Dogfish Head “Punkin” Pumpkin Ale (2013)

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Dogfish Head “Punkin” Pumpkin Ale is 7.0% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz  bottle into a Dogfish Head craft beer glass.

Appearance: A hearty pour produced a finger plus of off-white, thick, and frothy head, which lasted for a good while. This has a mostly clear but slightly hazy orange/iced tea color. It looks to have heavy carbonation.

Smell: This has some vegetal pumpkin to it, along with some spices and some sour notes. There’s not much sweetness to the nose. The spice I am getting is pretty light, and has a wood character to it. Pretty weak on the nose.

Taste: I get some dull spices, and a metallic taste up front. This has some sweetish malt, some vegetal pumpkin flavor, and those spices. For spicing I get some bitterness, some wood, and maybe some cinnamon. The metallic taste is really distracting, and the spices aren’t so warm or inviting. The pumpkin kind of gets lost in here too. I get some brown sugar and malty sweetness towards the end of it, which is nice. This makes the flavors more round. This finishes to let the dull and dragging spices hang on into the aftertaste.

Feel: This beer is medium bodied, with moderate to heavy carbonation. The feel is decent, but is made unpleasant by the bitter and dragging spices, and this metallic flavor. Not as good on this score.

Drinkability: This would be pretty drinkable for something of 7%, were it not for the issues mentioned above. The dragging spices and the metallic tones really don’t sit so well with this one. Even so, this is still alright to drink.

Overall: I always look forward to trying this beer; but this year is not so good. It has that metal, some artificiality, and it loses the pumpkin and sweetness this beer has had in the past. It doesn’t taste like a skunked bottle. It tastes like there was a mistake in the spicing, or an overdosing of some kind of extract. I’m not sure whether any kind of extract is used in this beer. But this is the taste I get. In any case, hopefully this will be better in the future. I definitely liked the 2012 and the 2011 better.

Overall Rating: **1/2

DSC03480About Dogfish Head and their “Punkin”: Sam Calgione opened Dogfish Head in 1995 in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The Dogfish Head brewery/brewpub/music scene quickly gained a following, motivating some expansions to their original location, and an eventual new brew-house in Milton, Delaware. I had the great privilege of touring this massive operation in Milton about a year or so ago. It was incredible. I learned that the first batch of beer Sam Calgione made was a cherry beer, that apparently was entirely unsuccessful. But he didn’t give up. He later came up with the idea of continually hopping beers throughout the boil, eventually yielding 3 wonderful beers for his line: 60 minute IPA, 90 minute IPA, and the 120 minute IPA, all corresponding to how long they are continually hopped. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned while I was visiting was that Sam actually “wastes” a lot of money on beer ideas. That is to say, he is always experimenting with wild ideas, some of which cost more money than selling the beer will bring in. An example of one of his unexpectedly successful ideas is his Palo Santo Marron. This is a brown ale of 12% that is aged in handmade wooden brewing tanks, from imported Palo Santo wood from Paraguay. I’ve had it. It is good. Seeing the tanks in person was also pretty spectacular, as they are the largest wooden brewing tanks that have been built in the U.S. since before the prohibition era.

Dogfish Head’s “Punkin” is a brown ale Sam brewed before Dogfish Head even opened. It has been brewed every year, and has since become their staple seasonal. They use real pumpkin flesh in the mash, introduce some organic brown sugar in the boil, and add some spices of cinnamon and allspice at the end of the boil. Dogfish Head seems to pride themselves on good, fresh, and local ingredients in their beer. I wonder how many pumpkins it takes to get them through their season.

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