REVIEW: Southern Tier Pumking & Southern Tier Warlock

At some point during the dog days of summer, pumpkin beers invade liquor stores. When many people spot that first pumpkin beer, they’re filled with rage at the thought of sipping on pumpkins poolside. If you live anywhere in the Eastern United States, that beer is Southern Tier Pumking.  I’m always excited to see the return of Pumking, even though it shamelessly stole my nickname. Its presence serves as a preview of my diet for the next four months: pumpkin everything.

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Because variety is the pumpkin spice of life, Souther Tier debuted Warlock in 2013. Whereas Pumking is a pumpkin ale, Warlock is a pumpkin stout. It now releases annually alongside Pumpking. No need for me to discriminate, however. They both contain the word “pumpkin” in the description, so I’m just gonna drink em both.

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Souther Tier Pumking is an imperial ale brewed with pumpkin and natural flavor added. I will say this: If you are expecting just pumpkin spice, you aren’t quite ready for Pumking. This is pumpkin pie. If you melted pumpkin pie into a glass, carbonated it, and infused an ability to get you drunk, that’s Pumking. Souther Tier deserves props for bringing the spices and sweetness of pumpkin pie to the forefront. It smells like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, and its taste mirrors the aroma. You wouldn’t know the ABV is nearly 9% because the pleasing pumpkin pie flavors mask any burn from the alcohol content. Its deep copper, amber color ensures you think “pumpkin” before every sip. Joke’s on them – I think “pumpkin” 24/7.

This is a good fall beer that tastes like Halloween, and I’m happy to drink one every pumpkin season to get in the mood. The complaint I have is that it tastes so much like pumpkin pie that I can taste the buttery pie crust. For me, this is too much. Its excessive malty sweetness reminds me of apple cider, and I hate cider. Souther Tier Pumking makes you forget you’re drinking beer, and many people love that about Pumking. It’s impressive what they achieved – but I think it borders on gimmicky. In my severely (SEVERELY) unqualified opinion, I want my pumpkin spices to complement the beer’s style instead of my beer embodying pumpkin pie. One and done for this pumpkinhead.

Signals the End of Summer Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Pairs Well With Stuffing, Yams, & Turkey Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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Souther Tier Warlock is an imperial stout brewed with pumpkin and natural flavor added. This is the first pumpkin stout I had ever tried, and I’m glad I did. It’s a full-bodied, robust stout that uses pumpkin spices to add complexity to its roasted malt backbone. This beer delivers dark chocolate, coffee, & caramel nodes to a biscuity, mildly carbonated stout style. The pumpkin pie flavors are an addition and not the focal point. At 10% ABV, this is stronger yet smoother than Pumking. I drank three beers prior to either of these bombers (uh oh), and this is still the most drinkable beer I’ve had tonight. Its mouthfeel is creamy and chewy.  This stout changed my preference on pumpkin beers entirely, as I now believe darker styles lend themselves to pumpkin spice additions better than ales. Keep in mind, however, that I’m pretty drunk at this point and can barely recall writing any of this review.

Made Me Rethink Pumpkin Beers Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Made Me Google “Is Taco Bell Still Open” Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10

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