It’s the Great Pumpkin!

Waiting is hardYou can’t go to a beer blog this time of year without finding reviews for pumpkin beers.  This year, one has stood out from the rest with positive review after positive review: Dogfish Head’s Pumpkin Ale.  So I picked up a chilly four pack and was ready to be blown away.  But I wasn’t.  Uh oh.  Then I remembered what Linus taught us all – you must be patient in order to witness the true majesty of the Great Pumpkin.

Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale The Pumpkin Ale poured nicely, with a beautiful golden orange body and nice foamy head.  This is a pretty beer.  The nose was mostly non-descript, smelling of ale and a hint of clove.  Upon the first sip, the Pumpkin Ale tasted like it smelled – it was a nice little ale with a slightly spicy clove finish.  And that was it.  Where’s the pumpkin?!

Now, I’m not a big fan of flavored or fruity beer, but if you’re making a pumpkin ale, it should taste at least a little like pumpkin, right?  I handed it off to my lovely wife who observed that she wouldn’t know this was a pumpkin beer if I hadn’t told her.  Hmm.  What to do?

Wait, that’s what.  After finishing about half of the glass, I was distracted from my disappointment by watching the cast of Top Chef try rustle up some food for a group of picky ranchers. By the time they were at judges table, the mystery of the Great Pumpkin was solved as I absent-mindedly took a sip.  I was immediately greeted with a crisp ale taste followed by a small gush of vanilla and a perfectly balanced spicy finish.  Wow, what a great beer!  Turns out that it just needed to warm up a bit, and when it did it came alive with a wonderful aroma and a masterful flavor.  Now I understand what all the fuss is about.

Pumpkin ArrivesSo my advice to you is the same advice that Linus had for Sally; be patient.  This beer is a real gem, but not when it’s cold.  Let it warm up a bit and the vanilla flavor blossoms, tying the whole the taste together.  In the end, your patience will be rewarded with what might just be the greatest pumpkin of the year.

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Categories: Beer


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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6 Comments on “It’s the Great Pumpkin!”

  1. September 23, 2009 at 2:58 pm #

    I think your review is spot-on. I also enjoyed this beer more as I progressed through it but it was more like going from ‘really good’ to ‘really, really good!’ So far, this is my go-to pumpkin ale.

    • Jim
      September 23, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

      I’m not a real big fan of anything in my beer except beer, but I really like this ale. It’s the first pumpkin beer that I actually crave, which is says a lot about it’s quality.

      I’m saving the two I have until the weather breaks here in NJ and we get a crisp autumn day. Or until my wife sneaks them both out of the fridge without me knowing.

  2. nostawetan
    September 24, 2009 at 12:44 am #

    That is why I let every beer get to room temp…no matter the start. Sometimes it can be a real trick, or a treat.

    • Jim
      September 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

      I agree with that approach, Nate. I have no idea why I expected it to be good cold, save for the fact that some pumpkin beers get so unbearably pumpkiny when they warm up. Most beers are better when they’re warm and if they’re not, they’re usually not that good to begin with.

  3. Don
    September 24, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

    I thought warm brew was the sign of the devil! At least I think that is what the folks in the marketing department of Coors said.

    • Jim
      September 24, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

      That’s because they’re beer tastes like pee if it’s warm.

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