SEATTLE- … --Brewers over the years have borrowed from the world of winemaking to come up with interesting beers and innovative brewing techniques: Aging beer in barrels and fermenting with wine and champagne yeasts are only a couple of examples, while adding grapes to beer fermentations also has its precedents. However, Elysian Brewing and Precept Wine, both headquartered in Seattle, have embarked on a wine and beer collaboration that's more ambitious in scope with more projected longevity than anything previously undertaken by their esteemed peers of beverage fermentation.
The two companies will be periodically collaborating on and releasing beers under the Elysian label that bring together specific vinifera grape varieties and particular beer styles to produce distinct flavor combinations. Seasonality and fermentation types will also come into play. Both companies are highly regarded in their own worlds, and together they expect to create a line of delicious, hybrid products that will no doubt surprise aficionados from both sides of the aisle.
First up, early this month, will be the dual release of Sour Grapes, a light (around 3% ABV), Berlinerweiss-style beer fermented with tart and tiny verjus grapes from Willow Crest and Saison Gris, a medium-weight (6.3%) farmhouse-style beer to which was added over twenty pounds per barrel of crushed Pinot Gris grapes from Precept's Willow Crest Estate Winery in Prosser, Wash. These beers were brewed at Elysian's Tangletown and Elysian Fields breweries, respectively, with help from the Precept Wine crew in the growing, sourcing, crushing and administering of the grapes.
The coming months will see a handful of experiments such as combining (perhaps) Precept's Malbec grapes with stout, using wine fermentations to trigger the related actions in beer, combining different hop varieties with grapes that either resonate or contrast in their marriages, and of course the use of barrels for aging beer that may previously have held chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon or port.
"Not to divulge everything too soon, the possibilities are myriad for borrowing brewing and winemaking cultures to produce beers it may have never before have occurred to anyone to make," said Dick Cantwell, Elysian Brewing's head brewer.
The beers will debut in Elysian's four pub/restaurant locations throughout the Seattle area with wider distribution to follow.
LIMITED AVAILABILITY :: DEC 2014
ABOUT WILLOW CREST ESTATE WINERY & PRECEPT WINE
Willow Crest Estate Winery was founded by David J. Minick, a third generation Washington grower in Prosser, Wash. The estate grows and bottles award-winning aromatic white wines, including Pinot Gris, Muscat Canelli, Riesling and more. Its parent company, Precept Wine, is the largest private wine company in the Northwest, with more than 4,200 vineyard acres and a host of wineries and tasting rooms throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and beyond.
Three-time Large Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, Elysian Brewing Company operates four neighborhood restaurants and a production brewery in Seattle, Washington. Known both for classic styles and for flexibility and innovation, Elysian has brewed over 350 different recipes since opening in 1996. While Elysian's brewers use a variety of unusual ingredients, they are seasonally notorious for their pumpkin beers. Each year Elysian hosts the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, where dozens of different pumpkin beers are poured, some of them from giant pumpkins.