Oct 25, 2012

Flying Dog The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Pumpkin beer season is well upon us, if not already over seeing as how there were many of the gourd-based brews popping up on shelves in early August. I’m not the biggest fan of the style, though I do partake in one every now and again — and do have a few favorites. Southern Tier’s Pumpking is a great example as was Shipyard’s Cellar Aged example and Schlafly’s take on the style. Lately, it seems as though everyone and their mother has a version of this seasonal treat. Most are downright bad, but some, like Flying Dog’s The Fear, however, are tasty as hell.

The Fear is probably the darkest of the pumpkin ales that’s not a stout or porter, though it does have some porterish characteristics. It’s a 9% ABV beer that is brewed with local Maryland pumpkin and a blend of spices known only to the brewers. Any time I hear spices and pumpkin in the same sentence I immediately worry that the beer will end up resembling a liquid dessert — and that’s fine in some cases, but usually horribly over-the-top in most. Thankfully, The Fear doesn’t taste like you’re drinking pumpkin pie in a glass.


The Fear pours with a dense, light tan head that rests atop the dark cola in color brew. The head shows some resiliency and left moderate lacing on the glass.


I pick up more spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) and brown sugar than pumpkin on the nose though not in a dessert sort of way. The smell is earthy and has a nice roast malt character.


Thankfully, the flavor is just about the polar opposite of the nose, leading with more pumpkin than spice blend. A malt sweetness and roasty nature give the brew a unique profile as it transitions to a late forming hop presence that carries a moderate level of hop bite. This is a smooth bodied brew with a mellowing warmth in the finish.


There’s really nothing to be scared of even after pouring The Fear into your glass. Don’t let it’s dark appearance sway you from trying out this lightly roasted pumpkin treat. It’s not overly sweet or spiced as many of its peers. It, instead, relies on the pumpkin, roast and earthy character to entice you into opening another. But be warned, this is a big beer that goes down so smooth, it’s, well, scary.

Rating: 4/5

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