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Belt's Beer Garden: Fear the Beer!

It's time for two new craft beers to go under the microscope! Best science ever!

"" - Homer Simpson
"" - Homer Simpson

Last Saturday left many MAC fans with a bad taste in their mouth (looking at you Huskie, Cardinal, Bull, and Golden Flash fans). But there is good news! Carter and I are back with two more craft beers that will help alleviate whatever bad taste you still have lingering.

This week, I tried Southern Tier’s Pumking.


Dave: Well it’s that time of year again. White girls are busting out their fuzzy boots and every product is infused with pumpkin - from pumpkin spiced lattes to pumpkin spiced gum and so why not beer as well. This week, in honor of the trend, I am trying Southern Tier’s Pumking.

Southern Tier, from Lakewood, New York, began brewing Pumking in 2007 but the brewery has been around since 2002. They are currently available in 30 states – almost exclusively in the east and Midwest – you can see if it’s available near you using their website’s handy tool here.

When you first pour Pumking there isn’t too much head, just a thin layer. It pours a deep copper color and smells like you’d expect – pumpkins and spices. At first taste, there is a bit of cinnamon and pumpkin. It’s a rather sweet beer, but quite good. And upon further testing (a.k.a. drinking much more of it), it tastes as if you were to melt a pumpkin pie, pour it in a glass and get drunk off of it. For research purposes I’ve had two of these beers and, in both cases, it seems that the alcohol drifts down to the bottom of the bottle, giving you a sharper taste towards the end of it. But don’t let that deter you; this is still a very good beer.

At 8.6% ABV (alcohol by volume) it’s way better than any pumpkin spiced latte! And it costs about the same amount too. A 22 ounce bomber will run you between $5.50 and $7 (in Chicagoland), which is right around the cost of the coffee drink. However, the coffee doesn’t come with the quite same buzz you get with the beer.

Overall, if you chose to drink one pumpkin flavored drink this year, I’d say this is the one! Heck, even the basic white girls would probably like this beer…although, between September 15th and October 31st basic white girls love anything with the name "pumpkin" on it. Either way, you should try it! I give it an eight.

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Carter tried something a little darker this week - Smuttynose's Robust Porter


Carter: Founded in 1994, Smuttynose Brewing Company is in Hampton, New Hampshire. The town is about an hour north of Boston, and just a bit over two hours from UMass - the closest MAC school. They take their name from an island six miles off the coast of New Hampshire, conveniently named Smuttynose Island (which, oddly enough, belongs to Maine). The island is said to have been the site of Blackbeard’s honeymoon in the early eighteenth century and was an infamous site of several grisly murders 140 years ago, but today it is populated only by harbor seals.

Upon cracking open the top of my Smuttynose Robust Porter, I was greeted with a sweet malty smell. The beer pours thick and dark, with just the slightest head, roughly what you’d expect from a porter. I was curious just how dark it was, so I held up a bright white LED behind it and found it barely visible as a dim red light.

The initial odor was supported by my first sip, which is smooth, creamy, and almost too sweet for my liking. On the tail end of each sip, it shifts to a bitterness a bit like a dark roasted coffee or perhaps dark chocolate. As I continued drinking, I found that the sweet odor, with a brandy-like hint, and the slightly bitter flavor blended well together to form a fairly complex overall experience. As good as it is, I found myself wishing Smuttynose offered a smoked version of this beer.

At 43 IBU, this is on the bitter side for a porter, though there is a fair amount of malt to offset that, but if, like me, you usually tend toward American IPAs and other bright, hoppy brews in the summer, you may find this to be a good dark alternative as we head toward colder weather. And at $10.99 for a six-pack, it won't break the bank either. Overall, I give it a eight.

8 beers

Until next week, go out and try these beers! Again, any suggestions are always welcome. And if you've already had these, we want to hear from you! Agree with our ratings? Let us know.