Editor’s Note: This column is sponsored by Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).
We’re back with part two of what might be the most epic review of Pumpkin Ales spanning August and September 2013!
In our first rundown, we reviewed a couple of the traditional pumpkin brew standbys.
I kind of have a thing for pumpkin-flavored stuff (I may or may not have “liberated” a couple of boxes of pumpkin latte flavia packets from the office kitchens to get me through the year). So just to make sure you find that perfect beer for your tailgate, Thanksgiving Dinner or for after that hike, I’ve taken it upon myself to review four more pumpkin ales… you know, for science.
Dogfish Head: Punkin Ale 7% Milton, Delaware
Making its debut at the Punkin Chunkin contest, hence the name, this is a solid brown ale with some great flavors. The pumpkin flavors are pretty muted, but what’s really nice about this brew is the subtle flavor of brown sugar. It’s definitely something you don’t find in most other pumpkin ales and the molasses flavor really distinguishes it from everything else out there. Punkin claimed first prize in the ’94 Chunkin Recipe Contest. If you’re a big fan of brown ales (think Newcastle and Brooklyn Brown Ale) but want something a little lighter and perfectly suited for the crisp weather of Fall, this is the way to go.
Flying Dog: The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale 9% Frederick, Maryland
Right off the bat, this is a pretty strong-flavored ale. It’s not overpowering, but you know you’re drinking beer here. Flying Dog came out of the gate swinging. This is a no-nonsense brew perfect for cold fall nights. This beer might be the definition of full-bodied. What stands out, though, is the graham cracker flavor. There is a sweetness to it, but that is well-balanced against the sharper flavors of nutmeg and allspice.
The pumpkin flavor itself is pretty muted and that might just be what some people want. Sometimes the “pumpkin pie-ness” of these beers can be too much. The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale makes no apologies about that. You can have two or three bottles of this beer without feeling like you just raided a stash of Halloween candy.
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale 8% Easton, Pennsylvania
Cardamom. That’s the first thing you taste when you take a sip and you taste it in a big way. It hits with a punch. This is definitely not your traditional pumpkin brew. It has a true pumpkin flavor that goes a long way. I think this one can really shine over Thanksgiving dinner. It has just the right amount of boldness to pair well with turkey and stuffing, and may even whet your palate for that extra big slice of grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie.
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale 8% St. Louis, Missouri
Pumking or Schlafly Pumpkin Ale? Whose ale wins the grail? Whose brew shall rule? I’m giving it to Schlafly this year. I love whatever Pumpking is doing this season and I’m going to buy a lot of their six-packs by the time December rolls around.
Schlafly edges it out. It’s not just pumpkin pie made into beer, it’s truly a pumpkin ale. The cinnamon, allspice, clove, and brown sugar is all there. The pumpkin is truly the most dominant flavor, but in proportion. It’s also a beer, not a pumpkin pie mix diluted with beer, which is what makes it my top choice. This seasonal seems to take careful consideration into how to craft a pumpkin ale from the ground up.
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