16 November 2009

Seattle: Elysian Brewing Company

Elysian Brewing Company is one of those brewpubs that is sadly uncommon in most parts of the country: rather than the beer being a gimmick to accompany so-so bar food, at Elysian it's the reason to come. The food's quite good, too – very nice grilled corn cakes to start, and the house-made black bean burger was excellent – but it definitely takes a back seat to the beer.

I'd been to Elysian before on my previous trip to Seattle and made my way through most of their regular beers (indeed, Elysian bottles and sells their beers all around, and many of their stand-bys are also on tap at other local pubs), so decided to take a trip through the seasonals. I was served well by this decision, as there were three sour beers on tap (my current semi-obsession, beer-wise), reviewed below in order.

Haleakala Hibiscus Sour Ale: Mild sweet nose, full body, tart edges. Carbonation mild owing to wild yeast, finish a perfect blend of tart, sweet, sour, bitter. Hops there but only as balance. Very refreshing and easy-drinking, gets a bit more sour when warm. A real winner and it turned out to be the best of the bunch.

Sour Power Flemish-style Wood Aged Sour Ale: Very, very smooth. More sour in the nose than the taste, and not overly woody - definitely wood-aged but all the good and none of the bad elements of the process. Kind of wished it was a bit more sour, but still solid.

The Trip III Dark Sour Blend: Super-sour nose, low carbonation, porter-style dark body with a great smooth and sour taste and finish. So sayeth the note: "The 3rd beer in collaboration between Elysian and New Belgium, 70% Dark Lager brewed by Elysian and aged sour ale (Foudre 13-30%) brewed at New Belgium.

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