Review Date 2/26/2015 Last Updated 1/26/2016
Thanks, Dale Roberts, for this bottle of Elysian Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout that I’m enjoying tonight. Not only have you provided me with a very enjoyable beer indeed, but you’ve also given me a soapbox to rant about the recent wave of craft brewery acquisitions by megabrewers, and the recent flap over Anheuser-Busch’s ridiculous commercial bashing craft beer. One wonders why they would expend so much capital on small brewers if they regard them with such disdain.
Now, I’ll go out on a limb here and confess that, unlike a lot of beer geeks, I’ve tried to be fair to the large brewers (mostly Anheuser-Busch Inbev) that are buying up smaller brewers. Goose Island, Red Hook (AB only has a minority stake here), Blue Point all come to mind. And now Elysian, which was recently sold to Anheuser-Busch.
Personally, I’ve been drinking beers from all of the above mentioned brewers since they opened their doors (except for Elysian), and I’ve yet to notice a degradation in quality. In some cases (such as Red Hook) some of the beers have gotten better, and distribution has expanded. These are good things.
That’s not to say that I want to see small brewers gobbled up by big ones like some sudsy game of Pac Man. But let’s be real folks, brewing is a business and while we may cling to some quaint romantic notions about small brewers, they are founded for two reasons. The first is usually a love of beer, but the second is almost invariably a desire to make a living. We all have to feed our families, and somehow the notion that brewers shouldn’t take a great offer from a large brewer just is not realistic. Keeping it real, folks, brewing is a business and breweries will be bought and sold. Get used to it.
Then, though, AB Inbev proved how incredibly stupid they are by airing an outright attack ad on craft beer during the Superbowl. If you haven’t seen it, the ad portrays craft beer drinkers as haughty geeks who can’t enjoy a beer without sticking their noses into it and examining it. To be blunt, that pissed me off bigtime. Beer is made to be examined, appreciated, and enjoyed. At least real beer. It’s an art form, and by attacking those of us that want to analyze the aesthetics of it, you’re attacking the legendary beer hunter Michael Jackson, one of the most famous ever to stick his nose into a pint. And when you attack Jackson, well, you just made a mortal enemy Anheuser-Busch.
To be sure, Budweiser has its place in the world. But let’s call a spade a spade: it’s not a beer to be analyzed, though, or really even enjoyed. It has no real flavor per se, and it’s more of something you just mindlessly quaff than consciously enjoy. Do you take the time to enjoy a McDonalds Cheeseburger the same way that you would a steak at Peter Luger’s? The same is true of Bud and a good craft beer. We take our time enjoying a craft beer because it’s worthy of it. Shame on you for ridiculing us for that AB Inbev. And by the way, if you are going to mock a pumpkin peach ale, why did you buy a brewery (Elysian) that makes a pumpkin peach ale? Hypocrites.
I’ll get off my soapbox now and get back to the beer at hand, which maybe you don’t even remember the name of by now. It’s Elysian Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout, and my what a wonderful beer it is. This isn’t the first Elysian beer I’ve had of course. Elysian beers are not sold here in Georgia, but I have enjoyed them in Seattle on my two trips out there. A few years ago I also mail-ordered a bottle of their excellent Idiot Sauvin IPA.
The label of my bottle says:
Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout ALE BREWED WITH COFFEE. Split Shot combines the talents of Elysian Brewing and Stumptown Coffee in a deliciously smooth, very Northwest beer.
Ingredients from the website:
MALTS: Northwest pale, C-15 and C-45 dextrine malts, Franco-Belges kiln coffee malt, Black, Roasted and Chocolate malts and flaked oats
HOPS: Magnum hops add a touch of bitterness
SPECIAL: Milk sugar sweetens just a bit, and Stumptown coffee provides an invigorating richness
Elysian Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout has an alcohol content of 5.6% by volume and 28 IBUs. My bottle was packaged on Christmas Eve of 2014, so it’s quite fresh indeed, and brewed before the buyout.
Elysian Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout pours to a very dark black (but not opaque) color with a thick creamy tan head and a pretty freaking amazing nose of coffee grinds and, well, more coffee grinds. Taking a sip, the beer is a bit thinner in body than I had expected, but it’s anything but thin on flavor. The beer simply screams dark bitter roasty coffee at you with a little chocolate thrown in for good measure. Mostly though it’s all about the coffee, and if you love coffee, you’re really going to love this beer. I do get a hint of creaminess and I can certainly see the milk stout piece. Its roasty and espresso bitter in the finish and it really leaves you wanting another sip. So you do take another sip, which just leaves you just wanting another.
I think I would like just a bit more body here, but other than that this is wonderful. Don’t mess with success here, AB Inbev. I’m putting you on notice that I’ll be watching.
Update 1/26/2016: OK, AB Inbev, I told you I'd be watching. And, here's an unexpected benefit of your acquisition of Elysian: Elysian beers are now sold in Georgia. Taco Mac, in fact, is featuring Elysian beers along with a few from Oregon's 10 Barrel Brewing (also acquired by AB Inbev) this month. So, I'm sipping a Split Shot ($6) and got a 10 Barrel logo glass with it at no extra charge. I have to be honest and say the beer is good as it ever was, roasty and coffeeish though perhaps still needing a tad more body. So far, AB, you're passing muster.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.