I picked up a batch of Elysian at the store, lured by a remaining bottle of Bifrost Winter Ale. Seattle's Elysian has been one of my favorite breweries since they brought a batch of Elysee Saison to the Oregon Brewers Fest a few years back. I assumed they specialized in Belgians, but it turns out that's actually just one of many interests (albeit an exceptional one): their 14 beers represent British, Belgian, and German traditions, plus a dose of good old American innovation.
A few facts: Co-founder Dick Cantwell brewed at three breweries before Elysian (including Pike and Big Time), so he knew his way around a lauter tun. Although the brewery does bottle some of their beer, it was founded as, and remains, centrally a brewpub. I've visited their Capitol Hill location, and it's got that pub Feng Shui so rarely attained (eg: some of the McPubs, the Lucky Lab). So tasty are its beers and so groovy its bricks and mortar that the GABF named Elysian Large Brewpub of the Year in 2003.
This is a beer that looks great on paper (see stats below), but doesn't sing like a few of the stellar Northwest IPAs out there. Things start out great: it is a rich, slightly hazy golden ale with a creamy white head. The nose is florally hoppy, almost perfumy (had I not been reading the webpage as I slurped, I might have guessed dry hopping).
On the palate, it's a nice, but unexceptional beer. It's balanced and pleasing, and not too rich to have a couple pints (I had the full 22-ounce bottle and it wasn't too heavy or alcoholic). However, in a world of BridgePorts, Terminal Gravities, and Walking Mans, Elysian's IPA is, sorry to say, merely mortal.
(I have a bottle of The Wise ESB in the fridge, and it is one of the most celebrated beers in America, so immortality is just around the corner.)
Hops: Bittering, Chinook, finishing Amarillo and Centennial
Malts: Pale, Munich, Crystal and Cara-hell
Alcohol By Volume: 6.3% by volume
Original Gravity: 15.5 degrees Plato/1.063 OG
Other: The brewery has a homebrew recipe of Immortal, and the brewer is also a beer writer.