Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween - Southern Tier Pumking

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Nov. 1, 2012

Two bombers of Southern Tier’s Pumking have been staring me down every time I’ve opened the fridge for the past two months.  It has been tough to hold off, but the time has come.  Emily and I went for a nice hike up to the summit of Mt. Sanitas just outside of Boulder today.  We’re also hosting a small beer tasting tomorrow night and the other bottle will be cracked for that.  Plus, it’s Halloween and the weather here is just right.  There were too many factors in play tonight not to drink this beer.  It had to happen.

The Pumking does not have anything to do with either of the projects I am currently working on here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights, and it isn’t even time for one of our halftime breaks from said projects.  That said, I am guessing that this is the only time this year that I’ll have the chance to review this delicious brew, and it is one of my all-time favorite beers, not just pumpkin beers, but beers in general.  I had to share this with you all.  Some of you who are familiar may completely understand (and some may think I’m nuts to give this beer so much credit) and for some of you I hope this will turn you onto a great beer from an excellent brewery.

With that, onto my review of the Southern Tier Pumking:

Location: Home
Cost: Gift
ABV: 8.6%
IBUs: Low
Brewery Location: Lakewood, New York
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.03 – Excellent
My Beer Advocate Rating: A+/4.88 – World Class
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate: 1,483
Brewery Description: Southern Tier Pumking
Bottled: August/September 2012

APPEARANCE:  (3.5 out of 5) Very unassuming and somewhere between orange and straw yellow is the color of this beer, although it leans towards orange.  A thin head quickly leaves the scene with only a few wispy hints of its stay.  There is a little haze and some slow moving bubbles trickling up the side of the glass.  There will be no lacing here.

SMELL:  (5 out of 5) Perfect.  This smells like pumpkin pie, period.  Cinnamon is this first smell that jumps out, but by no means does it dominate.  Pumpkin itself, allspice, vanilla, clove and a dose of banana bread all make their cases to the nose before the first sip.  I almost don’t want to taste it, this beer is just so great to smell, if I could I would just keep this around the house all fall as an air freshener.  It truly is amazing.

TASTE:  (5 out of 5) This is a rare case of a beer tasting almost exactly the way it smells.  So, again, this is what every pumpkin beer should strive for.  No gimmicks, no fuss, no deviation from the plan to brew a pumpkin beer, just pumpkin pie in a bottle with some carbonation and booze.  Some who have reviewed this beer in the past have mentioned that there is not all that much pumpkin flavor, and that the pumpkin pie spices totally dominate.  And while I agree that the pie spices are certainly strong, the pumpkin is still noticeably doing its thing in this brew.  Clove, vanilla, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and banana bread also all dance around the palate during each sip of this masterpiece.

After the beer warms up, some woody flavors creep in and the pumpkin becomes more pronounced.  Also, at no point is there even the faintest hint that this is an 8.6%er. 

MOUTHFEEL:  (4.5 out of 5) Normally I would want a beer that tastes like this to have a bigger body, but the medium (maybe medium rare) body combined with a medium sweetness makes this a highly drinkable pumpkin beer.  The sweet is not over the top and is complimented nicely with a light carbonation that makes the Pumking smooth and creamy.

OVERALL:  (5 out of 5) Pumking is clearly the king of pumpkin beers and easily the best pumpkin brew I have ever had.  Avery’s Rumpkin could possibly claim that title, but I think it is only fair to classify the Rumpkin as a barrel-aged pumpkin, not just a pumpkin.  I wish that I didn’t have travel, trade and barter to scrape together a bottle or two of this stuff once in a while.  It is the best in class.

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