Puca or Jack ala Mode ?

southern-tier-imperial-pumpkin-alePumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Southern Tier Brewing Company: Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Look at that face.

One story goes that olde Jack was unable to pay his bar tab and, perhaps unawares of the types that frequent Celtic bars, he strikes a deal with the gentleman next to him to settle up in exchange for Jack’s soul. When Jack finds out the devilish fine print on the deal, he has to trick the older trickster himself up a tree. The cross carved at the bottom temporarily imprisons the Devil (it’s that easy), who agrees to release Jack from the soul obligation in exchange for help in getting back down to earth. The problem for Jack is that a soul like his is ready-bound for heaven, so he’s forced to wander the twilight lands, lighting his way by carrying an ember from hell in a carved out turnip.

Yes, turnip.

The great upstate brewery Southern Tier (named for the stretch of endless hills east to west) claims this pumpkin ale is an homage to the Celtic shapeshifter Puca, who takes unsuspecting souls for a wild ride. And they are right. The Pumking is the height of pumpkin brews. You taste the pumpkin (properly spiced), thick like puree. There’s that whipped cream Donald T is looking for. And my friend Richard even swears there’s a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. It is no surprise that Southern Tier can pull off a beverage that you could actually substitute in for a slice of pumpkin pie. They pull the same trick with their crème brûlée Imperial Milk Stout–a one-for-one match to the actual dessert–but the results are less, well, desirable in than pie.

And remember, never settle your tabs with your soul or you’ll end up looking like olde Jack.

Rating: 85% (since it is still a pumpkin ale)

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