Friday, September 28, 2012

Can Superman Outrun the Green Flash?

Beer: Green Flash West Coast IPA
Brewery: Green Flash Brewing (San Diego)
Type: American IPA
ABV: 7.3%

Green Flash is an up-and-coming brewery from San Diego that has seen a huge increase in its output over the last year, meaning that the brewery is able to get more of its product out east.   This is due to a highly-necessary change in facilities, which has allowed its yearly output of beer to increase from 14,000 barrels in 2010 with their older brewery (Vista) to an expected 35,000 per year in the new facility (Mira Mesa).  While still not the largest brewery in the area - the legendary Stone Brewery holds that title with over 100,000 barrels yearly - it still represents a significant jump, positioning them to become the second-largest brewery in the San Diego area.

Due to the odd politics and wranglings that involve bringing new beers into the LCBO, we somehow still don't have any Stone brews among our shelves, but this month Ontarians - if they are lucky - might see the first (of hopefully many) Green Flash brews in our province.  My new policy with the LCBO is that I could get angry and frustrated about our lack of selection, but unless there is something really productive I can do about it (which are only so useful), there's no sense in getting really angry about it.  Every so often a few good, exciting brews sneak into the system, so I enjoy them when I can, and supplement my beer cravings with the occasional out of province beer hauls.   This brew is pretty damned exciting, and I'm glad to see it there, so I'm not going to piss and moan about our situation.   I also have to give a shoutout to a member of the UpTown staff who was able to help me track down a fourpack of this.  I checked out the LCBO store listings, and saw that UpTown had a few leftover (it's a limited release, so don't expect it to be there for long!), but this proved to be out of date.  The employee called around to the various stores - which involved several long periods of being on hold - until he finally tracked one down, and had the other store put some on hold.  Big thanks are in order!

The bottle label displays a Green Flash sunset over the Pacific Ocean, wreathed in barley and hops, and it comes with an appropriate warning: "Extravagantly Hopped."  I'll just warn everyone right now - they aren't fucking around.   This brew is hopped to holy hell, so if incredibly bitter and tangy hopbombs aren't your think, you might want to give this one a pass.  But if you are, like me, a hop-head, then read on - this one is terrific.

Poured into a nonic glass that is geared for single bottle use.  Slightly hazy caramel amber, with a terrific billowing head that just won't quit.  The retention on this is outstanding, as is the sticky lacing that covers the glass from top to bottom.  This is one exceptional-looking brew.

Nose is a powerful blend of citrus hops (grapefruit and lemon) and sweet caramel malt.  The two dominant scents play off each other nicely, as the brew simultaneously smells bitter and sweet, which is an excellent combination.

A real hopbomb, this.  Lip-smackingly puckery with citrus hop bitterness, which is soon countered with a sweet caramel-toffee blast.  Finishes long and bitter, with a great citric bitterness lingering on the tongue.  A few other spices play into things here - mint, herbal tea being the two I can identify.

Alcohol content is hard to detect, given the influx of sweet and bitter flavours one has to deal with.   Creamy, with a bitter puckery finish.

If this is the only Green Flash brew that makes it out this way, I will be severely disappointed, yet happy that I was able to at least give one a try.  This was one hoppy brew, and was well worth picking up, despite the higher price point (around $14 for a four pack).  With the limited nature of this release, and the cost, I won't necessarily be stocking my shelves with this brew - my wallet would kill me - but I will certainly hold on to a few, because this is one of the biggest hop bombs to hit this province in quite some time.  (Grade: A)

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