Seattle seemingly has more beers than raindrops. And I hear you saying, “But Lee, there must be trillions of raindrops that fall on that city each year!” Well, guess what? That’s how many beers Seattleites drink in a single weekend. (EDITOR’S NOTE: This cannot be confirmed and is merely one very presumptuous writer’s aggressive guess-timate. ….But he’s probably right.)
Figures aside, one undisputable fact is that the citizens of the home of Amazon and Microsoft love a good craft beer. (God knows they need it, after doing all of that brain-crushing, nerdy tech work each day.) And since you’re reading this, and (presumably) also love a good craft beer, we asked Josh Waldman, Head Brewer of Seattle’s Elysian Brewing, to select eight essential bucket list beers from the city that you must drink.
He knows what he’s talking about, too: as the guy behind some of the brewery’s finest beers over the last five years, Waldman is most definitely plugged into the local scene. If you find yourself in Jet City anytime soon, make sure you try all of these brews. Or don’t -- and risk rain showers pouring from your tear ducts.
IPA, 5.5% ABV
Waldman says: “A killer citrus IPA! Beautiful grapefruit zest across the nose with a smooth and balanced mouthfeel.”
Fun fact: This beer won a bronze medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival for gluten-free beer. Gluten-free doesn’t have to mean taste-free, people!
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Session Ale, 3.7% ABV
Waldman says: “One of the best traditional cask ales in town. It’s balanced, with a nice floral nose.”
Fun fact: You might not expect a pitch-black beer with roasty malts to also be sessionable, but Bill Arnott of Machine House has some serious skills. And how often do you see dark milds anywhere stateside? Talk about an underappreciated style!
Extra Special Bitter, 6.2% ABV
Waldman says: “It was [in the brewery’s] batch #1. It's still great, and it's one of my favorites! It's best on tap at the source in our Capitol Hill brewpub, but it’s also dynamite if you can find the elusive cask Wise.”
Fun fact: The goddess Athena is said to be “The Wise.” Elysian is also a term from Greek mythology -- just in case you didn’t catch that because you slept through every college class you had before noon. Not that I’d know anything about that...
IPA, 6.9% ABV
Waldman says: “It’s worth grabbing this 2016 GABF Gold Medal IPA, though locals know their Lucille IPA is every bit its equal. Might as well run the taps at the brewery and taste everything they have going.”
Fun fact: The American Style IPA category at GABF is hotly contested each year. As you can imagine, to come out on top in that style is a serious accomplishment. Congrats to Georgetown Brewing Co.!
Gose, 4.3% ABV
Waldman says: “Though most people would suggest the Crikey IPA without being wrong, I'd say go for the 2016 GABF Gold Medal-winning Gose. Balanced salinity and coriander nose with a refreshing tartness.”
Fun fact: Many popular American goses usually have a fruit flavor added into the mix in order to brighten the beer and contrast that previously mentioned salinity. Here, you get loads of coriander and lemon notes. You won’t miss the fruit one bit in this version from Reuben’s Brews.
American Pale Ale, 5.3% ABV
Waldman says: “Stoup's Mosaic Pale brings out all my favorite qualities of Mosaic hops (i.e. the pungent mango aromas that waver between fruit and pine) in this highly refreshing and drinkable ale. I have a standing order that if I see it on tap, I'm going to get one.”
Fun fact: Stoup is a British word that means “drinking vessel.” In America, the word means “I tried to type the word soup in my phone and it autocorrected to this weird British word.”
IPA, 7.1% ABV
Waldman says: “Go to the brewery (Reuben's, Lucky Envelope, and Stoup are all about a block away from each other…goodbye, Saturday!) for the ENIAC IPA. It’s another beautiful, Mosaic-forward IPA. Follow that with a Helles or a Grapefruit ENIAC. The best part of Seattle beers is that they pair well with other Seattle beers!”
Fun fact: The hops in this beer include Mosaic, Cascade, Centennial, Magnum, and Hobgoblin. Okay, fine, Hobgoblin isn’t a real hop variety. But man, that was funny. Oh, and while we’re talking Seattle brewery crawls, you’d be “wise” to walk from Elysian’s pub to Cloudburst Brewing, where the brews spring from the mind of former Elysian brewmaster, Steve Luke.
Porter, 5.4% ABV
Waldman says: “A classic in the Seattle scene, this brew is rich, smooth, and chocolatey. Delightful, quaffable, and a very fine porter.”
Fun fact: Big Time’s brewpub first opened in 1988, and features a cask-conditioned “real ale” that’s hand pumped -- just like it’s done in merry ol’ England!
Note: Elysian Brewing is a member of The High End, owned by Anheuser-Busch.