Gone are the days of people pooh poohing pumpkin beer. Before noon, eager beer lovers lined up for the Elysian Great Pumpkin Beer Fest. At noon, patrons paid $18 to be equipped with a pumpkin glass, six beer tickets and a beer guide. Outside in the back parking lot, five beer stations were set up with six taps each. Thirty pumpkin beers from around the country were first up on tap. 13 other pumpkin beers were held for Saturday evening and for Sunday.
Best Pumpkin Beers
With 30 pumpkin beers to choose from, where does one begin? I was lucky enough to snag a table with six other beer geeks who believed in sharing. They were some differences of opinions and varying tastes but there were two beers that were favorites around the table.
- Sour Pumpkin – Russian River: 100% Brettanomyces, this is a clean and tart sour pumpkin ale. Barrel fermented, this ale will remind you more of a tart lemonade than pumpkin pie. Exquisitely crafted, this is a beer we went back for seconds.
- Dark O’ The Moon – Elysian Brewery: This was another beer that was well worth standing in line for seconds! This is a coffee black stout with cocoa notes and a bit of coffee and cinnamon on the finish. The pumpkin is more prevalent on the nose than the palate but it adds a luxurious full body to this stout. This isn’t a sweet beer but it still reminded me of dessert, something rich and decadent.
Pumpkin Beer Highlights
- Bruce Camp-Ale – Iron Hill Brewery: Beer + Pumpkin + Bourbon barrel aging = heaven. I loved this complex yet silky smooth imperial ale.
- Boo Radley – Naked City Brewery and Tap House: Floral aromas upstage the pumpkin, this pumpkin ale has one of the most complex and prevalent hop profiles at the festival.
- Halloweizen – Anacortes Brewery: Sorachi Ace hops give this pumpkin Hefeweizen unique lemon characteristics. As it warms up, the pumpkin notes start to peek through but the lemon freshness persists.
- Jack O’Bite 09– Elysian Brewery: This was one of my favorite beers last year at the Pumpkin festival and it only got better after being aged for a year.
- Mischief Night Pumpkin Ale – Stewarts Brewing: This was a well balanced pumpkin beer, juggling pumpkin, spice, malt and hops so no one component overshadowed the others. Nice medium bodied orange colored ale, this is a classic pumpkin ale.
- Pumpkin Death – Snipes Mountain Brewing: Deep dark stout brewed with 250 pounds of burnt pumpkin but without spice. Toast and caramel flavors predominate with a bit of char for character. It is one of those beers that almost defies description, try it for yourself.
- Pumpkin Spice 2010 – Two Beers Brewing: Spiced with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla, if you like pumpkin pie this is the beer for you.
- Sasquash – Big Time Brewery: This was another one of my favorites from last year. The Sasquatch is a blend of Hobgoblin spiced pumpkin ale with stout to give it some depth, complexity and body.
Pumpkin Beers to look forward to
At 3pm the beer lines stretched across the parking lot and the line to get in was around the block. Ed was still in the line to get in so we decided to leave and come back on Sunday. Sundays tend to be not as crowded as Saturdays and there are some tasty brews that should be on tap Sunday. Here are some of the beers that we hope to try Sunday:
- Burn the Witch – Honey Ginger Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing
- Ghouleschip – Allagash
- Ich Bin in Pumpkiner – Sour Wheat – Nodding Head
- Kill Bill III – Organic Mashing Pumpkin Ale + Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout – Elliot Bay Brewing
- Roast Punk in BBomb – Fremont Brewing
- Rumpkin – Rum Barrel-Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale -Avery
NOTE: Accessibility issues
If you have mobility issues you will need Elysian staff to let you into the Pumpkin Brewfest via the parking lot instead of through the brewpub. Just let the staff know that you need assistance when you purchase admission. They will open up the barrier for you to let you in via the ramp. The porta-potties in the brewfest area are not ADA so staff will have to let you out via the barriers so you can utilize the accessible restrooms inside the brew pub. Elysian staff are easily recognizable in their orange jump suits. I also suggest that you plan to arrive at noon before the crowds commence.