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Beer Review:
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Milton, Delaware, USA
By: George Zhen

October 1, 2005

(Note: As per our Mission Statement, there are a few caveats regarding the beers we can review when there are no native beers available, We could not find any beers to represent Norway at our local supplier, so we have instead reviewed a beer from a country we have previously visited.)

(Bergen, Norway) - As American regional/micro breweries go, it's hard to find a bigger success story than Dogfish Head. There celebrated line of interesting ales has grown in such leaps and bounds that it is now getting hard for this Milton, Delaware brewery to keep up with demand. So when this reviewer saw a 4-pack of the seasonal Punkin Ale gracing the shelves of his local supplier, there was no choice but to put in a order for a whole case, taste un-tasted.

The skinny on Punkin Ale is that it is a Fall seasonal that incorporates pumpkins and molasses to arrive at a unique flavor all it's own. It's an easy package to spot on the shelves, as it comes in the brightest possible orange packaging. A bit pricey to be sure, but as you will see it is worth it in every respect.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale (that's no typo, it's spelled PUNKin) pours with a modest head that doesn't crest like a champ, but the trace resonance slips down the sides of the glass in a good fashion. Being made with pumpkins influences the color strongly with hues of orangeish brown. I imagine it on the Thanksgiving tablesetting fitting in quite well with the cornucopia and turkey (sorry, and American thing). As far as beers go, its color is a unique feature shared by no other.

Take a whiff and the aroma will have you awaiting the feast! It's a strange thing to experience in a beer, but it's not altogether unpleasant - just strange. The taste is a fruity mix punctuated by the sweetness of molasses. The hops are switched out for the fruit, so the drink is smooth and sweet. Complexities still make their way through, much like the DFH Spring seasonal, Aprihop, where the full experience takes a very long time to run its course.

DFH Punk comes in at 7% ABV, not as strong as some of their other offerings, but a manageable amount with a balanced kick. A 4-pack will do most more than fine with no real hangover the speak of. Do keep in mind that the base of this drink is fruit, which can lead to some GI distress in sensitive stomachs.

Amazingly, it isn't too, well, pumpkiny I'm no fan of pumpkins unless Billy Corgan is involved, so I had no real expectations of enjoying this beer. I did. In fact, I think I've had more DFH Punkin Ale in the past month than anything else. I've blasted through a case already, and I'm sure I'll have some more - if I can find it.

I read somewhere that one of the reasons that the Pilgrims stopped in Plymouth Rock was that they were running short of beer. If they had known that a few hundred miles south they could have grabbed some Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, they may have stuck it out until they got to Delaware. Unfortunately, it seems that like the Pilgrims, DFH is running out of beer, too...

Beer Tasting Scorecard
Dogfish Head
Punkin Ale
Attribute Score
Head 3
Color 5
Taste 5
Flavor 4
Effect 5
Overall Score 4.4

For more information on Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, visit their website at

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