Elysian Fields, Seattle, Pt. I

In Seattle for the Hard Liver Fest at Brouwer’s Cafe, Maggie and I met up with an old friend of mine and, after a cocktail in the outstanding Polar Bar at the Arctic Club Hotel, went for dinner at Elysian Fields, one of three locations of the Elysian Brewing Company. The experience provided two important lessons for present and prospective brewpub owners.

Lesson Number One concerns the special ale presented on cask in honour of the nascent Seattle Sounders Major League Soccer team, who were that night marking their home debut against the New York Red Bulls – a 3-0 victory for the newcomers, by the way. Said beer is called Golden Boot and, appropriately, it is a golden ale. And the key to the lesson is the kind of golden ale it is.

All too often, I find, populist ales at brewpubs reside in one of two categories: lame and lifeless or non-existent. The reasoning presented for those in the former class is “It’s for the Bud-Miller-Coors drinkers and that’s all they’ll drink, while the excuse for the latter is all-too-often “This is a brewpub; drink our beer or go elsewhere.”

Golden Boot Ale craftily skirts both categories by being an interesting yet approachable ale, full-flavoured but not overwhelming, of moderate strength, and possessed of hop complexity without straying into hop bomb territory. In short, it’s a very good beer, and one which should please both the average non-craft drinker and all but the most snobbish beer geek. In short, flavourful, friendly and fun, which is exactly what the vast majority of beer drinkers want in their glass.

Check back for Part II tomorrow.

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