Mad Fox “Punkinator” Pumpkin Ale is 5.0% ABV.
I was served a 16 oz pint glass from the brewery’s tap.
Appearance: Basically no head was visible when this beer was presented. A very thin ring of foam around the edge of the glass was noticeable. The color is bright and a slightly murky orange. This is somewhat hazy, and has moderate carbonation visible.
Smell: Off the bat I get strong vegetal pumpkin with some clear citrus notes, and some spicing. The spices noticeable are cinnamon, nutmeg, and something sort of tropical. The smell on this is bright, and on the fruity side.
Taste: There is some pumpkin up front, though the fairly heavy spices jump in pretty quickly. The pumpkin is on the vegetal side. The smell suggested more raw pumpkin than I am getting. This one tastes decently sweet, with caramel and light brown sugar. There is some sturdy caramel tasting malt for the backbone. The spicing is interesting, and hard to pinpoint. There is something like a tropical taste to the spice profile. The flavors in this start out bright with pumpkin that is soon followed by heavy spicing and earthy and slightly bitter notes. The finish is then fruity, and somewhat coarse with spices. This leaves a fruity and lemony aftertaste. Overall, the flavors in this one are really bright and interesting. My girlfriend was wondering whether the sort of tropical taste was due to the “Cinderella heirloom varietal pumpkin” that Mad Fox says that they use. Perhaps this accounts for some of the unique flavors. I’m not sure, but do think the flavors are unique and interesting.
Feel: This is medium bodied, with medium to heavy carbonation. The feel is pretty smooth. The sweetness is pleasant, and is made more complex by the spices poking through at points. The finish adds a change with more grainy spicing and a fruity/slightly sharp feel.
Drinkability: This is pretty easy drinking. The flavors are nice and strong, but don’t bombard or overwhelm the palate. The spices are strong, and so could detract from the drinkability over a couple of beers.
Overall: My girlfriend and I drove the rest of the ~120 miles to make it north to this brewery, after having visited Blue Mountain Brewery to taste their Pumpkin Oatmeal Porter for lunch. Traffic was bad on 29, so I was sufficiently hungry and thirsty by the time we arrived hours after our departure from Blue Mountain. Mad Fox “Punkinator” was then one of the few commercially available pumpkin beers made in Virginia in 2012 that I hadn’t either tried or bought to do a review of later. It was a long drive, and I still think it was worth it. I like this beer. The flavors are bright and interesting. Really, the flavors are sort of puzzling. After I had written down all of my notes, I asked our server to let us know what the spicing and flavors that I was calling ‘tropical’ could be. He said the beer had pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice (suggesting also that this was about it). I read on the Mad Fox menu that they have a house blend of pumpkin pie spice. Perhaps some secrets lie there. Anyway, whether it is some non-standard cinnamon, or some different fruitiness from the heirloom pumpkin, the beer is unique and interesting. It is certainly worth trying if you are at the brewery, and worth the drive for those interested in trying new (especially, Virginia) pumpkin ales. This one is pretty nice for Virginia pumpkin ales.