Green Flash Brewing Co out of San Diego, California celebrate their 10th anniversary in the beer biz in 2012. Married couple Mike and Lisa Hinkley started the company in Vista, CA but soon moved to San Diego. After a couple of years now-world-famous brewmaster Chuck Silva joined their team and the rest is history as they say.
Unlike previous reviews we’ve decided to sample four different brews from the very same brewery, one after another. It so happened that we had four of Green Flash Brewing Company’s beer in the fridge. The line up includes seasonals Rayon Vert, Le Freak and Palate Wrecker as well as their year-round West Coast I.P.A. Equipped with a cooler bag and gang of colorful ice packs we made way to the city’s finest beer tasting grounds.
It was a warm late summer evening as we sat down in Cornelisparken, a tiny little park perched on a rock, lending a spectacular view of Stockholm’s inner boroughs. In the background across the water is Stockholm’s small but legendary amusement park, Gröna Lund.
First off this evening is the brewery’s Belgian Pale Ale. A careful pour yields a cloudy rose-hip hued beverage with a massive foam head. The nose gives way to a funky and yeasty brett (brettanomyces) aroma tailed by dishcloth, sweet apples, green grapes and honeydew. Sipping the beer there’s a taste of dry aniseed paired with an earthy hop flavor. The general flavor following is fruity, mostly green fruits like pears and sweet apples, reminiscent of calvados. Finishing off the flavor is a light and smooth bitterness. It has a light to medium body with a somewhat watery feel to it considering that Rayon Vert clocks in at 7.0 % ABV. All in all it’s a complex and interesting pale ale and Green Flash does fulfill their promise of adding a “modern twists on traditional styles”.
We’re blessed by a beautiful clear August evening serving us the view of the skyline of Gamla Stan and its church towers. Temporarily memerized by the breathtaking sight of the city we now move onto beer number two.
This evening’s only bomber bottle holds Green Flash’s Belgian IPA called Le Freak. It’s a hybrid beer where a Belgian Abbey Trippel meets an American IPA. An ambivalent beer if you will. The aroma is dominated by exotic fruits, mostly passion fruit followed by green apples and rose-hip all resting atop a brettomycones yeast profile. Fantastic nose! The drink itself is full of apples, honeydew, black currant, candy and coconut and abruptly finished off with a bitter bang. Concluding the evening we both found Le Freak being our top pick out of the four beers tonight. Malty goodness, great hops and a distinct yeast profile is hard to resist!
Style American India Pale Ale · ABV 7.3% · 355 ml bottle
Total Score 7/10
The third bottle pulled out the cooler bag is an perennial American India Pale Ale that clocks in at 7.3% ABV. Popping the cap on the 12 oz bottle, pouring its content into a glass I get a pale amber with sticky lace on the glass. The aroma is an outstanding one simply oozing cassis as well as fudge, pine and nuts. Taste wise this one is phenomenal. It’s piney, it’s resious, it’s bitter, it’s West Coast! Brutally bitter and piney as the taste is the bitter storm is backed up by a sound caramel and fudge malt base. The body is a medium with lots but just the right amount of bubbles. Although a great IPA, the dominating bitter does knock off a point in the final rating.
Style American Double / Imperial IPA · ABV 9.5% · 355 ml bottle
Total Score 8/10
Want to sample some of these beers? Will you be in the Stockholm area the next coming two weekends? Make sure to swing by the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival and check out Brill & Co’s booth where they’re serving up Green Flash Double Stout, Hop Head Red, Le Freak, Palate Wrecker and West Coast IPA. 99 Bottles will attend the Festival on October the 5th. Hope to see you there!
Brewed by Founders Brewing Company · Grand Rapids · Michigan · United States
Read more www.foundersbrewing.com
My friend and neighbor Tobias stopped by my apartment one night accompanied by one highly anticipated bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout. Not being the most avid stout enthusiast, I’m still excited about trying this beer. I’ve heard many good things about it and it also reached a bit of fame when Systembolaget (Swedish government alcohol monopoly) suspended sales because the label depicts a baby having breakfast (in Sweden beer and wine labels are not allowed to show people under the age of 25). In my own opinion that feels a bit too “Big Brother-ish”. Was someone worried about some sleep deprived father of two, getting up in the middle of the night and accidentally feeding his toddler the ashy brew from the Baby Stout bottle? Anyway, let’s move on to the review.
