Next up in our All Hallows Eve count down, Flying Dog offers us some great advice right on the bottle. In order to keep your fears from dominating you, we must embrace and conquer them. Not too shabby for beer bottle philosophy. How nice of them then, to include a little liquid courage with that nugget of wisdom…oh yeah, and those of you in the Maryland area maybe just ought to look into this weekend’s Halloween Smash and Bash party the brewery is throwing. It looks pretty damn cool.

*Warning: We may have gotten carried away with the puns on this one*


Name: The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Wild Dog Series

Place of Origin / Brewer: Maryland, USA / Flying Dog Brewery

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 9.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Brewed with Chico Yeast, Warrior and Williamette hops, pumpkin puree, and a (perhaps not so) secret blend of spices, The Fear weighs as a gravity laden, complex pumpkin pie crust and chocolate note oriented brew.



Part of Flying Dog’s “Wild Dog” series this bottle features a nightmare of a label pulsating with an ink blot canine that’s just screaming psychosis.  It’s just two steps away from a ‘Fear and Loathing Rorschach bat attack”.  I’m a little scared to drink this beer. – Tim

Flying Dog’s artistry will always hold a place in any Hunter S. Thompson lover’s heart.  Ralph Steadman has a style of art that is mad and impressive and hard not to recognize.  More specifically however we have Flying Dog’s The Fear label and in the true fashion of fear you can’t really tell what it’s supposed to be, but you know it scares the shit out of you. – Brittney


Color:  8

Don’t be fearful of this imperial ale’s deep dark color.  It pours lights-out opaque, like the darkest corner of the pumpkin patch.  With a blonde, toffee colored head at least two finger tall, you can’t beat it’s striking looks. – Rick

Black as sin with a hint of ruby when lit. Of course the light barely penetrates this ominous brew. The bone white head amplifies the effect nicely. – Mike

M- 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 8


Aroma:  7

The aroma screams roasted gourd and allspice and brother, they’re letting you know this is an imperial right up front because, believe me, you could get drunk just off the alcohol fragrance hovering in the air above the head. – Tim

Clove and allspice float adrift a sea hoppy goodness, and a strong insinuation of bitterness runs so deep, we might need an exorcist. It’s definitely intriguing. – Mike

This ale has a typical stout-like aroma, but there’s more to it than it first presents.  There are some spicy notes in there fighting for life amongst the smoky cloves that really dominate the bouquet. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 6 / B- 6 / R- 8


Mouth feel:  7.5

This ale explodes on the tongue right away with flavor.  It’s super poppy on the tongue letting it’s presence fully assimilate your taste buds, the whole time reminding you of it’s 9% ABV with a rabid bite. – Rick

Despite the intense looking nature,  most of this dog is the bark, or rather more in the spirit of a blood curdling howl in the woods, with just a bit of nip when you actually realize it’s a cute little wolf pup. Ok, maybe that’s pushing it. But what I’m trying to say here is, this is mildly bodied at best. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 6 / B- 8 / R- 9.5


Tasting notes:  8

With deep molasses and huge roasted malts, they don’t call it “The Fear” for nothing.  This is agro beer.  It’s not pulling any punches, in fact it’s liable to clock you right between the eyes while you’re not even looking.  The sweetness here is masking a burnt sugar taste that handedly maintains the overall dominant assault that this beer is pushing. – Tim

The Fear definitely does not fall into the sweet pumpkin pie beer category and in true Flying Dog fashion creates a category all it’s own.  The spices and subtle pumpkin pull create a seasonal beer setting but the not so subtle malt and alcohol break the mold. – Brittney

There are some great hints of pumpkin spices lurking in the shadows of this full bodied imperial ale.  The smoky notes tend to stalk a touch of brown sugar as the ale navigates the tongue.  One of the stronger ales with a really bold taste, I can’t wait for a wide release of this brew. – Rick

Surprisingly sweet to start, it fades nicely into a much stouter bitter brew, that impressively doesn’t hide the pumpkin too much, but rather keeps it just below the surface giving you a solid and challenging imperial up front, and your seasonal treat once you’ve proven yourself worthy. It leans a bit on the cinnamon and clove nature, but, I can’t imagine that anything else wouldn’t just blend right into the dryer aspect of this one. – Mike

M- 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 9


Finish:  7

Crazy long finish and bitter as sin.  But neither of those things are necessarily bad here–I’ve got to assume that the guys behind this brew were basically daring people to drink it. – Tim

This is going to sound strange, but I almost get a starchy pear finish, and the accompanying nearly parching dryness of the tongue that makes this a continual sipper by necessity. It’s definitely a statement among pumpkin brews, but I could see this getting old quickly. – Mike

Finishes with lingering notes of clove, allspice and nutmeg but those are all cut short by a bitter brew and I mean that in the nicest way possible. – Brittney

M- 5.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5


Flavor balance:  6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

While it’s initial make-up seems to be of smoky cloves, it leans towards a gourd like flavor to really balance this great ale. – Rick

For all it’s frights, The Fear kind of fails at it’s one big opportunity to scare people–the spice arena.  I’ve got a feeling that if there were any subtle spices in here they got creamed by the ABV. – Tim

M – 6 / T- 5 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

This one has all the textural characteristics of sweetness with the 9% bringing it back and creating a dry balance. – Brittney

It’s way sweeter than it is dry but in a way that probably won’t endear itself to beer drinkers that are looking for a more saccharin brew.  But if you dig on the kind of complexities found in sugar that’s been caramelized just to point of blackness, then The Fear has a lot to offer. – Tim

M- 4 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 9

–         Multiple Drinkability?

Alcohol content be damned, I could really make a few of these disappear for good! – Rick

I think one of these would be most enjoyable, before the novelty wore off. – Mike

I tend to cut it short with the darker ones.  The body of this one could probably set me at two but The Fear would probably stop me there. – Brittney

Not for the faint of heart it’s a 9% ABV and I promise you can taste every bit of pain it’s offering. I’m afraid if I drink more than one of these then those ink blot bats are going to attack! – Tim

M- 4 / T- 3 / B- 6.5 / R- 8.5


Overall:  7.33

M- 6.50 / T- 6.42 / B- 7.33 / R- 8.58