Green Flash has a new collaboration with Brasserie St-Feuillien called Friendship Brew an "ale brewed with spices." We picked up a 4-pack at the Breaux Mart (long the unheralded supplier of randomly awesome craft beer) and tried it after we came home from sampling the Vertical Epic beers. It's a black saison, and is something else! The American hop profile and dark roasty malts work beautifully with the Belgian yeast and spices... I'm not sure how to describe it, but it's like a balance of these 4 divergent flavor profiles that actually works. I don't know how or why it works, because it could easily be a total trainwreck, but it's an interesting and unique beer that I could just enjoy all day long. And at 5.7% ABV, it packs much less a punch you might expect with these characteristics.
Interesting- looking at some of the reviews, there seems to be an issue with menthol/herbal notes, which I don't get at all. The herbs I get aren't mint or astringent, they are more... lavender, grains of paradise, allspice type of thing. I don't get the medicinal flavors at all. I don't know if it's a function of a couple more weeks of age on it, or my palate, or what. Weird!
I actually heard about this beer from a somewhat unusual source- Bryn, the bar/front of house/business manager at Ancora. Ancora is (for me) turning into a stealth place to go and hang out over a couple of nice beers over there on Freret. I went there for lunch a few weeks ago, and Bryn the manager, Jeff the chef, and I got into a great beer discussion (based on the pros and cons of Green Flash's HopHead Red), and Bryn told me they had just gotten the Friendship Brew in, and I needed to try it when it came on line. Since then, I've kept my eyes open for it - I think the world of Ancora and absolutely trust anything they say is good, food-wise, and I don't see why it should be any different for beer.
It's a really interesting beer. Really interesting. A good way to test your skill at picking out flavor profiles, because there are a lot of them happening there. And I like it. Sometimes when there's a lot going on in a beer, it will leave me cold, but somehow, here, all the various threads came together into something that worked for me.
Mmm, now I want to pair this with some Ancora food. It's a very powerful beer, so I think it would match up really well with their kalamata muffaletta or lamb meatball sandwich. Or their Putenesca pizza. I highly recommend all these things!