Southern Tier Brewing's Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale is aptly named, as I believe it to be the king of all pumpkin ales. Poured into a pint glass, it's a beautiful copper with an inch of bubbly cream-colored foam that fades to a thin rim. A few streams of bubbles rise steadily to the top. Pumking is, by far, the most fragrant brew I've had the pleasure of smelling. The aroma is sweet and enticing, with cinnamon and allspice, tons of nutmeg, notes of vanilla, and a slight hint of LBA (liquid butter alternative), like buttered popcorn. Each of these is also present on the palate. The hint of buttery flavor is akin to the buttery crust of a pumpkin pie!
With so many pumpkin brews, I've experienced one of two issues. The first, as is the case with Blue Moon's pumpkin seasonal, is weak pumpkin flavor with barely a hint of spice. The second, the opposite problem, is a strong spiciness that overwhelms any pumpkin flavor. Southern Tier's Pumking is sublimely well-balanced between true pumpkin flavor and the spices of the season. Even better, it retains the basic flavor of beer itself, with a pleasingly bitter hoppy finish.
Pumking is decadent and super creamy yet not terribly heavy. I'd certainly categorize it as a sipping beer, particularly as it warms. If you can manage to get your hands on a bottle, pint or growler, do not hesitate! If not, better luck next year. I've been told that it's no longer available in Pensacola or the surrounding areas. Next August, I'll be looking into ordering a case for myself. I imagine it would be the perfect accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner. 9.0% ABV. Rating: A+