To many, the Pacific Northwest is the Bordeaux region of American brewing. A good chunk of the microbrewery movement got its start in the top left corner of the country and most American hops are grown there. After a whirlwind weekend in Seattle, I’m pleased to report that the beer is as good as you’d expect, despite the city’s mawkish obsession with espresso-based coffee drinks.
The problem with spending such a short time in as interesting a place as the Emerald City is you’re quickly overwhelmed with things to do. the other issue is that, although home to a ton of breweries, the place is really spread out. Thus I was limited to the physical premises of Elysian Brewing Company and Pyramid Brewing, although I tried beer from many others over the course of the weekend.
Elysian takes up an avenue corner in the trendy/seedy Capital Hill district, a roomy glass-fronted box perched at the halfway point of a steep incline. The place might have been an old car dealership, or something. Judging from the beer names, the owners enjoy their Athenian history.
IPA is the beer to order at Elysian. “The Immortal” is excellent, with a tantalizing citrus bite that makes you wonder if, like salmon from Puget Sound, the hops weren’t harvested from that day. I mean, obviously they weren’t; there wouldn’t be time to brew and ferment the beer, but there’s a freshness to Elysian’s draft Immortal that I hadn’t encountered before.
The preciously-named Perseus Porter stands out as well. There’s a dry, bready quality to the finish that I vastly prefer to the more common cloying sweet aftertaste of porter. There’s caramel and mocha in the aroma, ahd a hint of that in the flavor, but they accentuate the dry, roasted character of the beer instead of dominating it. The Perseus is capped off by a back-of-tongue bitterness that brings the beer into balance; This is the product of a skillful brewer.
Most of the other beers rocked as well. Nancy was on the Hefeweizen like Persephone on a pomegranate. “The Wise” ESB held its own, as well. The Zephyrus Pilsner disappointed, though, with a noticeable diacetyl flavor and a surprising lack of bitterness in the finish, considering they got the bitter flavor so right in the IPA.
Anyway, an hour at Elysian, and we were off to 70,000-seat Qwest Field to slurp Red Hook ESB and join 3,999 fellow soccer junkies as the Seattle Sounders defeated the Charleston Battery. Then, off to the nearby Pyramid Brewing company- a place which will be discussed at length in tomorrow’s post.