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21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Baltic-style Porter (2014)

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21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Baltic-style Porter is 8.2% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz can into a porter glass.

Appearance: A slightly splashy pour gave up about a finger and a half of light brown and creamy foam, which had good retention and clung to the sides of the glass as it slowly dissipated. The color is a very dark brown/black, with very little light getting through. It looks to have moderate carbonation, with some bubbles rising along the sides of the glass.

Smell: This has a great roasty malt aroma, along with a mild spice bill and some mild vegetal pumpkin around the edges. The malt is dark with strong roast, some smokiness, as well as some coffee and cocoa. I get some spicing, with the likes of cinnamon and nutmeg, perhaps some clove too. The beer has a dark burnt sugar and molasses smell to it. Not much by way of a hop profile. Good aroma, strong roast.

Taste: This has strong roastiness to it, with dark, earthy, and bitter (but pleasant) malt. I get cocoa, some smoke, and dark molasses flavors. There is some very mild pumpkin that sets in a little later, but nothing remarkable.  This dark roast is set against some smooth sweetness of molasses, dark chocolate, and a blend of spices. The spices are hard to discern, given the strength of the roast, but I get something like nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. There is little by way of a hops profile in this, save for some balancing hops. This finishes to let the roastiness of the malt break past the smooth sweetness and hang out for a long while in the aftertaste. The roast is not going anywhere after the sip. Some dark roast and bark-like bitterness stay in the aftertaste for a good stretch.

Feel: This is medium bodied plus, though it is surprisingly thin in body, given the strength of flavor and intense roast. This has that real punchy and attention grabbing roast, which persists throughout, and gives a texture to this beer. There is a little creaminess, but it otherwise doesn’t have more complexity to its feel. A slight alcohol bite at the end. Pretty good here.

Drinkability: For a strong and roasty Baltic-style porter, this drinks pretty well. The relentless roast and the mild alcohol bite do detract some. This is not one to drink all night. Not quite a sipper, but something you won’t breeze through. It is not your smooth 4% fresh stout.

Overall: This is a really enjoyable Baltic-style porter. It has outrageous roast, which doesn’t go away. This is balanced fairly well by a strong and somewhat smooth malt backbone. But the roast is still a bit aggressive for me in this. Because of this, both the spices and (to some extent) the pumpkin get lost. After having about 8 sips, I don’t get much pumpkin at all. In fact, at this point I wouldn’t say it has any pumpkin. I still really enjoy the flavors, and the little pumpkin presence it does have. It is a really enjoyable drink. I am just not apt to point to this one as a top pumpkin porter.

Overall Rating: ***

photo 5 (1)About 21st Amendment, Elysian, and this beer: Last year I wrote about this beer, and this collaboration project, in my 2013 review. This is one of two beers that came out last year, both called “He Said”. They are sold as a 4-pack, and are a collaboration between 21st Amendment from San Francisco, California, and Elysian from Seattle, Washington. Last night I reviewed the other beer in this collaboration pack, a Belgian-style tripel.

This Baltic-style porter, just like last night’s Belgian-style tripel, is 8.2% ABV. It is brewed with pumpkin and some spicing of caraway seed and Vietnamese cinnamon. The ingredients in this beer, and the process for making it, get much more attention in my 2013 review.

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21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel (2014)

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21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel is 8.2% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz can into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: An easy pour produced just a finger of thinner but bright off-white foam, which slowly resolved itself into a thin layer of creamy foam atop the beer, along with some foamy lacing along the sides of the glass. This has a mostly very clear golden to light amber color. Really bright color, with lots of light coming through. There is just a little haze amidst the many carbonation bubbles rising, suggesting moderate to heavy carbonation.

Smell: Here I get some nice Belgiany yeast, some candi sugar, and some milder vegetal pumpkin. This certainly smells on the sweet side, and has a nice blend of spice to it. The spices are sort of earthy, but more herbal and somewhat medicinal (in a good way). There is also a kind of fresh subdued sage-like minty thing going on, which is nice. Not the standard pumpkin pie spices at all. The malt is smooth and sweet, with some bread to it. Nice and very interesting aroma. Now for a sip.

