Day One — The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival
You couldn’t ask for better weather for the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival (as originally reported here). If you like pumpkin beer, you couldn’t ask for better beer. Saturday October 18th at Elysian’s Capital Hill brewery and pub, a large crowd gathered to celebrate the gourd. When I arrived at 2:00, the pub was packed. Outside, beneath the big tent in the parking lot, the crowd was assembling. By 4:00 (Tapping of the Great Pumpkin), the crowd was massive both inside and out.
$10 got you one of three sampler trays. Each tray included seven different beer samples. The first tray featured a selection of Elysian’s own creations. The second offered samples from other local brewers (Schooner Exact, Pike, Big Time, etc). The third included beers from distant breweries like Midnight Sun Brewing (Anchorage, AK), Cambridge Brewing (Cambridge, Mass.), and Allagash Brewing (Portland, Maine).
At 4:00, it was time for the tapping of the great pumpkin. Elysian took the biggest pumpkin they could find (and carry), hollowed it out, scorched the interior, and then filled it with a specially-chosen pumpkin beer. The beer went through its final conditioning in the pumpkin. They used a drill to tap into the giant pumpkin’s base. Samples of the concoction poured until the pumpkin was empty. I’m not sure if there was enough to go around. By the time they tapped the gourd, the crowd was quite massive. I was lucky enough to get a sample. I was a bit worried at first; however, I was pleasantly surprised by the beer that was produced. When all you get is a 4 oz. sample, it’s hard to make a real firm judgment. I’ll just say that it tasted like you might expect a beer conditioned inside a pumpkin to taste. Not everyone can say they’ve sampled such an exotic libation, that’s for sure.
I cannot honestly say that I sampled all of the beers. I did sample enough to come up with some favorites: Elysian Hansel and Gretel Pumpkin Lager, Midnight Sun Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, and Pike Brewing Pumpkin Tandem (which I assumed to be a pumpkin-infused version of Pike Tandem).
Next Sunday (Oct. 26th) they do it all again at Elysian Fields. There will be no beer-filled pumpkin at next week’s event, but there will be a whole host of delicious pumpkin beers to delight your palate.
Above, that’s Dave Buhler and Dick Cantwell of Elysian Brewing – the masterminds behind all this pumpkin madness.