Cosmic Ristretto is a Baltic Porter brewed with espresso and Belgian candy sugar. The head is foamy rather than creamy. There’s coffee and licorice on the nose. Tons of coffee and molasses in the middle, brown sugar and star anise in the finish. The body is medium and the alcohol is a relatively high 8.2% ABV. This is an exceptional beer.
Day of the Serranos. A double stout from Green Flash brewed with Serrano chiles. The nose is malty and sweet. The middle starts as a deliciously sweet imperial stout with chocolate and a bit of coffee, and the coffee remains as it fades to a finish where the spicy hot chile oils creep up on you. I don’t know that “delicately spiced” as the bottle label indicates is exactly accurate…The heat is not subtle at all. It is also not, however, overdone. It’s perfectly balanced between sweetness and spice. The body is medium and the alcohol is a biggish 8.8% ABV. Fantastic beer for those of us who love spicy food and drink.
On the bottle, Le Freak is described as a “Belgian Imperial IPA.” The Green Flash website expands a bit, explaining that it’s a hybrid of a Belgian Tripel and an American Imperial IPA. Interesting. The head is beautiful. Big and velvety, and it lasts for minutes. The nose is distinctively Belgian, with loads of fruit. The hybrid nature comes through in the middle with something I might describe as a battle between the sweet and complex Belgian, which is definitely here in full force, and the strong bitter west-coast style IPA that Green Flash is known for, which is just as present. There are spices, cherry, plum, pine, orange and grapefruit all mingling and alternately coming to the fore. The finish has some bitter citrus rind from the IPA, but is more Belgian in character with marmalade and a bit of licorice. The body is quite full and heavy, and the alcohol is 9.2% ABV, about what you’d expect for this style of ale. It’s probably not the next big thing, but it’s a fun mix, certainly enjoyable if you like the component styles, and well executed.
While Green Flash is known for their big hoppy ales, that doesn’t mean that they can’t do a top notch job with a big malty barleywine as well. I’m trying the 2013 vintage today, and there’s nothing crazy here, just all of the characteristics of a reference barleywine, with perhaps some influence from a Belgian Strong Ale. They claim that there is an “enormous charge of Pacific Northwest hops” that give it hoppy citrus characteristics throughout, but I’m simply not finding that to be true of the 2013, though it may have been true of earlier vintages, or it may just be that my bottle has been around long enough that the hop notes have started to break down, which happens after a few months. That said, what’s left is a great malty brew. The nose is rich and warm with brown sugar, raisins and figs. The middle is heavy and sticky and bursting with dark fruit, raisins, plums, figs, grapes, some caramel, and a mild heat from the alcohol as well. The finish is sugary and syrupy, with some slight toast and very faint hints of sweet citrus (orange and grapefruit) in the background, but not enough to take the focus off the heavy malt backbone. The body is heavy, and this is quite a big beer at 10.9% ABV which shows through in the middle, but not at all unpleasantly. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by this beer, but I’m thoroughly impressed.
Palate Wrecker is a big West Coast style IPA that was originally brewed for Hamilton’s Tavern and has clearly been influenced by Stone’s Ruination. (So called because it “ruins” your palate.) It’s an Imperial IPA, so big on flavor, body, and alcohol. The head is creamy and the nose has a ton of grapefruit, grass, and some pine. The middle is heavy and sits on your tongue, imparting flavors of grapefruit, lemon, and honey. The finish explodes with pine, a bit of grapefruit rind, and some booziness from the alcohol. (9.5% ABV) This may be the purest Imperial variant of the West Coast style IPA that I’ve had, and for all the marketing around the 100+ IBU score for this beer, it isn’t anywhere near as strongly and ruinously bitter as Ruination is. I love the west coast style and to me, this is a truly outstanding beer.
If I’ve been noticeably absent this past couple of weeks, it’s because I’ve been moving. Which is a huge pain in the rump, I might add. However, things are settling down and this is the first review from the new house, so enjoy. Green Bullet is a winter seasonal Triple IPA from Green Flash Brewing in San Diego. It’s a super hoppy IPA in the West Coast style that Green Flash does so well, with extra helpings of body and alcohol. There is pine and lemon in the nose, pine and grapefruit in the middle, and pine and just a hint of sweet orange in the finish. The 10.1% ABV and the additional dosage of hops means that this is a beer that should keep well if you want to pick up a few extra while it’s in stock (through December 2013.) This is a West Coast IPA at heart, with nothing particular unusual in the flavors, but the imperial nature really does make it a nice winter treat when a thinner beer just won’t do. It’s a nice, simple idea, well executed, and a fine treat.
Saison Diego is a Belgian Saison, or Farmhouse Ale, from the Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego. The style is known for its spices, and Green Flash has done a really nice job of staying true to that style. With spicy Czech hops, orange zest, ginger, and grains of paradise, this is a flavorful old world beer, very different from some of the super piney bitter west-coast style ales that Green Flash is known for, but this is just as good a beer. The nose is bready, with wheat and yeast and a bit of orange. The middle is spicy, with the orange, the hops, and the grains of paradise coming to the fore. The finish is dry and dusty, with fading notes of cinnamon and slightly bitter orange peel. This is a really nice beer, and one of the better Saisons I’ve tried. I give it a thumbs up.