Pumking

Southern Tier Brewing Company

Appearance

This pours a crystal clear, golden-yellow color and produces two fingers of white, fluffy head. This takes its time reducing, leaving signs of light lacing to come.

Aroma

The aroma is the pristine pumpkin pie smell most people seem to look for. It’s brilliant and sweet, developed from cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, and sugary malt undertone. The pumpkin character is strong, and it seems to blend natural pumpkin with the above supplemental spices.

Taste

For the second straight year, I’m greeted by a surprisingly bright flavor. While the nose hinted at a massive malt foundation, the palate seems to enjoy a more balanced experience. The front is defined by the spice bill, which consists of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. While vanilla seemed to knock at the nose, it seems less pronounced on the palate, and very well may not exist at all. These immediately boast a strength that carries through to the back. There seems to be an initial injection of sweet malt in the front. The foundation’s spotlight then shifts to a brighter, more hoppy back. Any natural pumpkin that exists barely peeks through in the back between the pillars of spice. The finish is rooty, bright still, and almost herbal in character, while still getting speared with spices, especially nutmeg and clove. Finally, the aftertaste balances out the sweetness and bitterness for a sound ending. The flavor is good even though it may not carry a natural character.

Mouthfeel

This is a medium-bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The texture on the palate is a bit sharp, and the mouth is left dry. Barring the spices’ influence, it has a fairly decent beer body and feel to it.

Overall

What’s most interesting about this option as of late is its attention to a dynamic experience. It once drove home a pumpkin pie crust that provided a liquid pumpkin pie experience. Now, it provides a beer enthusiast with a more robust, balanced, and complex foundation. Another admirable characteristic is the higher ABV which is masked extremely well by its other attributes. The pumpkin flavor is solid, and the balance of sweet and bitter make for a great taste as well as a sound mouthfeel. The only blatant gripe I have might be its reliance on the sharper spices such as clove. Spice like this only enhance the bitter phase of the experience and runs the risk of overwhelming the palate. Nevertheless, it’s a good pumpkin beer option, one that has progressed greatly through the past five years.

3.75