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With OK on long-delayed construction, Elysian set to join Optimism and Redhook in Capitol Hill beer upgrades

(Image: Elysian Brewing)

A long-delayed and pared back overhaul of the grandaddy of Capitol Hill breweries is finally ready to get underway.

The city has finally issued construction permits for an overhaul of Capitol Hill’s Elysian Brewery that will include a refresh of the E Pike pub and beer production facility first planned as an opportunity to better showcase the brewing operation while making much needed equipment upgrades.

Opened in 1996 as Elysian’s original location, the E Pike brewery and brew pub will see a roster of upgrades ranging from an overhaul of the dining area, to bathroom upgrades, and new brewing equipment. The goal in 2016 when CHS talked to the company about the project was to create a “brewing amphitheater.”

A year earlier, 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.

UPDATE 12/13/18: Elysian has announced full details of the work including a planned closure starting December 23rd through spring to get the work done:

Beginning on December 23rd, Elysian Brewing will temporarily close its doors to facilitate a full update to its Capitol Hill location. The brewery is set to debut the refreshed space in Spring 2019, which will feature an overall modernization of the pub, nodding to the Auto Row origins of the brewery’s location, while preserving the Elysian vibe and sentimental aspects of the original layout. Updates will include all-new brewing equipment and increased capacity, as well as the addition of a large garage door which will allow for outdoor patio seating.

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The E Pike effort is no doubt inspired by competition and fellow beer crafters in the neighborhood. Some of the competition is in the family. The Redhook Brew Lab and its mini eight-barrel brewery celebrated a summer 2017 opening in the Pike Motorworks development on E Pike. The company is owned by the Craft Beer Alliance, a company partly owned byAnheuser-Busch InBev.

Setting off the run of beer investment, independent Optimism Brewing opened in November 2015 on E Union after its owners overhauled a $6.5 million auto-row era building into a working brewery with twice the capacity of the Redhook pub.

Meanwhile, “nano-brewery” Outer Planet is also part of the scene on 12th Ave. Outer Planet, by the way, is also in the middle of permitting for work to officially change its use to a full-on microbrewery.

The Elysian changes were initially being planned to take place during a closure this summer but changes in plans and a new architect ended with pared back plans and permits finally issued this month. Mallet Construction has cut a planned mezzanine office level and simplified the overall project. The base construction budget still weighs in at $1.5 million, according to permits.

UPDATE: Here are specifics on the overhaul from Elysian:

  • Front of House Refresh:
    • New Open-Concept Brewery with no walls separating the brewery area from the rest of the pub giving customers the opportunity to see the brewing up close.
    • Connected Indoor / Outdoor Seating enabling seamless movement from the indoor to outdoor seating areas with 200 seats available.
    • New lighting, furniture, merchandise area, a backbar and the addition of shuffleboard.
    • Increased Tap Capacity with a growler filling station.
    • Exterior Refresh with new paint and an exterior vestibule

Elysian’s changes will also bring upgrades to beer production — but don’t expect an increase in volume. Currently a 20-barrel brewery that can run four batches every two weeks, the new setup was being planned as a 15-barrel brewery with the ability to run nine batches every two weeks. The goal, an Elysian official told CHS this summer, is to set up Elysian Capitol Hill to better test new recipes. Elysian officials also hope to transition all operations in Seattle to run 100% by wind and solar.

  • Back of House Boost:
    • A complete kitchen refresh with a from-scratch focus
    • All new brewing equipment and increased brewing capacity
      • A canning line will be added and everything except the malt silo and mill will be demolished and upgraded to accommodate increased capacity, safety and quality.
      • The upgraded Paul Mueller 15 BBL Three Vessel Brew System includes a new mash mixer (24.16 BBL maximum mash volume), 17.5 BBL capacity Kettle, Lauter Tin, 16BBL Whirlpool and 35BBL Hot Water Tank Combination Vessel.
      • Other brewing additions include new uintanks and support equipment such as a low pressure steam boiler, upgraded water filter system for high volume output to brew system, and 5 HP Air Compressor and air dryer.
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