Welcome back to Sip Northwest’s Beer Hall of Fame: a twice-monthly induction into a list of essential Northwest beers that have made their mark on the field and region.
Elysian Brewing’s Dragonstooth imperial oatmeal stout was the second beer the 21-year-old, Seattle-based company ever created. First was its signature ESB and third was the Immortal IPA. But smack dab in the middle of the first triumvirate of brews was the nuanced, bold dark beer fit for a mythological king.
The recipe for the stout has only changed once along two decades of production, says Elysian co-founder David Buhler. “The Dragonstooth did go through one minor change,” he adds. “One of our brewers, somewhere around 2000 or 2001, made a batch that was stronger. It took it from the upper sixes [percent ABV] to the lower eights. He turned it into what it is now.”
And that is a powerful, dark concoction with a delicate, near-velvety mouthfeel combined with a rich, nuanced flavor. There are blips of smooth sweetness betwixt the pleasant darker coffee and chocolate aromas. Made with Crystal, Munich, Chocolate malts, roasted barley and rolled oats, the Dragonstooth is one of the most beloved in the Northwest.
But the Northwest can be fickle, with so many resident beer drinkers fixed on the floral hop flavors that come from nearby Yakima Valley. But with a stout, Buhler says the process to produce flavor is different than that with IPAs. “With stouts, the hop additions are truly secondary,” he says. “Like light spicing with a creole dish. With stouts, you already have all this flavor.”
While the Dragonstooth doesn’t sell off the shelves in the warm months, Buhler anticipates that once “stout season” comes around, it will be flying – and, he says, his company may look to package the beer in a new, more diner-friendly way in the near future. “Maybe 12-ounce bottles in four-packs,” Buhler says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we went that route next.”