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Oaken Barrel is "breaking out" its 2009 Indiana State Fair Best of Show "Pumkin Ale" Oct. 31, noon to 3:00 p.m. Renamed "Pum-Kwan Ale" in honor of O.B. co-founder Kwan Casey, this seductive brew provides a range of all the aromas and tastes connected with harvest, Halloween and Thanksgiving. NUVO sampled a preview pint on Oct. 21. A sparkling amber color and frothy head foreshadowed the swirl of spices wafting to the nose and mouthfeel of pumpkin puree for the first sip. As the brew warmed, cinnamon joined company with the full-bodied malt for an overall delightful complexity.

With Best of Show and a roster of wins in an array of categories, head brewer Mark Havens and assistant brewer Andrew Castner brought Oaken Barrel its consecutive Indiana State Fair Best Professional Brewer award in 2009, thus keeping the trophy they hoisted in 2008.

As always, NUVO also enjoyed a pint of Razz-Wheat [on $2.00 special that day]. This Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal brew is distinctive for its smoothness and full flavor from fresh raspberries - not the usual syrup most other breweries use. With a basket of O.B.'s not-to-be-found-anywhere else fries, one Is well fortified, though the menu has a tempting range of delicious and affordable choices for lunch and dinner. Alas, we were a few hours too late for the seasonal "Apple Buzz." It was gone on tap. We'll be more calendar conscious next year.

Sign up for Oaken Barrel's Schmoozer Club at no cost to receive a Oakenswipe card to build up points with every visit. Perks include a $5 discount coupon for every 5 visits and 10% off Oaken Barrel merchandise, including six-packs of Razz-Wheat, Indiana Amber, Gnaw Bone Pale Ale and Alabaster White available at $6.95. Specialty beers are available "to go" in half-gallon jugs at $12.00. 317-887-2287;

Congratulations to Kahn's fine wine & spirits for their 30th anniversary.

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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