As previously mentioned, Green Flash Brewing Co. out of San Diego, CA, launched in South Carolina this week. The brewery has started a slow rollout in the Southeast recently, with Georgia getting their own big debut about a week ago. The brewery has held launch events throughout the state all week, starting in Greenville and the Upstate Wednesday, Columbia and the Midlands Thursday and ending with Charleston and the Low Country Friday. On Saturday, the brewery will have a table at Brewvival as well. (More on that to come.)
Thursday evening, my fiancée and I headed over to Flying Saucer for their big launch event. Saucer had five bottles and four taps of Green Flash on hand and for a new brewery, they apparently already had a wealth of interest. By the time we got to the bar, the patio was packed and inside was filling up quickly.
(Note: Maybe it’s the’s regularly warmer weather, but beer geeks in Columbia are major hop heads. Stouts and porters don’t usually mix well with hot-natured people, I guess. So I think GF should do pretty well here.)
My first pick was the Rayon Vert, a bottle conditioned hopped-up 7% ABV Belgian-style pale ale with Brettanomyces. On top of the hazy yellow color, the head was ridiculous, looking more like a scoop of ice cream than anything. The Belgian characteristics were very prevalent on the nose, as was a slight barn yard-y quality. The taste followed through nicely, as did that barn yard deal. (It sounds gross, but it makes sense when you try it.) The hops and Bret worked together well, and the high carbonated cleaned the palate really well.
Next was GF’s flagship beer, the West Coast IPA. At 7.3% ABV and made with Simcoe, Columbus, Cascade and Centennial hops, it’s everything you’d want and expect from a West Coast IPA. The Simcoe was prevalent on the nose, giving it that juicy tropical fruit smell. The deep orange color made it look really rich as well. The taste was spot-on: rich, flavorful and hoppy as hell. The finish is dry and muted, but the flavors linger nicely. Definitely one of the best standard IPAs I’ve had, and one I’ll be trying again for a closer review.
I ended with the BarleyWine, a 10.9& … well, barleywine. It poured a dark mahogany color, as you’d expect a barleywine to. The rich, dark fruits were very prevalent on the nose, but the first thing you get when you taste it is hops. That mellows out pretty quickly and gives way to the toffee and dark fruit flavors. The tastes linger on the back as well and stick around in your mouth.
(Sorry about the darker pictures. I do the best I can with an iPhone.)
Afterward, we met one of the guys from the brewery (I couldn’t catch his name over the shouting on the patio) and talked with him briefly. I asked why GF decided to expand to the East Coast. Short answer? Bigger brewery, bigger distribution. He also said some of their newer brews and special releases will be hitting the market in the near future.
Green Flash seems to be a good fit for South Carolina. Their hop-forward beers will suit the market well, and their more experimental stuff isn’t so out there as to turn off unadventurous drinkers. They’re 4-4 with me. For a brewery that’s been here less than a week, that’s a damn good start.