Saint Arnold “Pumpkinator” Imperial Pumpkin Stout is 10.0% ABV.
I poured some of this 22 oz bottle into a stout glass.
Appearance: A steady pour gave about a finger of creamy light brown head that dissipated to just about a dollop. The color of this is an opaque and very dark brown. This looks like a real hearty stout, as very little to no light is getting through, even when held to bright lights. This appears to have light carbonation.
Smell: The aromas that stand out first are chocolate, sweet dark cherry, and some earthy roastiness with spices. This smells like a flavored stout, but not overwhelmingly so. The aromas of dark cherry and dark fruit establish a licorice-like sweet quality. There are also the hearty stout aromas of dark chocolate, roasted malt, and earth. I am getting some spices in this, most notably some cinnamon. Because of the cherry notes and the strong roastiness, I’m unsure about what other spices there are. I’m getting some hearty fruit in this, but nothing that advertises itself as pumpkin. Regardless, this smells wonderful!
Taste: This bursts up front with delicious juicy flavors of cherry, pumpkin, dark chocolate, and the otherwise standard priming layer of stout flavors. These stout flavors are strong with nice complex roasted malt, earthiness, and some slightly coarse or rugged spicing. The pumpkin is present and enjoyable, but either manifests itself as (or is dueled by) strong cherry notes. This is quite sweet, with some juicy fruitiness, sweet malt, and dark molasses. As for spicing, I get cinnamon, but get lost in the roast when I try to find the rest. This finishes to let some of the sweetness fade to enable more of the roasted malt and earthy stout qualities to gain greater hold. Even in the finish there are still the cherry pumpkin flavors, though. The aftertaste holds on to some of the roast, but also has some of the cherry/pumpkin, licorice, and dark fruit that linger on the palate. The flavors in this were interesting and really nice. I was originally surprised by how much cherry I was getting. After a while, it was less dramatic and more clearly pumpkin. I assume that the beer let the pumpkin somehow enable a juicier and fruitier profile. In any case, I really like the flavors in this.
Feel: This is medium to heavy bodied, with medium carbonation. It coats the mouth nicely, and isn’t too thick or viscous. It is a bit syrupy; but the carbonation helps to interrupt that and keep it from being distracting. The feel starts out full with the bursting fruit. It then gains some more complexity with the slightly coarse roastiness and earth tones. So the feel has dynamic qualities. There is some slight booziness, but nothing major or catastrophic. Overall, this has a good feel, albeit being a bit syrupy.
Drinkability: This is pretty drinkable for a 10% stout. It obviously wasn’t crafted with the aim of folks sitting down and drinking a few 22s. Even so, it does pretty well here given its style. The things that do detract from its drinkability are the obvious intense and rich flavors which can weigh one down, the syrupy qualities, and again, the ABV.
Overall: I was able to acquire this beer from a very friendly guy named Basil living in Texas. Thanks, Basil! I am so glad this worked out, since this is a really special pumpkin beer. During the first 5 minutes or so of sipping this beer, I was overwhelmed with how much this tasted of cherry. I was wondering about the pumpkin. However, as I took some more sips, and as a little time passed, this changed. I don’t know whether it was the beer being opened and poured into a glass to set for a while, or its reaching a more suitable temperature, or what; but the pumpkin flavors qua pumpkin flavors came out a lot more fully. This is quite a rich and flavorful pumpkin beer! It is dynamic, holds on to good pumpkin flavor, and enjoyably dark. It is certainly my favorite pumpkin ale of all the porters, stouts, and brown ales I’ve tried. I love the juicy fruit that comes out, and how it pairs so well with the earthy and roasty stout qualities. I would surely get this again. It is on my radar for next year, which can be difficult living in a state that is both far away from and not identical to Texas. Thanks again, Basil!
Overall Rating: ****