Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 59 (9/21/2011): Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Context: Not a bad day at all. An uneventful day at work, some super big and exciting news, and a trip to Marty's Hops and Vines made for a pretty darn decent day. Not to mention I finally got to use my nifty fall-themed glass I grabbed from Kroger (for a buck! What a deal!)

Beer: Another pumpkin beer. I heard this one had been flying off the shelves, so I scooped up a four-pack when I got the chance. My understanding of Punkin is that is aims for the more balanced side of the pumpkin ale spectrum (much like Smuttynose's version, and unlike Southern Tier's Pumking), with the spices balanced well against the brown ale base.

This ended up being completely true and it translated into a tasty drink that you could drink every day without being overwhelmed by the sweetness or richness of a dessert beer. The smell is pretty much all spices, with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg being the dominant forces here. There is also a bit of earthiness that I'm guessing it from the pumpkin. As I said in an earlier post, I'm not entirely certain what roasted pumpkin smells/tastes like when it's not in a pie. There is also some yeast breadiness and a slight bit of roast from the brown ale base.

The taste comes at you from a different direction. The spices shine clearly, for sure, but the it is much more balanced than the smell. The earthiness is joined by a slight tartness that must be the pumpkin used. A touch of caramel malt evens things out by adding a touch of sweetness. If hops are there, they aren't noticeable. The spices are still the thing that gets your attention here, but it never seems over the top. Both the body and mouthfeel are roughly medium; nothing out of the ordinary there.

I really liked this beer. It's a little more spice oriented and a little less hoppy than the Smuttynose pumpkin ale, but it never gets out of hand. I would say it pushes right to the threshold of becoming a mess without quite getting there. In fact, you can even sometimes get a good taste of the brown ale underneath all of the other smells and flavors. To many people, this is the epitome of a good pumpkin ale and I don't think they're wrong at all. It's a unique beer without even being too unique or cloying. I'm definitely going to keep trying pumpkin ales, but this one is the measuring stick now. I give Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery an A-.

Style: Pumpkin Ale 
Beer Advocate: B+/A-
Ratebeer: 90/95

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