Posts tagged ‘Great American Beer Festival’

Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Dry Dock Brewing

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This unsuspecting brew came to us at the vocal suggestion of one of our blog followers and we’re glad that we listened. Announced just yesterday from The Great American Beer Festival, Dry Dock Brewing took home 5 medals, including two gold for their Wee Heavy and Mild entries. Add in the fact that they took home Brewer of the year in 2009 (and a heap of other accolades you can check out on their website), and you’ve got all the little details that make trying a brew for the first time pretty dang exciting. For our money, this entry held up to their reputation and then some. Our advice? Keep your eyes on these folks. They’re poised to become kings of Colorado’s craft brew scene.


Name: Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Aurora, Colorado / Dry Dock Brewing

Beer style / ABV%: Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 9.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality: Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin Ale is brewerd with pumpkins in the mash and spiced delicately with saigon and indonesian cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mace, and cloves.



Very cool illustrative label, with a skeletal pirate holding out a pumpkin in Hamlet-esque fashion while a collection of wicked jack-o-lanterns grin manically in the background. Soppy Halloween vibes are plentiful. – Tim

Definitely one of the cooler labels we’ve seen. A spooky dead pirate with a jack-o-lantern makes a nice center piece and flows well with the brewery’s theme. – Rick


Color: 6.5

The beer pours a glowing copper/orange hue. It’s a little hazy to look at but you can still see the gentle trickle of bubbles as they rise to the slightly soapy looking thin head. – Brittney

Mimicking the outer rind of a pumpkin, this coloration is a ripe orange hue. A slim head quickly fades to nothing and I’m left with a cloudy disconcerting orange color. – Rick

M – 7 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 5


Aroma: 7.5

Pumpkin and malt punch through, adrift in a sea of spices. Ginger seems to poke out ahead of the others, followed by soapy nutmeg, piquant mace, and a hint of cinnamon. – Mike

Pumpkin and pie crust, with cinnamon, clove ginger and allspice, biscuit malt notes and a heady breath of alcohol. – Tim

M – 7.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 7.5


Mouth feel: 7.5

Medium bodied and avoiding syrupy trappings. It’s actually rather dry. The carbonation breaks up slightly what would, otherwise, be still waters. – Mike

Pretty weighty and slick bringing a medium bodied beer to the heavier end. This is also one of those occasions where you can almost feel aspects of the spice open up in your mouth. – Brittney

M – 8 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 8


Tasting notes: 8.5

Wow. This has a huge pumpkin presence. It’s got a fantastic grainy, creamy pumpkin pie body. The spices, though using everything in the cupboard, are totally reigned in and in check. It’s subtle, nuanced, and complete. It’s the opposite of big, in your face, pumpkin beer. It’s pumpkin, then beer, then spice; and it’s supremely balanced and executed. – Mike

Lots of caramel malt sweetness and a fair amount of cinnamon that overpowers the other spices in the brew. But clove, ginger and allspice all manage to peek though in the end. The pumpkin finally comes though on the body but it’s getting beaten into pie territory by the spice blend. That being said, I would rank this high on a level for what an pie spice aggressive Imperial Pumpkin Ale should taste like. – Tim

This plays the traditional pumpkin ale card well, if a little on the intense end. The spices are definitely on the forefront and the buttery malt you can smell in the aroma comes through nicely in the flavor. Being an Imperial, you have to expect to experience a good amount of alcohol but once your palate is acclimated to that it isn’t too offensive or overpowering. – Brittney

Nice pumpkin flavor is backed up by some impressive spicing. Mace and ginger work well together and stand out impressively here to dry and really crisp up the body. – Rick

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


Finish: 7.5

A lot of the cinnamon sticks with you at the end as far as the flavor of the finish goes, but the thing that really stuck with me is the sweet slick syrupy mouth feel. – Brittney

Like the mouthfeel, the finish is super smooth for a 9% ABV brew, with just a little noticeable heat coming off it. It’s also really clean tasting as well. Mace and ginger are awesome here leaving a nice crisp finish. – Rick

M- 9 / T- 7 / B- 5.5 / R- 7


Flavor balance: 7.5

  • Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

I’m saying this for the first time. It’s mostly pumpkin forward. The cavalcade of spices in this bottle must have been micro pipetted in. Astonishing balance of sweet malty pumpkin, whip cream and singed pie crust, with a spicy kiss of dryness. – Mike

Maybe a touch too heavy on the spice, but an overall great job for an imperial. Once again, I have to note my pleasure with the balance of ginger and mace on the finish. They do a great job of cooling off this imperial and keeps the sweetness in check. – Rick

M- 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 6.5

  • Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

Sweet, but not cloying, with some heat from the Imperial ABV on the close. Cinnamon is prevalent but not harsh enough to completely dry this one it. – Tim

Usually higher amounts of alcohol can help balance out a super sweet beer but in this case not so much. Any dryness here is from the spicing. – Brittney

M – 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 7.5

  • Multiple Drinkability? 7.5

When I’m looking for a ‘kick back and relax’ pumpkin beer, my go-to brews tend to be Southern Tier’s Pumking and Dogfish’s Punkin. This one could settle tight into the groove with that set as a superior everyday Pumpkin Ale. – Tim

While I’m all for extreme brewing, it’s nice to have an entry just hit the nail on the head without any bells and whistles. You’re not going to get sick halfway through the bottle from a sugar bomb, and you’re still going to feel your tongue afterwards without feeling like you drank cinnamon mouthwash. This is perfect for a meal pairing. It glows in it’s own tempered radiance. At 9%, it still drinks like a session ale, and the pumpkin malt body give it a certain seriousness for the beer snob in us all. Simply put, it’s impressive in it’s humility, valuing balance and detail over loud flavors or obnoxious intensity. It’s real, and it’s really good.

