Cosmically Speaking: Elysian Brewing Company’s Space Dust IPA

If I were to guess, Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum Imperial IPA is the hoppiest beer I have ever consumed. If you use International Bitterness Units to measure the hop concentration, Hoptimum rings in at 100. Stone’s does not reveal the IBU rating of its Double Bastard, but many guess it to be north of the century mark. Allegedly, a brewery in Ontario called Flying Monkeys makes a beer tipping in at 2,500 IBUs, which I’m guessing tastes like battery acid.

Me? I like to hang out in the less than 100 crowd. Southern Tier’s 2XIPA comes in at 65 IBUs and uses four hops. Firestone Walker’s Double Jack is a comfortably hoppy beer at 85.

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My problem with hoppy beers is the burn. I don’t mind the hoppy flavors of citrus and pine, but its the burning sensation when swallowing that is the real drag. Elysian’s Space Dust IPA comes in punch at 73, which is comfortable for me without too much burn. Actually, the aftertaste was quite refreshing for an IPA, which I will get to momentarily. Up front is the typical hoppy pine and citrus nose as you would expect from this style, a credit to the Chinook variety of hops utilized. The flavor had a citrus taste — Amarillo hops here — with a slight sweetness, likely from the malt. But, what makes this beer superior was the finish: dry and crisp. The flavor was intense, thanks to Citra hops, but cleared right off the palate for an exceptional finish.

Much has been made recently about Anheuser-Busch InBev’s purchase of Elysian in January 2015. While it’s sad to see an independent brewery gobbled up by Big Beer, one cannot begrudge the crew at Elysian for taking the payday. Elysian is the third legit craft beer in A-B’s portfolio, joining newly acquired 10 Barrel BrewingBlue Point Brewing Company and Goose Island. There’s significant handwringing over the potential of A-B meddling with the product, but given their hands-off approach with Goose Island, this seems unlikely. It turns out that this was purely a business decision, with zero regard for quality. Two of the three partners opted to sell out, screwing the third partner (and brewmaster). While Elysian may will lose its indy all credibility, one thing is clear: Space Dust IPA is a hell of a beer.

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2015-03-03 at 18-07-12Brewer: Elysian Brewing Company
Beer: Space Dust IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 8.2%   IBU: 73
Container: 12 oz. bottle
Price: Purchased as part of a mixed six-pack   Point of Purchase: Wegmans, Syracuse, N.Y.
To The Eye: Golden to amber with a little haze. Fluffy foam which dissipates into a nice head that hangs around.
To The Nose: Pine and grapefruit.
To The Palate: Big grapefruit flavor with an intense resin flavor.
Aftertaste: Dry. Crisp. Wonderful.
Boozy Factor: It doesn’t hit you quickly, but it does it you.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 9

3 Comments

  • Steve Body says:

    One certainly CAN begrudge “the crew” at Elysian for taking the payday…and you would, too,if you knew the circumstances. First, the “crew” at Elysian – meaning the brewers and support staff – were universally shocked and horrified when they found out that two of the partners – Joe Bisacca and Dave Buhler – had overridden third partner/brewmaster Dick Cantwell, and decided to sell over his objections. The “crew” found out about the sale via social media! Buhler and Bisacca decided to cash in but, oh yeah, forgot to consult the people who do the actual work that made them desirable to AB. Elysian would have been attractive to a number of beverage giants but they never entertained any offers other than the first one, from the worst, most questionable beverage company in world history. I COMPLETELY begrudge two idiots saddling a whole company full of good people with the stain of AB ownership. IT was a sleazy, greed-head move by two morons who don’t get why AB’s involvement in craft beer is giving aid and comfort to the Enemy. And the fact that you pass it off so casually, with that thing about a payday, shows just how little you understand what’s at stake.

  • Steve Body says:

    And, BTW, I fail to see how pouring millions into the ad budget for Goose Island’s two worst beers and practically nothing into their sour series and Bourbon County constitutes a “hand-off” approach. AB is promoting what Goose does that’s closest to what they do: light, bland, inoffensive beers. It’s all they know and what they desperately want all beer to come back to again.

  • jaredpaventi says:

    Steve: I read more into the politics of the decision to sell Elysian and, you’re absolutely right, Dick Cantwell got screwed amazingly by his partners. My education level about these sales is clearly not very strong so thank you. That said, it’s still capitalism and if the two other partners wanted to sell out, that was their decision to make.

    As to Goose, I have never really enjoyed their products so I don’t often look for them. That said, I have found more and more shelf space devoted to them in my region. If stronger national distribution network comes about for Elysian, that’s a plus we should all be able to agree on.

    I think the problem facing craft brewing right now is that it is wildly unsustainable at its current rate. If you take the Brewers Association number of 2,800+ breweries as of 2013 (with more coming online last year, this year and scheduled for future years), there just aren’t enough mouths, stomachs and livers to keep those going long term. The BA can talk all it wants about consolidation not being inevitable (http://www.brewersassociation.org/insights/brewery-consolidation/), but something will eventually give. Economies shift. Tastes and trends change. I don’t want to see Elysian lose its independence and have some clown in St. Louis determine whether Superfuzz makes enough per fluid milliliter to be profitable. Breweries will close and consolidate, and somewhere along the line there will be others that sell off to A-B, MillerCoors, or whatever. It sucks. So, yeah, I didn’t understand the backstory of the merger as well, but at the same time, I think this is the tip of the iceberg and living with our heads in the sand that more of this won’t happen is delusional.

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