Capitol Hill’s Elysian Brewery is stepping up with a bigger party during the neighborhood’s annual Pride festivities this summer before taking a brewing break for a major overhaul of its E Pike beer making facility.
A June 23rd Pride Saturday beer garden will join the gardens around Pike/Pine include outside the Wildrose and The Cuff with a portion of proceeds benefitting Seattle Pride.
“We were so excited, we hugged and there were tears,” Elysian’s Beth Goldfinger said about the moment the sponsorship opportunity came together.
June will be a big month for the pub and brewery. On June 1st, Elysian will host a party celebrating its annual “Glitter is Pride Ale” release. Following the June events, Elysian’s E Pike brewery is getting a complete overhaul so the company can level-up production.
Elysian joined what is called the “craft” wing of Anheuser-Busch InBev when they were purchased by the beer giant in 2015. The move that galvanized their share of market in 13 national markets and expanded it to almost all 50 states but according to Elysian co-founder Joe Bisacca, the new ownership moved forward with select companies it could rely on for their expertise and to be autonomous. Last year saw an investment in upgrading the pub and restaurant experience at Elysian. In the meantime, Redhook, another AB InBev acquisition, has focused its production fully on its Capitol Hill home a few blocks away from the Elysian.
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The Elysian partnership with InBev is in line with a philosophical shift at AB. According to Bisacca, InBev bought AB in 2008, among other reasons, to pivot away from the old narrative against craft beer and after the forced departure of last remaining family operator August Busch. In succession from Goose Island, Blue Point, Long Island and Ten Barrel, Elysian has joined a family of small breweries headed by the global beer giant.
Bisacca says “the idea is if you hire someone to do the job of executing craft well, then you give them the tools and get out of the way. ”
Elysian is the sum of the people who work for it,” he said.
Elysian’s 2018 Pride presence is a product of that independence — as it is Pride Ale beer that Elysian brewers are hoping to perfect this year. “The base of the beer should be sparkly, not too flamboyant but boisterous and proud of who it is,”said Bisacca. “Complexity should be there but also approachable in terms of the body. It’s not a 9% beer but it’s also not dumbed down either, and blackberry for the color.” Glitter is Pride is a cream ale at 4.4% alcohol and, yes, if it works, honest to goodness glitter.
Assuming it doesn’t completely clog up the tap lines, this year there will be actual food-grade glitter in the beer. Bisacca hopes to expand the glittery Glitter is Beer to bars around the neighborhood, too. While most of the Glitter is Pride Ale will be donated or sold by the keg at the brewery they plan to sell each pint at the E Pike bar for the same price as their Immortal IPA – $6.
After Pride weekend, Elysian will shut its doors for about three months for installation of the new brewery equipment. From a 20-barrel brewery where he could run four batches every two weeks, the new rig will be a 15-barrel brewery with the ability to run nine batches every two weeks. While not a significant volume difference, according to Bisacca, more brews can be tested in the new brewery before putting in a big order. Elysian on Capitol Hill will become the official test kitchen for the 22-year-old brewing company.
With the upgrades, by late 2018, all Elysian operations in Seattle will also be run 100% by wind and solar, a windfall from their partnership with InBev. Bisacca says he remembers when Elysian “didn’t have two dimes to rub together.” It’s all part of a lot of change on E Pike.
Elysian Brewing is located at 1221 E Pike. You can learn more at elysianbrewing.com.