M – 10 / T- 6.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 7.5


Overall: 7.50

M – 8.50 / T- 6.92 / B- 6.67 / R- 7.25

The Great Pumpkin – Elysian Brewing Company

How badass! Someone named a beer after our blog. What? A beagle and some kids? Ahh…Well, Linus is probably a little under age for this one, and if that face popped out of the pumpkin patch, he’d probably need some new britches. Still, you can get your very own in one of Elysian’s Pumpkin Patch four packs, and celebrate Devil’s Night with us, or, you could sit in the yard and wait for someone to bring you one. Your call.


Name:  The Great Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Washington, USA / Elysian Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale / 8.1%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  The Great Pumpkin is brewed with both Pumpkin and seeds, Pale, Munich, Cara-Hell, Cara-Vienne, Cara-Munich and Crisp 45° L Crystal malts, Mangum hops for bittering,  then fermented with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice, along with additional pumpkin in the fermenter. It’s considered the worlds first imperial pumpkin ale, and took the silver medal in 2007’s Great American Beer Festival.



Obviously we’re all a little bit partial to the “Great Pumpkin” moniker. But, I like the wicked scarred Jack O’ Lantern on display here too.  He’s a little tore up, maybe from some naughty trick-or-treaters or maybe because the dude who carved him had a few too many “imperial” ales before he started slicing an dicing (stay safe out there friends!). – Tim

A sack stitched jack o lantern gnaws menacingly on Elysian’s The Great Pumpkin logo. A quick description, a few nods to the beer and the brew house and away we go! – Brittney


Color:  6.5

This one is a little bit different than the norm. Bright orange butterscotch coloring makes it reminiscent of a shandy style. A cloudy body with some yeasty sediment swirls beneath a bone white creamy head. – Rick

Maybe the most intense orange color we have had this year.  The last of a larger head makes me think I might be about to partake in a glass of orange juice, pulp and all. – Brittney

M- 6.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 6


Aroma:  7

I like that I really get oven fresh roasted pumpkin seed on the nose, along with respectable amounts of fresh pumpkin and a subdued spicing. An intriguing hook to those disenfranchised by gobs of pie. – Mike

It smells fruity and sweet, kind of like a gummy citric candy, yet still retaining a yeasty quality to it. Not bad, but unexpected from a pumpkin ale. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 5.5


Mouth feel:  7

Deep end of medium bodied with a hefty bit of burn. It’s definitely an imperial ale, and even has a bit of an ice cold pumpkin vodka vibe. – Mike

I didn’t expect a full body from it’s initial appearance, but this one delivers. It’s really smooth and creamy with just a slight bite from the ABV. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 6 / R- 7


Tasting notes:  8

Full flavored and quite fruity on the pumpkin end. The spice is incredibly mild here, not in a bad way, but very much subdued, playing a more astringent and drying role. – Mike

Earthy and nutty, the pumpkin seeds add wonders to this ale, the spices are full, with cinnamon, clove and ginger, sweet malty bread and a vanilla sugar blend together for bold fall beer, but that ABV isn’t nearly as well masked as I think they’re hoping for and with everything going on this beer could really start to overwhelm you. – Tim

Looks like we might have another one that knows how to present a earthly vegetal ale other than a spiced beer that might happen to remind you of pumpkin pie.  I get a lot of earthy notes and a remainder of a whisper of spice. – Brittney

For an imperial ale, there’s a great fruity sweet character here that’s a bit unique.  It’s a nice full body that has a warm buzz about it. Citrus, with an almost barrel aged sweetness to it, I can almost taste pumpkin Jolly Ranchers. An novel approach for sure. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 8 / B- 7 / R- 8.5


Finish:  7

Finish is long with  immense carry-over from the actual pumpkin in the body.  I can’t remember the last pumpkin ale that finished with pumpkin.  Unfortunately, it’s also competing with alcohol trails. – Tim

The  honeyed pumpkin finishes with an almost mead decay here, transforming into a sour and earthy flesh with hints of pumpkin seed, and cinnamon prevailing. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 7


Flavor balance:  7.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

More pumpkin than spice in the realm that we are used to tasting. – Brittney

The nuttiness from the seeds and the earthy vegetal gourd are very well set in the spice mix here and the spices never overwhelm the squashy goodness on display.  Very well done.  – Tim

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

–         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

This one is deceptive. With a cheek-full, it’s cinnamon-fruity –sweet, but on the swallow you’re left just a touch breathless, and a bit parched. – Mike

This imperial ale really shines in this category I think. There’s a nice vegetal sweetness that isn’t too syrupy, and it’s able to end with nice a dry finish. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?  7

The alcohol isn’t very well-masked.  It’s clear you’re drinking an Imperial ale, and it feels like it could get your lit up faster than Detroit on Devil’s Night.  I’m not sure my palate could handle more than two glasses in one sitting, but if you ever see me out, I assure you I wouldn’t pass up sharing a bottle with you. – Tim

I like to drink my beer not chew it. – Brittney

Overall, it’s a great beer period. The fact that it’s a unique twist on the pumpkin style really helps it stand out. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 7.5 / B- 5 / R- 9


Overall:  7.17

M- 7.33 / T- 7.33 / B- 6.42 / R- 7.08