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Southern Tier’s Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale The Beer of Quiet Reflection

This week’s beer is Southern Tier’s Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale: A marvelous example of how a beer can capture a time, a place or a mood. As we are officially into Autumn I have come to realize, once again, that this season is the time of texture, smell, and patina; of color and hue, of comfort and warmth, and of deceleration; the season of sweaters and scarves, of slowly walking hand-in-hand or arm-around-waist, and of stolen kisses under the evergreens. Indeed, Fall heightens our experience of everything—if Spring is jubilation, and Summer is passion, then Autumn is the deeply intense and visceral period of reflection before the repose of winter. For me, it is the sum of all seasons.

October 05, 2013—Life intrudes. It always has and it always will. No matter how wonderfully things seem to be going, invariably there is a disruption or distraction lurking around the corner to shake you out of any short-lived reverie that you might be experiencing. It could be your job or your kids, it could be the toll of dealing with the problems of fitness or health, of friends or family, or maybe just some self-imposed burden that weighs too heavily on your day to day interactions. But one must develop the tactics and strategies necessary to stand up to life’s intrusions.

If you should be one of the seven or eight people who are likely to follow this site into its tenuous future, you will eventually realize that my musical preferences have little to do with good music or good lyrics. But you will also find that music—combined with the determination to be happy—has the power to turn negatives into positives. That a series of connected or disconnected songs can inspire you to spread happiness beyond your own desk or barstool. That a smile or a ‘thank you” given to someone in need of one (or both) can pack power beyond imagining. Hopefully, you share the belief that your mood impacts other people and that you alone choose to be a beneficial influence or an insidious detriment.

As I quietly nursed my third or fourth Pumking Imperial Ale in as many weeks, I was lost in the aroma and flavor that embodies this ale. We know that smell is clearly and strongly linked with taste, but it is also said to be the sense most strongly associated with memory. So while the mention of Pumpkin evokes obvious links to fall, Thanksgiving and wholesome Americana, this beer really is a big and bold symphony of flavors, fragrances and yes, even the sights, sounds and memories of a season. A few minutes with this beer always gets me daydreaming about people, places, songs, events, clothing, cars and old crushes. I can smell the crisp cool air, feel the soft wonder of a cashmere sweater against my skin, and hear the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot—all in perfect harmony with that funny sound that corduroy trousers make. All of this from a single pint of beer…

But this session, there was a dark undercurrent. I have been annoyingly reflective lately, clutching every nuance in a conversation, detecting irony where none exists, trying to hold on to resentment where none is justified (is it ever?), and growing tired of advising people who have been seeking my counsel but roundly ignoring it. It seems that while trying so hard to be a positive influence and a clear communicator, I have been running into the dark alleys of unanswered texts, unopened e-mails, vacant stares and unresponsive conversations. Is this all an exercise in wasted breath? What, I ask myself, is so wrong that I can’t seem to get any traction with people lately? But there, amidst my pumpkin haze, a moment of divine intervention—a song played on my ipod that gave me pause, exposed my vanity, and forced me to re-think and re-adjust my mood.

Ironically, for a person who finds music so uplifting and who equally loves words, I usually attach to a song for its sounds rather than for its lyrics. But, as I was listening to the tune “Words” by Missing Persons, I fell in love, once again, with the lyric “what are words for, when no one listens anymore?” In that moment, my special beer in hand, I made a musically inspired leap that since Autumn, that magical time of reflection and insight, is here, maybe everyone else is as subconsciously consumed in the reflective nature of this period of transition. We’re all listening—just not to one another.

Maybe our heightened awareness of the impending change in scenery and temperature makes us less aware of our own inward-turning perspective. Certainly, I have been far too presumptuous about my impact on other people. Should I try to spread positive energy and cheer only if I get receptive feedback? Have I been as positive and communicative as I really believe myself to be? The answer of course is no. But perhaps the solution is to just sip a warm and toasty pumpkin ale and be quiet—to reflect, deeply and warmly about all that is good and bad. I rather like this idea and I’m not so self-absorbed to accept that maybe others will appreciate my silence as well.

So pick your own playlist, sit down with a Pumking Imperial Ale in a warm and comfortable setting. And reflect—quietly.


The Playlist

  1. 0
    The inspiration for this playlist. Like it or not, one can get some decent mileage from the lyrics in this tune.
  2. 3
    English Grime, anyone? No matter how poorly music genres are named, sometimes you just wanna dance to the beat.
  3. 4
    Sorry haters, Nicki’s attitude can get one through the day. This one isn’t as flamboyant as her other stuff.
  4. 3
    Yes, I know, not a fluid transition but she’s a right moody artist—nu jazz, trip hop, whatever—she does moody right.
  5. 3
    Keeping the trippy, hazy thing going....
  6. 3
    A little bit of moody pop seemed right after the last two.
  7. 0
    Back to the beat, love the cadence and subtle thump.
  8. 3
    More alt hip hop but a reversal of the flow.
  9. 0
    Might as well change up totally. A tune for walking barefoot in the park with a pretty girl.
  10. 3
    Old skool enough.
  11. 4
    Love these dudes!
  12. 0
    I often like to end upbeat...Love all her various sounds, but this one always gets me going.