There has been one type of beer I have never enjoyed or really understood: The Pumpkin Ale. I have always wanted to enjoy it, but, for some reason, I get overwhelmed by the taste of pumpkin and can’t handle it. This was all until I tasted the amazingness that is Dogfish Head Punkin.
Not necessarily every Saturday, but some Saturdays, I like to go out to Rick’s Wine and Spirits in VA. Saturdays they do 5 tastings of different beers that are either rare or seasonal. This particular Saturday I was heading out there to pick up some special releases from Stone. Of course I’m not passing up the tasting while I’m there, so I went through the tasting as well. There were two different pumpkin ales on the line. While I hated the first one, I was really surprised by the Dogfish one. I still didn’t pick up any; however, I didn’t forget about it. All week I was considering picking it up. I even called a few local places to find out if they had it. Finally, I went out Friday and picked up a four pack of this great brew.
The label really helps to tell the story of why this one is so good. They don’t just brew a pumpkin ale. It is a brown ale, which I really enjoy as a type of beer in the first place. Then they use cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and brown sugar in the recipe. All of these ingredients, combined with pumpkin, have the potential to either be really good or bad. Fortunately it is for the better.
The pour of the beer does have a really nice pumpkin color to it. It has almost a little more of an auburn than orange tint to it. Also, there is a nice layer of head that develops on the top. It is a nice fluffy white head that is about two fingers deep. There is some light lacing that takes place on the sides of the glass. I think the brown sugar definitely has something to do with this.
The smell gives you exactly what the bottle tells you will be included. The cinnamon and nutmeg are the biggest scents overall. You certainly pick up that pumpkin scent as well, but it seems to take a back seat to the different spices included in the brew. I really have no idea what allspice smells like, but there is a little bit of a hoppy spicy scent that comes out. It does not overwhelm, but it is definitely present. You can tell there are some nice malts on the nose as well. I personally am really happy that the scent of pumpkin is not overwhelming. In my mind, it gives hope for potential enjoyment.
The little taste I had at Rick’s is what really convinced me I had to have this beer. I love Dogfish Head, but I didn’t think I could find a pumpkin beer I would like. This one does not overwhelm you with the taste of pumpkin. Instead, this one gives you a cinnamon and nutmeg flavor as the taste that you experience the most. The pumpkin taste is definitely still there; however, it takes a backseat to some of these other flavors. The pumpkin is more of the backbone to this beer. You taste it all the way to the aftertaste, but it is more mellow than a lot of other pumpkin beers. The malts are definitely present throughout the flavor as well, but there is a nice kick of hops right before the end flavor. The end flavoring is a nice little spicy kick that comes from the allspice that combines with the light hopping. The brown sugar is not quite as noticeable, but you do have that little taste of it here and there. It is definitely a little more mellow in the flavors.
The mouthfeel to this one is really pleasant. It does not give you a weird taste anywhere. With so many different flavors at work, you would think there is a chance something doesn’t work. This definitely doesn’t occur. Instead, there is a nice blend of everything throughout. The carbonation is pretty high on this one, but it isn’t too high. Given the nature of the beer, it is really pleasant to have a nice amount of carbonation on this one. The aftertaste doesn’t linger too long, and it is really pleasant.
Overall, I love this beer. I definitely never though I would say that about any pumpkin ale. I have tried a bunch of different ones, and I can honestly say, this one does something that a lot of others does not do. If you don’t like pumpkin ales, give this one a shot. It has some great tastes in there besides pumpkin which really makes all the difference. I have three left, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I head back for one more four pack before the season is gone.
Teacher Grade: A+
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