Reader’s Choice #2a: Elysian’s Night Owl

23 Oct

It’s been so long since my last Reader’s Choice post that everyone has probably long forgot about this series. The thing is, our readers were not in consensus on which pumpkin ale I should review. First there was a clear winner, but not that many votes; so I did another call for votes, and then there was a tie. A tie that as soon as it was broken would mend itself back into a tie again before I could make it to the bottle shop. As all this was happening, a close second came from behind to give me a three-way tie. A tie that I hoped would break while we were in Denver, but alas, all those readers that vote, have voted. So, apparently the consensus from the group is that you don’t quite see eye-to-eye in your choice of beers, and that as fall embraces us and Halloween fast approaches, you are interested in many of the pumpkin beer offerings from the craft beer industry. Fair enough.

The three way tie belongs to Elysian’s Night Owl, Rogue’s Chatoe Fresh Pumpkin, and Southern Tier’s Pumking. First up is the Night Owl from Elysian Brewing because I love the label (you could say I have a thing for owls…who doesn’t, right?). Next up will be the Pumking. And hopefully, the Chatoe Fresh Pumpkin will follow shortly after if I can get my hands on a bottle of it. Good god I hope so, I do live in Oregon, and near Belmont Station after all; but so far, 4 stores, and no dice. So far all of you pumpkin beer lovers, here we go…

Elysian’s Night Owl ABV 5.9% IBUs 18: A beautiful amber, golden-brown color, with just the slightest head. It smells delicious – like pumpkin pie. But I wasn’t looking for dessert. I was looking for beer, but we’ll see. There is also citrus hop on the nose. Orange. Funny, I had a fresh hop Elysian-New Belgium collaboration this afternoon that had a strong orange aroma and taste. Props to Elysian! It’s a good choice for these fall beers.

Back to the night owl. It’s light to medium bodied, a little lighter than I expected with all that pumpkin in it (their website says it was brewed with seven and a half pounds of pumpkin per barrel). There is an initial sweetness from the malt but it is followed with a big dose of spice that lingers for quite a while on the tongue. Because there is so much spice, it finishes somewhat bitter. There is a sharpness, not from the alcohol but from a combination of being slightly dry and the high dose of spices. I definitely notice the ginger, cinnamon and cloves. There is also some nutmeg and allspice in there. To be honest, I think there is a little too much spice for the rest of the beer since it is lighter bodied and doesn’t have much hop or malt flavor characteristics – just enough to make it balanced and drinkable.

I will say that I enjoyed the beer better as it warmed, but I wasn’t looking to pop another one open. I also think it might be better with food so I’m planning to save the rest of the six pack for Thanksgiving or maybe even a roast chicken dinner or smoked ham. I’ll report back on how the food pairings work…or don’t work.

What’s next? Let’s go with Italians. Who doesn’t love a good Italian, right?!


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