In past years, I noticed the existence of pumpkin ales, but never paid much attention to them. They didn't sound very good to me. Starting in 2012, though, I've started checking out as many as I can. I've been trying to find the one I like best. When I've compiled as many notes as I think I can, I'll put together a guide for the site.
So far, most pumpkin ales I've tried fall into one of two groups. Either they are barely distinguishable from a "normal" beer or they emphasize the spice element of pumpkin pie over anything else. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale is in the first group.
It pours a golden brown with a thin white head that dissipates quickly. It leaves behind a few small droplets of lacing.
The flavor hints at pumpkin, and you can detect some spices. Overall, though, it is very subtle. Even the hops level is mild. The subtlety isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you had handed me this, calling it a "harvest ale" or maybe even an Octoberfest, I might not even question it. It's a nice beer, and easy to drink. But it doesn't say "pumpkin ale" to me. I give it a 6/10.
The Beer Advocate reviewers disagree on this one, rating it 88-91 out of 100... Good to excellent.
I tried this particular glass at The Winking Lizard on Bethel Road. I've seen the bottled version at a number of local retailers, including Kenny Road Market.
My Rating: 7/10