Pitch black! Almost looks a bit intimidating, feels like death is lurking around the corner… On top of the black is a beige to light brown half a finger tall head.
Wow! Smells like an Icelandic volcano just erupted inside of the glass. Ash, ash, ash. At first just overwhelmed by the smell of ash and tar. Very harsh and smoky. After a while as the liquid warms the flavors of chocolate and coffee makes their onset. Smells rather nice! You can also smell the alcohol.
Wasn’t expecting such a smooth tasting experience after smelling all that ash just a couple of minutes ago. Chocolate and coffee. Earthy. Dry. Roasted malt. Sweet and a bit bitter at the same time still very satisfying. Very mellow and smooth for being a stout, feels like you can easily gulp down a couple of these…
A rather thick batter with very little carbonation. Very smooth, but not much else is happening.
Overall impression 7/10
Being more of a hophead, I’m usually not that overly excited about beer in the stout category. But there seems to be something about stouts from the state of Michigan (Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout) that gets me going though. This is a surprisingly smooth stout I can picture me having a taste of regularly. All in all, a great breakfast beer!
Total Score 37/50
Very Good – Generally within style parameters, some minor flaws.
Brewed by Great Divide Brewing Company · Denver · Colorado · United States
Read more www.greatdivide.com
Time flies when you’re getting married and the kid comes home sick from day care like the millionth time, therefore the gap in posting on the site. Anyway it’s Saturday, the wifey’s away, the kid’s asleep and it just happens to be one of those ever so rare and beautiful summer evenings at 59° North latitude. Stockholm’s at its best so naturally I’m out on the patio slamming a dry-aged top blade piece of U.S. beef on the barbie. Accompanying the meat is potato wedges, coleslaw, Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle BBQ Sause and homemade salsa making it The Great American Dinner Plate. What better beer to wash it all down with than America’s Great Divide Titan IPA.
Pouring into the footed beer glass is a perfectly clear amber barley beverage simply teeming with carbonation. A sturdy three finger head with a light yellowish color slowly settles to a two finger foam top leaving dry netted curtains on the glass.
The smell of a robust and thick caramel malt foundation bombarded with skunky-funky piney American hops. Definitely some overlapping herbal and flora notes coming through. In the back I pick up some overly ripened lemon and lime. Eventually a stronger pine and as well resin smell appear. Although a great nose on the Titan I’m sure it has slightly waned off with time which ultimately effects the rating.
Explosion is an understatement here. The flavor burst is a monster! The sweet caramel maltiness meets funky piney hops once again. A herbal taste overlapping slightly with a floral one. Trailing is a fruitiness comparable to pitted fruit like peaches. A substantial bitterness builds up as I sip on the brew, but nothing that really disrupts the balance of the flavors like in many other IPAs. The finale is a dry and crisp one.
Titan’s got a bold and heavy medium body, almost too heavy. The liquid’s got a creamy and sugary feel to it, hitting the bull’s eye of a perfect liquid. The few and very soft bubbles constitute a carbonation that lends just the right amount of help in distribution the flavors.
Overall impression 8/10
On the verge of becoming a Double IPA (don’t worry, mighty big brother Hercules is here to do that job) this IPA is packed to the breaking point with hops and sweet malts. Assertive? Yes! Aromatic? Hell yeah! Yet it’s relatively light on the bitterness. The ingredients of this beer all speak the same language resulting balanced yet complex dialog in flavor. Do you like IPA and yet haven’t had Titan? This needs to go on your beer bucket list. Titan is one of the reasons why I love and drink IPA!
Total Score 42/50
Excellent – Exemplifies style well, requires minor fine-tuning.
Brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co · Chico · California · United States
Read more www.sierranevada.com
A very much widely appreciated, talked about and seasonally available beer. This year I got this sample “fairly” close to it’s bottling date, meaning three months. The last beer I had from Sierra Nevada was their Celebration ale, a malt heavy and caramelly winter warming IPA. Turning up the volume a notch, popping the cap on this epic American strong ale, I’m wondering what has kept this legend of a beer brewing for the past twenty years.
