Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Southern Tier Brewing Company - Pumking

There's a lot of debate over who makes the best pumpkin beer. But for whatever reason, the general consensus seems to be that the East Coast makes the best pumpkin beers out there. Three breweries in particular seem to come up a lot when it comes to the top pumpkin beer: Cambridge, Dogfish Head and Southern Tier. Overall, the one that seems to have the most praise is a beer from Southern Tier called Pumking. Reviews of it can be a bit polarizing, varying between "It's way too sweet" and "It tastes exactly like a pumpkin pie," but the general consensus seems to be that it's the best (or at least one of the best) pumpkin beers made today. Of course (repeat after me) Southern Tier doesn't distribute to California. Luckily, I was able to track down a liquor store that was able to order the beer directly from the brewery. After years of trying to track this down, I give you Southern Tier's Pumking.

Pumking pours a slightly hazy burnt orange (dare I say, pumpkin?) color that seems to glow in the glass. A solid one finger bone white head caps the brew. The smell is absolutely out of this world. Enormous aromas of pumpkin pie are immediately evident along with notes of pumpkin, baked brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, allspice, buttery pie crust, baked yam and toasted marshmallow. This beer is worth it for the smell alone. Wowzers!

Even though the smell was awesome, if this beer tasted the way it smelled, it would probably be a challenge to finish a bomber of it. Luckily, the taste is toned down a bit without losing the best elements of the smell. The taste opens with some cinnamon and a touch of pumpkin flesh, then moves to a big hit of nutmeg. The finish brings notes of toasted malt, more pumpkin and vanilla. Overall, this beer is absolutely fantastic. I can see how some people could be overwhelmed by the sweetness, but I happen to love sweet things and think that Pumking is the best pumpkin beer I've ever had. If Southern Tier distributed to San Diego, I would undoubtedly have a large supply of this in my fridge. If you're lucky enough to be in an area where Southern Tier distributes, you have to give this a try. What a beer!

Final Grade: A

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 40

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