The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale - Flying Dog Brewery

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The Fear Imperial Pumpkin AleThe Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale

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128 Reviews
very good

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Reviews: 128
Hads: 528
Avg: 3.66
pDev: 27.87%
Wants: 41
Gots: 92 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
Pumpkin Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: taylor714914 on 09-25-2011

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 128 | Hads: 528
Photo of CDGoin
1/5  rDev -72.7%

How to describe the worse thing I have ever tired.. How about someone threw up a pumpkin pie on a pine tree.. ? I don't mean to be rude.. But it was literally the worst beer I have ever had. If you like Pumpkin and you like VERY Hoppy IPAs.. then I guess you might like this obination. If you lean towards liking more malty beers, and not a big fan of pumpkin stay far.. far.. far away. As you should Fear it.

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Photo of tchaos
1.96/5  rDev -46.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip

A -- dark brown -- far darker than I anticipated. 2-finger tan head with moderate retention and sticky lacing

T -- bitter. ridiculously bitter, and not in a good way. To ape Patton Oswalt, a failure brew in a sadness bottle. I seriously hope that something had gone off, because no discernible flavor was evident beyond the overwhelming bitterness.

M -- moderate carbonation; relatively clean; reasonable balanced mouthfeel.

O -- rarely do I drain-pour something, but this met the bill. I let it rest and warm -- it didn't matter...I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin ales to begin with, but to date they have all been tolerable. This beer was definitely a Halloween trick...

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Photo of challenja
2.43/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass

A -- Blood red! Amazingly dark red, no head retention after a minute of warming. White froth that quickly dissipates.

T -- Nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and roasted pumpkin seed. This beer is too bitter and lacks real flavor depth except nutmeg and overly cloved spice. This is crap for an Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I am really let down. Well it's Flying Dog so, I take that back.. ohhh snap..

M -- moderate carbonation; relatively clean; reasonable mouthfeel, lacking a nice thickness of top tier Imperial Pumpkin Ale's. This is quick fast, racy,cloved and dirty. A lingering back palate spice bite.

O -- This is a the worst Imperial Pumpkin Ale I have had and this is number 5, maybe I was spoiled by having Southern Tier, Schlafly, Weyerbacher, and Heavy Sea's. But a crap beer is a crap beer. When your expecting something spectacular and you get this, you get pissed. I am so glad I didn't buy a 6'r of this.

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Photo of seedyone
2.5/5  rDev -31.7%

10/24/12 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. At first blush I was smitten but less than half way through the heavy texture started to interfere w/the subtle spiciness.

As a big So. Tier Pumpking fan I feel I've committed some weird form of adultery.

Moral of the story is what may appear to be fresh, new & exciting often is not. Maybe I'm just getting old.

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Photo of russwbeck
2.56/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Orange brown pour with a white head. The lacing and retention is great. Pumpkin, vanilla, spices, some roasted malty aroma. Sort of a weird smell. The taste is malty, roasted, sort of boozy. Really no hint of pumpkin or spiciness. Disjointed and like the smell is weird tasting. Light, carbonated well, just not balanced at all. The strange smell and flavor makes this difficult to drink. Disappointed in this.

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Photo of DeFaz
2.63/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

It's rare that I'm really disappointed with a pumpkin ale, but this one just doesn't work. The only thing going for it is its unusual appearance--a dark brown color with a beautiful red thrown in there too and a head that displays fairly poor retention. From there, things go down hill. The smell consists of roasted malt and pumpkin, with the malt distracting rather than complimenting the pumpkin. In the taste, the roasted malt, pumpkin, alcohol, and spices just don't work and leave a bittersweet mess. A cross between a porter and a pumpkin ale may have sounded good on paper, but I found this disappointing and one of the worst tasting pumpkin ales I've had despite the nice appearance and mouthfeel.

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Photo of mastodonj
2.7/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A 16-oz draft at Adega in Silver Spring.

If you look at my reviews, I tend to be much higher than the
mean (i.e., a large positive rdev).
Normally, I probably would not take the time to write a review
for a beer that I had a mediocre experience with.
However, this beer, as a "special seasonal" ale, should get
some extra attention.

You can read below, but the bottom line is that this is a mediocre ale, at best. There is nothing at all exceptional here.

A - Dark reddish brown with a small head and a good lacing.
S - Slight cinnamon, gingerbread smell
T - The slight spiciness comes through on the back of the
tongue with a good bitterness. But really, there is no
complexity in the taste here.
M - Mouthfeel is unnoticeable.

