I make fun of one of my brothers because of how he chooses what kind of beer he doesn’t like. He’ll take a look at a beer and go “I can’t do it. It’s too dark.” Which means, anything from an English brown ale to a stout won’t cross his lips solely because of their color. I have a confession to make. Of all the beers I’ve seen, I could never wrap my head around the pumpkin beers you see on the shelves every Christmas and Thanksgiving. I could never wrap my head around beer tasting like pumpkin pie.
In the last couple of months I’ve been writing a lot of beer reviews. Among other things, I’ve been working my way through beers produced by Dogfish Head. So, one day I saw Punkin Ale sitting in the new acquisitions section of my favorite beer store. After some minor hesitation, I decided to forego my little prejudice and give this pumpkin beer thing a try. Punkin ale pours into the glass a burnt copper color, sort of the color of pumpkins. Good carbonation supports a fluffy off white head with decent retention.
Punkin Ale starts off with aromas of pumpkin pie spice. Spices are supported by hints of pumpkin. Aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg are supported by those of cloves and a hint of caramel. First impression is that this ale is bracingly dry. Punkin ale is medium bodied and offers a rounded sweetness in the middle. This is where the flavors of pumpkin come through. Flavor moves from flavors of pumpkin directly into a lingering, bone dry finish.
Overall, Punkin Ale carries itself well. Pumpkin flavors are present without being overpowering. Alcohol does sort of makes its presence known as you drink through flavors of alcoholic phenols. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale gets a 7.68 out of 10. When all is said and done, Punkin Ale is a good introduction to the world of pumpkin beer. What pleases me most is how this beer doesn’t overpower you with flavors of pumpkin or pumpkin pie spices.
I suppose the lesson here is don’t judge a beer by its label. In the end I’m glad I made Dogfish Head my first foray into pumpkin flavoured beer. As I’ve worked my way through their lineup, I don’t think I’ve run into a Dogfish Head beer I’ve not liked. I’m looking forward to trying more of their out of the box beers in the future.