Getting drunk on pumpkins is one of the best ways to drown the sorrows that accompany summer’s end. Common pumpkin brew styles include ales, porters, and stouts, and pumpkin ciders have been rising in popularity amongst the gluten-conscious and sissy communities. There hasn’t been much innovation in pumpkin beer until recently, as more brewers battle to have their pumpkin beers stand out against the 5,000 other pumpkin brews on store shelves. Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, MD is taking a chance with their introduction of a new pumpkin IPA. This style is definitely a first for me, and I have quite a few beers under my belt.
Flying Dog’s The Gourd Standard is described as “an ale brewed with pumpkin purée and spices.” No mention of which hops were used to dry-hop this beer. Pumpkin beers are traditionally sweeter than most brews, while IPAs are traditionally more bitter. “Sweet and bitter” sure sounds terrible, but why the hell not, right?
The beer’s color is a hazy, dark orange-amber. Very sexy. I took a big whiff while the beer still had a decent head (LOL). Put on your pumpkin pants, kids. (Note: Must be 21 years or older to consume alcohol in the States). This beer smells like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. No noticeable trace of hops in the aroma. Would the smell mirror the taste?
The pumpkin spices emerge upfront with minimal sweetness; a nice balance of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg hits the palate. Shortly thereafter, something interesting happens. The hops completely block the pumpkin finish. The bitterness from the hops doesn’t exactly play nicely with the pumpkin spices… it actually bullies it. Picture two kids playing together on the playground: we’ll call them Pumpkin Pete and Harry Hops. Pumpkin Pete innocently takes a sip of his pumpkin juice from his pumpkin juicebox. He loves it! Then, out of nowhere, Harry Hops slaps Pumpkin Pete across the face as hard as he can. Pumpkin Pete is upset. After he calms down, he realizes the Pumpkin Juice doesn’t taste quite the same. It’s bitter, like his mood. That’s exactly what happens with this beer. It’s as if you’re drinking two very distinct beers consecutively: a pretty good pumpkin beer and then a decent IPA. I found myself enjoying this more as it warmed. By the end of the glass, I was finally getting some lasting finish from the pumpkin spices on each sip. It’s an interesting brew that is worth a shot, but may be a bit too novel for it’s own good.
Innovation in Pumpkin Rating: 7 out of 10
How Much Harry Hops Is An Asshole Rating: 8 out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 out of 10