Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Dogfish Head – Punkin’ Ale

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!

Dogfish Punkin Shirt

Dogfish Punkin Shirt

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


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  1. Zach

    I agree this is a very good beer and one that suprised me. More info on it,

  2. I liked this last year but I’d heard the 2009 batch was, well, spotty. I haven’t tried it yet this year but will. Saw where someone else was touting the Lakefront Pumpkin Lager…TRY IT. It’s great.

  3. I’m happy you tried it again. You would be missing out on a great beer. Not to mention that it hurts when someone of your caliber doesn’t like something that Dogfish Head creates.

    I am a fan of DFH’s Punkin Ale. I try to keep a stash of it in the fridge for as long as I can.

    Welcome back.

  4. Thanks for the comment Leigh. You can get the shirt on Dogfish Head’s website – or by clicking on the picture of the shirt in the post.

    Have a great one – cheers!

  5. Cool Shirt – where do I get one!!

  6. A great write up on a great product. I just posted my own review and actually linked back to yours as well. Would love to know your thoughts @

    BTW I love the new site and updated my blogroll to you. Thanks for the regular supply of stellar content. Cheers.

  7. Norman Miller

    I recently conducted a blind tasting of 12 pumpkin beers — the top two were Hoppin’ Frog’s and Lakefront’s Pumpkin Lager. If you have a chance pick them up.

  8. I’ve had a bunch of Pumpkin ales and so far the DFH has been the best of the bunch. I really like the pumpkin ale concept, but most of them are a let-down!

    BTW, nice redesign!

  9. I generally despise pumpkin ales. But DFH’s is amazing — can’t get enough of it.

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