For The "Punk" in All Of Us- Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale
One of the things I truly love about the changing of the seasons is that each season brings with it a bevy of selections of seasonal microbrews. One of the things I don't like is searching and finding a great seasonal brew that doesn't do too much or too little. And all seasons are not created equal either. That's one of my personally perceived problems with Autumn fast approaching when it comes to finding a winning "pumpkin ale".
More and more breweries out there (both micro and macro alike) have been trying their hand at offering a decent fall seasonal beer of various types. Pumpkin beers in particular are an enigma of their own. While they've been around going back to the pilgrim days, more recent versions have not always been very good representations of what I assume was originally intended by our forefathers.
One particular ale that I've just tried today is something I'd like to share with you. It's offered by a microbrewery with a little bit of a quirky image and history. Have you ever heard of Dogfish Head Brewery ? I know I found it a little odd sounding when I first heard of it. Check the link out for a complete and detailed history of the brewery and you'll get a good feel for the people and their vision behind the product. But for me, that's another post for another day. Let's get to the suds...shall we? In particular, let's get on to Dogfish Head Punk Ale!
This ale poured a brilliant chestnut-orange with not a whole lot of head into my 16oz. pub pint glass. The clarity, when held up to the light, was quite striking. Lots of bubbles, almost a champagney (is that a word?) type of look to it.
First taste, very, very, very good. Alot of pumpkin beers I've tried have almost an artificially injected "pumpkin" flavor to them. This however is NOT one of those beers. There is an excellent sense of balance between what I'd describe as a pumpkin/nutmeg taste to this one. Not tacky or overbearing at all in my opinion. In fact, it tastes quite "natural" almost...organic.
There is a good presence of zing to it as far as carbonation, but not enough to take away from the overall feeling that you're drinking a seasonal ale and with a blindfold on, a blatantly autumn seasonal. This particular ale leaves no question as to what it's brewers were going for and one that I feel is something most brewers of pumpkin style ales should be shooting for. If they're not, they're just faking it anyway.
One thing I will point out that I didn't like about Dogfish Head Punk Ale is the obvious presence of the 7% ABV in the flavor while taking first sip to the very last. The alcohol is evident and does leave a little bit of burn which is slightly distracting. I think that it's possible that if this ale had a chance to rest in proper storage for a few months, it probably would be even better, having had a chance to mellow out for awhile. Well, hey, I just couldn't wait that long. Halloween's just next week you know, the holidays will wait for nobody.
Overall, this is truly an impressive representation of a Pumpkin Ale if that's a style you enjoy, which I hadn't until I found this one. I kept looking for one to change my view, and this did it. I fully can picture myself storing a few in the basement fridge to pull out in the future. One occasion would be Thanksgiving night (after my customary post-dinner nap) and then again maybe in front of a fire on Christmas Eve. Yes, it's enjoyable enough to pare with special occasions and holidays beyond All Hallow's Eve.
If you have a chance to pick this up at a local store, I would recommend trying the 4 pack (or even a single bottle if you can) before investing the cash for a full cash. If pumpkin ales have never been your thing, it's not a lock that this will make you want to invest in a full 24 bottle case (plus it's not cheap either at $44.00/case locally in Western Pennsylvania). I urge you to give it a try though if you get an opportunity. Dogfish Head Punk Ale is, by far, the finest representation of a pumpkin ale that I've had the pleasure of tasting.
Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale clocks in at 8.00 out of 10.00 points for me.
P.S. I've heard that this brew will actually vary a bit in flavor from year to year. So if you try it this year and you're still "just not sure", it may be worth a followup sampling in Fall '07 just for kicks. Keep yourself a note if you do though, so you can check back on your impressions this year compared to next time. Cheers!
You can check out more reviews of new microbrews and fun microbrew and craft beer related info at Microbrew Review or My Squidoo Lens. Check out Summer Microbrew too!