It's the Great Pump[KY]n Beer!

Sitting alone in Small Bar on a brisk, October evening, I tried a pumpkin beer that changed everything that I had ever assumed of the style.

Photo Credit: Lauren J. Mapp
Most pumpkin beers that I had prior to this one had been enjoyable, but nothing ever struck me as a beer I had to stockpile in my refrigerator. I couldn’t help but scoff as the bartender passed me a 6-ounce glass, but at 15.5 percent alcohol by volume, it was necessary for proper enjoyment of the beer.

Leaving that night, visions of the barrel-aged pumpkin porter danced in my head. I planned to purchase a case of it, but I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t remember the name of the beer or the brewery. Weeks later when I returned to Small Bar, none of the bartenders could remember what beer I was talking about.

In the years after that experience, I tried many ales, but none lived up to the one from that night. Friends treated me like Linus in his search for The Great Pumpkin. Many laughed at me or commented that I must have made it up, but in my heart, I knew that I would someday rediscover the glass slipper of pumpkin beers.

Three years later, while taking a weekend trip to Glen Ivy Hot Springs and camping at the Blue Jay Campground, I finally found it again. After spending a day at the spa, we went to the Salted Pig in Riverside for dinner, and I saw a suspiciously familiar beer description on the menu.

Avery Brewing Company’s Pump[KY]n was every bit as magical as I had remembered it.

The deep brown, opaque porter has light brown foam and a malt-forward flavor with strong notes of chocolate. Hints of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice are present without overwhelming the palate.

Pump[KY]n’s ABV for each year’s batch varies from 15 to 18.8 percent, and though it has a strong bourbon presence, it is not overly boozy.

There is nothing bad that I can say about this beer, except perhaps that it is pricey (a 12-ounce bottle costs about $20 after tax), and it’s not widely available year around. Though it is only supposed to be available in the fall from August to October, Clem’s Bottle House & Deli in San Diego seems to sell Pump[KY]n year-round.

Avery also brews a rum barrel-aged pumpkin beer called Rumpkin, but I have been saving my bottle for a rainy day, so I can’t yet review it.


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