Flying Dog Bourbon Barrel-Aged “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2012)

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Flying Dog Bourbon Barrel-Aged “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 9.0% ABV.

I was served a 5 oz pour on tap at a Flying Dog Tap Takeover.

Appearance: This was served with basically no head, but a bit of thin foam atop it. The color is a molasses red that is slightly opaque with a good bit of light coming through it. (This surprisingly looks lighter in color than the bottle and non-bourbon-aged version of “The Fear” I reviewed a while back.)

Smell: I get pumpkin pie spices, bourbon, and dark roasty malt. It smells strong of bourbon, but also has a little fruit to it. The spices smell like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. I’m so jazzed to taste it.

Taste: This has delicious and wonderful bourbon flavors that aren’t too punchy. It has some pumpkin flavor, though it isn’t so central. I get some pumpkin pie spices, but no particular spices that advertise themselves very clearly. This bursts with dark roasty malt, some molasses sweetness, and the nice fairly smooth bourbon flavor. This finishes bourbony with dark raosted malt, and lets these hang on well for the aftertaste. This has really great flavors that make for a great beer, though the pumpkin aspect ends up being pretty weak.

Feel: This is pretty smooth for a 9 percent bourbon-barrel-aged beer. It is medium to heavy bodied with medium carbonation. It also has a nice warmth to it. The alcohol does give sort of a bite at the end. Otherwise, impressively smooth.

Drinkability: This beer wasn’t really made for drinkability it seems. The bourbon flavors and the dark malt keep this one from being a paradigm drinkable ale. Even so, the smoothness it does have helps out some here. Still not a good choice if you hold drinkability high.

Overall: I tried this beer as the last pumpkin ale of the season and at one of the largest tap takeovers in the US, and the largest tap takeover ever on the East Coast. Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore Maryland had 56 different Flying Dog offerings. There were then some decisions to make about what was important to try. Given my blog, trying this was a no brainer. The more I drank this pumpkin ale, the more I did get more noticeable pumpkin, though it is nothing compared to the real big bodied pumpkin flavor ales like Schlafly’s and Cigar City’s. Overall, the flavors in this were really nice, even given the lack of strong pumpkin. I do like this better then the non-bourbon “The Fear”, though not by much more. The flavors are more interesting in this, but the pumpkin takes a hit. There are tradeoffs of pumpkin flavor to get the bourbon flavors. Even so, I was pressed to figure out whether I wanted more of this delicious beer, even with 55 other Flying Dog beers to consider a 5 oz sample of. So that says something too. Anyway, this was a great way to end the reviews for the year. Even though this wasn’t a top tier winner for me, it was still quite an enjoyable beer.

Overall Rating: ***1/4

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