Elysian Brewing (established in 1995) has become known for their pumpkin beers (they have four of them!) and The Great Pumpkin is their most popular offering. The Great Pumpkin was the silver medal winner in the fruit and vegetable category at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival. On top of that, it has the distinction of being the first Imperial Pumpkin Ale ever produced.
So, what makes it “imperial?” I’ll go into more detail on the term “imperial” and other beer terms in another post, but for the purposes of this review, imperial simply means “stronger.” At 8.1% ABV the term imperial is well deserved.
Elysian pumpkin beer lineup (left to right)
- Night Owl Pumpkin Ale – 6.7 ABV
- Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout – 6.5% ABV
- The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale – 8.1% ABV
- Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale – 5.0% ABV
Elysian The Great Pumpkin
Style: Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Malts: Pale, Munich, Cara-Hell, Cara-Vienne, Cara-Munich and Crisp 45° L Crystal malts
Additional ingredients: Pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice
Availability: Seasonal (August – November) 22 oz Bottles and Draft
MSRP: $8.99 – 22 oz bottle
Brewer: Elysian Brewing – Seattle, WA
Beers consumed for review: 1 – 22 oz bottle
Nose: The Great Pumpkin smells exactly like pumpkin pie. It even smells creamy! There are some notes of graham cracker in there as well. It’s eerie how much it smells like a pumpkin pie.
Appearance: As you can see in the photo above, The Great Pumpkin pours clear and bright orange. I say it’s clear, but there was a mild haze to it. The head is white on the pour, but dissolves rather quickly.
Flavor: It smells like pumpkin pie and it tastes like pumpkin pie. Notes of burnt caramel and clove give it a nice balance of sweet and spice. There are some malty bread notes in there as well. It’s a complex yet balanced beer. The mouthfeel is a bit thick and heavy, but not overwhelming. As one would expect from an 8.1% ABV beer, there is a boozy quality to the flavor profile.
Overall Thoughts: Fantastic! The Great Pumpkin is exactly what I want a pumpkin ale to taste like. It has big notes of pumpkin pie with some clove and a mild hop bitterness for balance. I like a beer that hits the palate hard with flavor, while maintaining complexity and balance; The Great Pumpkin does exactly that. All pumpkin ales should be modeled after this one.