Published on July 10th, 2021 | by Darren Paltrowitz


Elysian Brewing Co-Founder Joe Bisacca On The Brewery’s 25th Anniversary, Future Plans & More

3-time “Large Brewpub Of The Year” at the Great American Beer Festival, the Elysian Brewing Company operates 3 locations and a production brewery in Seattle, Washington. Known both for classic styles and for flexibility and innovation, Elysian has brewed over 500 different recipes since opening in 1996. While Elysian’s brewers use a variety of unusual ingredients, they are seasonally-notorious for their pumpkin beers. Just in time for Summer 2021 comes Elysian’s newest seasonal release, Salt & Seed, which is made with 100 percent natural watermelon and kosher salt.

To celebrate the milestone of reaching its 25th anniversary, Elysian Brewing recently created a one-of-a-kind, limited-edition anniversary box, as made available exclusively for sale in the brewery’s home state of Washington. The box offers way more than just beer or throwback recipes, as it offers surprising brand experiences that invite beer drinkers down a rabbit hole and into the world of Elysian in a thoughtfully chaotic way. To learn more about that, I did Q&A with Joe Bisacca, co-founder of Elysian Brewing, as shown below. Otherwise, more on Elysian is here, here, here and here.

Thanks for sending the great 25th anniversary kit. What a great reminder of the history of Elysian. When did you first know that this was going to be a long-term brand?

Joe Bisacca: Like, Thursday of last week… There was never really that watershed moment. When we first started construction in 1995, I thought it was a race to the finish line — getting the doors opened. When we opened them, I understood that it was a race to the starting line. We were so preoccupied with the day to day: unclogging toilets, trying to meet payroll and pay bills, dealing with dead equipment, and then make some beer. You don’t really have the luxury to look back and admire how things have gone. Expansion was just part of the process — it’s more mechanical.

I’m serious about that “last Thursday” comment, I was showing someone the brewery and they were telling me how they see our beers all over the nation. I hadn’t really thought of it so literally. So, last Thursday.

That gift box included an old-school, DIY-style zine. Who came up with that one?

Joe Bisacca: So, I’m a big analog fan and feel like a big part of Elysian is that discovery down the rabbithole, never knowing where it may take you and what you may find. When the 25th was coming up, I felt like we had to do something — ill-advised, difficult to pull off, large and as you said “DIY.” I gathered the team and told them that I wanted a 25-pack of mixed beers — and smiled watching them imagine how to fit 25 beers in a rectangle box — and then expanded a little that it could be 25 “things,” but the items inside needed to broadly tell our 25-year run, from 1st beer (Wise ESB) to latest (Salt & Seed) with treats. Take our community down the rabbithole!

A talented team of designers, brewers, marketing team, etc all worked on the package. Where they took my nudge was amazing. There’s more in there than I could have ever come up with. I couldn’t have been prouder! Best birthday present Elysian could have gotten.

Anniversary celebration aside, what is coming up for Elysian Brewing?

Joe Bisacca: We have a ton in the works right now. Altered Contact, a tart IPA, is hitting shelves in August, which is also the same time our brewery kicks off fall and pumpkin beer season. Locally in Seattle, as restrictions continue to loosen and restaurants, bars and brewpubs open up, we’re focused on welcoming more of our community back into our pub and taproom locations.

We also just launched a great new program to celebrate the return of live music, called “Cheers to Live Music” that offers nationwide rebates on 6-packs of Space Dust IPA and Contact Haze for anyone age 21 or over who purchases a ticket for a live music event this summer.

Do you have a favorite of the current Elysian offerings?

Joe Bisacca: I get asked this one a lot. I do like a wide range of beers and for me it really comes down to the occasion. Right now, I’ve been into some of the tart beers — I use the word tart instead of sour because it is a more mild acidity — they’re really refreshing. Salt & Seed has been a staple on hot days. Altered Contact is a tart IPA that’s also been on my list, it’s very drinkable. The other interesting direction has been kevik beers. It’s a Nordic yeast that ferments very fast and produces a “lager-ish” profile. We have one coming out this winter called Skalrok; I really want to form a Nordic Metal band called Skalrok.

Since Elysian has collaborated with Rolling Stone, and this is a music-centric outlet, I must ask: What was the last concert you attended by choice?

Joe Bisacca: Music is a major part of Elysian’s DNA. It’s why we worked with Rolling Stone and why we’ve launched the Cheers to Live Music program. We’ve also collaborated with Def Leppard to create a beer and last year created a beer to support Keep Music Live WA, a local relief fundraising campaign that supported independent venues at risk of permanently closing due to COVID-19. The last show I went to was Peter Murphy at the Moore Theater in Seattle. Awesome show, he finished with a few [David] Bowie covers!

I’m looking forward to getting back out there this summer to throw even more support behind a community which has given the brewery so much inspiration. We all seem to take music for granted. It used to be that CD sales made the bands money. That’s gone now. The main source of income for them now is playing live. Attend that show and keep the music coming! Those small venues are a lifeline for bands.

Finally, any last words for the kids?

Joe Bisacca: We’ve been through a lot in the last 15 months — COVID, forest fires, murder hornets, etc. You can’t make this up! The last pandemic of 1918 led to the roaring 20’s. The greatest party of the century! Everyone realizes it’s the 20’s again, right? Let’s make this the Roaring 20’s 2.0! Get out there and enjoy some live music shows! Support your local bars and restaurants as they get back into the swing of things and come visit Elysian if you’re ever up in Seattle. Thanks to everyone out there who has enjoyed an Elysian beer, without you, we wouldn’t have made it to 25 years.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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