Really, for a seasonal ale, the reviewer's bar should be
fairly high. This just has nothing worth talking about.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.7/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark brown color. Not quite stout-y looking, but darker than a lot of pumpkin ales I've encountered. The head is a creamy mocha shade, about one finger high. It's both soft-looking and well retaining, all while leaving a nice ring of lacing down the side of the glass.

S: The spice levels here are strong; lots of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove here. There's something vaguely medicinal here that I'm not sure of, though. Otherwise, touches of pumpkin, brown sugar, and caramel round out the decent aroma.

T: For about a second, it's opens up with a pleasant layer of spices. After that second, problems ensue: the flavors become quite minty to the point of being medicinal. Luckily, the aftertaste is pleasantly roasty. The combination of the minty middle and the alcohol presence sends this one spiraling down into mediocrity - and straight into the realm of crappiness.

M: The smooth body is a welcoming respite...until it dries up on the swallow, exposing some of the harsher flavors. Somewhat boozy, and also slightly overcarbonated.

O: This reminds me that while there are a few rock-solid beers from this brewery (like Raging Bitch), some of their other stuff is painfully mediocre. Like this - actually, no, it kind of sucks. Will not be buying again.

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Photo of theBubba
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.25

First, let me say that I'm not a fan of IPAs. What does this have to do with The Fear? You'll see.

Poured darker than most pumpkin ales. I like that. A decent head that didn't last but left some lacing.

Smelled really nice...the typical pumpkin pie spices that all the brewers use, but the malt aroma prevailed so that was a good thing. Got my expectations up, cause as you all know there are some shitty "pumpkin" beers out there this time of the year. Personally I usually have better luck with the Oktoberfests.

Anyway, I've always been a fan of the stuff Flying Dog puts out. The discontinued Horn Dog was one of my very favorites. So I def looked forward to tasting The Fear. Ever drink Cynar or some of those other Italian aperitifs like Campari? Do you like bitter? Than you'll love The Fear. And by the way, the 9 ABV is never noticeable thanks to the sea of bitter.

Otherwise stay clear. There are more friendly pumpkin beers out there.

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Photo of oline73
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep mahogany color with two fingers of off white head. The head fades to just a trace.

Smell: Pretty darn good. Malt and some spice, mainly some nutmeg. There are some dark fruit notes in there as well.

Taste: I really wish it was as good as the smell. Way too bitter. There is a pleasant malt sweetness with some spice that is getting run the f over by bitterness. Strong alcohol notes as well.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with smooth carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: Not sure if this is a bad bottle or just doesn't taste good, but I'm not a fan.

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Photo of Joe_Mowery
2.95/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Poured a nice head with good lacing. The initial aroma was nice, mostly cinnamon and nutmeg with a hint of pumpkin.

The first thing you will notice after drinking this beer is the dry bitterness, unfortunately the bitterness overshadows all the spices and pumpkin flavors. After a few sips the caramel malts and smokey flavors tend to dominate this beer, as the dry bitterness lingers on your tongue. At this point it is hard to taste any pumpkin. Despite the strong bitterness I do not notice any hop arromas.

I have recently tasted about 12 different pumpkin beers, and this is definitely one of my least favorites, I would probably not buy this beer again, and would definitely not recommend it to my friends.

One positive note is the high alcohol content, I am presently surprised with the nice buzz after only drinking one bottle.

The main aspects of this beer that I taste in order of dominance are

1. Dry Bitterness
2. Caramel malts
3. Smokeyness
4. Cinnamon/clove
5. Nutmeg
6. Pumpkin

I have a nice buzz, so now I just need something else to rinse this taste out of my mouth

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Photo of BB1313
2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. This is a darker pumpkin ale. Pours a dark brown with some light brown hues. There's a huge fluffy dark off-white head which sticks around and leaves sticky lacing. Nice looking beer. The aromas are somewhat faint, but still enjoyable and basically what you would expect from the style. Lots of caramel malts blended with some cinnamon spices. The flavors are very bitter. The hop bitterness is very noticeable. The flavors are very spicy. Lots of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Once again, very bitter and not sweet at all. Mouthfeel is slick and syrupy. The carbonation is there, making it a smooth drink. The alcohol isn't really noticeable and there's no booziness, just a harsh bitterness.

This isn't really the best Imperial Pumpkin Ale I've come across. Too bitter for the style, in my opinion. I was hoping for more, considering Flying Dog really excels with their bigger beers.

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Photo of justintcoons
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass.

Deep Cola colored brown with red highlights. Has a half finger of head that dissipates quickly. Excellent clarity and low carbonation.

