Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Flying Dog's "The Fear" Imperial Pumpkin Ale

This may come as a surprise to some, but this is the first time I have ever tried a brew from Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery. Some will guffaw and ask themselves, upon reading that statement, why I haven't tried their acclaimed IPAs, Raging Bitch and The Truth. To be honest, it does have a bit to do with their label designs. They're all blotchy and angsty-looking. I always see Flying Dog sixers in stores, but never venture into investing in one for fear that the label is all hype and the beer inside has no bite.

But I changed my mind when I recently overheard a sales clerk at the grocery store I work at suggesting pumpkin beers to two young women. He recommended Flying Dog's "The Fear", and gave a few notes on it. I decided that I'd pick up a six pack of the stuff after my shift. So I did, and now I sit with a snifter full of this imperial pumpkin ale, ready to give you my tasting notes.

Appearance: 4/5
I must say that I was surprised by how this beer looked. I understood that it might be a bit darker than the average light orange/amber pumpkin brew because it is an imperial pumpkin ale, but it is dark and opaque! The color can be said to be a deep, deep amber, almost like worn out, brownish copper. The tan head pours a rich, creamy finger's worth and settles to a nice cap that sits atop the beer and doesn't entirely dissipate. There isn't a ton of carbonation, but I think its color and head make up for it.

Nose: 5/5
Upon first smelling The Fear, I picked up on the traditional pumpkin ale spices. They're strong, and very pleasant. Deeper in the aroma is the smell of a dark, nutty malt. I picked up traces of chocolate as well, which surprised me. Chocolate in a pumpkin beer? Could this brewery be so bold? Overall, this beer has a deep, malty, and spicy aroma which is delightful.

Taste: 3.5/5
It opens up with delicious cinnamon and nutmeg spices, then gives way to some of the deeper elements in the brew. Roasty, nutty malts tantalized my tastebuds. There is a bit of a bready malt in there too. To balance out the brew, there are traces of sweet caramel. All of these malts are great, but I do kind of miss the actual taste of pumpkin. I have come to the conclusion that many brewers tend to use the combination of spices used in pumpkin pie - cinnamon and nutmeg, primarily - to create the flavor of pumpkin, but I just get tickled pink when I can actually taste pumpkin malt in a pumpkin beer. For all the flavor of this beer, I didn't sense any pumpkin. And for that, I have to dock points. Don't take it the wrong way, though; this beer still has great flavor!

Mouthfeel: 4/5
This brew has a nice body to it: rich and creamy, yet roasty and dark. The wheat malt helps fuel the body of this beer to make it thoroughly present on the palate.

Finish: 2/5
The Fear doesn't have much of a finish. It leaves behind traces of spice, which is good given the lack of pumpkin malt I picked up, and some nuttiness. But its presence upon the finish doesn't stretch much beyond the spices.

Total Score: 76/100

Flying Dog has definitely caught my attention with this beer. Although it lacked the full seasonal taste I was looking for, The Fear is still a rich dark pumpkin ale with huge malty flavor and a very nice appearance. I'd definitely suggest putting a couple bottles in your next mixed six-pack, or even picking up a whole six pack of it alone. I should get out and try more Flying Dog...

Until next time, cheers!


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