I love pumpkin beer. Well, I should say I love good pumpkin beer. I’ve had more than one that I didn’t like, and more than one that I would drink every day if it were available every day. So last year, when I tried Dogfish Head’s Punkin’ ale I had high expectations. But I just… didn’t love it. And saying that about a DFH brew for me is saying something.
So this year, I decided to do my due diligence and try this year’s batch – for comparison. This is described on the label as a “full bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg” and frankly it sounds like my family’s pumpkin pie recipe (minus the beer of course).
It pours a great autumn harvest red and the color just seems to glow and ooze from the glass. If I saw this from across the room I’d be on my way over to try it out. I wish I could find my digital camera charger so I could get a decent shot of the color, but I’ll move on. It smells like allspice and cinnamon, with some malts in there. I’m not sure if I smell a lot of sweetness, and it isn’t obviously pumpkin smelling like, say, a Shipyard Pumpkinhead. But its inviting like a harvest, and I am easily swayed by a seductive scents of autumn.
The taste is a bit different than I remember last year to be. This one is smooth and clean, with a very drinkable pumpkin flavor. It doesn’t overwhelm, has a pleasant and sweet finish and leaves me immediately thirsty for another sip. I vaguely remember last year’s being a bit more harsh at the end of it, and I have to say that this one is a winner. I think the balance comes in its ability to hint at pumpkin, keep a nice balance, and remind you of fall, without being too literal, too sweet, too vegetable-like or too dry.
I had it the other night with my friends Sylvia* & Jane’s apple/turkey meatloaf and baked potatoes, complete with a cobbler for dessert. And I must say, that was a fine pairing! (Any beer tastes better with a home-made rustic meal like that of course…)
On a side note, DFH has a really cool shirt that commemorates this brew. Check it out!
The Dogfish Punkin’ a great one – and I think I could recommend this to a lot of people. This has crept back up my list. I like it better, easily, than the Shipyard Imperial Pumpkin, and its a little less sweet than the Southern Tier Pumpking. Coming in at 7%ABV, this one is also warming from the alcohol, and I could see myself serving this at a harvest dinner celebration.
*By the way, Sylvia writes a blog where she is reviewing all the children’s books to win a Newberry Medal – great for any bibliophiles out there. Check out http://pannarrens.wordpress.com/