Elysian Night Owl
A guest blog post by Bill Fishburn. You can follow Bill on Twitter @rwfishbu1.
Editors Note: We are doing a fall/seasonal series on Pumpkin Ale, this one from Elysian Brewing. First post up on the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale is from Bill Fishburn.
It’s October and my research into pumpkin ales continues. This time around, as promised, I picked a local brewery to review. The great thing about Elysian is that Dick Cantwell, Head Brewer and President, loves to use unique ingredients in his beers. I caught only a part of his talk at the National Homebrewers Conference back in June, but you didn’t need to attend that event to know what I’m talking about. Check out any of Elysian’s 12 Beers of the Apocalypse Series, and you’ll get a sense of what I mean.
Night Owl is no exception to Dick’s bend for the unique. Unlike most pumpkin ales that contain the basic pie ingredients (pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.), Night Owl also uses raw and roasted pumpkin seeds. According to the brewery’s web page for Night Owl, it’s a sessionable 5.9% at a mere 18 IBU. I’ve seen it in Olympia in most places that carry Elysian’s non-seasonal beers, if you’re interested in trying this beer yourself.
On to the review based on the BJCP Scoresheet.
The most prominent aroma to assault my senses was one of significant fruitiness. There were definitely some strong orange-like notes, but also something strongly reminiscent of mango. The spices were subdued but present, and I detected primarily cinnamon and nutmeg with the barest hints of cloves. The ginger and allspice Elysian says they use was lost to me in the mélange of fruitiness. With the low hop rate, I was not surprised by the lack of hop aroma in the beer. (10/12)
Night Owl poured with a tight or finely-bubbled, thick, off-white head. The beer itself was a distinct dark orange color tending even to a bright copper. There was a slight haze on first pour, but that didn’t really detract from the aesthetic of the color. (2/3)
This beer was definitely sweet, and a pronounced malt sweetness preceded the cinnamon and pumpkin flavors. For as much fruitiness as was in the aroma, the sweet flavor seemed to be maltier than fruity. A slight spice bitterness followed the pumpkin, and the beer finished with a mild hop bitterness at the very end of the swallow. For as sweet as the beer begins, the finish was actually somewhat dry, making for a nice balance. (17/20)
The most pronounced sensation in the mouthfeel was silky creaminess. If you think about that sensation you get on your tongue from a high-quality chocolate with a lot of fat content, you’ll have an idea of just how silky Night Owl was. The fine carbonation was very enjoyable, and with the medium light body, created a super smooth mouthfeel for this beer. (5/5)
This beer provided a great aroma and mouthfeel. The hop bitterness at the end was just enough to be suprising considering the initial sweetness. The somewhat drier finish kept the beer from being cloying. The lightness in the mouthfeel gave me the impression I could drink a few without feeling like I was getting too full. (9/10)
On the BJCP scale, my scores add up to 43/50 making this an Excellent beer. While it was definitely pumpkin-y, it was not pumpkin pie-y. If you like malty ambers with low hop presence, this beer will appeal to you. It’s like an amber with attitude—a slice of all that.