I don't often impulse buy my beer. I say "not often" because normally when I'm trying to choose a beer, I'm looking for a style or a brand, or something very specific. BUT. I totally went the impulse buy route when I picked up a 22 oz bottle of Southern Tier's Imperial Pumking. My local Kroger had several cases of the bottles out on display while I was building my six-pack and the label just screamed "buy me!"
Well, that and the cashier telling us that they sold out of their first shipment of the Pumpking within a few days of it arriving. It seemed really weird buying a pumpkin beer at the tail end of August, but tis the season. With that kind of recommendation and the fact that there is real pumpkin in the brew? I had to try it. So of course, I totally bought a bottle.
But I couldn't just sample it on any old night. I chose a night when I could pair it with a sweet-savory meal and could truly enjoy it. The beer's label recommends serving it in a goblet, but not having a goblet on hand, I chose a pint glass instead.
Upon opening the beer and pouring it, I was struck by its incredible aroma. This amber beer has a nose of pumpkin pie and vanilla, cloves and candied pecan. It smells like Thanksgiving in a bottle - or a glass. I couldn't stop thinking of cold weather and fireplaces while I enjoyed the rich aroma of this coppery brew.
Sipping it was like drinking a heady, malty, spicy pumpkinny drink. Like, this beer? Heavenly. I wish I'd bought two bottles! The flavor is rich without being overpowering or heavy, but it is slightly desserty. As I drank I tasted pumpkin, cloves, cinnamon, and spice, with hints of pecan, vanilla, and pie crust. I would say it was like drinking pumpkin pie, but it really wasn't - it was an experience all on its own.
This is a beer with low bitterness and rich malty sweetness. While you would expect it to be rich, it really doesn't have that thick mouthfeel, but is light on the tongue. It's nice and pumpkinny rich without being heavy, and sips smoothly. In a goblet, shared with friends and family I imagine this would be a great brew to sip around the Thanksgiving dinner table or any crisp autumn evening. This pumpkin beer definitely embodies so much about the autumn season, and left me longing for leggings and sweaters, crunchy leaves and crisp mornings.
If you can get your hands on a Pumpking and like your beers with a hint of sugar and spice, I definitely recommend you give this one a try.