This is the Seattle Beer News list of the Top 10 Beer Spots in Seattle. Many great bars, pubs, and breweries won’t make this list; that doesn’t mean they aren’t outstanding places. Check out the previous post for #9.
#8 Beer Spot in Seattle: Elysian Capitol Hill
Elysian Brewing has been serving up fine beers at their original Capitol Hill brewery since 1996. They also operate Elysian Tangletown, located near Green Lake, and Elysian Fields, located across from Qwest Field. Elysian has won an array of awards for their beers, including the Large Brewpub of the Year award at the Great American Beer Festival in both 2003 and 2004.
The Beer: In my opinion, an example of a successful brewery is one that manages to have a solid everyday lineup of beers to keep the regulars happy, but they also manage to offer a large amount of special release beers and rotating seasonals. Elysian accomplishes this feat better than any other brewery in Seattle. The Immortal IPA and the Wise ESB are the cornerstones of their lineup, and both are perfect session beers that weigh in right around 6% ABV while packing in plenty of taste. As far as variety, head brewer and co-owner Dick Cantwell has been innovative in experimenting with new styles over the years. Ratebeer.com lists a total of 141 different beers brewed by Elysian in their database. On a recent visit, they were pouring Backhanded Compliment, a Belgian-style IPA that was well-balanced and one that I couldn’t help having a couple glasses of. Elysian is known as a champion of pumpkin beers, and their Great Pumpkin Beer Festival celebrates the style each year with around ten pumpkin beers from Elysian themselves, plus tons of guest pumpkin beers. Recently, their Men’s Room Red Ale has made a big splash in the market and they just can’t seem to make enough of it to keep retailer’s shelves stocked. Perhaps, that’s why they have plans in the works to expand with a new production brewery in the Georgetown neighborhood in 2011.
The Food: Very solid pub grub is how I’d describe it. I have a couple of friends that swear by their burger, but my go-to dish there is the fish tacos. I recently visited on a Tuesday and was happy to see they were offering “Taco Tuesdays”; $2 tacos with a selection from 4 different varieties.
The Atmosphere: The Capitol Hill pub is a very relaxed spot, with a small bar area and lots of table seating. All ages are welcome until 11pm, but it’s still mostly a grown up crowd the large majority of the time it seems. It’s a good place for a low-key date night, or there are plenty of tables for larger groups as well. In addition to their 16 taps of beer (including guest beers), they often have a cask and every Wednesday at 4pm they tap a special firkin for happy hour.
Overall: Elysian is pretty much tied as my favorite Seattle brewery. They’ve become a Seattle institution and their beers continue to get recognition as some of the best in the industry. The Capitol Hill pub is the type of place where you go for happy hour and then end up staying much later than you originally intended. As a brewery, I love that they have ambition and that they have expanded into markets outside of the northwest.
Elysian Capitol Hill
1221 East Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98122