Beer Review: A bevy of pumpkin ales, part 2

For part 1, click here. In part 2, we continue slogging through the selection of seasonal pumpkin beer offerings, with:

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin
Saranac Pumpkin Ale
Southern Tier Pumking

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

Me: We happened across this beer on a post from Beer and Whiskey Brothers. After the rave review, we had to add it to the list.  We couldn’t find a bottle, so we headed to Bilbo Baggins in Old Town to get our draft on.


This beer is a contender. It’s a clovey bastard, with some cinnamon and nutmeg. The pumpkin is there, but it takes a backseat to the spices…in a good way, though. The flavors are reminiscent of hot, spiced apple cider, except it’s cold…and beer.   It is very drinkable. I would have thrown down a couple more, but my 3-year old daughter had different ideas about how to spend the rest of the afternoon.

The Haybag:  I like it.  It has some nice apple cider flavors to it.  Not as much pumpkin as I look for, though…even after it warms up.

Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin
(An imperial pumpkin ale aged in bourbon barrels)

Me: By the power of freaking Greyskull! Did they forget to drain the motherloving barrel? I could smell the bourbon while pouring the beer.

It pours a hazy amber, with a small and quickly receding head. It smells and tastes like bourbon, vanilla, and some pumpkin pie. Although, as you get to the bottom and the beer warms, the bourbon mellows to a more oaky flavor.

I like this crazy little bastard. But I am a sucker for the unholy union of beer and whiskey. Hell, I’ll drop a Jameson in a Guinness just for funsies.

The Haybag: First impression: Ack!  The taste, the smell, the aftertaste!  Too much.  15 minutes later: Hey. This tastes pretty good.  It has a nice oaky flavor.  Is there any left?

Me: Burp. Sorry. You said you didn’t like it.

Saranac Pumpkin Ale

Me: This one started out decent, with a pleasant cinnamon and pumpkin smell and taste; but then it went all haywire.  Kind of like the movie Enemy Mine, when in the middle of an otherwise OK flick you find out that Louis Gossett, Jr.’s, alien character is a self-fertilizing hermaphrodite…and pregnant…then dies during childbirth. Wha? OK, so maybe it’s not exactly like that.  But at end, the beer tasted like watered-down ginger ale…which is about as appealing as seeing Louis Gossett, Jr., give birth.

“What? It’s the circle of life, baby.”

The Haybag: Maybe you shouldn’t nurse your beer. Hey, I’m sick of mediocre pumpkin beers. When can we drink the Pumking?

Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Oops. Almost forgot to take the picture.

Me: I had this beer last season, and I was wildly enthusiastic about it.  Apparently, I was not alone. This year, the beer store imposed a two-bottle limit on Pumking.

Then the other day, a co-worker of mine commented that Pumking tasted like…well, I am hesitant to say…because he’s right and it’s weird.  We’ll just say that it’s kid tested, and mother approved.

Feck me. This is like when you realize midway through a Shakira video that she sounds like Kermit the Frog.  Or maybe it’s like when the Haybag told me that girls don’t actually have lingerie-clad pillow fights at sleepovers.  Afterwards, you just can’t go back and see it in the same light. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m too upset.

The Haybag: What are you talking about? This is hands down the best pumpkin pie taste. All hail the King.  Wait, you watch Shakira videos?


Here are the rankings.  Some were close calls.  And we didn’t drink them all in one sitting, so it was hard to think back and rank (as opposed to it being hard to walk had we had them all in one sitting).

Haybag                                                        Me
Southern Tier Pumking                                 Schlafly 
Pumpkin Ale
Schlafly Pumpkin Ale                                    Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin                   Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale                              Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin
Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin                     Southern Tier Pumking
Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin                        Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin
Saranac Pumpkin Ale                                   Saranac Pumpkin Ale
New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale             New Holland Ichabod
Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale*                            Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale*

*We didn’t review this.  But we drank it…unfortunately.


4 thoughts on “Beer Review: A bevy of pumpkin ales, part 2

  1. I do enjoy that you went on a pumpkin off here. I have been wondering about the Schlafly version and now I’m interested in the heavy seas one. If I see them out i might get one, but I don’t know if I want to buy a whole 6 or 4 pack right now though.

  2. Pingback: A (Short) Year in Beerbecue: 2011 | beerbecue

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