Corks+Forks: Le Pichet’s Roasted Chicken and Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Outside of the pairing box with pumpkin beer and french down-home cuisine near the market.

Once upon a time, in the mystical era of the 1990’s, three gallant beverage mercenaries forged their way into uncharted territory – the world of craft beer. Each bringing their individual talents to the mighty force of the collective group – one exhibiting finance, one sales and marketing and the other, the brewer who sought to make the magic happen. In 1995, Elysian Brewing began.

Sprouting rapidly from its grassroots like a teenage boy, Elysian quickly became a multi-location, sud-supplying machine, yet one that still held strong to its craft, Northwest beginnings. The Capitol Hill location was and is still the main brewing spot, with a brewpub in Tangletown and several years later, opening Elysian Fields next to the stadiums in Seattle.

The brewpubs offer not only their own beers but rare German and Belgian rotating taps as well as taps of Elysian’s industry friends to support the craft movement and their special commemorative brews. This also includes the “collabeeration” efforts with New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Co. where Elysian is able to produce some of their large batch beers (in a much larger facility) such as the Immortal IPA and in return, New Belgium brews their “Trip” series of beer at the Capitol Hill brewery.

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale.

Beloved for their seasonal specials but known for their staples, Elysian offers beers mastered by their eight-man brewing team year-round, starting with the surgical precision of their first beer ever – the Wise ESB in 1996.

The brewery is also greatly appreciated for its humor – with ales like their Mens Room red which was originally brewed for The Mens Room Radio Show on 99.9 KISW and now donates proceeds to helping support the families of local veterans or their recent “Apocalypse Series” where they have released a new beer on the 21st of each month in 2012 to prepare for the Mayan calendar’s doomsday prediction. Elysian lightheartedly states to “remember, the end is beer.”

The fall and winter beers are the standouts of the seasonals for Elysian, including their Bitfrost Winter Pale Ale and the Great Pumpkin Ale (an imperial in its own right) that receives its own annual festival the week prior to Halloween. More often than not sessionable alone, Elsyian’s ales, particularly their pumpkin beers, shine alongside of a plate of edibles.

The Restaurant: Le Pichet — Former Boeing engineer turned chef Jim Drohman and hospitality industry vet Joanne Herron joined forces in 2000 to open Le Pichet outside of Pike Place Market, with their joint love of the neighborhood-toned French bistro. A few years later, they opened a sister restaurant, Cafe Presse, on Capitol Hill near the Seattle University campus, to showcase an even more casual French dining experience.

Savory success in Le Pichet’s Roasted Chicken.

The Dish: Roasted Chicken ($36) — “Poulet rôti à votre commande” in French, this dish is designed for two with a Washington natural whole chicken roasted to order, with root vegetables, hardy greens and a Parmesan-based broth. Orderers of the succulent, hedonistic dish are forewarned that, since the chicken is made-to-order, they should be waiting anywhere between 45 minutes and one hour to receive their simple yet elegant poultry. Expect crackling skin, juicy meat, savory surprises and utter joy.

The Variety: Pumpkin Ale — Full of rich spice and earth naturally, a pumpkin ale might not toot everyone’s horn but it is undeniable that the brew brings something distinct to the table. The beer is typically heightened in its ample flavors with baking spices like nutmeg or cinnamon, bringing in the similar tones of the pumpkin squash to the beer.

Why It Works: Pumpkin beers are more often than not in the “ale” category with more malty flavors and influence than hops, however, that doesn’t mean a pumpkin beer can’t have the bitter kick to balance the rich squash flavors either. At the core, you can generally find caramel and brown sugar malt flavors in a buttery pumpkin ale which fit quite nicely with crisped and browned skin of roasted poultry and the herbal and spicy roasting components.

The Recommended Match: Elysian Brewing Night Owl Pumpkin Ale ($5 draft) –– Brewed with three different hops, green and roasted pumpkin seeds are added as well as pumpkin in the mash (which is when the starches of the beer are turned into sugar so fermentation can commence), the boil and the fermenter. Single hopped for some bitterness, the spice, as the foundation of the beer, is built on the supplement of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.

The spice of the Night Owl is immediately noted, with its sharp and piquant presence that pulls more toward intensity than sweetness. Caramel malt tones with hazelnut, sweet potato squash, toffee and sweet yet refreshing spice in the finish.

A textbook, staunchly delicious bite and flavorsome nip for a windy, autumn night.

Le Pichet | 1933 1st Avenue, Seattle | (206) 256-1499