Beers

Saint Arnold Releases Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkinator

Saint Arnold Pumpkinator aged in Bourbon Barrels

Although pumpkin beers have been around for centuries, their popularity has definitely increased in proportion with other pumpkin spiced goods. Go down the grocery store beer aisle, and there will be countless pumpkin spiced options. Some of these beers are good, some seem just to be following the fad, and some stand out above the crowd.

Saint Arnold Pumpkinator recently won Gold in the pumpkin beer category at The Great American Beer Festival, and it’s easy to see why. I fell in love with this beer in its original release as Divine Reserve 9 way back in 2009. The dessert-like qualities of the beer brought to mind Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie. Now it’s a beer I enjoy every Thanksgiving as I’m laying around watching football in a food coma. In 2015, Saint Arnold decided to age this wonderful beer in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels and released it as Bishop Barrel #9. I, of course, tracked this down at a local bar and thoroughly enjoyed it. When the opportunity arose to get a bottle of this year’s bourbon barrel aged Pumpkinator in advance of its public release, I jumped on it. I was excited to see this beer finally being released at a retail level, instead of the bar/restaurant-only level of the older Bishop Barrels. I also thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to crack open my last Bishop Barrel #9 (BB9) from my cellar for a side by side review. I’ve always sworn by the practice of aging the original Pumpkinator between 1-2 years before enjoying; it’s one of the few beers out there that I think improves with a little age. So naturally, I was curious to see what had developed with the aging process on the bourbon barrel aged version of Pumpkinator as well.

Saint Arnold Bishop Barrel 9 and 2017 Pumpkinator Aged in Bourbon Barrels

When you drink Pumpkinator, you want to let it warm up some to bring out the spices and body. Saint Arnold recommends that you let t warm to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. I pulled both bottles out of my fridge about 30 minutes before opening them. I poured about 1/3 of each bottle into separate snifters. I opened the BB9 first, and the smell absolutely brought me everything I was looking for. It smelled just like pumpkin pie baking in the oven. There’s always that moment of wondering when you open an older bottle – Did it last? Did it oxidize? Is it infected? The answer to all of these questions was “No” for this bottle. The younger bottle produced an identical aroma, and even sitting on the patio on a muggy night, the smell in the air was wonderful. I tasted the older BB9 first, and it was everything I was hoping for. Thick mouthfeel, flavors of pumpkin, clove, and nutmeg, and such great qualities coming from the bourbon barrel – vanilla, oak, a hair char, and some lingering booze. It was a special treat.

The newer release of bourbon barrel aged Pumpkinator was significantly different than the older BB9. Although also aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, the newer bottle came across much more boozy than BB9. If I were blind tasting these two beers, I would have immediately thought the older one was aged with an older bourbon barrel than the newer one. Instead of the flavors melding together like the older version, the newer beer is less complex. The flavors that were harder to detect in the new bottle were those coming from the barrel itself. The vanilla, oak, and char were mostly absent or at least less pronounced. The newer version also has a thinner mouthfeel, and it was harder to detect the pumpkin itself. Although I intuitively know that the newer bottle should have a stronger spice flavor, I thought the booze was masking it too much in comparison to the flavors of the older bottle. I still enjoyed the newer version quite a bit, but they were significantly different beers.

I shared the rest of both bottles with a few beer loving friends in order to gather their opinions as well. Everyone that tasted the two liked the older BB9 more. When I explained they were the same beer, just 2.5 years release difference, everyone said they’re going to buy some on Monday to forget about for a couple of years. It’s a complete argument against the Drink Now movement, but if you can get your hands on a couple of the new barrel aged Pumkinator I’d strongly encourage you to pop one now and save one for later. I think you’ll be happy you did.

saint-arnold-releases-bourbon-barrel-aged-pumpkinator

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I am a husband and father to two little girls, and live in the Missouri City area. I've been drinking craft beer for as long as I could, and really have delved into it over the last 5 years or so. I graduated from Texas A&M in 1999, and follow Aggie football through all of the pain that brings. Speaking of pain from sports, I'm also an Astros and Texans fan.

Related Articles

  • Headed out West to meet Downtown Dusty

    Headed out West to meet Downtown Dusty

    Katy residents are fortunate to have a mayor who not only supports but savors craft beer. William “Dusty” Thiele and No Label Brewing Co. have collaborated on an Amber Lager to honor his contributions to the city they proudly represent. Dubbed “Downtown Dusty,” this amber lager is currently a seasonal offering, but I’m making a

  • Stout Fest 2024 at Excalibur Brewing in Old Town Spring

    Stout Fest 2024 at Excalibur Brewing in Old Town Spring

    When is the right time to drink a stout? The answer is ‘right now’. If you’ve read any of my articles or ever had a conversation with me about beer you’ll know that I’m all about that stout life. When I heard Excalibur Brewing in Old Town Spring announced the 2nd annual Stout Fest 2024, you know

  • Free & Easy N/A Belgian White from Karbach Brewing

    Free & Easy N/A Belgian White from Karbach Brewing

    Before you assume I’m doing a “dry January”, correct yourself right now. Full disclosure, I didn’t purchase this beer either. Karbach was kind enough to ship a few cans to me so here we are. You guys remember the last time I went on the hunt for a good N/A beer right? It didn’t end

  • A Beer To Remember in 2023

    A Beer To Remember in 2023

    As we say goodbye to 2023, let’s take a moment to reflect and remember all the tasty #HoustonBeer we enjoyed this year. Many beers stood out but only one beer can be crowned the beer to remember this year. We asked our contributor team and they delivered with their comments on which beer was their

  • Ingenious Brewing Company announces closure

    Ingenious Brewing Company announces closure

    Officially announced on Facebook, the circling rumors about Ingenious Brewing closure is in fact – confirmed true. Ingenious made the official post this morning. How do you say goodbye to a brewery you’ve been visiting since the beginning, made countless memories from, built great friendships and was the place you started your craft beer adventures

POST YOUR COMMENTS

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *

Email *

Website

Houston Beer Guide

Please excuse our enthusiasm. We're not professional journalists, we're just passionate beer lovers. Our goal is to give Houston's beer community a voice. We hope you'll listen.

Writers

  • dan-beck
  • guestcontributor
  • jackie
  • ronnie-risner
  • sylvia-benavidez

Editors

  • greg-shawinsky
  • sylvia-benavidez