Fall, my favorite time of year here in the South, is just around the corner. As the heat index finally takes a vacation from triple digits, college football comes roaring back after a long and painful absence. For me, fall is a double win because it also brings my favorite style of seasonal brew, Pumpkin Ale. To kick off my career as a beer reviewer, short lived as it may prove to be, I’m going to share my thoughts about Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking Ale.
First, let’s explore pumpkin ales. Pumpkin has been around the American beer scene for quite a while. One of the earliest pumpkin beer recipes in America dates back to 1771! A quick trip over to the excellent BeerAdvocate website reveals reviews of over 400 different pumpkin beers. Most are ales, but there are a few lagers and saisons mixed in as well. Pumpkin ales typically are in the 4% – 8% ABV range, so don’t be surprised to find them a bit stronger than your average beer. Pumpkin ales often have adjuncts in addition to pumpkin used in the brewing process so they generally have complex flavors. An adjunct can be anything that is added to beer other than the four main ingredients: water, yeast, grains (to provide sugar), and hops. Keep going for more about the Pumking adjuncts!
Now on to the reason you’re reading (and thanks for sticking with me so far). Pumking can be found at your local craft beer shop for about $10 for a 22oz bomber, but don’t wait too long. Pumpkin beers sell out very quickly. Southern Tier’s delicious Imperial Pumking Ale lives up to its name clocking in at a reasonable 8.6% ABV. (Imperial beers normally have an ABV of 8% – 12%). Nathan Arnone at Southern Tier was kind enough to share with me that Southern Tier uses pureed pumpkin and a top secret blend of spices to achieve the wonderful flavors in Pumking.
I poured the Pumking into a room temperature goblet – Southern Tier recommends enjoying Pumking at between 40° and 48° F, and these guys really know their beer. I immediately observed the golden coppery color, a harbinger of the deliciousness to come… The head was light and dissipated slowly.
The aroma was like cutting into a slice of grandmother’s award-winning pumpkin pie – you can really smell the spices. The Pumking looks light but has a pleasant moderately heavy feel in your mouth. You might expect an Imperial ale to kick you in the teeth with the taste of alcohol, but that is simply not the case with Pumking. It has a smooth, subtly spicy flavor that makes you feel like you’ve just pushed back from the Thanksgiving table and are savoring that last bite of dessert. I only get to enjoy pumpkin ale for a few months each year and Pumking is definitely an addition to my must-buy list!