Elysian “The Great Pumpkin” Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2012)

Elysian “The Great Pumpkin” Imperial Pumpkin Ale is 8.0% ABV.

I poured some of this 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: A careful pour gave very little head, but a thin ring of off-white foam around the edges of the glass. As I move the beer in the glass, some thin foam laces around the sides of the glass. The color is a clear but just slightly hazy darker… jello orange. This appears to have medium carbonation.

Smell: At the front I get vegetal pumpkin, some wheaty malt, and some earthy and woody spicing. The pumpkin is fairly strong, and is balanced well with the spices. The spice profile seems to have cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, though the wood-like aspects of the smell make it a little difficult for me to discern the spices so well. The malt in this seems like it would impart some decent sweetness, though this doesn’t smell so sweet. It also smells like it will be strong, and has a slight booziness to it. Overall I’d say this smells of bright pumpkin, and has nice earthy and woody spices.

Taste: This starts with clear and fairly strong pumpkin, and unsurprisingly, has some strong earthy and woody notes. The pumpkin is on the vegetal side, but is smoother due to the spicing and wood. I know Elysian says they use pumpkin seeds in this; so perhaps that is where this enjoyable and smooth woodiness is coming from. As far as the spices go, they seem to involve cinnamon and ginger, and there my palate sort of runs out. What is strong in this is that sort of woodiness that feels a bit like roots. The malt in it gives it a nice subtle sweetness that is comparable to those you might get from a starchy vegetable. This also has a fairly noticeable booziness. As this finishes, it embraces more of the spices and roots to leave a slightly bitter and earthy aftertaste. This has some definite subtleties to it, but is troubled by some booziness.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with medium carbonation. The feel is decently complex with some bright pumpkin, wood notes, and earthy spices. It is fairly smooth, but does have that noticeable booziness that detracts (especially near the end).

Drinkability: This has some smoothness to it that comes from the well-balanced ingredients and the wood notes. That helps the drinkability. However the 8% ABV, which is quite noticeable, detracts from it. Were it not for this, this would do quite well here.

Overall: I really like the flavors and complexity of this. It has bright pumpkin, and some nice spicing and character to it. There are also some subtleties that come out as you drink it: especially, little earthy and starchy notes. I quite like the woodiness that (again) I’m guessing is from the addition of pumpkin seeds. What I don’t like about this one so much is the relatively overt booziness that lets the alcohol poke through a bit too much. Were it not for this, this beer would be among some of the very impressive ones near the top. This has such subtlety that gets overshadowed by the unpleasant alcohol. This is touted as the first imperial pumpkin ale in the world. What a good category to kick start! This is also the second Elysian pumpkin beer I’m tasting of 3 Elysian pumpkin beers that a guy from Washington state named Nicholas helped me get. Last night was Elysian’s “Night Owl”, which I am a big fan of. I’ll be trying the last tomorrow night: Elysian’s “Dark of the Moon” Pumpkin Stout! Check in for it!

Overall Rating: **3/4

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