Well, here I sit at the ol’ A.E. parsonage. The days are scorching hot, the nights not much better. That must mean…it’s almost fall? Yep, here in the Central Valley of California, the days prior to the arrival of fall are quite hellish. How, then, do we poor blighted folk know that fall approacheth? We know in the manner God intended…pumpkin ales begin to arrive, duh. Elysian Brewing Company‘s Night Owl Ale is the beer I have chosen to refresh myself with this muggy, humid evening. Read on, my congregants, to find out whether this evangelist predicts 6 more weeks of summer…or do I have that holiday misplaced?
Elysian Brewing Co. is one of those breweries I rarely hear from outside of the Twittersphere. I discovered it when I was in Seattle over a year ago, and had there one of the most wonderful pumpkin ales I’ve ever had. This is not that ale, but it is the ale I was able to procure through LetsPour.com. More about that later.* Elysian’s brewpub (the Capitol Hill location) was one of the most fantastic experiences I had when I was in Seattle. The waitress was highly knowledgeable of the beers she was serving, and was very kind. When one of my friends didn’t like one of the beers, she replaced it at no charge. She talked with me about the process of brewing and made me feel very welcome. If I can ever make it back to Seattle, I will be going there again. The beers I had there were quite good, and I am only sad that we cannot get them here in Central CA. Nonetheless, when I saw Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, I HAD to take the chance on it. So here goes.
Appearance: Cloudy, with particulates floating in it. Rather than being off-putting for me, this lends weight to the fact that this beer is unapologetically unfiltered. Also points to the veracity that 7 lbs of pumpkin went into the fermenter and kettle of this bad boy. Almost no head-retention, thus almost no lacing.
Aroma: I get some malt in the nose, with a hint of pumpkin sweetness and spice. No hopping present in the nose. Pumpkin and spices could probably stand to be a little heavier, IMO, as the lack of hops leaves something to be desired in the nose.
Mouthfeel: Very satisfying for a session beer. (Not quite 6% abv…I consider that mostly sessionable.) Not viscous, but definitely not thin. Makes you feel as though you are getting a more substantial beer, which helps offset the lack of over-the-top malt.
Flavor: Hints of pumpkin throughout the taste with slight pumpkin pie spicing. Overall, I would have to say that this beer is somewhat a victim of my expectations, as I was hoping for something like the Elysian Fields Great Pumpkin Ale (reviewed here), which was pretty much entirely my fault. It is a pumpkin ale, without doubt. Malt stands up to the pumpkin, but overall, I was really hoping for more than the hints I got. Maybe some crystal malt or some higher mash temps would leave more residual sweetness in the mouth, without adding much in the way of alcohol, allowing you to toss even more pumpkin in the fermenter. Overall, while I was pleased with the medium level of alcohol, I was expecting more in the mouth.
Later That Evening…As the beer warmed in its glass, and as I ruminated upon it, the sweetness of the pumpkin lingers beautifully, and the spices remain through the finish. Upon further reflection, I find I quite like this beer, and am grateful I have yet another bottle to get me through these dog days of summer and ring in the autumn in a manner befitting her raiment!
Overall: The label claims this is a drinkable pumpkin ale, and that is definitely true. It would take me awhile to tire of the pumpkin. It is a nice, understated pumpkin ale, which does not overwhelm, but my expectations aside, does not underwhelm either. If I were to have to grade “Overall” on a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a solid 6. Above average, great mouthfeel, tempting aroma, but only somewhat lacking on big flavor, which is something I was hoping for more of.
* LetsPour.com is a fantastic site where you can get potentially hard-to-find craft beer for very decent prices, assuming they can ship to your state. (Read the fine print, as not all beers can be shipped to all states.) With LetsPour.com the basic deal is this: Buy 6 bottles, get free shipping. Buy 12, get $10 off your order. My order came packaged VERY well, with a couple bottles per layer, and special bottle-shaped packing material providing a snug, but safe fit. The box was slightly battered, but the bottles were in tip top condition.Considering I can’t get Elysian Brewing’s beers in my area, LetsPour.com is a godsend to me. I will most certainly be ordering from them, and I think we can expect they will only continue to get better. A word of caution…always order at least 6 bottles, as shipping can be a wallet-puckering $20 when you don’t hit their minimums. Go in with a friend, and get some stellar beer you might not otherwise be able to find. Thanks, letspour.com!