Why does Washington State always seem to have the good beer (I was weaned on Ranier brewed for the Alberta market)? The Anchorage Press has an interesting report on assorted brews which obviously need to be ordered for your next Classics function:
If I step away from Christian beliefs for a moment, I can imagine an afterlife that includes cherished worldly effects, which for me would include beer. In Greek mythology, if I were noble or heroic, I might expect respite in Elysium, the beautiful fields where those favored by Zeus realize dreams unfulfilled as mortals. The Elysian Fields were well described in the Aeneid, but my vision includes not chariot maintenance and semi-clad goddesses, but free-flowing taps, oceans of brew and the lingering scent of hops - my reward for earthly deeds.
In 1996, a brewpub opened on Seattle's Capitol Hill featuring fine ales and lagers, each named with a blissful afterlife in mind. Elysian Brewery and Public House offers the likes of Elysian Fields Pale Ale, Zephyrus Pilsner and Pandora's Bock, to name a few. At this year's Great Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival, we were lucky to sample Elysian's Cyclops Barleywine, a coveted winter specialty that's well received here and across the Pacific Northwest, where the brewery markets its products. Three other Elysian deities showed up, including The Wise Extra Special Bitter, The Immortal India Pale Ale and Perseus Porter. The good news for us mortals is that those three are here to stay.
The Wise Extra Special Bitter is the softest of the three beers you'll find in town. Honoring the goddess Athena, it's fittingly pretty, but hardly delicate. Shorn with a copper-red hue and crystal clear when held to the heavens, she rocks up to a thin white head, and fruit, citrus and a tinge of pine wafts off the top to entice the senses. An initial sharp bitterness brings you down to earth in the first sip, and caramel, biscuit and chocolate notes in a big, nutty, malty beer with medium body and ample carbonation. With a 6.2-percent alcohol content, Athena's easily in command of Wise Extra Special.
The Immortal IPA is a well-balanced tribute to life beyond our earthy trappings. The bitterness lingers long after the swallow. Immortal is the lightest in color, pouring golden amber below a dense, tannish head. Big malts support copious additions of fresh, aromatic hops that drift off the top even before the taste. The hop character seems to build as the palate adjusts to the onslaught of the beer's complexity, but the internal warriors don't fight with each other in this 6.2-percent brew. Compared to other Pacific Northwest examples of IPA styles, I find the Immortal's balance godlike.
Perseus Porter reflects the brooding half-god's penchant for revenge and victory. It must be the smoldering mythological battle fires that add the smoky tinge to this deep, dark beer's overall chocolaty aroma. Roasted malts highlight this complex, almost black beer, and the hops are somewhat citrusy, yet remain well masked by the beer's stronger malt and roasted character. Perseus Porter's would be a fitting reward after a day of slaying whatever dragons you face in your earthy endeavors. With a 5.3-percent alcohol content, you won't get slain if you have more than one. [more]
Almost makes you want to have a road trip ...