What we found was a pumpkin ale, courtesy of a northern brewery (Portland, Oregon), where the weather is no doubt more in keeping with the concept. The brew is available at Central Market, and attractively presented in a brown glass bottle with a suitably orange label. The payoff, though, is what's inside — a spicy, fruity ale that delivers a subtle pumpkin character, without any overt sweetness, or that "artificial" flavor that so often results from messing with the hops.

Pumpkin ale makes us long for the holidays, and we fantasize drinking it with winter foods. We'll be stocking a few six packs for Thanksgiving, or maybe stuffing a few bottles into adult stockings, like a happy, alcoholic Santa Claus. (Hey, where do you think he got the red nose?)

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