Sunday, November 13, 2005

Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

I knew from the moment I heard of this beer that I would drink it. Not only is it brewed by one of my all time favorite brewers (Dick Cantwell), but I saw a picture of the release party for the beer in Seattle where they were putting a tap in the bottom of a giant pumpkin they had hollowed out and conditioned the beer in. I was too much of a dumb-ass to download the pic before they changed the website.

Brewery - Elysian Brewing Company in Seattle, WA
Style - Popularly known as just a "Pumpkin Beer". However the BJCP would classify it as a category 21A - Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer.
ABV - 6.1% (OG 1.060)
Grains - Pale, Munich and Crystal malts. They also added green and roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin meat in the mash, boil and fermenter. A total of 150 lbs of pumpkin meat was used in each batch.
Hops - Horizon hops
Spiced with - Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Allspice
Serving Type - 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

Elysian is defined by Merriam-Webser as "of or relating to Elysium". To be fare it also lists "Blissful" and "Delightful" as synonyms. But Elysium is defined as "the abode of the blessed after death in classical mythology" or "Paradise". That's basically how I feel about the Elysian Brewpub. It's blissfully delightful and, if I'm a very good boy, it's where I want to end up when I die. And drinking their beer is just like a little trip to paradise.

The brewery was started in 1996 by Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca, and Dave Buhler with the idea of creating a large brewpub, but with a wider than normal distribution area. From ’97 to 2000 they ran a small brewpub in downtown Seattle that gave them the flexibility to experiment with unique specialty beers. Accroding to the website, they have “brewed over 60 different beers, in large batches and small, including 6 always-flowing standards, and 8 seasonal brews. The Night Owl Pumpkin Ale is a new brew for Elysian, but it is basically a derivation of last years Millennium Great Pumpkin Ale.

Glass – Hogwarts pint glass

Aroma – The nose is all about the spices. The cinnamon and allspices stand out, but I can also pick out the nutmeg and ginger. There is also some maltyness to it, and I think some brown sugar might be in there somewhere (but that is probably the spice combination).

Appearance – It has a dark orange hue, not unlike a translucent pumpkin might. It pours with a thin head that dissipates quickly. There is very little in the way of laceing, but what there is is persistent. Flavor – There is a lot of maltyness balanced against the spiciness. On the sides of my tounge I can taste the nutmeg and allspice. There is also some clove in there. All these flavors combine nicely to do a good impersonation of a slightly bitter pumpkin pie. It finishes dry, with a lingering spiciness and a little alcohol warming.

Mouthfeel – It’s got a medium body, with very little carbonation.

Final Thoughts – I’ve had a couple of pumpkin beers in my time, and this is by far the best. I always expect more pumpkin-y-ness than I should from these beers, but this one actually resembled a pumpkin pie…sort of. Eventually, I’ll just learn to stop comparing these beers to food and just treat them as a stand alone entity.


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