supermarket shelves beginning early September and novelty antlers for your dog will likely be available at PetSmart before Columbus Day, beer fans have seen pumpkin beers hit stores earlier and earlier every year. Why the “holiday” creep? Because, much like with good Oktoberfest beer, ales with lots of fall spice are extremely popular at the start of autumn...and then sales drop off a cliff once November sets in and beer nerds switch to heavy winter stouts and such. Thus, while temps still touch the 80s in Bend, beer shops are already stocking scads of pumpkin beers, from Southern Tier’s ultra-sweet Pumking to the endless line of fall-spice ales from Elysian in Seattle—Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, The Great Pumpkin imperial ale, Punkuccino coffee pumpkin ale, etc., etc. (Elysian’s annual pumpkin-beer fest in October featured over 60 selections last year. They’re gourd-goofy up there.) 10 Barrel is joining the fray this fall with Big Ol’ Pumpkin, their first bottled shot at the genre and Beer No. 4 in their ongoing line of seasonal 22-ounce releases. Originally a keg-only release in 2012 (when 10 Barrel’s Bend brewpub held a small pumpkin festival of its own), this strong ale boasts a formidable 9.3% alcohol, with each barrel packed with 14 pounds of organic pumpkin and a liberal helping of cinnamon and nutmeg. While Elysian’s Pumking is so overwhelmingly rich that finishing a bottle in one sitting can be difficult, 10 Barrel’s Big Ol’ Pumpkin is far more approachable, offering a lovely pumpkin pie-like aroma without beating you over the head with sugary afternotes. The molasses-laden taste works well with all that spice, and for a beer with so many ingredients, it’s a bit dangerously easy-drinking. In other words, it’s a great fall-weather beer—one perfectly at home in a bedside snifter while you mull over Halloween party decorations.

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