With Thanksgiving on the approach, you better snatch up all the pumpkin brews you can find. Winter ales are out, and the stock is dwindling fast. We’ll tread on though, because despite industry pushing forward with Christmas lights before turkey day, we’ve seen far too many of these beers who’s pairings sound suspiciously like everyone’s favorite holiday bird and the accompanying accoutrements.  So stock up and hunker down.

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Name:  Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Washington, USA / Elysian Brewing Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Ale / 5.9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Night Owl brings a solid amount of pumpkin to the table, weighing in at 7.5 lbs per batch, and the usual core five spices are added during barrel conditioning. Roasted and raw pumpkin seeds are also added to the mash to give this something a little different.

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Packaging:  

I’m a big fan of owls, so it doesn’t come as a shock that I’m enamored with the regal image of the Great Horned Owl that graces the orange Elysian label.  It’s classy and very clean with a bright harvest moon in the background.  The only thing missing (aside from the color) is the pumpkin. – Tim

The seriousness of this ale is staring you in the face right from the beginning.  It’s a great rendering of the night owl that seems to be daring you to try this ale.  The only downfall would be that there is no telling that this is a pumpkin ale from afar.  It’s not until your up close that you realize what type of beer this is. – Rick

A daunting looking owl and a harvest moon are the only images we see on the label.  Our given description mentions pumpkin and spices per usual but this one also mentions pumpkin seeds with I’m hoping will yield a slightly more unusual flavor. – Brittney

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Color:  8

Dark brown hue with hints of copper and cloudy.  And by cloudy I mean opaque and by opaque I mean I can’t see my hand behind the glass. – Brittney

This brew isn’t letting any light through. Murky and rust colored, it has a texture edging on boggy, complete with ominous bubbling, rather than a head. – Mike

Night owl pours a deep, dense, burnt umber like rich pumpkin pie captured in the glass with a single-finger head and average lacing. – Tim

M- 8.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 9.5

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Aroma:  6.5

Pie crust holds weight in this category, in that it smells like sweet buttery crust.  The sweet malts stand out as well as a hint of nutmeg. – Rick

A surprisingly iconoclastic nose, featuring almost zero spice, opting instead for a sour, “we’ve lit this jack o’lantern three nights in a row” pumpkin base. – Mike

Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Nutmeg all present themselves with some undefined fruity notes and nice balance of roasted pumpkin – Tim

The aroma is a little off putting at first to the point of an overwhelming bitterness to the nose.  It’s very slight and mostly vegetal and earthy.  I’m getting very little spice and just a touch more pumpkin out of this one.  – Brittney

M – 4.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 8

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Mouth feel:  7.5

There’s a good bit of prickle on an otherwise massive brew, despite the in check abv. – Mike

I’m not surprised that this one feels thick and creamy but the surprise is the medium body and high carbonation.  It has a lot going on just with how it feels in your mouth before you get to taste. – Brittney

M- 7 / T- 7 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5

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Tasting notes:  6

Yeasty with caramelized, bittersweet sugar notes, vegetal pumpkin flavors and overall broad ‘pumpkin pie’ characteristics.  Clove and Ginger surprisingly come through in the body even though they were seemingly not present in the bouquet.  On the whole this is an exceptionally complex beer offering a slightly different attribute with each subsequent sip. – Tim

Slightly sweet and malty at first, an earthy oak note develops before taking a turn for sour hops and clove laced pumpkin. Letting it warm a bit helps some nutmeg to emerge, and as crazy as it sounds, I feel like this offering must be intensely well insulated, because it seems to stay colder, longer, making it difficult to pick apart. – Mike

The subtle spices really lend to a great balance letting the pumpkin hold up well with the sweet malts and notes of brown sugar. – Rick

This is brown ale with a little something more.  It’s spiced with hints of pumpkin and maybe a pinch of caramel and it’s bitter, like – this makes the corners of your mouth turn down just a bit – bitter – Brittney

M- 6.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 7 / R- 9.5

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Finish:  7.5

As big as this sucker feels in the mouth, the finish is insanely smooth and clean, with only a paltry lingering of the milk sourness that is present throughout. – Mike

There is a bit of tartness on the end that bites a bit.  But, overall, it has a nice dry hop that accents it’s very smooth medium to full body. – Rick

M- 7.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8

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Flavor balance: 6.5

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

The scales are pretty even on this one; you’ve just got to wait for both to show themselves. – Brittney

It hangs together quite nicely in this respect, but I feel ultimately the foundation of the beer is a little overbearing to either element. – Mike

M- 5.5 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 8

 

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

Neither one seems to put up much of a fight, with the sour element pervading, but if you had to pick, the burnt caramel hop vibe inches this one out by a nose. – Mike

The balanced bitter sweetness in the ale is complimented by the slightly dry finish and since the sweetness come from the brown sugar notes and not necessary from the malts it makes for an interesting comparison to a malty vs. hoppy comparison. – Tim

This ale stands to be slightly cloying and might benefit from being a little hoppier. – Rick

M- 6.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 6

 

–         Multiple Drinkability?

The thick bitterness would probably keep me at one glass but this would be a very enjoyable beer when in the mood for that sort of drink. – Brittney

This is a pretty powerful little brew, even with its moderate 6% ABV.  I could probably drink more than one but, I feel like it would wear on me after a while. – Tim

It has great balance in all areas of the brew, and holds a nice kick while maintaining a nice smoothness. – Rick

M- 3.5 / T- 6 / B- 6.5 / R- 9

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Overall:  7.00

M- 6.50 / T- 7.00 / B- 6.83 / R- 8.50

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