elysian_trip_20sm

The 20th and Final Trip for Elysian Brewing and New Belgium Brewing

Afford me a moment to bid farewell to an old friend: the Trip Series, a string of highly creative and mostly delicious beers, brewed collaboratively by Elysian Brewing and New Belgium Brewing. Yesterday Elysian Brewing announced that the Trip was coming to an end. The pending release of Trip 20 marks the conclusion of the six year adventure.

When talking about craft beer, time is relative, especially for breweries like Elysian. Think of craft beer as a train. If you’re standing beside the railroad tracks watching the train going by, it appears to be going 25 miles per hour. But what if someone on the train is running up the aisle at 25 miles per hour? Relative to those of us standing trackside, that person is moving forward at 50 miles per hour. Elysian Brewing is one of the breweries sprinting up the aisle on the craft beer train.

About six years ago I asked Dick Cantwell a question: “What is going to be the next big thing in the world of craft beer?” That’s when Elysian Brewing’s co-owner and Head Brewer explained the concept of collabeeration: two breweries working with each other, instead of against each other, to produce new beers, show unity, foster creativity, and have fun.

elysian-new-belgiumBack in 2008, two breweries were more likely to file lawsuits against each other than they were to fill brew kettles with each other; litigation was more common than collaboration. Fast forward to 2014 and collaboratively brewed beers are all the rage. In other words, Dick was right. It’s hard to tell if he was predicting a trend or setting one.

If memory serves, and the evidence is not tainted, my conversation with Dick Cantwell happened in the spring of 2008. I don’t recall if he told me about the collaborative relationship Elysian Brewing was about to forge with New Belgium Brewing or if he merely hinted, but I soon found myself sampling Trip I, a hoppy Belgian-style Trippel.

elysian_trip_20_posterBefore long, I was sinking my teeth into a Trip II, Trip III, Trip IV, and so on. The Trip series of beers spanned the gamut of styles and stretched the limits of creativity: a dandelion saison, a chamomile blonde, a cocoa cherry brown ale, an oyster stout made with oyster shells from Taylor Shellfish Farms, and various interpretations of IPA. Some of the beers were more to my liking than others, but none of them failed to capture my interest and attention.

In all, Elysian Brewing and New Belgium Brewing have collabeerated to produce 19 different beers in the Trip series. Over the past six years, many breweries collaborated, but I’m not sure any other breweries did it so prodigiously. The Elysian/New Belgium team is about to release the 20th and final Trip beer.

The official Trip 20 release event is at the Elysian Bar on 2nd Avenue in downtown Seattle, on Tuesday, December 16 (4:00 – 8:00). Thereafter, expect to see it at better beer bars and beer retailers.

In his own words, Dick Cantwell tells the Trip story like this:

“Before the Trip there were some forays. We’ll call them skirmishes, conducted by restless brewers eager to get started on an ongoing project that seemed like it was going to be fun. Peter Bouckaert and Grady Hull of New Belgium traveled to Elysian’s Capitol Hill brewery in Seattle, along with some special bacteria, to make a kettle-soured beer with Dick Cantwell and Markus Stinson named after Peter’s son, Wout. While that was boiling away the brewers went shopping, nd ended up brewing again the next day, this time a beer made with persimmons and curry leaf. About the time those beers were ready the paperwork had been filed and approved, and the Trip could begin in earnest.

elysian_trip1 “Trip 1 was a hoppy Belgian-style Trippel, Trip 2 a Citra-hopped pale ale. Trip 3 was a collaboration of both breweries, a concatenation of Elysian-brewed dark lager with a couple of totes-ful of one of New Belgium’s famous sour blending beers. And onward, ever onward, touching down with beers made with juniper, cherry, dandelions, oyster shells, fresh hops and ingredients entirely from the southern hemisphere. The beers began only available on draft in Seattle, but when Elysian expanded its brewery it was possible to make enough to send to the rest of Washington, to Oregon and into California, and in bottles as well as kegs. Each time the beer idea came from a different New Belgium co-worker. Somewhere in there some tavernkeepers got involved.

“And here we are, at journey’s end. Trip 20 will release on December 16 at the Elysian Bar in downtown Seattle, concluding the five-year mission with a slightly tangy and easy-drinking pale ale with bold and distinctive hop notes. Once again, the beer will only be available on draft.

“This was a fun beer to brew, partly because there were a lot of people on hand, including Peter and Dick, who collaborated on this last Trip idea, and Chris Murakami, who did most of the work. We began with a simple enough malt bill of pale and C-77 crystal, bumped the gravity and lightened the body with some sugar, adding Magnum hops to bitter and Styrian Goldings to finish, with some French Strisselspalt for dry hopping. Then the x-factor, brettanomyces, was added in the bright tank immediately before kegging, and the kegs were warm conditioned for more than a month.

“It’s been a great Trip, linking two fabulous breweries for what has to be one of the longest collaborations ever. Friendships and relationships have formed along the way. A lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same.  Trip 20 may turn out to be the final destination for this series of beers, but it’s really been about the journey.”

– Dick Cantwell, Elysian Co-founder and Head Brewer

 



Cheers to our sponsors, like...

One comment

Comments are closed.