Beer of the Week: Elysian Brewing Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

In celebration of the potential end of the world (according to the Mayans), Elysian Brewing introduced their 12 Beers of the Apocalypse series – a monthly release of a really off the wall beer. The story from the Elysian website:

In a year-long run-up to the end of all time (according to the Mayan calendar), Elysian Brewing Company and Fantagraphics Books, both of Seattle, are releasing a series of twelve beers, issued on the 21st of each month in 2012 and featuring the label artwork of Charles Burns taken from his weirdly apocalyptic work “Black Hole.” The “Twelve Beers of the Apocalypse” will feature the creativity and unusual ingredients for which Elysian’s brewing team is known. What twelve beers would you brew (and drink) if you knew they would be your last?

The August release was the Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale. I love blood orange, so I had to try this one. The description from Elysian:

Down, down, down Maelstrom will go, pulling the hapless beer enthusiast in with a beguiling blend of blood orange, Northwest hops and sweet orange peel. Stray to close and you may not escape the currents of this tender trap. Blood orange provides tartness and the blush of a brazen sea, Citra and amarillo hops from the Yakima Valley offer bite and aroma, and orange peel suggests a little something else on the wind. Maelstrom is brewed with pale, Munich and Dextri-pils malts bittered with German Northern Brewer and finished and dry-hopped with Citra and Amarillo.

The beer comes in at a hefty 7.25% and is available in a limited release in both 22 oz. bottles for around $7and on tap. I poured mine from a bottle.

The beer pours a cloudy light orange in color with a white head, very reminiscent of a hefe. Hints of hops, blood orange peel and malt dominate the ones on this beer – if you did not know what you were drinking, you might think it was a funky IPA. The initial sip yielded very little character (it may have been a touch too cold) with a hint of grain and a hint of hops, but subsequent sips build up, first with a slightly sweet, orange juice punch, turning into slightly bitter orange peel which lingers for a few seconds before fading. The finish is a bit tannic but very interesting with a lasting bitterness of orange peel and hops that linger well after the sip. The bitterness becomes slightly more pronounced as the beer warms, but it is more enhancing rather than detracting from the overall experience.

One thing that I did try with this beer was pairing it with a classic flavor combination to orange – chocolate. Paired with a single origin Tanzania, 72% chocolate (it had a fruity flavor profile), the beer is enhanced to pack an incredible orange punch and becoming very IPA like with significant presence of hops and notes of bitterness. The chocolate really enhanced many of the flavors that I loved about this beer.

Assuming the world does not end, I would love to see Elysian bring back this beer. It was fantastic; definitely one that I would want to drink if I knew that it was going to be my last one.

Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale gets a sacred 4 blood sacrifices out of 5.

2 thoughts on “Beer of the Week: Elysian Brewing Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale

  1. I’ve been digging most of the Beers Of The Apocalypse. There’s been at least one clunker, but overally they’ve been pretty good.


  2. I agree with you on that one. I am really liking the newest one also – it is a raspberry stout and I think it might actually be the best of the bunch thus far. I believe Elysian is planning on re-releasing all 12 (at least on tap) for their “end of the world” party on 12/21. It might be fun to try them all in a row.


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