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Beer Reviews

West Coast I.P.A.

Green Flash Brewing Co.
Vista, CA

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 7.3%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

The latest stop on my “Late Spring Tour O’ West Coast IPAs,” sponsored in part by The Greater Akron Board of Tourism (motto: “Rubber is for Lovers” … creepy …), is Green Flash Brewing, another San Diego-area entry. While Green Flash isn’t quite as well known as other San Diego brewers like AleSmith, Ballast Point, and Stone, considering the positive experiences I’ve had with most brews from the region, I’m optimistic that this will be another winner. And, like the venerable Charlie Sheen, Nigel likes winning. Although, I like actual winning, not the drugged-out insanity trip with porn stars by my side as I humiliate myself on a national stage and get fired from my multi-million dollar contract-type winning. But I digress.

Green Flash initially caught my attention as it came in a 4-pack of uniquely shaped bottles. A tip of the cap to the marketing department is deserved, since I initially thought it was a good deal for 16.9-ounce bottles. They aren’t … they’re 12 oz., though I STILL swear they look bigger. Green Flash isn’t flashy (pun absolutely intended, my apologies) and the brews are very hop-centric, with a few IPAs, imperial IPAs and “Hop Head Red.” Green Flash does have some diversity in their lineup as well, with Belgian-style ales and stouts.

No time for the other styles, when Nigel’s out west he’s all about the IPAs. (That’s a lie … I did actually try the Hop Head Red, and it was very good. I also tried plenty of other styles on my nearly two week trek. Once again, my apologies.) A cool, crisp IPA fits perfectly with a warm desert evening, as the bitter, floral hops, the lighter profile, and the ability to drink them ice cold really hits the spot. Green Flash’s entry into the “Spring Tour O’ West Coast IPAs” is West Coast I.P.A., immediately ending any speculation as to whether or not it should qualify.

West Coast I.P.A. pours with a pillowy white head well over an inch thick that slowly dissipates, leaving a large amount of creamy lace at the top throughout and plenty of residue on the side of the glass. A perfect coppery color, there’s a cloudy profile due to large amounts of sediment that hovers in the glass throughout. It’s a great looking IPA in the glass.

Aromas are very pleasant and fall on the stronger end of the spectrum for a standard IPA. Big citrus zest comes through at the outset, with orange and grapefruit dominating, backed by slight hints of lemon and green apple. A touch of evergreen is present as well, giving West Coast I.P.A. all the hoppy colors of the rainbow. Not to be outdone, there is a strong malty, grainy backbone with a touch of sugar, giving it a balanced, powerful aroma that is more typical of an imperial IPA.

The flavor is excellent, making Green Flash another in a long line of West Coast craft brewers who make a damn fine IPA. The flavor largely emulates the aroma, as you would expect given its strength and diversity. Initial flavors are light and zesty, with orange zest, grapefruit, and lemon. Rather than bitter, piney hops, the secondary flavor is the earthy, grainy malt backbone, which plays perfectly with the lighter hop notes. Only slight hints of evergreen hops and sugary malt comes through, but when they do, they are the ideal counterbalance to the zesty citrus and grainy malt. A slight hint of alcohol bites the tongue at the very end, not surprising given this is a bit stronger than a typical IPA (7.3 percent ABV). West Coast I.P.A. is extremely flavorful and has the huge hop profile I was hoping for, yet it remains balanced and approachable.

Overall, Green Flash has crafted a damn fine American IPA. While it’s not quite the gem that I experienced in my first stop on the Tour, AleSmith’s brilliant IPA, it’s a great entry nonetheless and one that is definitely worth a try for any hop-loving beer dorks who finds themselves west of the Continental Divide. While West Coast I.P.A. falls short of the vaunted five-mug threshold, it’s a great example of the style that I can’t wait to get my hands on again.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on May 31, 2011.
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