Waterfalls into my glass, demonstrating a ripe strawberry ale with a brownish hue. A top is a thick and creamy double finger head which is bright beige in color. As the head sets it leaves frothy and thick curtains sticking to the glass.
A monstrous hoppy American strong ale no doubt. The nose is compact as a brick wall, starting with a caramelly/fudgy malt backbone, then a slight alcohol profile coming through blending seamlessly with a rich stone-fruit aroma. Blanketing the nose is a herbal and bitter hop smell.
Extremely flavor intense, extremely hoppy a brew. A soapy and earthy bitter palate wrecker restrained but not totally balanced by a solid fudge malt chain and ball. The malt’s sweet but not overly sweet. Leaves a funky and dank grassy taste lingering.
A super smooth medium bodied beer. Liquid’s sweet and big but not cloying. Good portion of earthy bitterness in the aftertaste, that just stays with me for a long time. Carbonation’s pretty amazing on this one, mellow and distinct, literally pressing the flavors out of the beer.
Overall impression 7/10
Just a lovely example of an American Barleywine and also an excellent example of what happens when you whack a stupid amount of hops in a big beer. If not completely restrained and smooth, with the alcohol and bitterness dominating the flavor a tad too much here and there, I wouldn’t be surprised if this baby version of the beer grew up into a beautiful something with a few years of maturing. To finish it off, Bigfoot’s simply a bittersweet symphony!
Total Score 40/50
Excellent – Exemplifies style well, requires minor fine-tuning (In this specific case fine-tuning means cellaring)
Brewed by Brooklyn Brewery · New York City · New York · United States
Read more www.brooklynbrewery.com
I’ve been dying to try this famous seasonal from Garrett Oliver and his crew out in Brooklyn. I mean, a highly rated and appreciated Russian Imperial Stout at almost the same price as a macro lager from one of the majors, is that really possible? Let’s see what this calorie bomb (yes it does weigh in at a staggering 320 kcal) can to do me!
Black Chocolate Stout is a fitting name, this beer’s completely black, like a night of a new moon. The emptying of the bottle builds a compact and creamy finger of beige to light brown head. Minuscule bubbles hang on for dear life, painting lace around the edge of the glass.
A wall of roasted malts to climb initially, it almost has a burnt and tarry profile. Following is nuances of rye pumpernickel, light citric acidity intertwined with a combo of soy sauce, figs and sweet licorice. Letting it breathe for a moment there’s a strong dark chocolate and espresso bean profile coming through that only increases with time and a higher temperature. Lingering in the back is a perfume booziness.
A malty and boozy welcome, followed by dry bitterness blanketing the whole of the tongue. It’s a complex and somewhat vinous brew with roasted malts, sweetened dark rye bread, dark fruits, soy sauce plus some light espresso and dark bittersweet bakery’s chocolate. I also get Italian Amarelli licorice mixed with tar permeating the other flavors. The 10% ABV do make themselves known (lending an close to a minty profile to the beer) and there’s a bitter coating of the mouth.
A true heavy weighter indeed. Body’s heavy and thick with a syrupy and creamy feel to it. It’s loaded with carbondioxide and its fizzy bubbles spring to life once on the tongue. Finally there’s a dry bitterness in aftertaste.
Overall impression 6/10
Spontaneously said, this is a great and complex “designer beer”. Coming with such a hard to beat and happy price tag I’d say this something you necessarily have to try at least once, there aren’t simply any arguments against it. You just get so much goodness for your money’s worth.
On the negative side it’s slightly too boozy and has a raw bitterness in taste. I’ve had imperial stouts before with the same ABV not producing the same alcohol burn. Well I cant wait for year to have another bottle of this stuff can I, so I’ll simply have to have one of my remaining bottles with a bit of chocolate cake or simply a piece of chocolate, just to get some sugar that hopefully will balance the alcohol and bitterness some.
Other than that this is, hands down, a really solid Russian Imperial Stout and at a bargain price too. In Sweden, go get at least one at Systembolaget while stocks last.
Total Score 38/50
Excellent – Exemplifies style well, requires minor fine-tuning.