Nov. 07, 2012 - Issue #890: GWAR
Flashing some big hops
An IPA that packs a punchIn the beer world we call 'em hopheads: beer fans who can never get enough hops in their beer to satiate their desire for the little green cone. They are the people who not only realized that bitter and hoppy beer (there is a difference) tastes good, they feel like beer is boring without kilograms of hops thrown in their glass.
I wouldn't classify myself as a hophead, although I do love a good smack-you-in-the-face and suck-in-your-cheeks beer. My issue is that I love too many other styles as well.
But today's column is for the hopheads. Recently arrived in Alberta is a beer that helped define a style that is an homage to hops. India Pale Ales have existed for hundreds of years, originating in Britain's desire to make beer for their bureaucrats in India.
But hopheads rejoice! One of the beers that has come to epitomize the West Coast IPA has recently arrived in Alberta. This particular variant of the style, first designed on the US west coast, goes all-in with hops. They ramp up the bitterness and hop aroma and flavour, dry out the finish and the result is a puckering hop-bomb. That sucking in of your cheeks is not a mistake—it is by design.
Green Flash Brewing has been around since 2002 and is well-known —downright famous—for its hoppy west coast IPA, called (rather unimaginatively) West Coast IPA. It's now arrived in Alberta, meaning hopheads here can get their first sip of this iconic beer.
It is a bright, medium-orange beer with a rocky, massive white head with spider-like capacity to stick to the glass. It has a classic IPA look. The aroma hits you with strong citrus hop, a formidable fruitiness with a lagging effect of light biscuit and grainy malt. I also pick up a
perfume-y edge reminding me of lavender.
The first sip initially presents a soft malt note, but that doesn't last long. It is quickly overrun by a freight train of sharp, citrusy, piney hops. The accents I find are grapefruit, lime zest and other citrus character. There is also a spicy, sharp tea leaf angle to the flavour. The linger is noticeably and unabashedly hoppy, throwing out grapefruit and pine qualities.
This beer is about the hops and nothing but the hops. Meaning it will be a divisive beer—some will love it for its decisive hops addiction, with others seeking a little more balance to make it less in-your-face.
Take whichever side you wish. All I can say is that it lives up to its reputation. V
West Coast IPA
Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego, California
$14.99 for four 341 ml bottles
Jason Foster is the creator of onbeer.org, a website devoted to news and views on beer from the prairies and beyond.
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