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Previous Pint Pleasures - August 1998

Guinness Eileen

Elysian Brewing Company, 1221 East Pike Street, Capitol Hill

Yes, yes, I love it when I get to write about my favorite places! And the Elysian Brewing Company, which opened in May 1996, is my favorite brewpub in Seattle. Housed in what appears to be a recently-remodeled garage of some sort, the Elysian features lots of wide, floor-to-ceiling windows and a variety of seating on several levels. In the center is a cozy area furnished with living room pieces, and there's an outdoor deck in the back. The Elysian is open for lunch and dinner and features live music on Saturday nights. The atmosphere is pleasant and cool, the food is great (especially the eggplant parmesan sandwich and the fries), and the beers are, well, divine. I have to admit, though, that on our last visit a few weeks ago we ended up with a very inconsiderate waitperson who immediately brought us some water and then seemingly vanished off the face of the planet. A ridiculously long, thirsty amount of time passed before we finally received our beers. I mean, this is a "brewpub", isn't it, sister? We didn't come for the water.

It seems appropriate -- in more ways than one -- that Elysian's beers would have mythological names. The regular offerings include The Immortal IPA (5.25% ABW), The Wise ESB (4.9%), Dragonstooth Stout (5.7%), Perseus Porter (4.5%), Golden Fleece Ale (3.4%), Zephyrus Pilsner (3.9%), Ambrosia Maibock (5.2%), and Cyclops Barley Wine, also called "Old One Eye" (8.3%). Pints are $3.00 ($3.50 for the Strong Ale), and a schooner is $2.25. The current Summer Beer Selection was Bête Blanche, a Belgian-style ale at 6% ABW.

I opted for a pint of The Immortal IPA, which I have to admit is my favorite beer in Seattle. My first pint seemed stronger (i.e. in alcohol) than usual. It was a very direct experience, like being faced with a rather ordinary-looking pint of beer which surprises you by its irresistible first sip, enticing you, drawing you in, seducing you until you find yourself swallowed by this beer, this wonderful, beautiful, sensuous beer! Yes, this beer has a beautiful soul. If it had eyes, they would be complicated and soulful, the kind you fall into as you listen to the beer tell you fascinating, mysterious stories. This is a charming, captivating beer, the kind of beer I might run off and join the circus for.

Yes, I could wax on and on about Elysian's beer. This is probably the closest I've ever come to falling in love with a fluid. But can a beer be truly romantic? Certainly it can! Most people tend to think of wine or champagne mixed with romance. But why not beer? It's not so hard to imagine a perfectly-brewed ale, perhaps served in a heart-shaped pint glass, having an aphrodisiac effect. If you can't imagine this, either you just aren't a true beer lover or you haven't tasted a truly wonderful beer yet. And if the latter's the case, at least you have something exquisite to look forward to.

How much effect can a particular beer have on a person's life, anyway? Can a beer change the course of your love life, your career, your travels? What historic events have occurred by virtue of someone drinking a fine beer as opposed to a mediocre beer? Can a particular beer bring on a marriage or a divorce?

This brings to mind an experience I had one Friday afternoon last spring. I suddenly remembered a 22-ounce bottle of home brew which had been in our refrigerator since December. Seeing as how it was April already I decided I'd better drink the stuff. The beer was called Bridal Veil Ale, and the label announced how the beer, like the event it was celebrating, was a wedding of the finest ingredients.

I took the churchkey and gently popped open the beer, and foam began spewing out of the bottle like a geyser from a fire hydrant. I quickly pointed it away from myself, set it in the sink, and watched as probably four-fifths of the contents spewed out as a rich, dense, powerful head. More amazed than upset I watched, laughing and gasping and making excited little bunny hops all around the kitchen. When the spew calmed down the rest of the contents oozed slowly out of the top of the bottle in a constantly flowing lavalike sludge. At that point I wished I knew more about chemistry.

When the flow finally stopped, and after I had cleaned up the kitchen, I noticed there was maybe a half ounce of beer left in the bottom. I took a careful sip; it was slightly sour and tasted much like a first brewing attempt.

I can't help wondering if the marriage endured longer than the beer...

Speaking of bliss, either wedded or beer-induced, I once read in Utne Reader (Jan/Feb 1998) that Americans can expect to enjoy an average of 57.8 years of bliss. We're fifth behind Icelanders, who can look forward to an average of 62 years. In contrast, Russians can look forward to only 31 years of bliss.

So how do we recognize "bliss" when we're enjoying it? Is it the same as contentment, amusement, or physical pleasure? Or is it some kind of drug, like Ecstasy? If so, how come I've never taken any? And should I start doing it tomorrow? I mean, I may not have a full 57.8 years left.

Perhaps I should start drinking more Elysian Immortal IPA, before I run out of time...