The circumstances under which I am trying today’s beer are perfection. I am tailgating outside of a Florence and the Machine concert in my best hipster gear with some great people. With October less than a week away I couldn’t stand putting off tasting a pumpkin beer any longer! As you may have guessed I am now safely home from the Great North and while I enjoyed my time there, I missed the amazing amount of beers my local liquor store (which is actually a national liquor store) can provide me. When I found this beer I was grocery shopping in Publix aka the greatest grocery store ever. I was planning on making a quick stop at the liquor store before starting dinner but alas while going down the beer isle I stumbled upon a Dogfish Head beer that I had never tried before, you guessed it! (you all are so smart) the Punkin Ale. I have a great deal of gratitude for this beer because it saved me a trip through horrible traffic and it is also brewed by one of my favorite breweries, Dogfish Head.
The beer is named Punkin after an event called Punkin Chunkin, I suggest you check out the videos here: http://science.discovery.com/videos/punkin-chunkin/. In a nutshell, Punkin Chukin is the event of throwing pumpkins…go figure. It began in Sussex, Delaware and is an annual Fall event. The brewery actually won the beer tasting event before it opened with this exact beer in 1994, a year later in 1995 they opened their doors to the public with this punkin ale. This is their best selling seasonal beer and I know why…it is fresh, full-bodied, delicious brown ale. It has the traditional ingredients of pumpkin beers; brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. While the pumpkin revolution is fairly new, using pumpkin in beer is not. In early colonial times there was barely enough malted barley for all the beer and they had to get the grain from England (a pricey voyage). In order to make their supply last longer, brewers began using ingredients that were indigenous and fermentable such as; spruce, Jerusalem artichokes, molasses, and pumpkins. This faded out as Americans began to grow their own barley. However, in more recent years the popularity of brewing and drinking pumpkin beers has come back, hurray! Pumpkin beers can vary in styles, there is the pumpkin pie sweet tasting with cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Others go the tart route like in stouts, saisons, and sours.
There is a level of spice to this Punkin brew from Dogfish. I can absolutely taste cinnamon in the aftertaste. The initial taste is where the brown sugar flavor comes in, the allspice and nutmeg is notable somewhere in the middle. I think part of the reason I am enjoying this beer so much is because it retains its ale property. A lot of times when I have chosen to taste a pumpkin beer that takes the sweeter route, I regret it almost immediately due to the assault on my taste buds. I am not a sweets person so when I get a beer I want it to be full of flavor but not give me a sugar high. The aroma of this Dogfish Head beer is definitely pumpkin pie, the allspice jumps out at you. This beer is an ale which is an encompassing term for beers that are not lagers and can stretch from ambers to IPAs. They allow for a more full-bodied mouth feel than a lager does and has more of a fruity essence to it. For more information about the brewing process of this beer check this youtube video out; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W6ZilHLh6o&feature=player_embedded#!. All in all, the full-bodied taste, well balanced spices, and the high ABV…make this my favorite pumpkin beer I have ever tasted and for that I must give it five pints out of five on my scale. Stock up on this beer quickly because it usually sells out before Thanksgiving and it is sure to be a crowd pleaser at your holiday parties.
Punkin Ale is brewed by Dogfish Head Craft Beer Inc. in Milton, Delaware