It is not easy to stand out in a sea of pumpkin-themed beers. Now that I think about it, it’s not easy to stand out in pumpkin-themed anything, but Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Pumking certainly does. I’ve always been a big fan of pumpkin beer—even before I, and apparently everyone, liked IPAs. And Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Pumking was one of my first loves in the craft beer scene.
The first time I drank Pumking years it was from a bomber, equipped with a bright orange label boasting the Pumking name along with the wicked looking jack-o-lantern wearing a black-and-white crown. This time around, I was able to find it in a four-pack of bottles. Although smaller, the labels are just as intricate. When poured, the beer produces a thin, frothy head. The beer is clear and clean, but the rich amber color invokes feelings of fall, even before the first sip.
Pumking hits the palate with real pumpkin flavor—not just a variety of spices that pass themselves off as “pumpkin”.”
When I would trick-or-treat, children more mischievous than I might find it entertaining to stomp on a carved pumpkin. That sweet, earthy smell from ripe, exposed pumpkin flesh is what hits the nose first from a glass of Pumking. This is followed by notes of cinnamon, nutmeg as well as a nutty and boozy finish.
The bottle reads “Pumpkin Pie in a Glass”. Who am I to disagree? Pumking hits the palate with real pumpkin flavor—not just a variety of spices that pass themselves off as “pumpkin”. The cinnamon is quick to follow, which accompanies a malty sweetness. This balance of flavors is what makes pumpkin pie so successful. These flavors ease into a spicy and warming 8.6% ABV blanket.
Pumking was one of my initial five-star beers on Untappd. Before the haze hype, before anything else, I was a pumpkin beer fan. I’ve since had many others, and while this may not quite hold up to my more pretentious palate these days, it’s pretty damn close. Close enough to keep its title as the Pumping of all gourd brews.