So, with just a little trepidation, I made it to one of the Pumpkinator release events a couple of days ago at The Richmond Arms to join a friend who was going, and, importantly, offered to buy me a beer before the ‘Stros game. Brock Wagner, the owner and a founder of Saint Arnold, was to be in attendance. Knowing Wagner a little for a long time, it was also good to be able to say “hi” since I hadn’t seen him in a while.
After the friend had brought over the beer, I took a couple of quick sips, as it was very enjoyable. Deeply and darkly colored, full-bodied but not at all heavy and featuring a very pleasant, but subtle array of autumn-appropriate spices – ginger, allspice, clove and more according to Wagner – along with a backbone note of molasses. Balanced and quite flavorful, with judicious use of Cascade and Liberty hops, and not at all overpowering in any aspect, it was delicious. In nearly no time I finished the 8- to 10-ounce glass before being told that this version was something like 11.9%. It is did not taste like that at all. If I would have had to guess, I would have proffered 6 or 6 ½ percent. The cask version at 12.7% or so was similar in that respect and even slightly more enjoyable. Though there is a lot going on, and a lot in it – the brew is the most expensive one that Saint Arnold has ever made – terrific balance in both versions.
Wagner told me that part of the success with the beer was due to the fact that it was built on the chassis of a hearty Imperial stout, something that can stand up to the spicing and other flavors. It certainly does in both versions. This is rarely done by other small brewers who use a medium-bodied beer like their baseline amber ales and add the spicing, and which rarely can enjoyably hold up to it, and the final result is usually mediocre or worse. We were on the same page concerning most other pumpkin beers. Thankfully, Saint Arnold’s is a far cry from those, and truly enjoyable, something that even those not inclined to pumpkin beers or pumpkins, in general. The pumpkin flavors and spicing are subtle.
All of the Saint Arnold Pumpkinator has already been brewed for the season. Get it while you can in 22-ounces bottles or on tap while it lasts. Actually, a bottle will last for a while. Wagner told me that the brewery entered a year-old version in a recent contest to great, gold effect. To note, the cask version might only be only be available at The Richmond Arms now.