As of late, it should be easy to tell my adoration toward all things pumpkin. One of the things I love most about pumpkin beers is that broadly speaking, everyone who makes a pumpkin beer is working from some amount of the same group of adjuncts – pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves. However, every brewer is able to create a unique take on the pumpkin beer style by tweaking amounts or even the base style of the beer – Elysian’s Hansel and Gretel, for example.
So, as I make my way through Elysian’s “Pumpkin Patch” four-pack of brews, it’s a wonderful example how one brewery can make four very distinct versions of pumpkin beer that may appeal to a wide variety of tastes. After a rather experimental ginger-pumpkin pilsner to start off, I was in more typical pumpkin ale territory this weekend with Night Owl, a straight take on the style that currently scores 87 on Beer Advocate.
Hit the jump to see how Night Owl stacks up to some of your other favorite pumpkin brews.
The pour of the beer elicited a perfect orange-amber hue – something I love to see from a pumpkin beer – and formed an almost two-finger head on the initial pour. While the beer is just 5.9 percent ABV, the smell gave off a light, boozy pumpkin, courtesy of use of both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds in the brewing process. That amount of fruit really allows this ale to be grounded in pumpkin, while the seeds give a slight earthy, vegetal smell.
I will give Elysian this much – what they put on the label is easy to detect in the beer. In addition to pumpkin, Night Owl was brewed with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and cloves, the latter of which gave off the most pungent smell out of all the spices.
The flavor of the beer is structured, starting with a strong pumpkin flavor that pairs with a good malt backbone. Despite Elysian’s use of roasted and raw pumpkin seeds, neither of those offers much flavor in lieu of 7.5 pounds of the fleshy fruit in each 30-gallon barrel. There’s a touch of citrus zest on the finish, courtesy of Magnum hops. Above all else, this is a great, straight-forward pumpkin beer. You get a little extra on the aroma, but the flavor is spot-on pumpkin.
If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say Night Owl was more appealing than Pumple Drumkin, which was pretty pumpkin-forward, but not in the ballpark of spiced pumpkin brews like Harvest Time or Fat Jack. It was sure as hell better than La Citrueille Celeste De Citracado. If you like the taste of pumpkin or pumpkin seeds, this beer is for you.
Night Owl stats: