Southern Tier Caramel Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale
I used to enjoy a good pumpkin brew on Saturdays during the Auburn football season especially after a victory. Well Bryan Harsin screwed that up the last two years so that I started to equate pumpkin brews with the taste of defeat.
We are two games in and won both so we are 1/3 the way toward bowl eligibility. (Harsin won his first two each year. Hope I’m not setting myself up but you take the little victories when you can).
I found the Southern Tier Caramel Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale 4-pack at Toast a few weeks ago ($13.99). It was around 100 degrees so I decided to wait until it cooled off a bit. I had plenty of time to wait considering the Best By Date on the bottle says 07/13/25. Might buy another pack and stash it away to try the next two seasons. The high today was around 89 today. That’s cool enough. Plus Mrs. Dan is away and our dinner tonight was Bojangles.
Amazingly this pumpkin ale pairs pretty good with a grilled chicken sandwich and fries.
The label says “Ale brewed with pumpkin and natural flavored added.” The cinnamon and nutmeg they list on their website was apparent. The caramel sneaks through. I’ve had their Salted Caramel Imperial Ale before and like it. They know their caramel.
You taste this beer before it even hits your lips. The aroma of the pumpkin and caramel is as strong as any beer I’ve ever tried. And it smells like it tastes.
Most heavy pumpkin beers brewers recommend drinking it after it warms up a bit but I like to taste them in a frosted glass which is what I did tonight. I have to say this is one of my favorite pumpkin beers. I’ve tasted others that are this bold in flavor but they are usually a bit unbalanced. This brew smells like it tastes and pretty much tastes the same from first sip to last and doesn’t even change much on the aftertaste.
I love the nice amber color.
The smooth creaminess and the sweetness of the caramel strikes the sides of your mouth while a slight bitter dry edge coats the roof of your mouth. The pumpkin spices many brewers use often leaves a real super dry taste… like eating a pumpkin muffin without any sugar or icing. Just spices. The balance between sweetness and spices is good on this one. I said it gives a slight dry edge but that dryness is a perception from the spices (and the 44 IBUs). I expect dry because of the spices but in reality it is just enough to keep it from being too sweet and becoming more like Halloween candy than beer. It’s got munich and chocolate malt in there as well so it’s got a good backbone.
I looked back and saw where I reviewed their regular seasonal Pumking Imperial Ale alongside their Warlock Pumking Stout back in September 2021. This beer is a new addition. I didn’t seem to like the regular Pumking as much as I do this one. I was also complaining back then about Octoberfest and Pumpkin brews showing up in August and September. Like Costco putting out the Christmas trees on September 1.
I do like this one but I have to admit. One is enough. It’s like a bag of potato chips… there is a nebulous number of chips that suddenly turns the craving experience into a “I wish I had not eaten so many chips.” Twelve ounces is just about right. Not a beer for a party with a bunch of folks. To me a 8.6% ABV brew is not conducive to partying (I’m getting old). It is more a mellow-time brew for sitting with your feet propped up watching a sunset. No sunset tonight with thunderstorms jumping around the area but it an nice addition to my Bojangles meal….Hmmm, In reading that back it kinda sounds sad. Trust me. It’s not. A good brew is a good brew.
Lakewood, New York
Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company