The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Flying Dog Brewery

Appearance

This pours a very dark, reddish-brown color. It looks a lot like a cola. It produces over a finger of foamy, chestnut-colored head. Its retention is good and it shows signs of moderate lacing to come. The head stays for quite some time.

Aroma

Cinnamon, nutmeg and a brown sugar-like ingredient makes for mild notes of spice at the nose. There seems to be a lightly toasted malt and hint of fruit that lies beneath a mild but vegetal pumpkin ingredient. It’s mostly sweet, however I find a light pine at the nose as well. The pumpkin and base seem to be as prevalent as the sugar which is nice.

Taste

This is a slightly jarring taste at first. Up front I’m presented a fairly strong spice profile consisting of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and caramel. There are notes of charred fruit and a bit of wood on the palate. There might even be a hint of chocolate. These sit atop a mostly malty foundation. However as I shift towards the back, the experience seems to transition to a lightly acidic, bitter and more hoppy base. It’s almost reminiscent of a barleywine beer. It finishes with a lightly burnt, but heavy, malt and spice. While the pumpkin flavor is nice, there’s no obvious sign of a raw vegetal pumpkin ingredient. Finally, in terms of alcohol, this certainly delivers. If you couldn’t tell by the appearance, you’ll feel it after consuming it. It’s certainly a dynamic experience from front to back.

Mouthfeel

This might be considered a heavy-bodied beer with mild carbonation. It’s smooth, creamy and goes down surprisingly easy. The alcohol makes for a nice warmth. However, the aftertaste leaves the palate a bit dry.

Overall

At the very least, this is an intriguing option. It’s quite dynamic, providing an array of flavors that make for entirely interesting character. It’s burnt at times and bright at others. It’s spicy while also a bit fruity. It’s alcohol is hefty but not overbearing. This is a good imperial option. The only down side is that any natural pumpkin involved must be hidden beneath the extravagance of everything else.  It’s doing a lot without losing control, and that’s an admirable quality. Had the balance been slightly better, and the pumpkin slightly stronger, this would surely be towards the top of the list. Nevertheless, it’s a good one and if you have the chance to try it you should make every effort to indulge.

3.5