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The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale - Flying Dog Brewery

Not Rated.
The Fear Imperial Pumpkin AleThe Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

128 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 128
Hads: 531
Avg: 3.66
pDev: 28.14%
Wants: 41
Gots: 94 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 128 | Hads: 531
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 mntlover
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep tarnished penny color, almost brown head is a finger and a half off an aggressive pour. Head falls to cap some lace left behind. Seems a little dark for pumpkin must be the extra malt.

Aroma is malty only hints of pumpkin, some pumpkin spice and light alcohol esters. Seems kind of tame for a regular pumpkin might less an impy one. Nose isn't bad just figured it would be more powerful.

Taste is big on malt to start bready notes nice body then the pumpkin appears light in taste also, but liking the heavier malt as most pumpkins seem lighter then this. The spice kicks in with malt and lasts through out the finish. Light alcohol noted n the finish but does not distract. Taste much bigger then the nose and I am liking the heavier body on this one makes for a malty treat.

Mouthfeel is big medium defiantly bigger then most pumpkins and I and enjoying that tonight on a crisp fall night. Carbonation is about average and does not distract at all.

Overall after smelling this one thought eh average but after sipping on it found myself enjoying the fullness of it. Not sure why the nose is not bigger might pick more of these up for a heavier pumpkin brew.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into tall pilsner glass, color is amber to dark brown, head is light tan and presented 1/2 inch thick then dissipates to a ring with some lacing.

Smell is some light roast, caramel and hints of spices, some nutmeg, clove and cinnamon are most obvious.

Taste is an malt upfront, caramel and light roast, quickly followed by strong spice character, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon (though light). some of the flavoring is a bit harsh, not sure if this is the heavy handed spice profile. alcohol strength is hidden very well.

Mouthfeel is a bit strong on the tongue, spices lingering, could use some sweeter or maltier balance. Update in 2015: mouthfeel is not so cloying, lighter spice, better malt balance.

Overall, a bit harsh in the flavors and mouthfeel but the smell is pleasant, especially as it warms. Strength of the brew is hidden well, though

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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 Suds
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An imperial pumpkin...these are becoming popular. The beer is a rich brown with a thin tan head...soapy. Clear. The smell is of pie spice and booze. Malt comes out in a big way...slightly roasted, and a little breads. No pumpkin in the smell. In the taste, however, there are pumpkin favors, nestled within a serious alcohol warming, big spice bite, and malty sweetness. Full and thick in body, huge booziness. Long and spicy finish. Great pumpkin beer.

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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 ksimons
3.77/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-a very dark brown with two fingers worth of light tan head

S-pumpkin spices and a bit of roast

T-more roasted malt in the taste with pumpkin spices and a bit of chocolate sweetness in the finish

M-medium body, creamy, moderate carbonation, roasted finish

Overall a nice variation of the typical pumpkin beers with the roasted malt

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Photo of sleazo
3.57/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into snifter

A_Pours a deep brown with a one finger creamy head. Retention is low and lacing is minimal.

S_Roasted pumpkin, brown sugar and cinammon dominate the aroma. As it warms clove and bit of ginger come through.

T_Caramel sweetness with a bit of the aforementioned spices hit first. The sweetness lingers mixed with a nice bitterness comes through next which nicely balances it out The alcohol comes through in the aftertaste as its' astringency dries out the mouth.

M_A bit sticky but with enough carbonation to push through it. Medium bodied for the style

O_A good but not great pumpkin beer. Still can't be the king.

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Photo of Chrisbaggz
4.73/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pumpkin beers are one of my very favorite styles, second only to a good west coast or Imperial IPA. There are so many great pumpkin beers out there; Some very mild and not really pumpkiny at all. Some are way overdone to the point where we must ask ourselves if they are beer at all or are they liquefied pumpkin pie? And then there is The Fear: A perfectly balanced pumpkin ale that is deceptively smooth and delightfully drinkable despite the 9% ABV. The traditional pumpkin and spices are definitely all there, but subtle enough to allow the taste of an American Strong ale to come through. Bravo to Flying Dog for making a truly fantastic fall seasonal!

