For years, there's really been only one pumpkin beer I've enjoyed. Ok, two, and they're both from the same brewery. That would be Southern Tier and the beers are Pumking and Warlock. Pumking, an imperial pumpkin ale, has just the right mix of pumpkin flavor and drinkability, and clocks in at a solid 8.6 abv which can easily sneak up on you before too long. Warlock, a pumpkin stout, is the darker side of Pumking. It's strong (10.0 abv) rich, roasty and hits the right notes of pumpkin flavor.
I think what it comes down to is how well balanced the pumpkin beer is. If it's too over the top, cloyingly sweet, artificial tasting pumpkin, I don't like it. These two are the most well balanced pumpkin beers I've had up to this point and it's why they're the only ones I keep going back to during the season. I do have a bottle of Avery's Pump[KY]n aging that I have high hopes for, but it's a super high abv (17.2!) bourbon barrel aged sipper that I'm saving for the right occasion.
So with that out of the way, it brings us to Elysian's Great Pumpkin Road Show. The event was held in a very cool new event space in Brooklyn, called the House of Yes. Great space for an event, with several different rooms, including one that is partially outdoors. The space was decorated for Halloween with a bunch of impressively carved gigantic pumpkins and various other Halloween stylings. There were also costumed people walking around on stilts and performing different entertaining tricks.
One of the highlights was the pumpkin bowling in the outdoor area. Pumpkin bowling is basically regular bowling except you replace the bowling ball with a pumpkin. Rolling a pumpkin towards a set of pins was, for some reason, very rewarding. Especially when you damn near get a strike, like my beautiful wife, Stacey, did!
The main attraction of the night was the impressive array of pumpkin brews Elysian brought in for the event. Several of these were very limited release, made specially for the Great Pumpkin Road Show. I'd heard a lot of good things about Elysian's pumpkin line up but with Elysian based out of Seattle, I hadn't seen much of them available here on the east coast, so I was quite excited to get down to drinking.
I opted to start the night with their Dark of the Moon pumpkin stout and my wife had their standard bearer, the Great Pumpkin imperial pumpkin ale. The DotM was really good. Amazing pumpkin and cinnamon on the nose and a deliciously balanced flavor going down. I really enjoyed the beer and have to put it right up next to Warlock in the pumpkin stout category. My wife's Great Pumpkin was also very good. She definitely enjoyed it and I did too. Well rounded pumpkin ale with the right amount of kick. At an 8.0 abv it was strong enough to get my wife through the evening. For my second beer I went with the Punkaccino, a coffee pumpkin brew reminiscent of a pumpkin spice latte but way better, because it's beer. I really enjoyed this one as well. Great aroma, flavor and the right level of carbonation. Elysian really nailed the combination here.
I wish I could've stayed all night to try more of the awesome Elysian beers but we had to get home to our baby girl and let the babysitter go home. Before we left I had a great conversation with Elysian's cellar master, Dan-o Beyer. Awesome guy, super knowledgeable and really fun to talk beer with.
All in it was a great night with some great beers that I'd definitely pick up if I see them, and I recommend you do the same!