Light notes of pumpkin meat, Cola, caramel and candy sugar.

A tad bit boozey. Cola and burnt sugars. Nutmeg, allspice and clove. Light notes of pumpkin meat. Bitter, earthy finish.

Medium bodied, crisp and creamy.

An rather poor attempt at a Pumpkin Stout/Porter. The booze is pretty apparent. The dark qualities are not rich enough. Meh.

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Photo of sierratwohearted
3/5  rDev -18%

opaque amber, didnt think the head was there until it was overflowing my tulip glass...big pumpkin pie aroma, heavy spice.taste is like burnt pumpkin pie. roasted malt is almost overwhelming the pumpkin flavor. i almost taste the bready crust of the pie. again, the roasted malt too quickly takes over the pumpkin flavor in every sip. this is a pumpkin stout in my opinion, and i dont much like it.

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Photo of claspada
3.06/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown color with reddish highlights and a thin off-white tightly formed bubbly head (thanks to the hand-pull tap) that recedes to leave some spotty lacing.

The aromas begin with sweet bready maltiness, some fleshy pumpkin with the usual pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice). As it warms there is some caramel and some emerging woody/smokey notes which seem out of place.

The tastes follow the nose but are not quite as in balance as I would have liked. Pumpkin spices, specifically nutmeg stand out, with the toasted bready malts, caramel and earthy/woody bitterness to the finish. The woody/smokey flavors come out as well but the base beer is lacking a pop which makes the spices overwhelm the flavor profile.

The mouthfeel is medium to light bodied which is odd considering the ABV with medium to light carbonation.

Overall this was a pretty big miss for me. It was drinkable when it was on the colder side but as it warmed the flavor profile got spice heavy and earthy/woody/roasty for some reason. The base beer is caught between an amber and a porter which just doesn't work. I was actually expecting there would be more pumpkin than I tasted based on the nose. Pass for me.

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Photo of hophugger
3.14/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Never ever have I seen a pumpkin ale this dark, wow!, pours a dark color with a tinge of deep orange red trying to peek through. Aroma is of pumpkin pie and spices and some sweetness. The alcohol bites you at first and then a pumpkin spice flavor comes through. The alcohol continues to burn ever so slightly. The flavor is decent but the burn is amazing. Decent balance of flavors and overall(besides the alcohol) a pretty mild mannered beer

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.16/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This beer was served from the tap at Rattle N’ Hum in New York, NY. It arrived in a generic goblet showing a deepened, rusty amber coloring. It held a one finger head of cakey tan foam, showing nice retention, and leaving splotchy lacing down the walls of the glass. There was a chill haze, with no sediment noted. Carbonation appeared robust. The aroma gave big metallic malts, roasty caramels, baker’s yeast, and strong phenolic spice of clove and black pepper. Booze came with warmth, as did a light nutty moss and herbal hop bitterness. Our first impression was that the spice and chemically backbone really drowned out a lot of the other flavoring. As we sipped, aromatic metallics, toasted pale malts, brown sugar caramel roast, and saltiness started things off. These were all decimated through the center of the sip by chemical and clove of phenol, black pepper spice, and fusel booziness. These persisted through the finish, where they were added to by a bittering herbal hop quality, raw licorice, nutmeg, and powdered pumpkin spice. The aftertaste breathed of that phenolic fire, booze, nutmeg, clove, pumpkin spice, and herbal cone hops. The body was medium, and the carbonation was medium. There was nice and soft slurp, smack, cream, and froth to the sip, with thick coating left all around the mouth. There was a slight pucker, with little dryness or astringent to be had. The abv was fine, and the beer drank okay.

Overall, what we liked best about this beer was the robustness of flavoring. While that central bite was certainly overpowering at times, at no point was the drinker bored. At first, things did feel one-dimensional, but with time and warmth the ending of the swallow flourished with a mix of bitters and spices. This made for an ultimately interesting drink. This beer does not land well within the stylistic guidelines, as much of anything pumpkin is lost, but it is definitely one of the more forward beers for Flying Dog.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clean deep amber to brown-ish in color with a light tan head. In the aroma, sweet pumpkin, cinnamon, allspice, brown sugar, and a small alcohol presence. In the taste, somewhat boozy, small spices, but mostly allspice. A spice like bite and a medium to lighter bodied mouthfeel, with a dry spice and lingering alcohol in the aftertaste. Somewhat boozy, big spices, and sweet to dry flavors.

