10/9/19: Elysian Brewing Company's Punkuccino

5:13 PM

Surprise! This is a beer that I didn't originally plan to write about this Spooky Finger Puppet Ghost Month but, since I discovered a bottle kicking around in my cellar (a.k.a. a darkened corner of my garage), I figured "why not?"


Before jumping into the bottle, I'll note a few things:

  1. This is last year's Punkuccino. See, a local bottleshop had a plenty left over from last year and, in the early spring, they marked their remaining stock down to two bucks a bomber.
  2. This isn't the only Elysian pumpkin beer I'm discussing this year; the other'll be Night Owl.
  3. Elysian is, of course, a shill for AB InBev. I drink AB InBev beers, but I also recognize just how awful the company is. They're the worst.
  4. I've had this beer before. Many times, in fact (I bought more than a few $2 bombers). While it's not the worst pumpkin beer I've had (that honor goes to Saranac's Pumpkin Ale) nor is it the worst Elysian pumpkin beer I've had (that'd be Dark Knife, also marked down to $2/bomber earlier this year), I can't say I particularly enjoy it. In this post, I'll tell you why that is.
Elysian's "About" page can be found here. Established in 1996, the Seattle, WA brewery quickly partnered with Sega, Universal Studios, and Dreamworks to operate a brewery in the Gameworks venture. After that contract expired in 2002 Elysian opened a few new places, including a 35,000 square foot production facility circa 2011. They sold out to InBev in 2016, which is why they suddenly appeared on shelves nation-wide around that time.

Punkuccino (you can navigate to the beer's official description using the brewery's "Beer" page) is a 6% ABV coffee pumpkin ale. Brewed with coffee toddy from Stumptown, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, Elysian states the brew has "...the attitude of a world-weary barista." That's not really a great phrase to use when selling me a beer. $2/22 oz bottle is a much better way of going about it.

Okay, now that we're through the preamble, let's get into the beer itself. The front of the nose is buttery cinnamon--which isn't what I want headlining a coffee pumpkin ale. It actually overpowers all other aromas I might have gotten--there's no coffee, there's no spice, and, most importantly, there's no pumpkin here. Instead, I only find a sickly sweet bouquet. Purrl, for perhaps the first time ever, seems to enjoy an ale's aroma more than me. She gave it six whiffs, which is far more than what I would've had to offer were I her.


Sure, there's more to Punkuccion's flavor than there is to its nose. I get some coffee in the finish, for example. Those pumpkin spices are sharp on my tongue. But, again, I don't find any pumpkin. Furthermore, that cinnamon is all-present here, a strong backing to everything the beer might've had to showcase. It doesn't necessarily drown out those other flavor notes the way it does the ale's supposed aromas, but it is an ugly, looming shadow.

This is a bit bigger than I want an ale to be. Creamier. It's a has a little more bite than a milk stout, but it's far closer to that than it is a standard ale.

I was born in October and it's looking like this'll be the second year in a row that it's below 80° on my birthday. This is an exciting prospect, as I usually like to enjoy a pumpkiny beverage on that day. Man, for a long stretch it would be pushing 90° each and every time my birthday rolled around. Do you know how unpleasant it is do drink a big pumpkin ale (or, in my case, a porter or stout) when it's 90°? You do? Good. Then you know what drinking Punkuccino is like.

Look, I really don't like this beer. Owned by InBev or not, I know Elysian is capable of greater things than this. If you love cinnamon, maybe you'll like this beer more than I do. But, personally, I wouldn't ask you to risk it. Unless you can find a bomber for two bucks. I know this is a year old, but I've had this stuff fresh and it tastes identical to my current bottle. Punkuccino gets a 3.5/10 from me. Keep away from it unless you have damn good reason not to do so. I mean, seriously, it's a chore to finish this bomber. Beer shouldn't be like that.

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