Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Great Pumpkin's Arrival - Technically...November 1st

Oh Halloween, you crafty bastard. You always manage to sneak up on me and you tend to happen mere days before I have an extremely important test. You also herald in the month of November, the month of turkey and my birth so many, many years ago. But you do bring about such sweet tidings. The arrival of a bumper crop of fresh pumpkin pies, the prevalence of those fly-by-night haunted houses that set-up at farms and for-sale buildings, all sorts of lovely things. Most importantly, however, is the prevalence of...the pumpkin ale. There are many styles within the style of pumpkin ale. Some brewers just go with the "spice the shit out of it" format, while others go crazy with the Halloween flair. These brewers often make awesome product...which I have in front of me. Tonight is a review of two beers: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale and Southern Tier Pumking. First is the Dogfish Head.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale:

Pours with one finger of white head onto a body of beer that looks distinctly like a pie in a glass. It is a rusty brown / dark orange color that is crystal clear. No, seriously, I can read the label through the pint. It is a nice color.

Smells of pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon), brown sugar, sweet butter, pumpkin, and slightly earthy/root vegetable. Ok, I'll summarize that. It smells like a damn pumpkin pie and it makes me so hungry it is borderline unfair. I now need pie.

Taste like pie spice. Pumpkin is present but the earthiness isn't there. Slightly alcohol forward with a surprising lack of malt sweetness. A brown sugar FLAVOR is there, but it's not actually sweet. As a matter of fact, the hops that weren't there on the aroma pull through in the beer, giving it a cleansing bitter aftertaste.

Not bad, not bad. I was going into it expecting a malt forward beer and I was a little disappointed when it was actually more aggressively hopped than I expected. It IS brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg which shined through in the nose and taste but the hops threw me for a loop. It is a bit overwhelming though. Definitely not a session-able beer. More of a "two and I'm done" kinda thing.

Southern Tier Pumking:

Pours a slightly hazy orange, almost like if you squeezed a pumpkin and got some sort of weird pumpkin juice. A one finger snow white head appears that doesn't stick around for very long. Yet again, it looks like a damn pie and I'm still hungry.

Smells like a graham cracker. Vanilla, light pumpkin, maybe cinnamon as well? Oh ye gods above, it smells like a pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust. This is just not fucking fair. Not fair at all! Has almost a melon smell in there too.

Taste is oh god. Oh god its like drinking a pumpkin pie. Oh it's so good. Lots of vanilla, cinnamon, that graham cracker taste and pumpkin. Very nice malt sweetness with medium carbonation that peters off into a slight hop bite at the end. Oh man, I just want to wallow in this beer. Slight caramel flavor maybe? Or maybe a butterscotch flavor. I dunno, its an amazing fucking beer.

Sweet mother of mercy this beer is awesome. Definitely not a "hey, let's drink and watch the game" beer but more of an "well, I want pumpkin pie AND a beer" kind of beer. It's really, really good. Oh man, it is just what the doctor ordered. Buy it, drink it, think of pie. I am burping pie right now. I'm so happy. I am going to buy a bottle of this and cellar it. That's how good it is. Go. Buy. Quaff. Now. At 3am.

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