3.9AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Pumpkin beers tend to come in two styles: those that taste like pumpkin and those that taste like pumpkin pie. Southern Tier Pumking lives up to its name and is the best pumpkin beer period, but some might dislike the fact it tastes like liquid pumpkin pie. However, for those that want something a little more organic-tasting, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale is definitely a great runner-up as it has all the makings of a good pumpkin beer with the chutzpah of an imperial brew.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. This beer is one of the darker pumpkin brews I’ve seen as its color is more of a mahogany rather than orange. It initially forms a generous, frothy, off-white head although it dissipates almost completely and doesn’t leave much lacing.
The aroma is potent with plenty of spices making themselves known immediately (i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg and clove in addition to pumpkin, of course).
One of the reasons I like pumpkin beers so much is their mélange of spices that are still drinkable and tasty. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale tastes almost exactly as it smells: with plenty of real pumpkin and spices. The first few sips this beer is as peppery and lively as a Belgian Trappist ale. It dances on the tongue and leaves a pleasant aftertaste. It’s sweet in its sheer organic pumpkin and spice flavor, but not to the point of tasting like liquid pie. There’s definitely more raw, hearty flavors present here.
However, as I drink on the body begins to flatten out. The spices aren’t individually distinguishable and begin to merge into a general pumpkin flavor. It almost tastes like flat pumpkin soda (if such a thing existed). The alcohol becomes a bit more prominent, creating for some heat on the way down and leaving a slightly dry aftertaste. It’s easy to ignore and the spice taste is still satisfying. There’s also some hop bitterness here, although there does seem to be a slightly oily texture to the body.
It’s difficult to describe the drinking experience of this beer. On one hand it’s really quite smooth and easy to handle. On the other hand there’s a noticeable presence of alcohol and if I notice it as much as I do I have a feeling the average drinker will notice it even more. After all, this beer is 8% ABV - which is nothing to sneeze at. Not that it’s a dense brew, though, as I could see at least intermediate drinkers pairing this with a big dinner. Beginners might want to drink it as an alternative to dessert.
I remember being too intimidated to try this beer two years ago, but as I’ve matured and experienced as a beer drinker, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale is definitely the kind of beer that appeals to me. I have a feeling that’s true of most beer drinkers of my caliber, which makes it a very good beer to be sure, but it still lacks the wow factor of a great beer.