3.5AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Recently, I criticized a pumpkin-style beer for being too gimmicky since it wasn’t quite authentic. Today I might criticize Dogfish Head Punkin Ale for trying too hard to come off as the real deal. Sure, it has a richer formula, but the taste leaves much to be desired.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Beers that are crystal clear and have a color of brown and/or red and/or orange always impress me right out the bottle. Since Punkin’ Ale is marketed as a brown ale with pumpkin and other spices, it’s no surprise its complexion is a beautiful mixture of those three colors.
The beer pours extremely smooth and forms a very small, off-white, soapy head which quickly dissipates and leaves no lacing on the glass. There is constant action of carbonation present throughout the life of the drink.
The scent is mostly of brown sugar with some cinnamon notes. It’s easy to tell from the aroma this is a very spicy, sweet beer and because it smells so good it’s likely to taste good too, right?
I’m not an expert on pumpkin beers but I know what I like, and Punkin Ale disappointed me in that it didn’t floor me. It’s a brown ale with pumpkin and other spices added and brown ale is my favorite type of beer, so why aren’t I in love with this beer?
The mistake other pumpkin ales make is adding too much cinnamon to the flavoring, but this beer has entirely too much brown sugar. Yes, it’s sweet, but the taste is rather dry. I’m noticing the majority of the flavor is brown sugar, followed by cinnamon, nutmeg and just a hint of pumpkin. It all adds up to form a complex palate, but its rather mild.
Initially, I drank the beer fairly cold and wasn’t picking up on a great flavor combination, in fact, the taste of alcohol was distinguishable. At a slightly warmer temperature the seasonings are unleashed, but the potency also becomes stronger as well.
For such a strong beer it’s actually impressive how smooth Punkin Ale’s finish is. It leaves quite a strong aftertaste, but there is definitely no bite or kickback even at warmer temperatures. It’s also surprisingly crisp for a beer of this style which makes it very drinker-friendly for such a potent brew.
As impressed as I am by the smooth finish, I am even more stunned by how light Punkin Ale’s body seems considering it weighs in at 230 calories. I was able to drink two bottles within a short time after a meal without feeling the least bit bloated. Of course, the high alcohol content is noticeable not only in the taste, but its effect on my system. I wasn’t drunk off two bottles but I certainly was buzzed. I could imagine this being a fantastic choice for a beer connoisseur party.
I feel as if I owe someone an apology for not liking Dogfish Head Punkin Ale as much as I should. But if I find the taste only average and entirely too potent, what am I supposed to do? Special mention should be made to its price of $8.99 for a 4 pack here in upstate New York. I recommend it to the most discriminating of tastes.