The Burrito Tribune


randomness, truth, and burritos

Craft Beer: Southern Tier, Pumking Ale


So my local liquor store’s stock person is apparently new and lacking a little bit of understanding regarding the definition of “craft beer”.  Fortunately, immediately behind the “pick-a-pack” section is a giant wall of select craft beer in 22oz bombers.  These bottles tend to be a bit pricier than their 12 oz counterparts, and many of them aren’t even available in a six-pack/12oz.  I’m excited to start exploring them though, because their flavorings tend to also be a bit more adventurous!

Having a festive seasonal mood at the moment, I picked up a few choices from Southern Tier made especially for Fall.  This one I’m trying out today is called Imperial Pumking.  As with other Southern Tier brews, it is made in Lakewood, NY.  This bottle ran me $6.99 at the store, well above your standard rate for an equivalent six-pack (based on volume).  According to the bottle, it is ale brewed with pumpkins, two varieties of hops, and two types of malts.  It recommends serving in a goblet at 42 degrees F.  I’ve already failed on the goblet part (as you can see in the pic)  but I’m flying solo and not sharing tonight, so I’m not going to let that stop me.  I should warn people trying this beer about the alcohol content:  At 8.6% ABV it is probably a better idea to budget this out in a goblet with several friends.  Seeing as I’m at home and not driving, I’m going to take my chances for this review, and finish it while watching a bad action movie.

The ale pours as a strong copper color with a smaller bubbly head.  The scent of the beer reminds me of all the best parts of a great ale and a fresh baked pumpkin pie.  I can smell the sweetness of the malt, as well as the freshness of the pumpkin and hints of cinnamon and spices.  It honestly makes me want real pumpkin pie, and wonder why it isn’t served hot.  Don’t get me wrong, warm beer would be a terrible idea, but it just tastes that much like pumpkin pie.

I should point out that on a whole, I am not the biggest fan of flavored beers.  I like the intricacies of the different flavors you can find in a more normal brew.  I like being able to hunt for descriptions like the ones I have posted on this blog.  When I say that there’s a hint of lemongrass, I want the beer to still taste like beer, with that lemongrass as a hidden overtone that needs to be dug out and experienced.

With that being said, this is an absolutely stellar pumpkin ale.  The pumpkin is rich and sweet without tasting artificial.  It isn’t like that difference between fake banana candy and the flavor of a real banana (you know what I’m talking about).  This tastes like real pumpkin pie with all the spices and finish.  If I was a little crazier, I’d spray a “head” of whip cream on it.  While tasting like authentic pumpkin pie, it blends amazingly well with the ale base.  There are no conflict between the pumpkin and ale flavors.  You can tell that there is an ale beneath the pumpkin flavor, but it acts like a calm gentle stream pushing a boat of pumpkin pie flavor into your senses.  I’m used to a flavored beer having the malt or hops jump out and kick me in the teeth after the flavoring passes by.  The fact that this beer doesn’t do that has earned it a spot in my top-five flavored beers (I will provide a list at another time).  My only regret is that it’s a seasonal beer and I won’t be able to get my hands on it after Fall passes by.

I wish I could add more to this description, but this beer is exactly what it says on the tin.  It is an incredible pumpkin ale.  I’m also anxious to finish this review so I can enjoy the rest of it before it goes warm.  If anything else comes to mind after I finish I will update the post.

One last thing worth repeating before I go, this beer tastes so smooth and flavorful that it’s easy to forget it’s nearly 9% alcohol.  Share it with some friends or make sure you had a healthy dinner and aren’t going anywhere for a VERY long while while you enjoy it.  I’ve drank about two-thirds of the glass shown above during the review and can already feel that it hits harder than your standard beer.  Other than that, enjoy it before the season runs out!


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