Thirsty Dog Pumpkin Ale (2013)

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Thirsty Dog Pumpkin Ale is 5.5% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a “craft beer glass”.

Appearance: Steadily pouring this beer revealed no real head. This has a light orange/amber color, with great clarity. Holding this up to the light shows bubbles suggestive of moderate carbonation.

Smell: The aroma to this has some vegetal pumpkin, honey sweetness, mild spicing, and notable citrusy hops. I think I am getting some cinnamon and ginger for the spicing, but the spices aren’t as clear as the vegetal pumpkin and bright hops. The aroma of this reminds me of Wolaver’s, but maybe with more hops and less clear spicing. The aroma is not too strong overall, and is crisp.

Taste: At the front I get bright and clean vegetal pumpkin, nice fresh malt, some grassiness, and great smooth honey sweetness. The sweetness has some lightly toasted malt and mild honey to it. The spice in this adds some good complexity and depth of flavor, but doesn’t interrupt the clean and bright flavors of the pumpkin. For spice I get some ginger and cinnamon mostly. Along with the clean flavors are some citrusy hops, which are clearer towards the end. This finishes with a bit more of the hops and grassiness, which make way for some bright citrus and mild dull spicing of soft pepper in the aftertaste. Great clean and crisp flavors overall.

Feel: This beer is medium bodied with moderate to heavy carbonation. The feel is overall smooth with some definite vegetal pumpkin and some citrus and mild sour notes changing things up. It feels a bit over-carbonated, but is otherwise very refreshing.

Drinkability: This is very clean and bright, with slightly lower ABV and a spice profile that is well-incorporated. It does have some sour and citrus notes that hang out a bit in the aftertaste, which detract some. Otherwise is is pretty darn good here.

Overall: This is the first time to have this offering, and it is quite refreshing and tasty. I like the clean pumpkin, and the nice balance of spice to pumpkin. It is one of the most refreshing pumpkin ales I’ve tried, which requires the spicing to be carefully done. I do wish the mild sour notes and hops weren’t so strong at the end. Even so, they aren’t too distracting. This is a very solid non-imperial pumpkin ale with good pumpkin flavor. A great choice if you want something refreshing, but don’t want to give up on pumpkin flavor.

Overall Rating: **3/4

DSC03717About Thirsty Dog and their pumpkin ale: Thirsty Dog is located in Akron, Ohio, and has been winning awards for their beer since 2000. They are famous for a number of good beers, including their “Old Leghumper” (American Porter), “Hoppus Maximus” (American Amber), “Siberian Night” (Imperial Stout), and their “12 Dogs of Christmas” (Christmas Ale/Winter Warmer). News came out this past August that Thirsty Dog  continued to expand by working to renovate an old building in Akron. Apparently the building used to house a brewery and had been without a real roof for over 50 years. This expansion project is on top of Thirsty Dog’s  addition of five more 90-barrel tanks this past spring. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try their beer, hopefully these new expansions will enable their beer to reach more places. I am hoping to make it out to their brewery within the next year.

This pumpkin ale is made with local pumpkins, which are grown locally by the brewery. Apparently they use 5 different varietals in this, and caramelize the pumpkins prior to brewing. Luscious pumpkin flesh is then added in with honey and spices to make this refreshing beer. Because of the reliance on current harvest local pumpkins, this is one of the last pumpkin beers to hit the U.S. market. Doing this requires quite a bit of a risk, given that “seasonal” beers of this sort do not sell very well when consumer minds have been moved along to another “season”- the land of winter warmers, Christmas ales, and big stouts. Many breweries avoid fresh or locally sourced pumpkins for this reason, so that they can keep a larger window of the “season” open to sell their beer. So kudos to Thirsty Dog for keeping it real. I only know of one or two other pumpkin beers to come out after Thirsty Dog’s, and that was Lickinghole Creek’s “Pumpkin Ain’t Easy”, which used pumpkins from patches right on the brewery’s land. Thanks much to John Najeway for helping make this review possible.

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