The 10th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Fest is all about pumpkin beer: from sweet and sour and EVERYTHING in between. Elysian Brewing had 18 pumpkin beers on tap. Across the country, some of the top breweries sent their pumpkin beers to the renown Elysian Great Pumpkin Brew Fest bringing the total tap count to over 90 pumpkin beers, including a pumpkin mead and cider. The Elysian Great Pumpkin Fest is about fun. Where else will you find marching bands, every shade of orange imaginable, Gandalf the Orange, the King and Queen of Pumpkin and massive pumpkins tapped for beer?
Fremont Brewing Pumpkin B-bomb 11%ABV is BIG, bold and smooth, it demanded all my attention so I found a corner to sip this beauty under the freeway under pass next to the trains, under the airplane flight paths. Nothing mattered but this delicious Washington beer. Slight sweetness from malt and squashes and oh yeah the bourbon barrel but not overwhelming if you know what you are getting into.. The wood notes are biggest on mid palate and soften in contrast to hop finale. This is not an everyday beer and it might be too sweet for some but this is what I want instead of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.
Gin barrels does really interesting things to beer, especially if the hops aren’t allowed to overwhelm the botanicals of the gin and the
botanicals of the gin aren’t allowed to overwhelm the hops. The hops take center stage on the Elysian Gourdan’s Gin Barrel aged Pumpkin Beer, the gin influence is on the nose primarily, a bit mid palate but the finish is assertively BEER. The pumpkin is almost but not quite silent partner with this beer.
Several special beers are available in such a limited quantities, they are available on a To Be Announced (TBA) basis. Once the keg is tapped, a light flashes or announcement is made and you want to get in line fast , because the keg may run out before the line does. One of the TBA beers was Elysian Brewing’s Gourdan’s Extra Dry. I really preferred the Extra Dry over the regular Gourdan’s. It is definitely heavier on the botanical notes, but personally I found it more pleasing. When I was asked Dick Cantwell what was the one must try beer. He answered without hesitation the Gourdan’s Extra Dry. Its not often a brewer will name his favorite child so readily.
Standard Brewing offered a Peated Baltic Pumpkin Porter. This Washington peated porter is light on peat, it is mostly on the nose with a pleasing mild whiff of smoke.
on the nose. Surprisingly dry for a pumpkin porter, the roasted malts and hops offering a dry and bitter finish.
Who would have even thought of a cucumber beer? Dick Cantwell created the Elysian’s Great Gherkin Cucumber Pumpkin Ale. Try saying that four times fast, then try to imagine what it might taste like. Nah, I will try to describe this beer but it really is something that needs to be experienced to be described. You can start with thinking this is a way to really get your vegetables with your beer. This beer smells amazing, research came about 15 years ago and has been replicated, that cucumber aroma is much more likely to get a woman in the mood than any male cologne. Think of this Washington beer for your next hot date. Slightly sweet tasting cucumber and incredibly refreshing on the tip of your tongue than assertive hops let you know this isn’t a cocktail but a beer! The pumpkin plays a supporting role throughout, letting the cucumber take center stage. This cucumber pumpkin ale challenges my palate. Some sips of this brew I go wow what a refreshing a beer and then other sips I go, I can’t wrap my brain around this beer. I talked to Dick about this beer as well, he said he has been making it for about 5 years and it is people like it but I am not alone in being confused and delighted by this brew.
Habañero peppers can scare a lot of people away but there is no need to run away from Blue Bird Habañero Pumpkin Porter. This Washington beer boasts a hint of heat to balance the sweetness of malt and pumpkin in this porter. This isn’t a pepper beer that you will feel tomorrow if you know what I mean. It is a pop of pepper, not a blast that adds pleasing complexity.
Schooner Exact Whiskey Dick Cantwell . Hey Matt, where’s my fucking pumpkin beer? is a bourbon bomb chasing a pumpkin beer. The whiskey notes
are up front and center on the nose and tip of of the tongue of every sip. You might need a reminder that this is in fact a beer and a pumpkin beer and that. Upfront, you might think you are drinking a shot of whiskey before the hop bitterness show up to tell you different on this boozy beer. The pumpkin pops up mid palate and the hops sneak in on the finish. If you are a boozy beer hound, this is your kind of beer.
What to Wear at Great Pumpkin Beer Fest… ORANGE
Ed worked the first night while I attended on a media pass so he had to wait until the second night to enjoy the beers.
Ed’s favorite beers were
- 1) Fremont Pumpkin B-Bomb.…perfection in a glass closely followed by
- 2) Midnight Sun’s TREAT Imperial Pumpkin Chocolate Porter… a new beer for me and one I absolutely loved.
- 3) Elysian’s Gourdfather Pumpkin Barleywine…delicious!
I also really enjoyed the Elysian Gourdon’s Gin Barrel-aged beer, Elliot Bays’ Kill Bill 5, the Bluebird Habanero Pumpkin Porter, Mcauslan’s St-Ambroise Citrouille Pumpkin ale. I did not get to try The Bruery’s beer or the Mead. Jonathan got a few beers I did not like but the only one I did not really care for was the Great Gherkin Cucumber Pumpkin Ale. It had Bean at a loss for a bit but for me, after a few sips, it just wasn’t the beer for me.