Last week was the much anticipated Louisiana launch of the well-regarded San Diego brewery Green Flash. I'd been looking forward to it, especially since I'd had only limited exposure to it before moving-I think MA only had West Coast IPA, their flagship.
The Avenue Pub did a three day rollout between June 19 and 21. Tom and I showed up on the last day of the rollout, when all the beers (even the bottles) were available for tasting. We each got a tasting ticket (5 tastes for $12) and proceeded to sample the list. Funny story- I started using the Untappd app recently and I started checking in all the beers we were sampling - since I was checking in both our beers and they were small amounts, I was doing so fairly rapidly. After the 4th or 5th check in, I got a message from my friend the Beer Buddha, saying, "Nora, slow down. Seriously!" Oops! I explained the logistics, got made fun of a little bit.
On to the beers!
First up: I had the Le Freak and Tom had the Retro Extra Pale Ale. The Le Freak is a combination of a Belgian Tripel and Imperial IPA, and it is quite a good beer. It hides it's 9.2% ABV quite well with the tripel yeast and the hops- those two flavors merge into something very unique and drinkable. The Retro is an interesting beer, brewed to celebrate Green Flash's 10-year anniversary. This is what they say about it:
Fall 2012 marks our 10 year anniversary and Extra Pale Ale was the first-ever Green Flash success. A celebratory reminder of the beginning for us - and also about how much our style and craft beer culture has evolved over the past decade. While this early Millennium American-Style Pale is from a time less hoppy, we think our 2012 redux is the perfect summer vintage: crisp, refreshing and bubbling with nostalgia.We liked it quite a lot- it's a very crisp summer beer. A bit astringent on the finish, but still tasty. Easy drinking, Tom drank it up right quick! Next up for us: Tom had the Linchpin White IPA and I stayed sort of on the Belgian train with their straight up Trippel. The trippel is a classic take on the style, using Styrian Golding and Czech Saaz to match up against the belgian yeast. It was good. Not particularly envelope-pushing as some of their other beers are, but a good, solid representation of the style. The Linchpin White IPA is a collaboration of Green Flash's with Founders Brewing, brewed with wheat, two strains of yeast, and the three citrus-y "C" hops (Columbus, Centennial, Cascade). A great combination, again, really drinkable on a summer day.
Next: Imperial IPA for me and the Barleywine for Tom. I liked the Imperial IPA- it was pretty well balanced for a double/imperial style, drinkable and super super hoppy. Tom loved the Barleywine- very different interpretation of the style. A little lighter in color than usual, it finished drier than I'm used to with barleywines, and Tom described the flavor as liquid english toffee smashed with tons of hops. In a good way.
OK, at that point we moved upstairs to try the bottle pours as well as the rest of the Green Flash on tap. Tom tried the Saison Diego which he also loved- an unfiltered farmhouse saison brewed with Seville orange peels, Chinese ginger, and grains of paradise. It drank clean, crisp, and dry, was full of flavor and well balanced, and to top it off- it was a session beer! 4.2% Victory! I had the Double Stout Black Ale (and, OK, my notes are starting to get more and more random here) which was highly recommended by all the bartenders, and it was quite delicious. Roasty, smooth, dry finish, a nice balanced bitterness hidden underneath the malt and booze.
On to the two weird ones: Biere L'amite (another collaboration, this one with Brasserie Saint Feuillien, which had been aged. Wow, this one was very unique and had a lot of cool stuff going on. It's a Belgian pale ale style, brewed with rye and Trappist yeast. Would like to try again to pin down everything happening on the palate. It was really good, though. Also up: the Rayon Vert, another Belgian-style pale ale, but this one, while equally interesting, was quite different than the L'amite. It had a strong hoppy characteristic which went very well with the belgian yeast and the Brett sour funk. Quite a beer. Bought some from Steins to take home to re-examine (along with the Double Stout, Le Freak, and West Coast IPA.)
We finished up with the West Coast IPA and the Hophead Red, their two flagship beers, which were both great. The West Coast is just hop-juicy and delicious, and the Red has a nice malt backbone that complements the hoppiness. At that point, though, we were a little palate fatigued, and we knew those two would be around more often than the others.
Some really good beers, and I'm very excited that New Orleans has access to them now! Another step in a great direction on New Orleans being more and more of a beer destination. Mmm, I wonder if we'll get any Green Flash on cask this year...