Elysian Brewing's Matt Thompson (bottom with pitcher) trying to keep up with the demand as the Elysian crew prepares to tap the Great Gourd!
Tucked underneath the Interstate 5 overpass, just beyond the municipal landing strip on Airport Way sits Elysian Brewing’s year old production facility. We visited this place earlier in the year during the Northwest Passage Tour of Washington and Oregon breweries and were impressed with what we saw. There we met Dick Cantwell, part-owner and head brewer at Elysian who told us to come back in October for something special. So here we were in the very same building, this time transformed into the biggest craft beer pumpkin patch in the Northwest!
For the eighth year in a row, Elysian Brewing celebrated the autumn season and threw a party for Seattle during the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival. The event ran three sessions over October 19th and 20th and featured 70+ pumpkin and pumpkin-inspired beers from all over the country. We attended the early Saturday session and found plenty of seasonal Elysian favorites on display including Nightowl Pumpkin Ale, The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Dark o' the Moon Pumpkin Stout, and Hansel and Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner. In fact, the hosts brewed up thirteen different pumpkin beers to share that ranged from barleywines, to rauchbiers, to sours. But if you think this was just a chance for Elysian to show off their pumpkin prowess alone fear not. Several Elysian collaboration beers were on display including Hopsquash, a pumpkin IPA developed with Jamie Floyd of Eugene's Ninkasi Brewing that is hopped with Sorachi Ace, a distinctive Japanese varietal. Other collabs included New Belgium’s Kick, a cranberry ale and Lost Abbey’s Avant Gourde, a pumpkin biere de garde spiced with cinnamon, mace, and clove.
The big event of course was the tapping of The Great Pumpkin, an event that was met with much fanfare as the giant gourd was escorted in by Dick Cantwell (orange coat), partner and head brewer, as well as a parade of characters.Several of Seattle’s favorite food trucks were also there to keep your hungry stomach full including: Skillet, Snout & Co., Where Ya At Matt?, and Mighty-O-Donuts. Fans of pumpkins, craft beer, and Elysian brewing dressed up in pre-Halloween regalia with all manner of orange wigs, spooky shoes, and even an appearance by a pumpkin-inspired Gene Simmons!
The big event of course was the tapping of The Great Pumpkin, an event that was met with much fanfare as the giant gourd was escorted in by Dick Cantwell and a parade of characters. Weighing in at about 200-pounds the pumpkin has been carved out and scorched on the inside, then filled with Great Pumpkin Ale, sealed with wax and allowed to condition until the tapping at each festival session. After tapping, fans clamored for some of the autumn nectar and once it ran dry, well, we all know what happens to pumpkins when they’re no longer ornamentally useful, they get smashed to holy hell!
With all of the costumes, pumpkins, and fall chill in the air we felt like we may as well skip the next week and go right to trick or treating on the 31st. Alas, the Seattle rains came finally but we were all satisfied with a great and festive day! More photos of the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival can be found on our Facebook page. Cheers!
Want to see all the photos from our visit? Check them out on Facebook.