Drink Magazine

Casting a Spell: I Learn a Lesson in Pumpkin Beer Extravagance

By Bryan Roth @bryandroth


Because very Arthur needs his Merlin … every Pumking apparently needs his Warlock.

In the great pantheon of pairings, beyond peanut butter and jelly, past bacon and anything and somewhere in the dark corner of a masochistic beer nerd’s wet dream, is Pumking and its prodigal friend, Warlock.

These two are a pairing out of force, not necessity, trying to enter the rarefied air of worship at the alter of all things foodie. Maybe it’s simply because Pumking, Southern Tier’s epic fall seasonal beer, was lonely. Even if Pumking’s annual (and fleeting) time in 2013 makes him sad, why is Warlock not necessary?

Because it’s petty much the same damned beer, that’s why.

I spotted Warlock after its under-the-radar appearance at my local bottle shop. Like any other pumpkin beer enthusiast, I didn’t think twice about picking up another pumpkin beer from Southern Tier, the now-apparent Camelot of fall seasonal beers. Don’t get me wrong, Warlock is good, but only if you like Pumking, which is polarizing enough as it is.

There is nothing different about the smell – both carry an intense pumpkin pie aroma: ginger, cloves, a little cinnamon and pie crust. These are the only beers that nail that crust smell.

The taste only differs in Warlock’s bitterness/astringency, thanks to its use of dark malts ideal for a stout. A nuttiness was unbearable at first, but mellowed enough to showcase some chocolate with your liquid pie.

And that’s it. If you’ve had Pumking, do you need to have Warlock? Probably not. Will you want to have Warlock? Probably.

Thanks to the close genetic makeup of Warlock and Pumking, I feel compelled to give it a full slate of pie slices:

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Flying Dog’s The Fear

I want this beer to be called “TEH FEAR” so badly. The caps are important because that’s how you know to be afraid.

But aside from Flying Dog’s typical monstrous dog-type logo, you really don’t have to be.

TEH FEAR has a pretty great sweet malt smell with a boozy brown sugar mix. Kind of like oatmeal, except it’ll get you drunk. The taste is kind of a spice bomb, with nutmeg and cloves lighting the fuse. At 45 IBUs, it may taste a little more bitter than most pumpkin beers.

A fine imperial pumpkin beer, but Weyerbacher’s imperial version is preferred. Three pie slices for a solid effort.

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+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

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