Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin Preview: Pumking, Smashed, Imperial & Punkin

During the month of September, I had a poll question asking readers to vote on a pumpkin brew or two for me to taste once October arrived.  The results of the Pumpkin Poll by percentages were:
  • 40% Punkin by Dogfish Head
  • 40% Pumking by Southern Tier
  • 27% Smashed Pumpkin by Shipyard
  • 18% Pumpkin Ale by Smuttynose
  • 18% Pumpkinhead by Shipyard
  • 18% Imperial Pumpkin by Weyerbacher

The reality is that I was not able to secure all of the above brews for the tasting, but in a herculian effort, I managed to finagle a trade, on the playground, the other day, for one Dogfish Head Punkin in exchange for a Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron! Additionally, I was also able to snag a Smashed Pumpkin by Shipyard a few weeks back, as I remember not being able to find those too deep into October last year.  The Southern Tier Pumking I had on hand along with the Imperial Pumpkin by Weyerbacher.  I can easily find Shipyard's Pumpkinhead & thus it doesn't appeal to me to add it in this post, as the ones I'm focusing on were more in the "speciality" pumpkin category. 
As far as a formal tasting, I didn't do that.  Instead, I shared the brews with the husband & the visiting younger brother & called it a night to "preview the pumpkins"!
Here are the pictures from the preview & a few comments on our reactions but I will let you make up your own mind when/if trying pumpkin brews this autumn. 

Pumking by Southern Tier

The Pumking has a 8.8% ABV & I thought it would be neat one to share on the husband's birthday; given that he's a King!  We both had high hopes for it, as it came highly recommended out in the beer geek world & also because we LOVE Southern Tier's Creme Brulee brew.  However, both of us found this beer to be too syrupy & sweet without a balance of bold pumpkiness to offset the sweetness. The aroma was full of cinnamon & pumpkin overtones, but once I began sipping the liquid, it just didn't work for my palate.  However, I know many folks who rave about this one, so if you can find it, you should give it a whirl and see what category you fall into.

Smashed Pumpkin by Shipyard

The next speciality pumpkin beer we had, this time joined by the younger brother, was by Portland's Shippyard Brewing Company.  The Smashed Pumpkin is from their Pugsley's Signature Series & is a limited release offering, whereas their popular Pumpkinhead is now being distributed from August through Thanksgiving, for the first time this year.  In terms of the Smashed, which has a 9% ABV, both the husband & brother felt this was the best pumpkin brew of the evening.  It has dense flavors of cinnamon & pumpkin that hit your palate without the syrupy feel we hinted about from the Pumking.  I too prefered this to the Southern Tier's but my favorites of the night are still to come.

Punkin by Dogfish Head

The next pumpkin beer we tasted was the offering from Dogfish Head, one of my favorite breweries.  The Punkin has an ABV of 7% & isn't as boozy as the Smashed from Shipyard yet the flavors of pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg (as listed on the bottle) really meld well together.  The result is a smooth sip of Fall in your glass.  I found this one to be really enjoyable, whereas the husband & brother preferred the bolder pumpkin flavors of the Smashed.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Last but not least, we sampled the Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Weyerbacher.  This brew boasts a medium ABV of 8% so it wasn't as strong as the Smashed or Pumking but had  more alcohol than the Punkin.  Personally, by this point in the evening, my palate wasn't really able to distinguish all the separate flavors the Imperial has but overall, the brew was a nice pumpkin offering.  Smooth, pretty in the glass, aromatic without being too powerful & had my personal favorite label (for what it's worth).

Mom Factoid:  The Pumpkin Poll was a fun way to engage readers on the blog & the tasting was a fun way to interact with others, while enjoying a variety of beer.  Therefore, whether it's a pumpkin style beer you're looking to try or a plethora of pale ales, ask around, get feedback & share your tasting with friends.  Being social is key in exploring the craft beer universe & also in parenting!


  1. I love all of these beers, but truthfully haven't had the Weyerbacher yet. I'm going to try to get you a bottle of CBC Great Pumpkin and Backlash Beer Co's Groundswell and try to get them to you soon! I haven't had LUNCH yet, but I absolutely LOVED their "table" beer when I had it back in September at the AHA Rally!

  2. Adam,
    Sounds great! What else do you want to try besides Lunch?

  3. Nice post! I know lots of people love Pumking - I just wasn't crazy about it. For me, the DFH has been the best of the bunch. Not too pumpkiny, not too spicy. Seems just right. Think I'll have one tonight actually!