It’s fall! I love the smell of pumpkin, I love carving pumpkins, I love fall. Fall is one of my favorite times of year, and pumpkin beer tastes like Thanksgiving. That’s one reason why the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival (GPBF) is something I look forward to every year! The 14th year of all things pumpkin beer did not disappoint!
For the second year, 100% of GPBF proceeds benefited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Fred Hutch performs cancer and disease research and their work is at the center of revolutionary discoveries and better lives. Elysian Brewing is thrilled to support the organization in its efforts to bring Seattle the best brews, local food trucks, live music and fun festivities at GPBF.
GPBF is a two-day event, and I attended the Saturday festivities. I am glad I did because it rained on Friday! This year’s festival was held at Seattle Center, and you can’t get any more iconic than having the Space Needle in the backdrop of all your photos!
The GPBF boasted over 80 pumpkin beers that were poured from brewers across the country, including classics from Elysian’s own pumpkin-crazed brewers. Elysian’s Night Owl is one of my favorite pumpkin beers of all time, but I always try to expand my pumpkin palate at GPBF. In speaking with Elysian head brewmaster, Josh Waldman, his favorite is Goblin Party, a Pumpkin Milkshake IPA (6.5% ABV). It’s brewed with vanilla, lactose, a touch of pumpkin spice, and a big dose of graham cracker crumbs sprinkled in the mash and whirlpool by goblins with Citra and Galaxy hops putting the cherry on top. As I am not an IPA person, I had to try Josh’s favorite and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. For an IPA, it was pretty smooth! I feel like I pimped Josh out a couple times, as I told the crewmember pouring the Goblin Party that “this is the favorite from the guy who actually makes it!” and then he got excited and wanted to ask Josh questions so I brought him over. Then I pimped Josh out again to my friend Kyle who was also attending. Sorry Josh, but we love what you brew and you need to hear it from the fans!
Josh’s second favorite is the Rye Barrel Aged Pumpkin Old Fashioned Ale (12.3% ABV). As described, it’s like pumpkin pie in a rocks glass, bittered with Chinook, Mandarin Bavaria, a squeeze of orange juice and a twist of zest to finish, with bitters, maple syrup and pumpkin stirred in and garnished with a cherry. This quickly became my favorite beer of the evening! It was so smooth and so much like Thanksgiving in a glass, I wanted more – but with the 12.3% ABV and me having to drive home, one was plenty, so I savored it.
I also fell in love with Elysian’s The Fix, an Imperial Stout (9.4% ABV). The Fix is dark, rich and roasty with Stumptown coffee and aged on cocoa nibs sourced by Theo Chocolate. Stouts and porters are beers I will almost always order from a bar menu, and I guarantee if I ever see this limited release on a menu somewhere, I will be ordering again. I loved it!
With food trucks galore to choose from to soak up some of the pumpkin beer, my friend Mishana and I went for the ultimate in comfort food from The Grilled Cheese Experience and ordered, what else? Grilled cheese sandwiches! I ordered The Classic, a blend of three local cheddars melted perfectly into Artisan bread and added some house smoked bacon. It was perfection.
This year’s giant pumpkin came from farmer Joel Holland’s winning Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off 1,649.5 pound pumpkin that was scooped, scorched, sealed, conditioned, and finally filled with Elysian’s Punkuccino and tapped in the evening for all attendees to enjoy.
As always, Elysian knows how to throw a party and how to make a good beer. Mishana and I danced the night away, made some new friends and we all go home safe and sound. Here’s to fall weather and all things pumpkin! Now fall can officially begin!
Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received two comped tickets for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.