Guide to Seattle Beer Week Part 6: Elysian Presents Firkin Firkin
***Seattle Beer Week is a pretty big deal. It runs from May 19th to the 29th. This is our guide to its majesty. These are the events that we feel cannot be missed. At the conclusion of this preview, we will publish the SBW Bible.***
Elysian‘s Firkin Firkin event has been around since SBW v1.0 and it’s not going anywhere. That’s great news because it’s clearly a favorite for many of the die hard attendees over the short but most definitely sweet history of SBW.
For those that don’t know, a firkin is a specialized 1/4 bbl keg that is filled with an unfiltered beer and then “primed” with a slightly under-fermented beer. The addition of the unfinished beer allows for a natural, light carbonation to occur in the keg. The beer is sometimes dry-hopped in the keg as well.
All the glory is dispensed by gravity, not traditional, co2 powered taps. Because of this, the keg just sits on the bar top which means that it’s unrefrigerated. A specialized stave with a shutoff is hammered into the top of the keg for pouring and dowels are placed in a bug on the side to periodically release the pressure that builds within. It may seem complex but it’s actually a really old form of dispensing beer.
You can expect a close to room temperature beer that is very cloudy and almost raw tasting with the yeast and possible dry-hopping playing sizable roles in the flavor profile. It’s not for everyone, but those that like it, really like it.
The best part about this particular event is that it isn’t just a slew of random firkins that will be poured. It’s a state vs. state battle in 8 different categories. Each year finds Washington battling a different state for firkin supremacy. Year one saw WA battle CA. Year two – WA vs. OR. This year – WA vs. CO. At least you can’t say that the folks at Elysian are throwing out softballs for our local brewers. This is some hard hitting competition!
For posterity sake, here’s the match-ups and categories in the previous 2 bouts…
Pale Ale: Walking Man Knuckle Dragger Pale vs Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
IPA: Big Time Scarlet Fire vs Firestone Walker Union Jack Pale
Imperial IPA: Boundary Bay Imperial IPA vs Pizza Port Carlsbad Poor Man’s IPA
ESB: Elysian The Wise ESB vs Marin Brewing ESB
Porter: Snoqualmie Steam train Porter vs Russian River Porter
Stout: Pike XXXStout vs Stone Russian Imperial Oak-aged Stout
Scotch Ale: Silver City Fat Woody Oak-aged Scotch Ale vs Bear Republic Heritage Scotch Ale
Specialty: Ram N-Gate Challenger Pale vs 21st Amendment Black IPA
Pale Ale: WA-Ram 71 Pale Ale vs OR-Hopworks Crosstown Pale
IPA: WA-Elysian Prometheus vs OR-Double Mountain Hop Lava
Imperial IPA: WA-Naked City IIPA vs OR-Ninkasi Tricerahops
ESB: WA-Silver City Ridgetop Red vs OR-Laurelwood Organic Deranger Red
Porter: WA-Black Raven Tamerlane Brown Porter vs OR-Bend Brewing Cherry Baltic Porter
Hybrid: WA-Big Time Trombipulator w/Agave vs OR-Beer Valley Black Madness
Session: WA-Pike Dry Wit vs OR-Pelican Kiwana Cream Ale
Strong: WA-Fremont Bourbon Abominable vs OR-Rogue Imperial Younger’s Special Bitter
I have yet to see the match-ups for this year’s event but I’d expect to see offerings from New Belgium, Oscar Blues, Great Divide, Avery, Boulder, Left Hand, and if we’re really lucky – MillerCoors. Go WA!
From the Elysian site:
MAY 25, 2011 – Starts 3PM; ends when we run out or by 10PM.
This is one of our favorite events to put on during Seattle Beer Week! The last two years have seen WA battle CA and WA vs. OR — This year we are taking on CO to see who will prevail with overall best in show for cask beers. There will be 8 breweries represented from each state. Come early for best selection!