Southern Tier Pumking
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Pumking is about as subtle as smashing your neighbor's pumpkin with a mortar round.
It's very potent at 8.6% ABV, but there's little about its flavor that even suggests alcohol. It's a dark orange beer that smells like a pumpkin scone, tastes like pumpkin pie filling at the beginning and finishes like a cinnamon-and-sugar milkshake.
It can be really overwhelming and taste more like a baked good than beer, but that's exactly what Southern Tier is shooting for. Four batches of Pumking are brewed in Southern Tier's 50-barrel brewhouse before they can ferment. Once they're in the 200-barrel fermenter, they don't come out for another 16 to 18 days.
It's labor- and ingredient-intensive, but it's a heavy hitter that brings in big returns. Southern Tier spokesman Nathan Arnone estimates that the 4,000 barrels of Pumking produced this year will grow 50% to 6,000 by next fall. That appetite for high-potency pumpkin beers may not last, but Southern Tier and its fans seem to be squeezing it for all they can.
"Right now, pumpkin is where it's at," Arnone says. "Five years from now, who knows?"