Dogfish Head Punkin Ale is one of the more popular pumpkin ales on the market.  It has been on the wish lists of pumpkin fiends since the fall of 1995.  Over the years, it has become more widely available, so it has moved from their wish lists to their beer fridges.

When fall comes around so does pumpkin spice everything.  From lattes to Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies (yes these are real), popular culture seems to want pumpkin in everything once the leaves start to turn.

Enter the pumpkin ale.

Love this artwork by Rich Kelly

I will be quick to admit that I wasn’t always a fan of the pumpkin ale.  I had a buddy come by to watch a 49ers game a few years back and he showed up with a sixer of Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale (review upcoming).  With hesitation, I cracked one open and took a tentative sip.  The bottle, which was still 98% full, sat on the coffee table for the rest of the game.  The three unopened bottles that were left after the game sat in my garage for a good 18 months.  I had neither the time nor the inclination to subject myself to such things.  That changed for me in 2014 when I did a pairing show featuring pumpkin ales.  Since then, I have been on the hunt for the best.

Over the next few weeks I will post several reviews of different pumpkin beers as my hunt for the premier pumpkin ale continues.

Before we get into the details of theDogfish Head Punkin Ale, I want to talk about the bottle.  Over the last few years Dogfish has hired several different artists to decorate their bottles.  For the 2015 edition of the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale they enlisted the talents Rich Kelly.  As you can see, the finished product is pretty slick.  The woman on the bottle has a Pumpkin Poison Ivy thing happening and I dig it.  Check out Rich’s website to see more of his art.  It’s really cool stuff.

Gun show!

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Style: Brown Ale

ABV: 7%

IBU: 20

Availability: Seasonal (Fall)

MSRP: I picked up a 4-pack for $10.50

Brewer: Dogfish Head, Milton, Delaware

Beers drank for review: 4 (and no, I didn’t drink them one after the other)

Nose:  Dominated by, you guessed it, pumpkin spice!  There are some notes of malt and brown sugar in there as well.

Appearance:  TheDogfish Head Punkin Ale poured with a foamy, cream colored head about two inches high.  It quickly dissipated and we were left with a crystal clear, copper colored beer.  The look screamed “autumn” to me.  It made me want to rake up leaves.

Flavor:  This is a full bodied brown ale.  The pumpkin flavor starts out on the subtle side.  In fact, it tasted more like an Oktoberfest (Märzen) style beer at first.  As the beer warmed up, the flavors came out.  The temperature had such an impact that I found myself taking future Punkin Ales out of the fridge 15 minutes before I poured them.  The warmer temp brought out a ton of nuanced pumpkin and spice notes.  The finish offered a mild brown sugar sweetness and that is what set the Punkin Ale apart.  The mouthfeel was never heavy, though the flavors did coat the palate a bit.

Not sure why, but drinking out of that jar felt right…

Overall Thoughts:  You should see the tasting notes that I wrote down while drinking my first Punkin Ale.  You can see me go from unimpressed to pleasantly surprised.  I’m not technical to the point of suggesting a serving temperature, but these beers were stored in a fridge at 5o degrees Fahrenheit.  So I would say it’s best to serve the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale between 55-60 degrees to get the best flavor.  This is definitely one of the better pumpkin ales I have had.

Mixed and Mashed Rating: 

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