Four of the five beers sampled by the panel on April 13, 2017 are from Elysian Brewing in Seattle, WA. The fifth beer was supposed to be Split Shot, also from Elysian, but the distributer did not get it there in time for the Beer Panel. The final beer of the evening was chosen for review by yours truly.
If these reviews intrigue you or pique your interest, take a trip to Vendome Wine and Spirits in Fullerton and use my code, “VEN10C” or mention my name “CARL” to get a 10% discount off the price. Enough of the fine print; let’s get to what you all paid for, the low down on these beers. Oh, and please read responsibly!
The rating system:
0 – I wouldn’t offer this beer to my worst enemy.
1 – I wouldn’t pay for this beer, but it’s alright.
2 – Tasty, but easily forgettable.
3 – I’ve had better, I’ve had worse.
4 – I can see myself buying this beer and ordering seconds.
5 – Just hook up the beer straight to my veins.
Saison Elysee: 6.4% ABV Rating – 3
Saison Elysee is a Belgian style Farmhouse Ale brewed with cumin. It pours a clear golden orange with a light ivory colored head that fades immediately. The aroma is sweet with spicy/fruity notes. The flavor is sweet and earthy with strong spicy and estery overtones from the Belgian yeast. The sweetness is not overwhelming, but that signature Belgian flavor is the foremost impression. This fades to a lingering slight bitterness. The body and mouth feel is medium with a high-medium carbonation level.
Overall, I would describe Saison Elysee as a typical Belgian style ale – spicy sweet. I don’t know what cumin smells or tastes like (although I understand it has a very strong flavor and aroma), so I don’t know how it affects this beer. I rated this in the middle of the scale because it’s decent beer, but is just another Belgian ale to me (not bad, not great). Caveat: I don’t particularly care for Belgian style beers and rarely drink them; keep that in mind when considering my opinion.
Day Glow IPA: 7.4% ABV 62 IBU Rating – 4
This IPA pours a slightly hazy golden yellow with a white head that rapidly fades to a thin ring around the perimeter. The aroma is tangerine with a little grapefruit. The flavor is grapefruit and orange, with a hint of sweetness. The aftertaste is the same, with a very pleasant and lingering bitterness. The body and mouth feel is medium with a medium carbonation level.
Day Glow IPA is very good. It features the very popular Mosaic hop variety, and really pulls it off quite nicely, setting it apart from a lot of the other Mosaic IPAs out there. It’s not a bitterness bomb, but the hoppy flavors really explode in the mouth. Well done, Elysian!
Space Dust IPA: 8.2% ABV 73 IBU Rating – 4
This is a big American style IPA. Although Elysian doesn’t describe it as a Double IPA, the high alcohol content and big malty flavor immediately made me think DIPA. It pours clear golden yellow with a white head that fades rapidly. The aroma is slightly malty sweet with tropical fruit notes from the Citra hops. The flavor is bittersweet, like a DIPA, with notes of citrus and grapefruit. The aftertaste is also slightly sweet, from the malt backbone and the Citra dry hopping. The mouth feel and body is medium with a medium carbonation level.
Overall, Space Dust is a very good, but dangerous beer. The 73 IBU are well balanced so it’s not overly bitter. The high alcohol content (8.2%) is not detectable in the flavor, which makes it easy to drink (but be careful – you will get your money’s worth). This beer has all the markers of a Double IPA, but is not labeled as such.
Since I tasted them side-by-side, I offer a brief comparison between Day Glow and Space Dust. This was my first taste of Day Glow but I have had Space Dust on several previous occasions. Day Glow is lower in IBU, but the hoppy aromas and flavors stand out more than Space Dust. The malty character is far more developed in Space Dust. The citrus notes are much greater in Day Glow. Alcohol content is high in both IPAs, but is slightly higher in Space Dust (though not noticeable in the flavor or aroma of either beer). Both beers are the same price. I enjoyed Day Glow a little more due to the hoppy nature, but I highly recommend both.
Dragonstooth Stout: 8.1% ABV 56 IBU Rating – 3
This is an Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Dragonstooth pours black with a tan head that remained for a short time. The aroma is sweet chocolate, coffee, dark fruit. The flavor follows suit – bittersweet chocolate, dark fruit (black cherry, plum), fig, a little coffee and some grainy bitterness. The 56 IBU is well hidden as this is all about the malt. The body and mouth feel is low-heavy and smooth. The carbonation level is moderate.
Dragonstooth is a nice oatmeal stout, but doesn’t stand out from the field. I think it could use a little more roasted grain to bring out the coffee notes. The oatmeal produces a nice slickness and viscosity in the mouth.
Chernyy Medved: Valiant Brewing, Orange, CA. 13% ABV Rating – 5
This is a Russian Imperial Stout with cherries and vanilla (Note: Chernyy is the Russian term for black or dark). It pours midnight black with a cocoa head that fades to a 1/8” ring. The aroma is sweet cherry with a hint of chocolate. The flavor is cherry, bitter chocolate and roasty. The 13% alcohol is well hidden in the flavor, but warms the throat on the way down. The aftertaste is cherry that lingers forever. Chernyy Medved is heavy and thick (think 90 wt gear oil) – use a spatula to get it out of the bottle. Carbonation is low, commensurate with the style.
As Chernyy Medved warms, the chocolate flavor becomes more evident, but the cherry aftertaste lingers, along with a nice balancing bitterness. Even as it warms, the alcohol flavor remains hidden.
I really like Chernyy Medved. It’s a thick, chocolate-cherry dessert beer. Don’t go to this one after you mowed the lawn on a hot day, however. Instead, sip it on an afternoon or evening when you don’t have any other plans; you’ll enjoy the journey – after all, at 13% ABV, it will get you where you want to go.
If my description of Chernyy Medved appeals to you, then you better get it soon. Unfortunately, Valiant Brewing closed two weeks ago, so once the current supply of this beer is exhausted, it will not be available again.
Well, there you have it. Elysian Brewing offers a nice variety of very good beers. Day Glow and Space Dust are exceptionally good IPAs. Valiant Brewing, unfortunately, is no longer in business, but Chernyy Medved is certainly a jewel in their crown and I highly recommend it (Note: refer to my Vendome Beer Panel review of 02-16-2017 for my opinion of another highly recommended Valiant brew, Coconut Imperial Brown Ale). If you want to give any of these beers (or all of them) a try, go to Vendome in Fullerton to purchase. Be sure to use code “VEN10C” or mention my name “CARL” to get a 10% discount off the price of these beers.