Taste: This gives me a nice yeasty earthiness and an herbal profile of spice. The spice is sort of like a woody herb like, sage, which is set against sweet tripel flavors. There is also some anise. I get some candi sugar, and some sweet (but not overly heavy) and smooth flavors from the malt. There is a breadiness to this, laying down a nice base layer of malt. I do get some vegetal pumpkin in this, but it takes a little bit of a backseat to the herbs and the sweet candi sugar. The hops in this are really nicely balanced: great complex bitterness with some floral and citrus notes. This does have great flavors, with really interesting and enjoyable spice. This finishes with the sweet tripel flavors giving way to more of the restrained bitterness from the hops, yeast, and woody and earthy spice. There is a noticeable but not overwhelming alcohol bite towards the end, which is noticeable a still into the earthy and herbal aftertaste. Not a standard pumpkin ale at all. A great Belgian-style offering, with a really unique spice profile.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with moderate plus carbonation. The feel is really nice. You get smooth malt with that belgian sugar kind of pop. This is then set against some herbal spice and some earthy yeast to add a richness and more of a roundness. I love saisons and, more generally, Belgian-style offerings. So I say great here.

Drinkability: This drinks really well for a beer of 8+%. The smoothness and round complexity of the feel helps. The only real detractor, save from mote bitterness lingering more on the palate than I’d like, is the mild alcohol bite. So pretty good here.

Overall: This is a very tasty offering. For those folks that want to try Belgian pumpkins, I’d say this is ertainly worth a try. The real downside to this is its lack of prominent pumpkin in the flavors. The spices are just so well done, and balanced with the hops so well. It is interesting, earthy, and has lots of good qualities. The more I drink this the more I’m apt to mention anise a bit more. As a pumpkin offering, it is something I’ll probably revisit in the future, but not top tier for me. As a tripel, I’d gladly have this over a lot of other Belgian-style offerings.

Overall Rating: ***

DSC03808About 21st Amendment, Elysian, and this beer: I’ve previously written about this beer, and this collaboration project, in my 2013 review. This beer first came out last year, and is one of two beers in a collaboration 4-pack between 21st Amendment out of San Francisco, California, and Elysian out of Seattle, Washington.

This Belgian-style tripel incorporates pumpkin and interesting spicing of tarragon and galangal, and again, gets much more detail in my 2013 review. I still really enjoy it, thus my drinking it again this year. Cheers.

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Almanac Dark Pumpkin Sour (2014)

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Almanac Dark Pumpkin Sour is 7% ABV.

I poured all of a 375 ml bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: I got about between a quarter and a half inch of light brown and creamy foam atop the beer, which had good retention and stuck well to the sides of the glass. As I hold this to bright light, the color is a murky and very dark reddish brown, with some sediment towards the bottom and a little light coming through. This looks to have mild carbonation.

Smell: I get some great round sour notes, some nice oak, some sweet molasses and definite dark malt, as well as some bright vegetal squash. I get a little mild nutty spice, but not much by way of a hop profile. This smells round, complex, like a nicely blended sour. Great dark malt.

Taste: This has a complexity in flavor from a lot going on, all contributing to a pleasant sourness with lots of additions from dark malt, oak, and what seems like other adjuncts. I get good strong sour notes, which are smooth and round and rich, with nothing biting or sharp. These are complemented by the dark malt adding a mild pleasant dark sugar sweetness. This is sour and earthy. I maybe get some vegetal squash, but there is not a whole lot of pumpkin or spice that is easy to pick out among the bold sour tones in this. Maybe some nutmeg. This does have great wood tones, but nothing peaking my interest by way of a hop profile. This finishes with some of the bold sour tones fading a bit to reveal some earth and bark, which linger in the aftertaste along with some hints of sourness.

Feel: This is medium bodied plus, with moderate carbonation. It has a bite to it, as one might expect from a sour. For a sour, it has a nice roundness, and nothing that makes my lips pucker. The mild sweet dark malt works nicely with the sour tones, as does the mild spice, oak, and earth. So good complexity in feel.

Drinkability: This drinks nicely for a sour. As mentioned, the dark malt really helps along the sour tones and makes the sips a bit rounder. It is certainly a sipper, and something that demands attention. So, for the style, pretty good here.