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Photo of Mongrel
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a ruby-brown with little to no head or lace.

First major impression is the smell, which is like cough syrup or a strong herbal lozenge. Potent, bright and herbal, with just a little dark fruitiness coming through.

Taste is very similar to the nose - strong herbs and spices up front, anise and clove chief among them. This mellows in the middle to include a lot of malty sweetness, including vanilla, figs and prunes. There's a little hop coolness at the end. This beer is - like I remembered it - pretty in your face. I do not remember the herb/spice component being so forward - it sort of drowns out any real pumpkin flavor. Not a completely balanced beer, but still intriguing. Perhaps some time in the cellar would even it out a bit.

Mouthfeel is full and creamy, with a little tingle from the booze and hops. It seems a bit thin though.

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Photo of GlenRockJohnZ
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bought 6 pack @ Rite Aid Liquors Westminster MD. Sorry to say that I've missed this one before. Poured into Blue Moon glass. (I know, sorry-first thing I found) Shows small head on top deep amber black pour. Lace follows glass down; smell is least pleasant part of beer; swamp water with spice! However, things get better as beer has warm spicy mouthfeel, but individual spices don't stand out and overwhelm...I think cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg? Has an almost gummy consistency as you drink it down. Hides the high ABV well; you know something is there, but the monster doesn't exactly jump out of the bushes, you know what I mean? Tastes better as you go-although there's a bit of an acidic aftertaste. All in all, very good as a onesie; don't know about multiples.

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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 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 Darkmagus82
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a snifter

Appearance- Served a deep orange-brown color with a thin cream colored head. The head fades very fast to leave a whole lot of nice lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell-The aroma is on the more roasted and dry side overall. It is heaviest of a roasted malt and light roasted pumpkin smell. The nose has notes of a nutty nature as well as some spices of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Taste – The taste follows the nose of the brew very well. It begins heavy with a roasted malt and roasted pumpkin flavor. There is a light only a light level of sweetness upfront, but as the taste advances some sweeter brown sugar and caramel flavors come to the tongue. Initially in the taste there are some light nutty flavors which dwindle as the sweet flavors come to the tongue. Spices come to the taste more at the end as well. Nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon mix with the sweeter flavors and the roasted malt and pumpkin well to produce a rather balanced pumpkin flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer was on the slightly thicker side with a carbonation level that is rather average. The creaminess is quite nice for the pumpkin and roasted flavors of the beer while the carbonation suits the spice and sweeter tastes that come to the tongue at the end.

Overall – A rather nice roasty at first and sweeter and balanced pumpkin flavor in this one. A good example of an imperial pumpkin brew and one to try if you have the chance.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I'm not sure when this one came out, but I missed it, so this week I picked one up for tasting.

It is a lot darker that one would expect - like a deep dark reddish, almost opaque. The aroma is a bit weak for such a big beer, with spice (cloves?) overpowering hops and malt.

I was not in the mood for a really sweet drink and this was just barely OK. It is a little bitter, with some hoppiness and loads of spice, but better balanced than many. Underneath all this is a very big, strong beer, and the booze is totally covered by all the taste.

The aftertaste is bitter with spices. Overall these tastes seem to have settled into this beer nicely, and I think waiting a few months since it was brewed (I can't make out what any codes printed on it mean but I have to assume it was brewed in early fall or before) has probably improved it.

I would not go out of my way to buy this again at $2.50 bottle, but I also would not refuse one if offered.

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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 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 SpeedwayJim
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a Lost Abbey teku. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a 1 finger light brown cream colored head with average retention. Beer is clear dark brown. Lacing is stringy, spotty and sparse with decent cling. Solid.

Nose is very mellow. Nutty with a hint of pumpkin, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Average.

