Elysian Brewing’s Great Pumpkin Beer Fest has become a popular annual event that showcases Elysian’s love of pumpkin beers, as well as featuring examples of pumpkin beers from other breweries. In recent years it has been held at their Capitol Hill Brewpub, and it was evident this past year that the popularity of the event had outgrown the space limits of that location. Turn the page to 2011, and Elysian has built themselves a shiny new production brewery down in Georgetown and they’ve smartly made the decision to move the 2011 Great Pumpkin Beer Fest to the parking lot of this new facility.
Elysian Brewing’s seventh annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival will this year have a change of venue, moving from its venerable Capitol Hill location to the parking lot of its new production brewery on South Airport Way in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. The festival will be held for two days, October 8 (12-10pm) and 9 (12-6pm), and will feature over forty pumpkin beers from breweries across the country (and one this year from Norway!), including more than ten from Elysian’s pumpkin-mad brewers. The address of the new production facility is 5510 Airport Way South.
The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival (also known as the Granddaddy of ‘em All, since other breweries have taken inspiration from the Elysian fest), was first held in 2005 with six Elysian pumpkin beers and a handful of guest offerings from other local breweries. Its inspiration was the success of Night Owl, Elysian’s flagship pumpkin ale, which that year was joined by the world’s first Imperial pumpkin ale, The Great Pumpkin, as well as Dark o’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout and Hansel & Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner. These four beers have been the core of the lineup ever since, with pumpkin Hefeweizens, Saisons, Porters, Scottish Ale and others–even a brilliant orange pumpkin Malt Liquor, PK-47, to round out a lineup that has offered as many as 35 different pumpkin beers. The highlight of the festival is always the tapping of the Great Pumpkin itself, an enormous 200-pound (or so) pumpkin which has been scorched on the inside and filled with still-fermenting beer, sealed with wax and allowed to condition until tapping at four o’ clock on each day of the festival.
Pumpkin beers were first brewed in America during Colonial times with pumpkin used as an alternative to English-produced malt to provide a sugar source for fermentation. As with many traditional styles, pumpkin beer has been taken up with enthusiasm by craft brewers, especially on the East Coast.
This year’s GPBF will introduce new pumpkin beers from Elysian such as Coche de Medianoche, a Mexican-themed pumpkin ale with cumin, cinnamon, black pepper and chilies as well as roasted pumpkin seeds, and Ursa Orange, Elysian’s Berliner Weiss sour ale served with pumpkin syrup. Also featured will be pumpkin beers from some of America’s most interesting and revered brewers. For the second year Santa Rosa, California’s Russian River Sour Pumpkin will be served, along with Ghouleschip from Allagash Brewing in Portland Maine, spontaneously fermented on Halloween night, 2008, La Parcela from Jolly Pumpkin Ales of Dexter, Michigan, as well as many local offerings such as Punk Rauchen, a smoked pumpkin ale from Silver City Brewing in Silverdale, Washington. This year for the first time there will be an international representative as well, a pumpkin beer brewed by Norway’s Nøgne Øl brewery. The pumpkin beer craze evidently isn’t getting any smaller.