Brew Review

Beer Review – Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Sudsy Sunday. The Pour House in Westmont, NJ. Five guys. Eagles versus Atlanta on the plasma TVs. We each had a few beers. I had three and sampled at least three more. I was a bit indecisive, but that’s ok, because the bartender will usually let us sample a beer before we commit to a full glass. Here’s what I sampled:

Once I finally decided what I wanted to drink, I started off with a Flying Dog Road Dog Porter, then moved on to the Southern Tier Pumking, and ended the evening with a Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (definitely a Comfort Beer!). Since I’ve talked about the two Porters before, let’s talk a bit about the Southern Tier Pumking…

I’ve had quite a few Pumpkin Ales, but to be honest, most of them are pretty disappointing. They are either too heavily spiced, to the point of tasting artificial, or just plain boring.

Boring is not a word that I would ever use to describe Southern Tier’s Pumking. It pours a pale orange color with a creamy, quarter inch head that dissipates slowly. The nose is all vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie. That first sip is very smooth and creamy, with an almost velvety carbonation. All of those pumpkin pie aromas carry through to the palate. It tastes exactly like a pumpkin creme brulee! This beer is so smooth that you would never know that it has an ABV of 9%.

While I enjoyed the Southern Tier Pumking, it does have one drawback. One of the guys ordered a massive plate of Famous Fries (crinkle cut french fries, spiced with Old Bay Seasoning, and served with melted American cheese on the side). Attempting to wash down some Famous Fries with the Pumking was an absolute disaster. Old Bay and pumpkin pie spices do not play nicely together. This is not the type of beer that you can drink with your meal. The Southern Tier Pumking is the kind of beer that you would have after dinner, in lieu of dessert.

15 replies »

  1. G —

    I gotta disagree with you (shocker!!). This beer was awful as were other brews, violated with pumpkin, that we sampled on this particular Sudsy Sunday. Pumpkins exist for two and only two reasons:

    1 – For Pumpkin Chunkin’
    2 – For carving (preferably with powertools) into Jack-o-Lanterns

    I don’t need pumpkin in my brew and have yet to have a good one. Most, like this one, don’t taste like pumpkin. They taste like nutmeg or some other spice associated with the orange gourd.

    I’ll pass on the pumpkin brew but you keep on drinking it, leaves more tastely rye beer for me!!! Besides drinkability with Famous Fries should be an FDA/ATF requirement for all beers.



    • While I’m not much of a pumpkin beer kinda guy, I will admit that the Pumking is one of the better/more interesting ones. It’s a change of pace, no more, no less. Think of it as an after dinner beer, not a wash down my burger beer. As you recall, Marci mentioned getting this on tap for her house. I could NEVER drink that much of this stuff. One per session only.


    • I love most Pumpkin Ales, but really don’t care for this one. I agree, I think it is overly spiced with nutmeg and too metallic tasting.
      The best Pumpkin I’ve tried is Dogfish Head’s Punkin. Give it a try and compare. 😉


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