Knock on Nelson, the latest in Elysian's Dick's Picks series of favorite old and new beers, has been a long time coming, and for us, like Admiral Nelson himself, it's a real pioneer. Knock on Nelson is the first beer to be aged in one of the foeders we acquired a year or so ago and have since been prepping for eventual use in our fledgling sour program. Hold on a minute--Knock on Nelson is not a sour beer--it's a wood-aged IPA--but it has undoubtedly picked up a bit of a tang due to its residence for several months in a wooden tank once used to age the Cabernet Sauvignon of a majorly venerable California winery which for the moment shall remain nameless. We certainly wouldn't want you to blame them if you don't like it (though we hope you will).
Like the beers that down the line will be coming from the foeders, Knock on Nelson is a blend. We started with a Nelson Sauvin-heavy IPA of fairly straightforward construction. Pale, Munich and Cara-Vienne malts went into the grist, and then lots of Nelson Sauvin was used to finish and dry hop, and after fermentation into the foeder it went. Then, after several months, as time took its toll and wrought changes on the beer--some soaking into the wood and some evaporating by the slow and inexorable process that is wood aging--we found that some topping up was required. After some taste trials we decided that about 10% Space Dust was just the ticket. The fierce Amarillo and Citra finish brightened up the aged IPA just a bit, combining Northwest citrus fruitiness with the more tropical passion fruit and mango notes of the New Zealand hops.
Knock on Nelson picked up a fair amount of wine character during its time in tanks previously used to age Cabernet, and after the scraping and reconditioning undertaken by cellarmaster Dan-o Beyer, there's some wood character on display as well. It's a richness beyond what most IPAs generally show, and the brightness of the hops remind you what element in this beer is boss. It's already poured at the Portland Winter Beer Festival, but you can check it out in all the Elysian pubs and here and there wherever Elysian beers are distributed.
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.