Barrel Aged Punk’in Drublic (Aged in brandy barrels)
Imperial Ale Brewed with pumpkin and spices
ABV 8% by volume – Volume 12 FL OZ
I was quite excited to taste this pumpkin beer, especially after reading alien Karla’s review of the non-barrel aged Punk’in Drublic. Pumpkin beer happens to be one of my absolute favorite varieties of beer, and signifies to us San Diegans that fall has arrived (at least in other areas of the country). This was my first time trying a barrel aged beer and naturally, the fact that it was a pumpkin beer had me seeing fall colors.
This beer is light amber in color, almost a dark rustic orange. The head will pour but it doesn’t last long and it quickly disappears into a quarter inch thick rim of tiny bubbles that cling to the edge of the glass. The beer is not overly carbonated, with few bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass.
The first thing I notice is the strong scent of brandy. It doesn’t smell much like pumpkin, at least not like how other pumpkin beers smell. You can barely detect the scent of pumpkin at the very end of a deep whiff through the nostrils. It smells extremely boozy. After reading alien Karla’s notes of the aroma of the non barrel aged version, I was expecting a much stronger scent of autumn flavors.
Flavors of brandy and pumpkin bread flooded my mouth. The first thing I detected was the taste of brandy, shortly followed by the light flavors of pumpkin bread, and again the taste of brandy as the beer glided further down my mouth. The beer is supposed to “drink like a warm baked piece of pumpkin bread with soft touches of brown sugar and smooth vanilla.” I admit I did not overtly detect flavors of brown sugar or vanilla.
The mouthfeel is strong at first as you taste the brandy. It is almost unexpected when one is expecting beer. The taste of brandy soon mellowed and the pumpkin flavor took over, giving way to the taste of brandy again on the sides of the tongue. The taste of pumpkin is brief and is focused on the back, center portion of the tongue. The front of the tongue is left in tact, and I was left with the overall taste of brandy, bringing me back to the many jack and coke’s I drank in college.
I would be very interested to try the non-barrel aged Punk’in Drublic for myself. I am a big whiskey fan, so the taste of this beer was a pleasant mix up from the pales I normally drink. Accepting the beer for what it was, I thought it was great. However, the taste of brandy overshadowed the taste of pumpkin and was so forward that I felt like I wasn’t even drinking beer. The pumpkin flavors are brief, but delicious and well formed none-the-less.
For those of you who are looking for a traditional fall beer, I would suggest opting for the non-barrel aged version of Punk’in Drublic. Though there were subtle hints of pumpkin, the beer lacked those warm and fuzzy fall flavors I was expecting.
***I would not recommend this beer to people who aren’t fans of brandy. No love that you harbor for pumpkin beer will be able to mask its scent and even stronger taste.***
NOTE: As the beer sat in the glass for upwards of thirty minutes, the taste of brandy got lighter and lighter and I was able to detect the fall flavors a lot more. If you want a more mellow, creamy taste, try letting the beer aerate (but put it back into the refrigerator to keep it cold!)
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