Yes, I reviewed Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale last year, and I couldn’t let a Pumpkin Beer Week go by without revisiting this beer again. This 7% beer is brewed with pumpkin, brown sugar, and spices, and is one of the pumpkin beers that reviewers and beer geeks always seem to cite as a good example of the style.
As with all Dogfish beers, there’s a story behind it:
Punkin Ale is named after a locally-famous and seriously off-centered event here in southern Delaware – Punkin Chunkin (check out some of these Discovery Channel videos of Punkin Chunkin, you gotta see it to believe it!). In fact, Punkin Ale made it’s debut as it claimed First Prize in the 1994 Punkin Chunkin Recipe Conest – yes, that was a full 6 months before we even opened our doors for business. Punkin Chunkin has grown in size and scale with pumpkins now being hurled more than 4,000 feet through the air! If you come down to see if for yourself – come by and visit us.
Since then, we’ve brewed Punkin Ale each and every fall. It is released right around September first each year. When you find it, grab some extra because it’s usually gone by Thanksgiving.
Appearance: Amber-orange with a slight haze, and a finely-bubbled off-white head. Nice lacing on the glass.
Smell: Spices dominate the nose followed by a caramelly-sweet maltiness. A hint of astringency, or even metallic/sour, perhaps?
Taste: Sweet and sticky, with cinnamon in front for the spices (hints of nutmeg behind). Squash/vegetal note—real pumpkin for sure—and a hint of roastiness (whether from the pumpkin or the malts I’m not sure). There’s an alcohol note which is reminiscent of squirting a bit of vodka into the beer (slight burn).
Mouthfeel: Nicely chewy and sticky, very pleasant.
Overall: I believe this is better than last year’s.