Elysian Brewing is getting ready to expand into downtown, opening Elysian Bar as early as Friday (in extreme practice mode). Yesterday, CEO Joe Bisacca and head brewer Dick Cantwell gave me spin around the place, which is quickly coming together near the corner of 1st and Pike, just down the hill from their original brewery on 13th and Pike. UPDATE: I just got word that Elysian Bar will officially open on Monday, May 5. Cantwell says they'd like the rest of this week to "get their feet wet."
Here are 10 things to know:
- You’re probably pronouncing Elysian wrong. “It’s uh-LEE-zee-en,” says Bisacca. “But however you pronounce it is fine. I hate correcting people on things, because it distances them. I like people to make up their own minds.”
- Kacy Fitch, former owner of ZigZag, will be managing the bar, while venerable barman Murray Stenson, who helped put ZigZag on the map, will no doubt attract a huge cocktail following.
- Bisacca is not a fan of the dive bar. “Why does beer have to get relegated to a dive to present good beer? It’s stupid. It’s childish, almost. So why not open a place that elevates it?”
- The 8,000-square-foot space that most recently housed the goth nightclub Noc Noc will be unrecognizable from the other Elysian locations. Says Bisacca, “I try to listen to the neighborhood that I’m in. So, if you go to Tangletown, it doesn’t look like anything else. It’s Green Lake. Elysian Fields fits the stadium district, that’s what it was made for. Capitol Hill is Capitol Hill and this place fits downtown.”
- John Knowles, formerly of Elysian Fields, and Andrew Gribas, the former chef de cuisine of Volterra, are creating a menu that is its own beast. Items like a heritage bone-in pork chop, Wagyu beef tomahawk steak, oysters, and crudo will grace the menu. And because Pike Place Market is a stone’s throw away, there will be tons of fresh produce.
- The main attraction is a big spiral staircase that connects the mezzanine and provides a graceful French curve. Say Bisacca, “It was an expensive idea.”
- Upstairs housed the original offices of Amazon.
- Elysian is no longer legally required to have a functioning brewery in each location. “With that being the case,” says Cantwell, “we can sort of relax the concept a little bit and run with something that makes more sense, a different sort of climate where our inclinations and interests lie.”
- There will be 18 beers on draft and two in casks. And you can count on a customized beer eventually, says Bisacca. “I want to get Murray and Casey down to Elysian Fields to make a beer with [brewer] Steve [Luke]. Those guys are masters with flavors, so get them together with Dick and Steve and have them come up with a recipe for something awesome and let that be the house beer here or something.”
- Cantwell is looking forward to showcasing some of Elysian’s beer projects, like newly acquired wooden tanks. “We’re going to start a sour beer program, blending things on a fairly large scale for all of the properties.”
There’s still no official opening date for the public, but last night, the Elysian crew held a little private preview for the neighborhood. Permitting pending, “maybe Friday I open for lunch, maybe not,” says Bisacca. “But if everything goes to plan, I should open next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. No fanfare, I’ll just open the doors. If the doors are open, we’re open.”
When it does open, Elysian Bar will be open for lunch and dinner daily.