Opens pumpkin spice, chocolate, roasted malt, and cocoa. Some cinnamon and nutmeg along with loads of brown sugar sweetness and spice at the middle. End is more brown sugar and holiday spice sweetness with a nutty aftertaste. Pretty tasty.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth in the mouth and accented going down. Messy finish with a lingering, sticky aftertaste. Nice.

A solid beer overall. I tend to prefer the darker pumpkin beers and this one fits the bill pretty well. Worth trying.

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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 chefhatt
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

When I poured this beer into a pint glass, it has a very dark brown color body with a tan head that disappears quickly. The smell is all about the spices, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and brown sugar. The taste is up front strong of spices with a smokeyness to it. It has a little bit of pumpkin flavor, but finishes with a hop bitterness.
The mouth feel is kinda heavy but well carbonated and overall i would put this in the top 10 of pumpkin beers.

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Photo of oberon
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The perfect beer for the day I guess.Poured roasted chesnut color with a tinge of amber,almost no head to speak of.Pumpkin pie spice and big sweet alcohol in the nose,a booze bomb.Spiced with an undelying sweet alcohol element that is omni present,the flavors are not bad with the spice being dominant,the alcohol gets even bigger as the beer warms.There are better imperial pumpkin ales out there that are not as hot,it's not awful though.

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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 cjoc83
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours into a tulip glass a ruby-hued brown color with an initial fingers worth of eggshell-white head that fades quickly to a ring. Lacing is pretty good for the style and abv.

Pumpkin and allspice are the dominant notes in the nose, with a nice dose of brown sugar, some cinnamon and sweet, bready malt.

Some nice pumpkin flavor hits the palette at first, but competes with the spices (allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon) and notes of caramel, brown sugar and almost a little toffee flavor. Some underlying sweetness hits the middle of the tongue with some biscuity malt before this beer finishes off with a nice, and quite unexpected, hop bite on the back end. There are definitely beers that taste more like pumpkin than this, but this is a nice medley of flavors. There's a small amount of heat in the throat, but not much. The hops linger, along with a spicy pumpkin pie crust taste.

Mouthfeel is pretty standard for the style. Medium bodied with the carbonation of a typical brown ale (on the high side of low, or the low side of medium). Pretty easy drinking for the 9% abv.

Not my favorite pumpkin ale out there, but this just might earn a spot in the top 5. This brew doesn't knock you over the head with pumpkin flavor, but how well Flying Dog managed to execute all the other flavors (especially the nice hop bite in the finish) makes this definitely worth at least a try. It's like someone mixed a pumpkin ale with a harvest ale and then added some more hops. Which isn't a bad thing.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Flying Dog
The Fear

Appears very dark brown with ruby highlights . Aroma of cinnamon, allspice, brown sugar, bourbon and a bit sweet on the nose. Faint pumpkin and dry dusty pie spices round out the bouquet.

In the taste, caramelized brown sugar and rather malty. A good dose of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice complimenting the pumpkin flavors. Alcohol is well defined but does not interfere withe the pumpkin, spice, and slight roasted qualities of the malt. A bit of muted ale yeast fruitiness is also on the palate. This drinks like an old ale or American strong ale with a pumpkin theme.

Full bodied feel, spot on carbonation at a medium level. Slightly drying with spice and malt notes lingering into the finish. Overall, this is a nice take on a dark pumpkin ale. Big and tasty, worthy of provoking the fear.

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Photo of begforme4484
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Tyler's Taproom in Apex, NC. Served in a Flying Dog pint glass.

The beer is a very dark mahogany brown with copper hues. About 1 finger's width of tan medium head that laced all the way down.

The smell is of many different spices. Notably what I believed to be coriander being the strongest scent. A nice doughy and bready malt leveled out the spice scents.

A plethora of spices take charge of this beer almost like a harvest ale. There is a slight hint of pumpkin that is really hidden behind the strong spices.

Mouthfeel was medium to heavy with good carbonation.

Overall I thought this beer was good. I think it could have used more pumpkin to be called a pumpkin ale, but it was tasty.

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