Sunday, September 5, 2021

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale & Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Seldom do I combine multiple beers in one review, but there's a very good reason for this: other than both Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale and Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale having slightly different ABVs, they are essentially the same beer. Night Owl's ABV is 6.7%, while Great Pumpkin's is a measly 8.4%. Each of these pumpkin ales is pretty good, even an excellent sample of the seasonal style, but I'd expect an imperial anything to have a higher alcohol and/or hop content. Now this is the odd thing: on Elysian's website the notes for Great Pumpkin indicate that it has 0 hops! I don't know if you can even call it beer if there aren't any hops. If this is true, there is no detectable difference between Night Owl, at 18 IBUs (very mild hop bitterness) and Great Pumpkin at an alleged no IBUs. 

These pumpkin ales pour a distinctive hue - just like a pumpkin pie, with a scanty tan head. The spices are a perfect blend of cinnamon (which holds a prominent place in the spice pantheon), allspice, nutmeg and ginger. Both versions have a smooth consistency, and even the lower ABV version has a whiskey-like quality to it. Very smooth. I'd recommend either of these beers for anyone's Autumn beer drinking!


Friday, September 3, 2021

Elysian Puncuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale

The second of four, Puncuccino is a pumpkin ale with added coffee flavoring. I was a it suspicious of this one - I wasn't sure of the two favors would go together - I like some pumpkin creamer in my coffee, but I hadn't considered how they would complement the beer. I'm not sure what the base beer was, it poured a dark, almost black, brown, suggesting a stout or a porter, but the consistency wasn't as creamy as one would expect from a stout. Maybe the base is a dunkel. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at how the coffee and the pumpkin pie spice complemented the taste of the beer. The spices (allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger) are all pretty strong, but the coffee notes are quite subdued, yet you know that they're there. Kind of a fun ale to kick off the Autumn beer season. 

Elysian Dark O' The Moon Pumpkin Stout

One of the things that I love about the autumn season is pumpkin spice flavored...everything. And of course, there's the stouts and porters that go down so well during the cooler evenings. Tonight I picked up a 12-pack of Elysian pumpkin beers and tried out two of them. The first is Dark O' The Moon, a pumpkin stout. 

Before I even start commenting on the pumpkin-ness, I have to say that the flavoring aside, this is a really good stout. Thick and creamy, with a smooth layer of chocolatey goodness. Not too hoppy. When it comes to the spices, they're all there: nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and maybe a hint of vanilla and caramel. The spice and the underlying stoutness balance perfectly; the strong stout base needed (and received) strong spices to make it all come together. 

Highly recommended for fans of pumpkin stouts or porters. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Kinkaider "Prison Mike" Strawberry Rhubarb Sour

 After over a month alcohol-free due to a dietary restriction and with a few days of vacation left, I was more than ready for a nice craft beer from Jake's. And it's definitely the season for sours. I was befuddled by the name on the tap, but after Googling the image, I remember the episode of "The Office" where Michael Scott plays the part of "Prison Mike". 

Prison Mike is just what you want in a flavored sour. ABV is 5.9%, a nice kick, but not too much trouble. IBUs = 17, so not much in the hoppiness category. The tartness is is about a 6 on a scale of 10, you know it's a sour, but you're not puckering up! Strawberry rhubarb is one of my favorite dessert flavors, I love it in pie, and Noosa makes a great yogurt in that flavor. And it made a great addition to a solid sour on a hot afternoon. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Backswing Oatmeal Stout

Number Five in the Backswing series. This one is a beer that I often drink only in the colder months, but I needed one more to fill out a mixed six-pack, so here we are. 

There are a lot of different types of stouts: cream stout, milk stout, imperial Russian stout, hybrid styles, it's almost infinite! An oatmeal stout guessed it...oats as one of its grains. The result is a thicker, creamer brew. The misunderstanding among "dark beer" neophytes is that stouts are necessarily heavier, as well as higher in alcohol content. For the old school stouts such as Guinness, this isn't the case, although for sub-styles like Imperial Russian Stout this would be true. A Guinness has about the same consistency as any other mass-produced beer and the ABV is usually at 5% or less. 

Backswing's version of this style pours a deep chocolatey brown, with a three-finger beige head that slowly recedes to a thin lacing. As one would expect from a stout, there's a mélange of flavors that include milk chocolate, café au lait, brown sugar, molasses and vanilla. The ABV is 5.5%, so it's definitely sessionable. 25 IBUs give it a moderate hoppiness, but nothing distracting. Something that I did not expect was the mild smokiness. I'm of the opinion that you definitely can overdue the smokiness, and some rauchbiers are frankly undrinkable, but the smokiness level adds an air of mystery. Thumbs up. 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Backswing Brown

I'm glad to see that most of Backswing's beers don't have cutesy name and just called by their style, so this isn't something like Back Nine Brown, or Fuzzy Puppy Brown, but merely "brown". The term "brown ale" can be used for a variety of styles, but usually refers to an ale with moderate bitterness, and brewed with dark malts. Backswing Brown pours a chocolate brown hue with a huge tan head (tall, quickly dissipating heads seem to be a feature of Backswing beers). Brown ales tend to be looked down upon by beer snobs in favor of IAs, quads and more exotic and forgotten styles. But brown ales (despite the unassuming name) are often quite complex. Backswing Brown, is moderately hoppy, at 30 IBUs, but with the bitterness hiding in the background. At 6.5% ABV, it's on the outside edge of sessionable, but still low enough for more than one. Chocolate is the main flavor, with a little bit of almond and hazelnut for good measure. A decent brew for a cool, rainy, Spring night. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Backswing Backspin Apple Wheat Ale

We're on Day Three of the Backswing Brewery themed reviews. Today's brew is Backspin, an Apple Wheat ale. At 9.8 IBUs, it's almost as if it was brewed without any hops (it's also the first time I've seen IBUs expressed fractionally) - there's so much apple dominating the taste, I'd have guessed that it was a hard cider. If you're a fan of ciders, you might enjoy Backspin; me, I don't seek them out. It pours a clear medium golden hue, with a scanty white head. Other than the obvious apple, there are hints of pear, white grape and lemon, but you have to really concentrate to taste anything other than apple. Did I mention that apple predominates? Yes, I did.