REVIEW: DuClaw Pumpkin Retribution (Bourbon-Barrel Aged Imperial Stout)

The Pumpkin Apocalypse attacks far more product genres than junk food, and craft beer might be its largest victim.  Over the course of the next few weeks, beer enthusiasts will complain tirelessly as they see their favorite summer beers replaced with pumpkin beers:

“WTF! It’s still Summer!” ~ Beer Geek 1
“It’s not even October yet! WTF!” ~ Beer Geek 2
“Do you guys sell any key lime beers?” ~ Some idiot

This person is not me. The way I see it, the only way to try every pumpkin beer on the planet is to start early. To my dismay, the craft beer aisles have not been flooded with pumpkin brews just yet. Luckily, I had an ace up my sleeve. Or in my fridge. I had a pumpkin beer in my fridge.

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DuClaw Brewing Company is based out of Rosedale, Maryland. They are perhaps best known for their Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, “Sweet Baby Jesus,” which tastes a lot like Reese’s cups. Their Retribution, however, might be their most highly regarded beer and is my personal favorite. Retribution is an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels. The Pumpkin Retribution is the same imperial stout but aged with pumpkin and spices in the bourbon barrels. Mine was aged for six months way back in 2013.

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Opening the bottle, the aroma is that of bourbon and chocolate.  I don’t smell the pumpkin spice, but the aroma is still awesome. Upon first sip, I immediately picked out the bourbon. It’s just the right amount. The flavor is a little smoky, with nodes of chocolate, vanilla, and caramel.  It’s delicious, and for a beer that weighs in at 11.5% ABV, the “burny” sensation in minimal. The mouthfeel is chewy, and the beer is super smooth with no carbonation to speak of. This beer is Danger City.

But where the hell is my pumpkin?  Sip after sip, I am searching for pumpkin spices but not finding it at all.  I persistently and rapidly sip it, digging deep to identify the pumpkin and spices, and completely forget that it’s an 11.5% ABV.  I am now drunk, and just remodeled my entire bathroom on HomeDepot.com.

It is impossible to be overly critical of this beer; its flavors are robust and complex, it’s as smooth as a Southern drawl, and it gets you where you want to be in a hurry.  I’m sure it was brewed with pumpkin and spices, but they simply aren’t bold enough to name the beer accordingly.  My bathroom is coming along nicely, though.

Delivers the Pumpkin Rating: 2 out of 10
Gets You Drunk Enough To Redesign Your Bathroom Rating:  8.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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  1. September 6, 2015

    […] (9/4/2015): 7.5 out of 10 Duclaw “Pumpkin Retribution” Imperial Stout (8/9/2015): 7.5 out of 10 Pumpkin Spice Latte M&M’s (8/23/2015): 7 out of 10 Little Debbie’s Pumpkin Spice […]

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