It might have been the first time I met Dick Cantwell. I asked about how he and his business partners arrived at the name Elysian Brewing. He explained that they wanted to avoid naming the brewery after some ubiquitous geographic feature, like a mountain or a body of water. Jokingly, he said they considered using the name Generic Eminence Brewing because Rainier was unavailable, but instead arrived at the name Elysian Brewing. It would be years before I heard Dick Cantwell refer to Generic Eminence again.
I’ve learned that there is a story behind everything Elysian does. For example, Konishiki Imperial IPA, the next beer in the Dick’s Picks series. Some of you might recognize that Konishiki Yasokichi was the first foreign-born (non-Japanese) sumo wrestler to reach Ozeki status, but why name a beer after him? Because he’s a mountain of a man? No, that’d be too obvious.
In Dick’s own words:
KONISHIKI a KONICHI-WHAM!
Big Sorachi Ace IPA Comes out of Retirement
Way back in 2006 or ’07, I got a call from Darren Gamache of Virgil Gamache Farms, the hop growers who brought the world Amarillo. They had grown three plants of a Japanese hop variety called Sorachi Ace, and pelletized the cones they produced. He proposed sending them all to me for us to fool around with, to see what kinds of beers the hop might produce. Naturally, this was an honor, to be the first North American brewer to use this hop, and to carry the trust of the Gamaches to brew something solid enough to display the best qualities of Sorachi Ace. I first used it in a beer we had not long before begun brewing for Kisaku, the sushi restaurant across the street from Tangletown, a Belgian golden ale fermented with yuzu. The Japanese tie-in seemed like a natural, and we still regularly brew this beer. Next, I brewed a beer inspired by the not-so-distant line of the Rocky Mountains on my way north from Denver the very fist time I visited New Belgium to start our various cooperations there. That beer was called Generic Eminence (in homage to all those other Northwestern beers named after mountains), and in a tasting with the Subpop folks, as we contemplated the beer we would brew for their 20th anniversary, it was a 50-50 blend of this beer and Bifrost that eventually brought Loser to light. Loser was our summer seasonal for a number of years, and now it’s part of our year-round lineup, proudly displaying the Sorachi Ace that was a part of it from the beginning.
Not long afterward I decided to blow it all out, to brew an Imperial IPA using Sorachi Ace in every possible phase of the brew: in the mash, with first wort, a number of times throughout the boil and in my improvised Tangletown hop back. Oh yeah, it was dry-hopped with SA as well. Since the beer was a monster, and brewed with a non-native-grown Japanese hop variety, I named it Konishiki, after the Hawaiian-born, Japanese-Samoan sumo grand master. At well over 600 pounds at his peak, Konishiki was known as “the Dump Truck,” the largest sumo wrestler ever and the only strictly non-native achiever of sumo’s second-highest ranking. We took a cask of it to the Washington Cask Festival, where it impressed Matt Thompson, our current sales director, then working for Rogue.
In the years since, Konishiki himself has retired, dropped an awful lot of weight and gotten married. The recipe for the beer has languished in the Elysian archives, relegated to the “Dog Book,” our compendium of beers brewed at Tangletown and Gameworks. But now it’s back, ready to contend once more. A pretty basic pale malt bill of Northwest 2-row, Munich, C-77 crystal and Cara-hell provides an abv crowding 8%, from an OG of 19.35, with IBU somewhere in the eighties. Defer, and while you’re at it, bow down, to The Lord High Executioner!
Head Brewer and Founder, Elysian Brewing
AVAILABLE :: JUNE 1
Limited Draft :: 70 – 1/2 BBLS