Elysian “Night Owl” Pumpkin Ale (2013)


Elysian “Night Owl” Pumpkin Ale is 5.9% ABV.

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

Appearance: A steady pour gave a little bit of thin and bubbly off-white foam, which was gone before it came. This left just a few bubbles on top of this beer. “Night Owl” has a beautiful deep reddish orange color. The bubbles rising from the bottom suggest moderate carbonation.

Smell: The aroma is quite inviting. It has some spice and sweetness up front. I get some definite brown sugar, caramel, and notes of toffee. There is some pumpkin pie spicing of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger that all smell so fresh. This also has some toastiness to it, like from graham cracker or some bready malt. Finally, I get some vanilla, and some roasty pumpkin fruit that just bursts. This smells warm and a clear member of the pumpkin pie style. Incredible aroma.

Taste: This has a great flavor of pumpkin with roasty and vegetal dimensions, nice fresh spicing, and some pleasant woodiness. The pumpkin is nice and clear throughout, as is the spicing of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (I think). This has some brown sugar sweetness, and some nice smooth malt with caramel and toffee notes. There is some slight astringency from the pumpkin that is balanced well with the other flavors and with the round woodiness. The finishes with a little of the bright astringency coming through more, which leads into a pleasant aftertaste with toasty malt and some mild bitter spice lingering. A great tasting and well-rounded pumpkin ale.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with light to moderate carbonation. This ale has a nice complex feel. The sweetness, spice, and wood are balanced well. It has depth to the feel with some brightness from the astringency, some roundness from the wood notes, some warmth from the spicing, and some smooth sugar. Nothing drags. Good marks here.

Drinkability: This is quite drinkable for something with a  lot of flavor and some notable spice. It is smooth and even refreshing, though a little bit of the slightly sour astringent notes do pop out some. Good marks here.

Overall: I really enjoy this beer. I remember that Elysian uses pumpkin seeds in this beer, which might contribute to the woodiness in this. The roasty and vegetal pumpkin and warm fresh tasting spices are just great. This is a seriously good beer for a less than 6% ABV offering. It has great complexity, a nice and interesting feel, and great pumpkin. It is one of the best non-imperial pumpkin ales I’ve had. I like it even more than when I reviewed it last year. I would recommend this above most of the 6%ish pumpkin ales on the market.

Overall Rating: ***3/4


About Elysian and “Night Owl”: Elysian Brewing is located in Seattle, Washington. I’ve written previously about them. See last night’s post, where I reviewed their “Hansel and Gretel” ginger pumpkin pilsner.

“Night Owl” is Elysian’s original pumpkin ale. They use 7.5 pounds of real pumpkin per barrel, adding pumpkin into the mash, the boil, and the fermenters.  The spicing consists of allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. An interesting addition of both roasted and raw pumpkin seeds comes in during the mash. I think some of the deep and interesting woody spice flavors come from this addition of pumpkin seeds. Elysian uses Pale, Munich, and Crystal malts, as well as a touch of Magnum hops take this beer to 18 IBU’s and 5.9% ABV. Night Owl is my favorite of Elysian’s four bottle-released pumpkin beers. The other three include “Hansel and Gretel” ginger pumpkin pilsner, “Dark O’ The Moon” pumpkin stout, and “The Great Pumpkin” imperial pumpkin ale. So many good pumpkin offerings come out of Elysian.


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