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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Celebrating IPA Day With Green Flash Brewing's West Coast IPA

Hoppy IPA Day all!

IPA Month here at MDB continues with an excellent west coast style IPA from Green Flash Brewing in San Diego.

I've been trying to think up ways to frame IPA Month that better presents the many different variations and interpretations of the India Pale Ale Style. An IPA, after all, is fairly simple to define:

(from about.com) IPA Definition: A hoppier version of pale ale. Originally brewed in England with extra hops to survive the journey to British troops stationed in India.

When someone says "IPA", we tend to think of pale ales that are yellow in color and bitter in taste, but they are so much more! IPA's can be black and thick, like a stout or porter (Black IPAs are a huge trend right now). They can be conditioned longer to create an India Pale Lager (Yes, I 'm talking about you, Jacks Abby) . They can be spiced with Jalapeno peppers (thanks Boston Beer Works). They can be hopped continually for two hours, creating a super high ABV hop orgy that drinks more like a fine liquor than a beer (I'm  talking 'bout you Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA).

The style lends itself to many, many interpretations, and one of my absolute favorite things in beer is seeing how different brewers interpret the style. For this years IPA month, I'm leaning towards an East Coast/West Coast comparison. Yesterday I gave you a superb east coast style IPA- Lunch, from the Maine Beer Company. Today we're heading west....

West Coast Style IPA
Green Flash Brewing, San Diego CA
7.3% ABV, 95 IBUs

I had heard of this Green Flash IPA before, specifically when it won the 2009 National IPA Challenge. Only recently have I seen it for sale locally.

The Green Flash web site has this to say about the beer:

A menagerie of hops is layered throughout the brewing process: Simcoe for unique fruitiness and grapefruit zest, Columbus for strong hop pungency, Centennial for pine and citrus notes and Cascade for floral aroma. A multi-dimensional hop experience.
 
This beer pours a hazy orange with two fingers of thick, creamy,  foamy tan head that has serious staying power. It eventually collapses a bit, but still leaves a healthy, bubbly lacing on the surface and glass.

Smell is pungent, "in your face", piney hops (and I love it!).

Mouthfeel is creamy, velvety, luscious. Excellent body.

Taste is, at first, an absolute assault of citrusy, super bitter, super strong grapefruit on the palette. Luckily the initial assault retreats substantially, although it never quite leaves. The lingering grapefruit bitterness carries over to a very dry finish.

This is a rock solid IPA. I wouldn't have guessed it was west coast though, as I feel it was missing a bit of the brightness that I tend to associate with west coast style IPAs. But maybe I have not had enough of them yet?

I recommend this beer to hop heads and anyone planning a BBQ. Not sessionable (in my opinion anyway) due to the IBUs and ABV.

I think this beer lends it self extremely well to a comparison with Maine Beer Companies "Lunch" IPA. Both are the same ABV, 7%, and both pour almost the exact same color and clarity (hazy). But they could not be more different in taste.

Here is my first East Coast/West Coast IPA comparison-

Smell:
Lunch smells very sweet, with overtones of tropical fruits in the nose.
West Coast is all hops in the nose, Piney hops to be exact. there is no sweetness at all.

Taste:
Lunch also starts bitter, but not as extreme, and then it transitions to an almost sweet, juicy profile.
West Coast is all business, and its business is to bring the bitter hops, which is does exceptionally well.

Finish:
Both finish dry, but Lunch has almost no bitterness in the finish. Sessionable due to the smoothness.
West Coast has a definite bitter after taste. Not sessionable due to the super bitter 95 IBUs.

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