Elysian Brewing Co – Rapture Heather Ale

Living within 10 miles or so of three different states presents some interesting beer hunting for sure.  Most of my beer purchasing takes place in two of the states.  I live in DC; therefore, it makes total sense that I purchase some of my beer in my own city.  However, it may surprise some of you that most of what I actually purchase comes from Virginia.  This is mostly due to the way the system has started to work with a few stores.  I have a store out in Va that I call to try to reserve their special stuff.  Things have kind of changed since I started going there, so now it’s harder to get their rare stuff, but I get lucky every once in a while.

Last Tuesday I ran into a problem with their system. I had a friend give me a heads up they got in one case of Founder’s Franglic Mountain Brown.  He told me to call right away and reserve a bottle.  I called, but they said it wasn’t in the system, so I had to call back when they put it on Facebook.  As I’m sure you can see where this is going, I missed out on the bottle.  I was frustrated, so on my way home we stopped in Maryland to see if a bottle was at Corridor.  Maryland of course doesn’t get Founders.  So I was forced to get some other things.  That’s how I happened across this bottle.

I’ve seen some things from Elysian online, but I figured they weren’t available in my area.  I was looking around Corridor, built my own six pack and doubled back to find a big bottle or two.  This one stuck out to me cause I didn’t know Maryland got it.  Elysian is a brewery out of Seattle Washington, and they started this particular idea this year to coincide with the Mayan idea that the world would end this year.  So they are releasing a beer every single month that they think would be something someone would want to drink if it was their last beer ever.  According to their schedule, this is actually from February, but I’m glad I found it.

This beer is called a Heather ale which Beer Advocate says is another name for a Scottish Gruit or Ancient Herbed Ale.  According to the style analysis on beer advocate, “Gruit is mainly a concoction of : sweet gale (Myrica gale), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and wild rosemary (Ledum palustre). Other herbs, spices, and berries might be used to create interesting and pleasant aroma and flavor of green- and herbal-tea.”  I’m not sure if that is what Elysian did here.  But the bottle wasn’t too descriptive of what was on the inside and the website has no description either, so I’m going with that.  I was still excited to try it for the concept and a different style of beer.

The beer pours a orangey reddish hue.  There is certainly very little head that develops as well.  It’s a very light white head to it, but it does manage to garner pretty good lacing and sticky residue as well.  Interestingly, the beer was certainly cloudy, and I actually think I located a floater of something left over from the brewing.  It didn’t indicate it was bottle conditioned, so I’m guessing something just got through a filter.  You could see a little visual carbonation, but it really wasn’t too much.

The beer hard a lot of very light citrusy aroma to it.  It’s kind of hard to nail down some of the scents I get out of it.  I am kind of just comparing it to things I think of when I smell it.  I get some sweet apple cider aroma here.  There seems to be some berry sweetness to the aroma.  This is the kind of beer that helps me realize my sense of smell really sucks.  Anyway, I get a some herbs and floral notes going on as well.

The flavors of the beer were a little easier to nail down, but I think I’m just talking about what it tastes like and not what it actually is.  Anyway, it starts with your typical sweet malts; however, it get pretty herbal and floral after that.  The herbal quality is certainly more like the stuff you find in your spice cabinet.  I feel like I’m getting some rosemary and thyme type of flavoring.  From there you get some nice bitter hop quality.  The hops lead into some interesting tea quality tastes near the finish.  I almost get a little sweet honey quality on the finish as well.  Certainly one of the more interesting beers I’ve had in a while.

The mouthfeel has a bit of a syrupy quality to it, but it has some good carbonation especially in the middle portion of the beer.  This helps it certainly have a very crisp and clean feel to it .  The herbal and floral quality is really nice and easy, but I was surprised how much it came through.  Really I thought it was very interesting and pretty different.

I would really like to find the rest of this series, and I know where to get it, but I don’t want to spend a ton of money having to get it all.  It’s a really interesting series, and I’m surprised it took me this long to find it out about it.  Maybe some of you are more privy to it than I was, but I think it’s a great idea.  Now I’m wondering their regular beers are good too?

Teacher Grade: B

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7 Comments

  1. Wha? MD has Elysian?! When the Haybag and I lived in Seattle (’04/’05) this was one of our favorite nearby brewpubs. They really seem to like to goof around and do different stuff. Some of these 12 beers of the Apocalypse sound pretty different.

    Also, I should note, the Haybag still talks about their pumpkin ale.

  2. Their regular beers are great. I drink them pretty regularly. The Jasmine IPA is pretty amazing as is the Men’s Room Red.

  3. Have to agree with the above comments. Great brewery and their everyday beers are pretty solid. #3 in the series, Fallout, is a beer with coriander which I thought was also pretty good.

    If you want another example of a heather ale, seek out froach from Scotland. The GF could get enough of it when we were over there.

  4. Elysian is pretty easy to get my hands on here in Oregon. I’ll try to get some more beers of the apocalypse and send them your way.

  5. […] this beer was a gruit, I wouldn’t exactly call my mood excited.  I seem to remember doing a gruit earlier this year; however, I decided to check out what Flying Dog said about it on their site.  They didn’t […]

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