Hansel and Gretel

It’s no secret that the folks over at Elysian Brewing are just as crazy about pumpkin beer as we are. From their annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival (no relation, but we kind of wish there was), to their vast array of offerings that fit solidly in the pumpkin category, there is probably gourd in their fermenters more often than not. This little buddy is one of their newest offerings in the retail bottled selection, and it’s targeted right at those folks who might like a little less “imperial” in their pumpkin. Bonus points for the matching of German fairy tales to German beer style.

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Name:  Hansel & Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner

Place of Origin / Brewer: Seattle, Washington / Elysian Brewing

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Pilsner / 4.5%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  This beer is brewed with organic pale, Weyermann Munich, and Cara-Hell malts, with pumpkin added in the mash, kettle and fermenter. It is spiced with peeled and pureed fresh ginger in the boil and bright tank, and hopped with lots of Czech Saaz hops.

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Packaging:

Elysian never slouches on their labels. A folksy looking, fairy tale book illustration at style featuring the latest in pumpkin home construction. Gingerbread is soooo 1812. Today’s modern cannibal witch is gazing from the balcony, having underestimated the appeal of a house made of pumpkin to the craft beer aficionado, dread in her eyes.  – Mike

In keeping with the whimsical tradition of past Elysian beers, this ale features a kind of twisted fairytale landscape of ancient trees and pumpkin house – replete with scary old witch beckoning inquisitive children and adventurous drinkers into her happy, horrible home…for dinner. – Tim

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Color:  5.5

Bubbles dance quickly to the top of this yellow-orange brew. After a quick dissipation there is little to no head with an antiqued looking white lacing. – Brittney

A nice classic golden pilsner color, but infused with an additional cloudiness and obvious amber coloration from pumpkins. A simple and light frothy head settles nicely on top. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 6 / B- 5 / R- 5.5

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Aroma:  6

There is almost a saison quality to the bouquet. It just has that extra dusting of pumpkin which is noticeable under a heavy dose of ginger that allows the hops to barely peek through. – Rick

The bouquet is like someone threw a fresh peeled knob of ginger into crisp hoppy ale–blending that candied quality (think ginger biscotti) with fresh forest pine notes. – Tim

M- 5.5 / T- 7 / B- 6 / R- 5

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Mouth feel:  6

When you combine a mouth feel of very active carbonation with the crispness of the fresh ginger this beer really, really snaps in your mouth. – Brittney

A touch fuller than the average pils, most likely from the pumpkin addition. It smooths out what could otherwise be a very prickly glassful. – Mike

M- 6 / T- 6.5 / B- 5 / R- 6

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Tasting notes:  7

The ginger mingles with the hop profile exceedingly well. It’s interesting that the ginger doesn’t have that usual zest you would associate with your sushi boat, but more of a bittering floral quality. It makes for one very dry lager. – Mike

Lets be realistic here, the only spice in this beer is ginger, and with that in mind, the profile is about 90% exactly what you would expect it to be.  It’s almost a digestif in that manner. As the fragrant root permeates all of my senses there is a little biscuit malt and pumpkin peeking through and a bloom of piney Czech hops that close it out. – Tim

Ginger often has a soapy taste to me and right off the bat you get a ton of it. Along with the hops this could make a great palate cleanser or wrecker. I can’t really decide and I just got an insatiable urge for sushi.  Once you get past the ginger there is a bit of a piney note to a pretty solid pilsner. – Brittney

This is why I love Elysian. They take experimental risks that produce some amazing unexpected results. Very earthy, and funky hops nail the bittering and floral aspects of this pilsner and have a strong presence without becoming too parching like American IPAs tend to lean towards. Ginger is a great touch, and at first seems overwhelming, but as the backbone of this beer it is balanced very well to enhance the pumpkin. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 6 / R- 8

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Finish:  7

The ginger is strong and lingers, as do the hops. But for a final note, I have to say that the hops prevail and leave a strong floral essence. – Brittney.

Something of a one note beer, that just happens to display two notes – hoppy pine and spicy ginger root, with the bitter floral hops carrying the pilsner for a very long finish. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 6 / B- 6 / R- 9

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Flavor balance:  5.5

-         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4.5

Not so much balance here. The ginger totally dominates while the pumpkin rides shotgun, but it isn’t a bad thing and I actually think it is the highlight of this brew. – Rick

The pumpkin here doesn’t seem to be much of a flavoring component, so much as a contribution to color and body. It may take the biscuit notes and sweeten them a bit, but Saaz and ginger dominate this glass. – Mike

M- 3.5 / T- 3.5 / B- 4 / R- 6.5

-         Sweet / Dry balance: 6.5

Surprisingly, this beer seems pretty balanced here. The clean ginger aspect could seem to create an intense dryness, but everything else seems to combat that and help pull it back to center. – Brittney

A malty front end is elegantly capped by a dry clean back end. One of the more well balanced beers in this department and I believe it all rests on the combination and interplay of hops and ginger. – Rick

M- 4 / T- 5.5 / B- 7 / R- 9

-         Multiple Drinkability?  5.5

This is a tasty session worthy lager. It’s nice and light, but still a few shades from the gingerbread realm (likely because it’s solely ginger, sans baking spices). The only thing holding me back here is the suspicion that, as through the glass, the ginger would keep building with each serving through a sitting and, I for one, don’t enjoy sitting up at night bloated with burning ginger burps. – Mike

I’ve been wracking my brain for the best possible solution to when I would want to drink this beer again, or what I might pair it with to tame the residual heat and the best I can come up with is – if you routinely eat Chinese food on Thanksgiving or Christmas (A Christmas Story – Fa-rah-rah-rah-rah) then this might pair nicely.  Otherwise, a single glass from the 650ml bottle should be just enough as an after dinner drink. – Tim

M- 3.5 / T- 5 / B- 5.5 / R- 8

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Overall:  6.17

M- 5.83 / T- 6.17 / B- 5.58 / R- 6.92