Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

image courtesy of piscesinpurple.com

image courtesy of dogfish.com

My new favorite beer flavor to explore at the present has to be pumpkin. It’s that time of year when summer is slowly fading into fall and instead of getting excited about spending the day at the beach, we are planning tailgates, preparing ourselves for football season and the youngins’ are finding themselves back in the classroom.

As these new “fall” beers emerged, Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead was the first that I sampled. I was pleasantly surprised at its pumpkin-pie reminiscent flavor. Although after the first couple of sips, my palate seemed to lose its sensitivity to the overly-sweet beverage and it wasn’t quite as enjoyable anymore.

My next pumpkin conquest was UFO’s Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale. Having visited the craft beer bar, Tap 42 in Fort Lauderdale, and being brainwashed by the restaurant’s claim that this was the best pumpkin beer, I was expecting so much more. I purchased a bottle to sample from Total Wine…and to say the least, it was a plain Jane. Nothing really stood out about it. If I had to say something good about this beer, I guess it would be that it was light and refreshing. If you’re into (really) subtle flavors, then this might be the beer of choice for you.

I, on the other hand, want FLAVOR! 

If a certain alcoholic beverage, whether it be beer, liquor, or even wine, claims to taste like “vanilla,” or “cotton candy,” or “hazelnuts,” then it better be in-your-face. Or else, why wouldn’t I just drink a regular old beer?

So far, the absolute best pumpkin beer award goes to: Southern Tier’s Pumking.

As my best friend described it: “It’s like a candle in a glass!” Now, this may not sound like an appealing description at first, but think about the aroma that wafts towards your nostrils as you pass a Yankee Candle when it is approaching Fall. Smells gooood, doesn’t it? Southern Tier, (who is also the creator of the Creme Brulee Stout–delicious!) does not disappoint with this light yet fully-flavored beer that certainly puts you in the mood for Thanksgiving dinner. It was easy to drink, slowly sippable. (I can’t say the same for Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin, which should be served as a dessert, in a shotglassbecause that’s really all my stomach could realistically handle of the heavy, creamy concoction.)

And now for the verdict on the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. I give it an 8 out of 10. It pours a beautiful copper color and has a light aroma of pumpkin and spice; not overwhelming at all. Each sip is slightly sweet but has a bitter finish and the full body doesn’t leave you wanting for more. The flavor is beautifully balanced; adaptable to being paired with a meal or sipped on all by itself. With an ABV of 7%, you can definitely say that this isn’t a wimpy brew. You’ll be winding down from a long day after just a few sips. And compared to the Pumking’s flavor, it is slightly less sweet. But I honestly can’t decide which of the two I actually like better. It might simply be a matter of what mood I’m in to decide which one I’d drink at any certain time. My next review will have to be a side-by-side comparison.

To learn more about Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, see what the creators themselves have to say about it: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/seasonal-brews/punkin-ale.htm

image courtesy of Google.com

Other pumpkin beers that my tastebuds are dying to try:

  • Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale (the original Blue Moon has always been one of my favorites!) 
  • Woodchuck Pumpkin Private Reserve (I love the Woodchuck ciders…this has got to be good)
  • Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat
  • Blue Point Pumpkin Ale
  • Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere (Belgian-Style Ale–something a little different!)
  • Terrapin Pumpkinfest (their logo has turtles…umm, can you say “adorable”?) 
  • Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale (I’ve never been a huge SA fan, but I’d be willing to give this a try) 
  • Cigar City Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale

The seasons are changing and new varieties of craft beers are emerging and filling the shelves. I look forward to exploring more flavors and varieties, and to sharing those experiences here.

I’m off to finish my Punkin Ale while continuing on with my reading of The Game of Thrones, (book review to come…).

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

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