Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Style: Pumpkin Ale
4.0 / 5.0
Look: 4.0 | Smell: 4.0 | Taste: 4.0 | Feel: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Brewery at a glance: Oh Dogfish Head. How I love thee. I’m not sure if I can think of any other brewery that gets the credit of being the first that told me that craft beer was a cool, cool thing. Sam Calagione, the charismatic founder of Dogfish Head, has become a role model of mine in the past few years and I first learned about his philosophy on beer making in the amazing documentary Beer Wars.
Their approach to beer is perfectly summed up in their mission statement, which reads “Off-centered ales for off-centered people.” Before it was distilled down to its most basic message, their mission statement was a longer form quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore it if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”
A mission statement offering like that is definitely a company I would want to work for. Are you hiring, Sam?
This is a brewery that brewed a beer with moon dust and has resurrected ancient beer recipes using the help of one of the leading experts on ancient beverages (did anyone even know that this sort of study was a thing?), Dr. Patrick McGovern who is a biomolecular archaeologist who finds ancient beer recipes for the company. Also, this is the brewery that published the new homebrewing bible, Extreme Brewing, where Calagione shares his secrets and even gives you the recipes to make some of their signature beer at home. And best of all and most important to this blog, Dogfish Head’s first beer was this very pumpkin beer.
I could spend all day talking about Dogfish head and how much they have inspired me over the years. But, tell you what, I think I would like to do brewery specific brew reviews and, along with a few friends or fellow readers, would really like to do a collaborative piece where we review all of the Dogfish Head offerings. It would then allow me to tell you the ridiculous stories behind some of their Ancient Ales Series and also give you a taste of just how good their offerings really are. Who’s down?
Look: Pours a very opaque auburn orange with little white foam that dissipates quickly. Punkin has a very dark, rich look that seems like it might have more body than most pumpkin beers. While not nearly as orange as some of the other pumpkin brews I’ve had, I wouldn’t be surprised if you shined a light through this one and saw a Jack O’Lantern face smiling back at you.
Smell: Cinnamon, clove, and all spice is on the nose with no boozy sharpness despite it being a slightly bigger beer. There is little earthy pumpkin scent but that’s okay since the spice combination smells well balanced. I personally find it strange when a pumpkin ale smells of pumpkin meat since most of the taste comes from the spice profile used. Punkin doesn’t smell like it will a overwhelmingly sweet beer but advertises its spices well.
Taste: There’s a lot of spice up front that progresses nicely through the subtleties of cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, and other all spice flavors. It doesn’t have much sweetness but makes up for it in its slightly boozy bite with very slight hints of vanilla. This one has a bit more malt characteristic than some of the other pumpkin brews I’ve had and has a bready flavor once the spice flavor dies down.
Feel: This one has a lot more body than some of the other pumpkin brews I’ve had. Most other pumpkin brews seems to be lacking in the body department and lack that full mouth feel that many malty brews possess. This one feels a lot more full and isn’t nearly as bright as the previous brews featured in this series. It has very little carbonation and has a long pronounced flavor that is full of subtleties. The higher ABV does give its necessary bit which complements the beer well and is never overpowering.
Overall: Out of all the pumpkin brews I’ve had during this series, I have to offer that, so far, this one might be my favorite. Its a more malty affair that excels in the pumpkin spice flavor profile. This, coupled with the fact that this is a pumpkin brew that packs a punch, is what ultimately lead to this brew riding up the ladder in this series. While it happens to be the best pumpkin beer I’ve had so far (Schlafly’s Pumpkin ale’s review isn’t complete just yet), I do feel like Dogfish Head has much stronger offerings. However, this would be one of the first pumpkin brews I would recommend for someone looking to get into the style and one that shouldn’t be missed.
Have you had this brew? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.