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Photo of RandomExile
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: dark brown, opaque, thick fine tan head, sheets of lacing which disappear quickly
S: cocoa, malt, mint (!)
T: bitter, roasted coffee, malt, mint, woody toast finish
M: medium-full-bodied, alcohol well-blended and masked by carbonation
O: some odd disjointed notes, but drinkable, and excellent handling of such a high abv

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Photo of Chicken_bear
3.26/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Good color, good body.
Taste is a little too raisin-y for me, although the taste is balanced nicely. Taste more of the spices than the pumpkin. Doesn't taste like a 9% beer.

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Photo of jtierney89
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the darkest pumpkin beer i've seen that hasnt called itself a pumpkin stout. Deep 100 year old rusted brass hue with a big sticky off white head. Pumpkin, licorice, allspice,nutmeg, cinnamon an cocoa powder on the nose.

Surprisingly light for 9% abv but still on the heavy side of being medium bodied. Lots of spice with a big roasted malt profile and a nice pumpkin flavor to it. Unfortunately the spice really dominates this beer to the point of lingering in the mouth. The nice roastiness of the malt however compliments the pumpkin pretty well. A bit of a sloppy beer but a pretty good effort and i complement the brewery for using this years fresh pumpkins. Could use some work but drinkable and overall tasty enough.

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Photo of Pencible
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a nearly opaque garnet with some off white head.
S: It smelled like pumpkin and clove and cinnamon, with some copper and cranberry and pie crust.
T: It tasted like clove and cranberries and copper, with some pumpkin. It had a dirty and bitter aftertaste.
M: It was slightly thick with moderate carbonation. Decent body.
D: This was not one of the better pumpkin ales. The scent and body were ok, but the taste wasn't ok. The finish was rough too, so it was not easy to drink. Not recommended.

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Photo of corby112
3.32/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark copper color that's almost brown with dark burnt orange edges and a one finger light beige head that slowly settles into a thin ring. Sporadic streaks of lace left behind.

Sweet, yet spicy pumpkin pie aroma with a nice balance of caramel malt, autumnal spices and pumpkin puree. Some caramel malt and toffee followed by allspice, clove, ginger and cinnamon. The peppery spices are countered by pumpkin pie sweetness, vanilla and nutmeg. A bit more roast than expected for the style but still smells dessert like.

Medium bodied with more roast and hop bitterness than the atom suggests. Roasted malt presence Long with dry, earthy hops and toasted pumpkin seed. This dry roasted character takes away from the better qualities of the beer in my opinion. There is still a stron zesty autumnal spice profile but most of the pumpkin pie sweetness found in the aroma is overpowered. Some caramel malt sweetness along with cinnamon, brown sugar and clove with some nutmeg and pumpkin puree buried underneath. The high ABV is very well masked but I wish it was better balanced.

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Photo of Fergyx825
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: a very dark amber beer, with a little bit of head on the edges of the glass and on the surface of the beer. This is way darker than most pumpkin ales.

Smell: A rich smell of pumpkin and spices. This smells great. I'm really looking forward to tasting this beer.

Taste: At first you can really taste the spices of this beer, then it settles into the alcohol of the beer. This beer doesn't taste as it smells, but you can taste the spices of the beer and not so much the pumpkin.

Mouthfeel: a low carbonated beer, with some body to it. I really enjoy the mouthfeel of this beer.

Overall: This is pretty standard run of the mill pumpkin ale. It has some flavor to it, but the alcohol is obvious.

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Photo of fourstringer
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 12 oz Brewer's Art goblet with a moderate hand. Admittedly, not my favorite style, but I do dig on Flying Dog in general.

A: Very nice. Rather dark amber, almost black when viewed straight on. Off-white head approximately 1 finger width. Minimal lacing.

S: Smells is good. Dark. Some indistinct pie spice and notable sweetness. Mild vanilla. Smells like a pumpkin beer. Better than most, but I would hope for a little extra oomph given it's "imperial" classification.

T: Sweet up front with a rapid transition to a hop bitterness which lingers. More hop than the average pumpkin beer for sure, but that's not an inherently bad thing. The expected pumpkin spice is certainly there, but a bit indistinct. Maybe I'm imagining it, but I swear I'm picking up some Old Bay in there. The first few sips were even a bit salty. It's unique, but I don't think it's really working for me. Tastes like 9% ABV.

M: Low to moderate carbonation. I think a few more bubbles would help this one out. A bit syrupy. Probably the low point.

O: Interesting take on an often underperforming style IMO. Spice profile is a bit off the beaten track and the hop factor is ramped up a bit. Not up there with the best I've had, but not bad. Worth a try, especially if you're a fan of the style.

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The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Flying Dog Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 128 ratings.