Overall: I think this is a nice, round, and enjoyably complex offering. It doesn’t showcase much pumpkin. In fact, the more I drink it the harder it is for me to pull out pumpkin. It has a lot of good things going for it. I like how the dark malt and wood work with the sour tones. This makes for a pleasant drinking experience. The earth and bark in the aftertaste invite another sip, which bursts with nice flavor. So all of that is really good. I’d definitely try this one if you are a sour fan and like pumpkin offerings. Even so, again, this doesn’t showcase the pumpkin so well. So not a big winner for me. This is the first year Almanac put this beer out, and it sits alongside another pumpkin barleywine I already reviewed. For my money, I’d go for the barleywine over this. That has much more pumpkin flavor, and has a richness that this doesn’t. It is also the style that I prefer a bit more.

Overall Rating: **3/4

DSC03801About Almanac and their offering: Almanac started in 201o, with an emphasis on Northern California agriculture in their beers. I reviewed their Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine last night, but wrote more about them in my 2013 review of Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine.

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Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (2014)

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Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine is 12% ABV.

I poured some of a 375 ml bottle into a round wine glass.

Appearance: My pour gave less than a finger of thick off-white head, which had good retention. There was some settling of the head into a thick cloud atop the beer, and leaving definite frothy lacing along the sides of the glass. The color is a very bright red/orange, with a lot of haziness. It is a bit murky, with definite sediment to it. It looks like it has mild carbonation. Great color.

Smell: The aroma is not as strong as I was expecting, and gave off some nice pumpkin with both roasty and vegetal dimensions. I also get a warmth, as from oak, as well as some pleasant bright notes, as from hops of vegetal squash. This also has a fairly mild spice profile to it, with spices not coming across so clearly. I get some dark fruit like plum and date, adding to a complex sweetness like from a heavy malt offering. I get some mild rum as well. This smells like it has a real smoothness to it, with some good round sour notes.

Taste: This has a very complex and enjoyable flavor from the first sip. I get some pleasant and round sour notes, as well as strong pumpkin with that fleshy vegetal quality to it. This is not as sweet as I was expecting, and has great balance for all the richness and maltiness. The malt is very smooth, very little bread or toast. You get some spicing in this, as from some nutmeg and maybe cinnamon, but it is blended in very well. I also get something a bit peppery- like coriander and black pepper. This has vanilla as from wood aging, and some mild liquor notes to it, like from very smooth bourbon. As for hops, I get some bright hops, but they get lost in the sour notes, which are pretty strong for a barleywine. This finishes with that peppery spice setting in a bit more among some round sour tones. The wood and sour vegetal pumpkin linger a long time in the aftertaste. This is a very complex beer, with really great pumpkin and great wood and sour notes. Not a typical barelywine, and much more sour than I remember from last year.

Feel: This is medium bodied to heavy bodied, with mild carbonation. The feel has a lot of roundness to it, but the prominent and lingering sour tones, though adding complexity, detract a bit for feel.

Drinkability: This is a very strong beer, again with strong sour notes. So it is certainly a sipper. The sour notes linger more in a barleywine than I’d expect. But they aren’t so sharp. Nothing so great here by way of drinkability.

Overall: This offering is really complex. It has great roundness, wood, pleasant sour tones, good pumpkin, and some mild liquor around the edges. It is much more sour than last year, which is interesting. It also doesn’t have the sweetness I usually associate with barleywines. It is an enjoyable drink, and something I’d probably grab a bottle of again, but not what I was expecting. it is 11 bucks for this, which is not cheap. I’d say last years was definitely worth that. This years is either a ‘not quite’ or a ‘borderline’ worth it. Upon closer inspection, this bottle doesn’t say ‘Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine’ as last years did. It just says ‘Heirloom Pumpkin’. It does mention that caramelized pumpkins were added to an American-style Barleywine, which was then aged in barrels. Another difference in this year is that it was aged in rye barrels and brandy barrels, whereas last year was just in brandy barrels. I wonder what is up with the sour notes, which are admittedly not bad. Still, even given how smooth and complex this beer is, I’d rather have what it turned into last year. Almanac also makes a Dark Pumpkin Sour, which I’ll be reviewing tomorrow. Given their having a sour pumpkin offering added in this year, I think it would have been better if this were a more typical barleywine. I wonder if there was an unexpected change during barrel-aging. Really great complexity, though the pumpkin gets lost a bit after a few sips.

Overall Rating: ****

photo 4 (1)About Almanac and their offering: The Almanac Beer Company was founded in 2010, and puts emphasis on Northern California agriculture in their beers. I wrote about them, and a bit about last years version of this beer in my review of their 2013 Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine.

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Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (2013)

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Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine is 12.0% ABV.

