This pours a dark, dark amber color that shows deep red hues under heavy light. It’s practically black otherwise. It produces just shy of a finger of chestnut colored head which dissipates quickly and then simmers on the surface. There’s no signs of lacing to come.
It has a heavily roasted malt character and notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and fruit that tickle the nose. It’s fairly sweet smelling with faint notes of caramel and vanilla intertwined with the primary spices. The pumpkin is mild but certainly present. For its appearance I actually expected a stronger aroma.
I first find myself head on with the malt-driven base. It provides a rich, roasted character which the spices build upon. I get strong flavors of caramel and a supporting spice profile consisting of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and a hint of vanilla. The back produces just enough bitterness to help round the experience. I also find an underlying combination of pumpkin and fruit. These play well with the spice profile. The finish is perhaps my favorite part. It continues to boast the caramel malt base but injects a boost of sugar and spice on top of a spike in booze. The aftertaste is sugary, rich, and filled with alcohol. It leaves my palate with really enjoyable roasted flavors of burnt oak and pumpkin pie.
This is a full-bodied beer that provides a combination of smoothness from the malt base and sharpness from the spice bill. The alcohol does a phenomenal job of slightly warming the entire experience. It’s wet and less dry than Pumking. Overall it’s mostly smooth with just enough texture to keep the palate engaged.
This is a pretty complex option. Certainly a little more than its brother Pumking. While the pumpkin itself is somewhat mild, it’s always present and is constantly supported by a dynamic display of ingredients. That indeed would be my only gripe: a less than strong emphasis on the pumpkin itself. However, the caramel malt base is essential to the experience. The booze helps define the imperial quality I’m looking for. The spices are strong but not overwhelming. There’s much more to praise than there is to complain about. In the end, it’s nearly what I want out of an imperial pumpkin option. Not just because it’s a deep take on pumpkin but because it’s generally an all-around good beer experience. Like last year, you’ll definitely want to give this one a shot.