Saint Arnold “Pumpkinator” Imperial Pumpkin Stout is 10% ABV.
I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a stout glass.
Appearance: I gave this a steady pour, which produced about a finger of chestnut head, which dissipated quickly. This has a very dark reddish brown color, with very little light getting through it. Some red is noticeable when held to bright light. Small bubbles rising along the sides of the glass suggest moderate carbonation.
Smell: This has a nice dark smell, with roasted malt, and dark fruit of roasty squash, cherry, and some spice. The spice gives off something like cinnamon and a nuttiness that is accented by some anise. Great spice to the aroma. The fruitiness is nice, with the darker cherry being more noticeable than the squash. This also has a nice dark sweetness, with some molasses and chocolate. Great complex aroma. Wonderful.
Taste: This beer is bursting with great flavor. There is nice dark roasty malt, strong pumpkin and other dark fruit, carefully done spicing, and a smooth complex sweetness. It tastes much more like some kind of imperial and thick dark ale with a bit more sweetness than a stout. But it tastes great. There is nice strong roasty pumpkin, chewy dark cherry, and some other bright fruitiness. The spice is done well and adds some pleasant complexity of cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe some clove, and some notes of anise. This has some nuttiness, like from nutmeg or graham cracker. It also has a great complex sweetness of dark malt, dark brown sugar, molasses, and notes of chocolate. Very round, bold, and smooth flavors. Seriously good.
Feel: This offering is medium to heavy bodied with moderate carbonation. It is velvety and a little creamy, with some of the spice adding a little soft texture. It is noticeably stronger in ABV than a standard 6% beer, but doesn’t come off boozy or punchy. Very smooth and round feel.
Drinkability: For a very flavorful and higher ABV beer, this does really well here. It has great complexity, and a wonderful sweetness. The higher ABV is not lost, though. I’d have a hard time recognizing that this is 10% percent. Great here.
Overall: This is a great pumpkin ale. It is the best pumpkin stout I’ve ever had, though it is not a sort of paradigm imperial stout. This beer has great roasty pumpkin flavor, and a lot of other flavors complementing that. The 10% is fairly hidden, and the body is smooth and has some creaminess and great sweetness. The roasted pumpkin and dark fruit are just wonderful, while the spicing is nicely done. It tastes round like it has aged in a barrel, though no oak or booze notes are coming from it. This is a must try, if you get the chance. I’ve heard this is pretty hard to get, even in Houston.
Overall Rating: ****1/4
About Saint Arnold and “Pumpkinator”: Saint Arnold was founded in Houston, Texas in 1994 by Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol. They chose Houston as it was then the largest city in the country that did not have a craft brewery. Saint Arnold is Texas’ oldest craft brewery, and distributes to Texas, Louisiana, and Colorado.
“Pumpkinator” was originally released as a member of Saint Arnold’s “Divine Reserve” series (number 9 to be exact). It is made through a painstaking process that takes a 24 hour operation for 2 days. Lots of canned pumpkin goes into this beer with some “pumpkin pie” spicing, molasses, and brown sugar. The grain bill includes some Pale Two-Row, Caramel, and Black malts. Cascade and Liberty hops are used to add just a little hop flavor. Finally, right before bottling, this is dry spiced with some more of the “pumpkin pie” spicing. Saint Arnold notes that it is the most expensive beer they have brewed. A big thanks to Lennie Ambrose, marketing and events director, for helping me do this review.