Elysian Trip 20Before 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, and 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.

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.