Southern Tier “Warlock” Imperial Pumpkin Stout is 8.6% ABV.
I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a stout glass.
Appearance: A moderate pour gave a a finger of light tan head, with audible fizzing as the head grew. The foam didn’t last long, and settled into a very thin cloud atop the beer. This has a dark brown color with some reddish hues to it. When held to light, it looks to have good clarity, and lets a good bit of light through. This looks to have moderate carbonation.
Smell: I notice strong graham cracker pie crust, like Southern Tier’s “Pumking” has. This is combined with some heavy spicing of strong nutmeg, cinnamon, and (I think) ginger, as well as a hearty dose of brown sugar. This has a smooth and strong vanilla presence, some anise, and a little pumpkin that is on the roasty side. Finally, the malt is just great with this, with some roasty elements and some toasted and bready notes. Good and very sweet aroma.
Taste: I get strong roasty notes, like from coffee, with some strong bitterness up front and that graham cracker pie crust flavor. This is definitely on the sweet side. There is the vanilla and the strong brown sugar, as in the aroma. But the flavors aren’t as smooth as the aroma suggested. There is a lot more roast, which is enjoyable in parts. There is also strong spicing, from nutmeg, cinnamon, and I think ginger. I get some pumpkin in this, but it takes sort of a backseat to the strong roasty notes. This finishes sweet with the slightly coarse bitterness from the spice and roast. A good bit of roasted and lingering vanilla sweetness hangs out in the aftertaste. Good flavors, and real sweet.
Feel: This is medium bodied, with moderate carbonation. It doesn’t have the full feel of a stout, or the smoothness or richness one might expect. It sort of feels like a much lighter stout with some extra sugar added in. Nothing great on this score.
Drinkability: This drinks decently, though the roast hangs on more than I’d want. After a bit, the sweetness starts to weigh me down and hang around. There is a slight alcohol to this one near the end. Overall, decent though.
Overall: I have to say, I do like the flavors in this beer. I wish the pumpkin came in clearer. I also wish this wasn’t so sweet. This comes of as if Southern tier just mixed their pumking with an imperial stout, giving the body of something not so clearly a stout, but strong enjoyable roastiness. It doesn’t feel so cohesive. What is nice, as in their “Pumking”, is the buttery graham cracker crust, and the strong vanilla. These are very pleasant flavors. I think this doesn’t really make the real high ranks for successful pumpkin ales or successful pumpkin stouts. If the sweetness were toned down, and there was more front and center pumpkin, this could be really very nice.
Overall Rating: ***1/2
About Southern Tier and their “Warlock”: I spoke a bit about Southern Tier in an earlier post about their very well known “Pumking“. They are a good brewery out of Lakewood, New York which produces some great beers, and a lot of flavored beers.
Southern Tier’s “Warlock” is brand new this year. I heard some beer industry people say that the brewery wanted to try to combine the strengths and talents of their famous “Pumking” with those of their popular “2X Stout”. I don’t know whether that was Southern Tier’s plan or not. In any case, Southern Tier isn’t so open about what goes into this beer, other than saying that the recipe includes pumpkin, ale yeast, four types of malt, and two types of hops. There is obviously some spicing in this one too. In any case, it is quite a bold beer. I get the impression that they plan on having this one around for a while. Thanks so much to Nathan at Southern Tier for helping make this review possible.