Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout
The thing I hate about August and September is the arrival of Octoberfest and Fall pumpkin beers. It’s still hitting in the 90’s out there. It isn’t Fall yet. This is like in my younger days when the June Playboy arrived in April. But come to think of it that wasn’t all that bad.
So I was in Toast and saw they had Southern Tier‘s Pumking and Warlock side-by-side and of course they sell by the bottle so I wouldn’t have to invest $25 for a taste (they come in 4 packs). There are way to many Fall beers for me to try buying in fours, sixes or larger in order to try them. I would gain 100 pounds and be broke. I can’t get the Beer Brothers together to drink the leftovers. These cost me $3.79 a bottle. Face it the only Fall pumpkin beers you can buy in a larger size that’s somewhat economical is the Elysian 12-pack which features 4 different pumpkin brews.
Pumking is a seasonal Imperial Pumpkin Ale. It tastes just like the Pumking I had last year and the year before. This is one consistent beer. The bad news for me is that it isn’t my favorite pumpkin brew. I typically enjoy a pumpkin brew on football Saturdays when Auburn is playing and winning. We’ve won the first two games so I thought I would taste these two after celebrating Auburn’s 62-0 win over Alabama State. Thought it best to celebrate it now before we get our big test against Penn State next week. I will have to find a special pumpkin brew if we win that one.
Pumking to me is all about the pumpkin pie spices. The label does describe it as “pumpkin pie in a glass.” To me though has more pumpkin spices that it does pumpkin. Now that’s not to say it sucks but it isn’t a brew I want to drink on a regular basis. A typical pumpkin pie has cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and gloves. This brew has all that in abundance. The allspice, clove and nutmeg seems to slap me in the face along with a dose of cinnamon. There are a few brews that have a lot of cinnamon but without any sweetness to make the cinnamon taste like you expect in let’s say a cookie or a pumpkin pie. Cinnamon can be a real dry spice. That’s not to say this brew is super dry but the dry edge of the spices tones down the sweetness. It almost has a piney resin taste/feel to it. I’ve always said that first and second sips are totally different with many beers. This one is no different. On second sip and as it warms up a tad is seems much denser and the pumpkin starts to show a little.
Warlock is a totally different beast. I could drink this on a regular basis. This is a fine stout that just happens to have pumpkin flavor. To me this has pumpkin without a ton of spices. Nice and mellow. Smooth. Dark as sin. The Pumking is actually much lighter colored than the flavors project (you can see for your self in the photo).
This one has a Belgian sugar taste to it. Much smoother. Toasty notes that really jump out on second sip. Less spice, more body. Very relaxing. Being the same price and the same ABV I would buy more of this.
I checked out their website and they have a brew pub in Charlotte now (in addition to Lakewood–the mothership–Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo — but who goes to Buffalo). They also have a nitro version of Pumking, a Pumking podcast and they now have a distillery that produces Pumking Pumpkin Whiskey. Damn. I need to try that but I doubt it will be on any shelves around here anytime soon.
Their tasting notes have the Pumking as vanilla, clove, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and pie crust. I’ll take their word on the vanilla and the pie crust. They have Warlock as “pumpkin pie laced with coffee and dark chocolate, smooth, velvety mouth-feel and finished slightly sweeter than pumking.” I pretty much agree with that except it finishes a LOT sweeter than the Pumking. Okay, the Pumking has a lot of sweetness if you can find it through all the spices. Warlock is marked as a limited release available from August to October. Pumking is marked as a seasonal and has the same available dates. What is cool about these beers is you can cellar them. The Warlock I have has a best by date of 7/15/23 and the Pumking of 7/8/23. Only a well made beer will cellar that long. They recommend to cellar at 35-40 degrees for the Pumking and 40-45 degrees for the Warlock, upright and in the dark. For all the details check out their website.
The bad news right now is that these are both 8.6% brews and you shouldn’t drink them too fast. I’m glad the Beer Brothers aren’t meeting anywhere tonight. I would have to pass.
Lakewood, New York
Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company