Beer Review: Elysian Brewing Co., Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

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? Continue reading

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The Evangelist has been busy! ~ Hitting the airwaves to spread the news ~ BACON BEER?

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last several weeks. I have recently had a new baby, I have recently started a new day job, and the additional stress has been such that I’d much rather consume a couple of quality ales and relax at the end of the day than write about them.  But the baby has settled into a rough schedule, I have settled into the new job, and I’m hoping I’ll have a little bit more time and energy to write a lot more.

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I’m going to be going on a local AM radio show to try and evangelize the host with regards to excellent craft beer. He has proclaimed himself on the air to be “not a beer guy”, and I’m going to try and show him the breadth of choices out there for fine beer.  I’m hoping to find something that will surprise him as to its tastiness and drinkability. It’ll be a pre-recorded show, and with the new job, I have no idea how long it’ll take to get this thing recorded and aired.  I’ll post more details when I have them.  I may also ask for suggestions regarding the choice of beer I make available for the show.  I’ll also post a link where you can listen to the show online.

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Rogue Ales is known far and wide for their quality ales, and rightfully so.  Their Dead Guy Ale is top notch, and they didn’t rest on those laurels.  They have a HUGE stable of beers available in various parts of the country.  One of their more controversial ales recently has been a collaboration of sorts with a place called Voodoo Doughnut.  The concoction is called Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale (VDMBA), and it’s…interesting.

VDMBA succeeded in making a splash in craft beer.  Whether they liked it or not, people talked about this weird beer in the pink bottle.  Does it succeed on its own as a beer worth consuming?  I’ve shared a bottle with some friends on two different occasions, and while it’s interesting, I’m not sure I’ll try to get a hold of a third bottle.

First off, it’s worth noting that this beer should not be consumed straight out of the fridge, in my opinion.  Straight out of the fridge, it’s far too cold, the mouthfeel is thin, and the only flavor you get is smoke, with little malt to balance it out. Almost no maple, except in the nose. Don’t drink this too cold.

Appearance – This beer pours much lighter than I expected, considering this was originally reported as a porter, I seem to recall. Not much head, and even less head retention. Since this beer doesn’t REALLY adhere to any style, I feel justified in saying that this beer would have been prettier as a richer, darker ale.

Aroma – The one category where this beer is absolutely, unequivocally fantastic. The aroma of this beer is smoky, maple-y, malty. No discernible hop character, which is a good thing. In an ale of this sort, even aromatic hops would be unwelcome.

Mouthfeel – Bacon is rich, folks. Maple is rich.  This beer is not.  It’s not as light as a macro lager, mind you, but it’s not as rich as the name might make it seem.  This is not the first time I’ve said this, and it won’t be the last, but this beer needs more malt.  I know it would have raised the price of the beer, but it would have increased the drinkability of it far more than that.  I’d say this beer is akin in mouthfeel to an amber, or maybe a pale. Nothing to write home about.

Flavor – This is where this beer definitely drops some. There’s a lot of smoke.  In fact, right out of the fridge, you’re probably going to get little else. If the beer is too cold, you’ll get the smoked malt, and it’s definitely reminiscent of some bacon. But honestly, let the beer warm, either in the bottle or in the glass, and you’ll thank me.  When the beer is more cellar temperature, you’ll pick up on some maple notes, and SOME of the richness of the fatty bacon.  Sadly, the malt does not have the punch to match the bacon.  I feel if the beer had been maltier, you’d have gotten more of the richness of the bacon, the sweetness of the maple, and the beer would have done its name justice.  It comes off, however, as having used some low quality artificial flavorings.  I want to be clear, I am not accusing Rogue of using low quality flavorings to impart what they were looking for.  I am saying that it comes across that way.

Overall – This beer is a novelty beer. It’s not something that wow’s me, and yeah, I came to it with an open mind.  In fact, I was looking forward to trying it a lot.  It let me down.  It needed more body, and it needed more sweetness.  I would have liked a lot more maple flavors, and I would have liked a malty base to support it.  Sadly, where this beer is going to be the target of a lot of criticism is the fact that it transcends style.  Go look at beer judging styles, and see if you can find any mention of a bacon maple ale. So I can’t compare it to the baseline of a style; I have to just point to what I would have preferred, and most beers can be shown to be lacking SOMETHING from a person’s point of view.

As I said before, I’m glad I got to try it, but I won’t be spending the money on another bottle unless they tweak the recipe and do another batch.  If they do that, well, I think it goes without saying that I’ll be plunking down some money (yay, did I mention the new job) and getting another bottle or two.

Until next time, my faithful, remember that life is too short to drink crap beer.

~A.E.

Beer Review: Doppelbock, Dust Bowl Brewing Co.

While I was at Dust Bowl Brewing Co’s Tap Room, I was privileged to try several different styles of Brewmaster Don Oliver’s fantastic craft beer. The Doppelbock was the first of the afternoon, and let me know that the decision to hold a Session Meeting here was a good one. Sadly, you won’t be able to find this nummy beer anywhere outside of the tap room, so go there, and enjoy! Continue reading