I poured some of a 375 ml bottle into a stout glass.

Appearance: A steady pour produced not much by way of head, aside from some froth around the sides of the glass. This is a very hazy burnt orange/red, with noticeable sediment. It looks to have mild carbonation.

Smell: At the front, I get strong sticky liquor, like from rum, as well as roasted pumpkin, strong spice, and some dark fruit. The brandy smell to this is very pleasant, and doesn’t overwhelm the other aromas. I get good roasted pumpkin, and some sweet dark fruit of date and fig. This also has a little bitter citrus as from orange peel. The spicing is hard to pinpoint, in part because of how complex the aroma of this beer is. But I think I get some cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Overall great aroma.

Taste: This has strong but round brandy and oak, as well as some strong, smooth, and somewhat bright roasted pumpkin. It is certainly very malty, and has a lot of great sweetness. There is some fruit like dates, as well as some bitter orange peel. I also get some strong vanilla, and some well-dosed spicing. For spicing I am getting a lot of nice nuttiness, and I think there is some cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. This finishes with a bit more of the dark malty sweetness and smooth brandy, which continues into the aftertaste with a little lightly bitter spicing. This is an incredibly flavorful and round pumpkin offering.

Feel: This is medium to heavy bodied, with light carbonation. It is round from the oak and strong sweetness, but not sticky or cloying. The roasted pumpkin and spices bring a warmth, and nothing really drags. There is also a creaminess to the feel, which is lovely. Even more, though one can tell this is a strong beer, it doesn’t end up boozy. Great marks here.

Drinkability: This is a strong and full-flavored barleywine. Even so, it is very smooth and drinks well. Definitely a sipper, but not harsh or too punchy. Great for a night that is already at 25 degrees F. Good here.

Overall: This is a wonderfully flavorful and complex pumpkin ale. It reminds me quite a bit of Lakefront’s brandy-aged imperial pumpkin lager, which I also loved. Yet I think this Almanac offering has clearer and more pronounced pumpkin. Alamanac’s offering is round, and has wonderful complexity. I love the brandy, the great and strong roasted pumpkin, vanilla, dark fruit, and orange peel that I get in this. It feels more like a beer of 10 percent, though the aroma suggests more than that. Overall this is among the best pumpkin beers I’ve ever had. It is sweeter than I’d ideally want, but such is the nature of many barleywines. If you get the opportunity to try this, I think it is worth it. It is something of a must try. It goes for $11 for this 375ml bottle, which is of course a little steep. But it is so delicious, festive, and has very solid pumpkin. A special thanks to Julian from Craftshack.com for very generously sending this bottle for review. You can check their site or follow them @Craftshackbeer on Twitter. They have a lot of great beers and some rare beers to choose from!

Overall Rating: ****1/2

2013-11-24 22.11.11Almanac and their heirloom pumpkin barleywine: The Almanac Beer Company was founded in 2010 by Damian Fagan and Jesse Friedman. They have a special emphasis on brewing seasonal craft beer (that they term “artisinal ales”), by use of locally sourced and grown seasonal fruit. They note on their website that for each harvest, they team up with a different Northern California farm to source the fruit used for the next batch. They also have a “Farm to Barrel” line of beers, which consists of their barrel aged beers done in oak.

The heirloom pumpkin barleywine is part of Almanac’s “Farm to Barrel” series. To make this beer they roasted over 500 pounds of local heirloom pumpkins that they sourced from La Tercera Farms out of Bodega Bay. The pumpkins were then added to the barleywine base, and then aged in brandy barrels for a full year! After this process, the pumpkin barleywine was blended 50/50 with a freshly brewed ale that has some “pumpkin pie” spicing in it. I have to say, for all the work that goes into making this beer, it is worth it. Try this one if you are lucky enough to get a chance.

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21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Baltic-style Porter (2013)

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21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Baltic-style Porter is 8.2% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz  can into a stout glass.

Appearance: I poured this steadily, with a little vigor at the end. I got some espresso-crema head, which slowly dissipated to a ring around the sides of the glass. There was no lacing. The color on this is an impenetrable dark brown. I see bubbles suggestive of light carbonation.

Smell: I get a great roasty malt aroma to start, and some just solid earthy dark malt. There is a molasses sweetness, alongside some vegetal pumpkin. I also get some warm spicing of something like cinnamon and something else harder to discern, and some notes of dark fruit. This smells rich and robust.

