Saint Arnold Pumpkinator

Pumpkinator 10% ABVSaint Arnold Pumpkinator
Imperial Pumpkin Stout
Saint Arnold Brewing Company

You may notice some snow in the background of the photo of this beer.  Here in South Central Illinois it got up to 32 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, which sadly we considered a warm front.  Over the past week the temperature dropped below 0, with the wind-chill making it feel like -25 degrees Fahrenheit.  Not exactly the type of weather one thinks of when sitting down to enjoy a pumpkin beer.

Let me explain.  I procured this beer back in October during my travels to Texas.  I brought it back in the hopes of aging it or opening it for the right occasion.  Well, I’ve decided that this brew is worthy of being unique beer number 492 on my Countdown to 500 unique beer check-ins on Untappd.

On to the beer.  The nose is that of a nice pumpkin beer, the aromas even coming through my slightly stuffed up nostrils.  With my first sip I notice the spices right up in the front of the beer, with sweetness from the molasses coming in the middle of the beer.  The high octane level hits my palate in the finish; for cold weather like this, it’s nice having a higher octane pumpkin beer.  This is truly more of an Imperial pumpkin stout than just a simple pumpkin ale.

I went on a brewery tour of Saint Arnold’s and was hoping to taste this beer while there.  Unfortunately they had already transitioned to their Christmas Ale when I visited in mid October.  They did have the “Rumpkinator” or the Bishop’s Barrel #6 as it’s officially called, but you can read up on that tomorrow in my review of the Saint Arnold brewery tour.

The beer has a nice mouthfeel, (I wish I was as good at describing mouthfeel as Beermetaldude).  As I continue drinking this beer, the spices become more of a finishing element.  No longer do they hit my taste-buds up front.  The pumpkin intermingled with the sweet molasses takes over and dominates the flavor of the brew, with the alcohol content taking a back seat to all of the above.  While in the background I’m always aware of the higher ABV’s presence, wonderfully providing a pleasing sensation and warmth as I drink.

When I asked at the brewery where I could find a bottle of Pumpkinator, they said, “Good luck.” Adding, “It’s probably been sold out within city limits but you might be able to find a bottle at a store closer out to Katy.”  Katy is a suburb of Houston, about 30 miles outside the center of the city.

A day after my visit to Saint Arnold’s I tried the downtown location of Spec’s.  I walked in and an employee asked if I needed any help.  I said “Well I doubt you have any left, but I’m looking for a Pumpkinator.”  He began to say they had already sold out, which is the answer I expected.  Then an older employee said “Follow me,” as he waved me back with him and started walking.  We made our way into an office area where he still had two cases left of Pumpkinator, and handed me a bottle.  This is a prime example of why, “It never hurts to ask.”

I could have opened this bottle so many times.  In fact I came very close to opening it on numerous occasions.  I must say that I’m so happy with my past self right now, for holding off.  I was getting a little burnt out on pumpkin beers back in October.  Where as right now, it’s a perfect treat.  Holding on to ageable beers for awhile, whether it’s 18 months, a year, or just a few months can be so rewarding.  Not only to see how the living beer changes over time, but also to enjoy a beer that is out of season when you can’t run to the store and grab one.  Even more so, when it’s an out of state beer not sold in your market and that sells out fast even if you reside in that market.  Two years ago I’d have thought of myself as crazy for hoarding and holding on to beers.  All part and parcel of the journey of becoming a craft beer aficionado, if I can be granted the liberty of using such a term in characterizing myself.

Years and years ago I had a less than ideal experience with the Saint Arnold beer Lawnmower.  This was when I was a novice beer drinker and my palate was not ready for hops.  I made the amateur mistake of deciding that Saint Arnold’s beer was disgusting.  I hadn’t tasted another drop of their beer until I tried Santo, the day before visiting the brewery, almost 10 years after my tasting of the Lawnmower.  I’m a big fan of their beers now, to put it mildly.  Saint Arnold Pumpkinator is now easily in my top 5 of pumpkin beers.

For any of you young or novice beer drinkers, please give breweries and even specific beers more than one chance.  One’s palate grows and changes as you get older, and I’ve learned the hard way that it is unfair to the brewery and more importantly to yourself to let a single tasting keep you from enjoying wonderful beers.  I now have a rule of 3 that I go by; try, try and try again.  If after tasting a beer 3 different times or trying out 3 different beers from a brewery, you still don’t like it, then you can pass judgement knowing you put in thorough research.  Even then be willing to try it once again, especially if a friend is buying the round.

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