I've heard more than a little bit about Saint Arnold Brewing Company's Pumpkinator. Long considered one of the better interpretations of the good ol' pumpkin beer, it leans more on fall spices than some faux pumpkin pie taste, then loads up on hops and malts to bring it to an ABV of about 10 percent.
Pumpkin beers are often the target of disdain among those in the beer-drinking community, as they seem like cheap attempts to reel in non-devotees by using well-worn themes ("It's fall! Have pumpkin stuff!"). That said, who cares? People should drink what they want. Also, there is a space for these beers, especially if they're brewed with thought and heart. And Pumpkinator—which strives to be an authentic fall beer and not necessarily an October novelty—has always seemed to fall in that camp, especially if you read the glowing reviews.
So, Saint Arnold made a big deal about its 2018 batch of Pumpkinator. According to the brewery, this year's specialty is the most expensive beer they've ever brewed, thanks to the deep roster of ingredients: molasses, brown sugar, and dry spices as if to recall the scent of Thanksgiving morning.
To me, however, it recalls grandmom's coffee table. A little more potpourri than cornucopia, upon first taste, the 2018 Pumpkinator is too strong for its own good. It's heavy on baking spices and a chocolate mouthfeel, and I actually wanted more of that round pumpkin foundation.
To be fair, this beer was consumed the night it was purchased, and Saint Arnold claims Pumpkinator is best enjoyed after a robust aging. I bought additional bottles for just that purpose, and I'm excited to let one go for another year. I'm even more excited to let a third bottle go for a few years beyond that.
But if you're looking to enjoy Pumpkinator right now, save it for Thanksgiving's dessert course.