Clash of the Titans

Elysian Brewery (photo courtesy of www.elysianbrewing.com)

Since their inception in 1996, Seattle, Washington’s Elysian Brewing Company has continuously put forth some noteworthy brews. Beginning at their Capitol Hill location, three founders Dave Buhler, Joe Bisacca, and Dick Cantwell grew from simply a small brewpub to a kegging and bottling force throughout the Northwest and beyond.

Today, with three Seattle locations including a Tangletown pub in Seattle’s Greenlake neighborhood and the spacious Elysian Fields brewpub adjacent to the Qwest Field and Safeco Field, Elysian is reaching the palates and sparking the interest of beer lovers from all around the world.  Their line-up of beers includes six year-round favorites and eight seasonals. So far Elysian has brewed more than 60 different beers. This appears to be growing exponentially of late, as the brewery tries their hand in more and more off-the-wall brews. In 2008, Elysian made national brewing news when they agreed to team up with New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado. This was not a merger, but an amicable and symbiotic relationship that has thus far inspired more innovation from both parties. A statement from New Belgium’s blog puts it best:

“Both of our brewing teams will use each other’s brewhouses while remaining independent enterprises. We’ll be brewing small-batch creative and experimental beers in Seattle like the Lips of Faith series while getting closer to our customers in the fertile Pacific Northwest brewing scene. Elysian in turn will brew larger batches in Fort Collins and be able to handle growing distribution needs as their beers become available in new U.S. markets, like New York, which opened July 1st of (2008).”


In this effort, the brewers have “collabeerated” to put out three distinctly adventuresome brews known as “The Trip.”

Continuing in this same pioneering spirit, Elysian once again has put its best foot forward in a collaborative effort. This time is was in conjunction with Green Flash Brewing of Vista, California. Brewpublic spoke with Elysian’s co-founder and sales guy Dave Buhler at a special event at the Horse Brass Pub showcasing four of their exclusive beers, including this consanguinity of  Northwest and SoCal brewers known as Red Queen Saison.

“Chuck Silva (Green Flash brewmaster) and I were sharing a taxi from an event in New York at the Blind Tiger with Dick Cantwell (Elysian brewmaster)” said Buhler.  “Chuck’s beer was just into the Seattle market and we thought it would be cool if we collaborated.”

Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva
Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva

Both Elysian and Green Flash are well known for their line-up of floral hop-laden IPAs, but the Red Queen is nonesuch a brew. A hazy light orange-copper bodied specimen with a soft wispy whitish head, the nose of this saison is bursting with peppery, appley notes this beer is definitely not a hop head’s go-to beer. The spiciness and ciderous presence is not only imparted by the Westmalle Trappist yeast, but also the utilization of two types od Washington apples, Pink Lady and Braeburn varietals. Further, pink peppercorns and rose hips were added together to unleash magnificent aroma fit for spring. The flavor and especially the mouthfeel was quite dissimilar to most saisons. Lacking the carbonic effervescence of many Belgian-style saisons, the Queen was a balance of sweet fruitiness and toasty breadiness. Not cloying as might be expected, and certainly not tingling the tongue as sharply either. The alcohol is light and barely detectable and rose hips give a flowery bitterness very discernible from hops bitterness.

Buhler, who was also Rogue’s first sales person says the Red Queen was “on the get ‘er done timeline with the beers we’ve got now” and added “We were trying to develop a session beer.” He says that some of the offering Elysian has at the Fields location serve to capture the interest of light beer drinkers and to educate them. “We made an East Kent Golding for the Founder’s Soccer Fan” he said. “We also made a beer called the Men’s Room Ale for a local (Seattle) radio station.” The beer was brewed fro the Men’s Room Show, a popular schlock jock show on KISW. The beer’s proceeds were donated to charity. “If a Pils could be an ale, it would be this beer” Buhler said. “We used an ale yeast with Czech Saaz hops.” The beer finished at about 4% ABV.

Elysian Brewing co-founder Dave Buhler at the Horse Brass Pub
Elysian Brewing co-founder Dave Buhler at the Horse Brass Pub

Other Elysian beers pouring at the Horse Brass included a chewy, malt-forward yet healthfully hopped Ambrosia Maibock, the floral seasonal hit, Avatar Jasmine IPA, and a boldy hopped Cascadian-style Prometheus India Pale Ale. Publican and Horse Brass founder Don Younger was on hand and a good time was had by all. We’ve yet to encounter a bad beer from Elysian. Thanks again, Horse Brass and Elysian! Cheers!

Elysian Brewer's Night Beer List

Angelo with Horse Brass founder Don Younger


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