Taste: This has powerful dark and roasty malt, some sweetness of molasses and chewy dark sugar, vegetal pumpkin, and a warm spice profile. For the spice profile I am getting cinnamon, and something sort of woody and rustic. The flavors are great, and artfully crafted. There are also some notes of dark fruits and earth. The pumpkin in this is on the vegetal side, stands up pretty well to the strong roast from the malt, though it isn’t incredibly strong. This finishes with the dark molasses sweetness coming in a bit stronger and fading into the roast. The aftertaste has quite a bit of roast on the palate.

Feel: This is medium to full bodied, though a bit lighter than I was expecting for body. The roast, spices, pumpkin, and sweetness are balanced pretty well such as to not overwhelm in any one direction. This is on the sweet side, but it is not sticky or cloying or anything. The warmth from the roast and some of the spicing makes the feel really enjoyable.

Drinkability: This is pretty good on this score. It is more full-bodied, which would make this hard to gulp. But it is so smooth, doesn’t feel like it is 8+%, and doesn’t assault you even though it has powerful flavors. For something this bold, good marks here.

Overall: This is a very tasty beer, with nice roasted malt, some earthiness, and a more subdued spice profile. It has some vegetal pumpkin that comes through clearer in parts. And the flavors are all nicely balanced. I could go for a bit more pumpkin, and maybe a bit less sugar. But in any case, this is a good craft beer. It is a lovely alternative to the army of “pumpkin pie” ales (many of which I love) that typically dominate the market. I will certainly get some of this when it hits here.

Overall Rating: ***

image421st, Elysian, and the other “He Said”: I’ve written about the other face of this two-beer collaboration, the “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel, as well as the story behind this big pumpkin beer project in my last post. That “He Said” was delicious, as this beer is. 21st Amendment, famous for their great beers and their off-the-beaten-path watermelon beer, “Hell of High Watermelon” has done some other serious collaborations in the past. I remember their lovely collaboration with Ninkasi, “Allies Win the War”, which was a strong ale brewed with dates. In any case, Shaun Sullivan, who is the brewmaster at 21st, is no stranger to good and interesting brewing ideas. I asked him about his collaboration work, and how he is able to take on such big projects that involve a lot of moving pieces outside of his brewery. His answer was simple. He loves to brew beer, and experiment with friends. The secret is just to return the emails.

“He Said” Baltic-style porter is brewed with 2-row, Carafa II, Carafa III, Cara-Vienne, and Dark Munich malts. As in the other face of this 2-beer collaboration, they use both pumpkin juice and pumpkin puree. They also add a bit of spice in the whirlpool to add to the complexity of flavor. Dick Cantwell, master brewer at Elysian, spoke about liking the ability to dry spice at the end. For this beer and that purpose they use Vietnamese cinnamon (which also goes in Elysian’s “Dark O’ The Moon” pumpkin stout) image (8)and caraway seed. Shaun and Dick spoke about having a hard time getting the light spices in the kettle, and agreeing on how much to add. Dick wanted to add 17 pounds of cinnamon into the whirlpool. For the milder hop presence that this beer has, they use German Northern Brewer and Syrian Golding hops. As I said about the other “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel, I suspect that these won’t be lingering at beer stores for long.

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21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel (2013)

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21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel is 8.2% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz  can into a Belgian-ale glass.

Appearance: The pour gave some nice frothy bright off-white head, which was gone in just a few minutes. This left no lacing, and nothing much else either. The color is a bright and very clear honey with just a touch of orange. It looks like it has light carbonation.

Smell: This has a nice funky and strong-with-yeast aroma. The funkiness has some sour notes, and some earthiness like from a farmhouse ale. This has some spicing to it, but is not so easy to pinpoint. I am not getting very much pumpkin, maybe just a little. Though if you didn’t tell me this had pumpkin in it, I wouldn’t have mentioned it from aroma alone. There is also some white pepper to this. Overall this smells like a yeasty tripel.

Taste: Right off the bat I get a nice yeastiness, and a complex and unique spicing to this one. The spicing is just wonderful, and really interesting. Pumpkin-pie spiced pumpkin ales step aside! This has some woody licorice-like herbaciousness and a sweet wildflower honey character to it. The yeast is still there, earthy and a little bit funky. The yeast is less pronounced than in the aroma, though. There is some vegetal pumpkin to this one, that is noticeable more towards the end. The flavors are way more complex than the aroma gives them credit for. This finishes to let the spice quality give way to more of the sweet and smooth honey, with a bit more coarse candi sugar thrown in. The aftertaste has some light bitter notes from the spice and earthiness that stay with you for quite a bit.

