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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Elysian's "The Wise ESB"

As I just two posts ago discussed Elysian, I'll jump right to the tasting.

Tasting notes
What's the difference between an IPA and an ESB? They're both biggish (IPAs are bigger) and both hoppy and both pale and both British. It's the malt. In an IPA, the malt is merely there to protect you from the lacerations of the hops' alpha acids--brewers may hope there's residual flavor for the discerning drinker, but that's gravy. Not so with ESBs--although they feature robust hopping, it's their malty depths by which they're defined.

The two best ESBs I've tasted are Fuller's and Elysian, and both are distinguished by their wonderfully complex malts. Elysian is a deep golden in the glass, and smells delightfully of caramelly malts and a touch of citrus. I don't recall exactly what Fuller's looks like, but my recollection of the palate is that it is much like Elysian's--a deep, rich maltiness (nutty sweet) offset (in a IPA reversal) by balancing bitterness. The hops in Elysian are pure Northwest, but they, like the English hops in Fuller's, are there to carry out the malt note.

It's one king hell of a beer.

Hops: Bittering, Chinook, finished with Cascade and Centennial hops
Malts: Pale, Munich, Crystal, Cara-hell and Belgian Special B malts
Alcohol By Volume: 5.9% by volume
Original Gravity: 4.5 Plato/1.058 OG
BUs: 39
Other: Won the gold for ESB at the 2003 & 2004 GABF.

A classic.

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