Feel: This is medium bodied, with moderate carbonation. It has great character and structure: some yeastiness, pepper, bold sweetness, astringent pumpkin, and unique spice. So the feel is dynamic. Moreover, despite the bold spice in this, it doesn’t drag on the palate. Good marks here.

Drinkability: This is a bold beer, with a lot of complexity. So naturally, it is not super sessionable or easy-drinking. Even so, the 8% doesn’t advertise itself. The spicing and sugar really helps that here. And nothing is over-done or detracting. So decent marks here.

Overall: This has really interesting flavors. I love the complexity, the use of spice, and the overall balance. It has nice sweetness, some pumpkin, and good earthiness. I love farmhouse ales and lots of Belgian-style beers. So this one is a great one for me. I do wish the pumpkin were more present. If this had a bit more front and center pumpkin, it would be even more wonderful alongside the deep flavors and unique spicing. So I say, anyway. In any case, I am certainly going to buy some more of this once it hits markets. It was a real pleasure to drink.

Overall Rating: ***1/2

image221st Amendment, Elysian, and this beer: I had the privilege of joining a webinar (21st calls these their “weBEERnars”) this past Tuesday to taste and get some information about how this beer came about. This is one of two beers that is part of a new pumpkin beer collaboration 4-pack between 21st amendment in San Francisco, California, and you guessed it, the mecca of pumpkin beers, Elysian Brewing in Seattle, Washington. Both of these pumpkin collaborations are called “He Said” (with the other being a Baltic-style porter). The collaboration project is named after the beginnings of a relationship between Dick Cantwell, master brewer of Elysian, and Shaun O’Sullivan, master brewer at 21st Amendment. Though the guys disagree about when they first met, and when the idea of doing a pumpkin beer first got aired seriously, they agree that there were some drunken conversations about the prospect of 21st joining the pumpkin beer movement more seriously with a collaboration. Dick says he has to work hard to get breweries to brew a pumpkin beer, and that they initially don’t like the idea. He even claimed that he wants to get every brewery to make a pumpkin beer. This is serious and good commitment to a great cause. Dick Cantwell is now something like the pumpkin king of professional brewers, brewing more pumpkin beers than any other brewery in the world. The original idea between Dick and Shaun was to do something that no one else had done before, some unusual styles that they could pair together: a darker and a lighter pumpkin ale in a mixed package.

I asked Dick what started all of this enthusiasm for pumpkin beers, and all the work that goes into his giant pumpkin beer festival that is now in its 9th year. He had a funny story. He said is was partly boredom, as he was looking for something that was funny to brew. He brewed a pumpkin beer that sold really quickly, and decided to brew an imperial pumpkin beer for the 1000th batch of beer at Elysian. This was apparently the first imperial pumpkin beer on the market. Apparently, when he was trying to recreate that beer on his smaller system, he missed the gravity. After realizing he then had 3 pumpkin beers, he thought that if he brewed 3 more, he could have a small festival. As he said, from there it just kind of snowballed.image (7)

This Belgian-style tripel is brewed with 2-row and Aromatic malt, with some Belgian Candi sugar thrown in. They use both pumpkin puree and pumpkin juice in the mash and boil, which is then made very interesting and tasty with spice additions of galangal and tarragon. I’ve never before had tarragon in a pumpkin beer before. I don’t think I would have thought to use that (or galangal, for that matter); but they work great! Shaun and Dick talked about using a huge 4 and 1/2 foot by 2 foot sack of these spices for the whirlpool. They showed us some blurry but still somewhat informative picture of this overgrown mutant tea bag that was captured from someone’s camera phone. The hop profile in this beer was intentionally restrained to let the pumpkin and spice shine through, and consists of German Norther Brewer, US Golding, and Sterling.

This beer is certainly one of the most interesting pumpkin beers I’ve had. It has great flavors, a respectable pumpkin presence, and is just an artfully crafted beer. Once these 4-packs have seriously hit market, I expect they’ll be gone pretty quickly. See my thoughts on the partner “He Said” Baltic-style Porter.

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