The end may be near for Green Flash, should you care? The short answer to this question whether you like Green Flash’s beers or not is yes. You should care that what is happening to Green Flash could easily happen to your favorite brewery at some point in the (near?) future. The craft beer bubble is real and it is going to burst at some point, this could be the sign of things to come. There was a time when Green Flash was distributing to 50 states and expanding rapidly; buying up smaller breweries, extending their reach, building a second ambitious brewery on the east coast to further their reach. Now they have pulled out of nearly every single state they distribute to, are having to sell off assets, lost most of their investors and the bank that was their largest lender foreclosed on their loan. What I am saying is it wasn’t a lifetime ago that “West Coast IPA”, “Le Freak” and “Palate Wrecker” were considered top tier IPAs by many. “Le Freak” was the first of it’s kind, a Belgian IPA, the NEIPA of the early 2000s. Oh how things have changed.
Green Flash’s legacy of SHELF TURDS. Green Flash’s fall from grace probably started long before any of these financial woes if you ask the average craft beer drinker. When was the last time you went to your local bottle shop, checked the date of a Green Flash beer and it was even remotely drinkable (standard IPA shelf life is about 3 months). They stopped distributing to Illinois 4 months ago and I bet I could go to 10 different stores and still pick up at least 2 of their flagship beers right now. I would never do that because 1 year old West Coast IPAs are not my thing (nor should they be anyones). Unfortunately I haven’t even remotely considered buying a Green Flash beer in probably 5 years and most of the time my friends and I just try to guess how old they are. Word association game, Green Flash: Shelf Turd. If you are distributing all over the country and all of your products are just sitting on the shelves something is wrong and the financial problems are bound to follow regardless of how big you are.
Can other breweries learn from the mistakes Green Flash made? Yes, yes and yes. Green Flash REFUSED to adapt to the current craft beer climate. They seemed completely stuck in their ways of brewing the same 7-8 beers all the time, forever. Yes in 2004 “West Coast IPA” was great and probably helped a lot of people get into IPAs, in fact fresh it is probably still a solid beer. But cmon, let’s get real here. If you aren’t brewing some sort of NE style beer, having high profile can releases, using your money to invest in an extensive barrel program or brewing sours you are just living in the past. I know, that kind of sucks but it’s where we are at right now. Green Flash’s biggest move in the past few years was acquiring Alpine who just brews the exact same beers they do and just like Green Flash, people cared more about them in the early 2000s. There was a time when Alpine “Duet” was an extremely sought after beer in trades and was widely considered one of the best IPAs in the country. It is now most likely sitting on the shelves of a liquor store near you oxidizing and aged at a ripe 13 months.
What does this mean moving forward? I’m interested in what they will do. They aren’t completely bankrupt and shut down at this point. They have made the necessary steps to continue to operate. They are only distributing to 7 states now, which I assume are their largest markets and the ones closest to Cali, they sold off their unnecessary assets and seem to be hitting a reset button of some sorts. Like I said above though, they need to adapt, they need to realize that what they have been doing until is not gonna cut it. The craft beer world is changing, they need to change with it. Don’t abandon everything you’ve done and what has gotten you here but if you want to move forward get with the program! Keep the beers that matter most, “West Coast IPA”, “Le Freak” and like one other one and then start messing with some of the new stuff, get people excited to come out and get your new beers. If not I wouldn’t be surprised if they just continued to shrink and eventually just fall off completely.
I hate repost accounts on Instagram. They are stupid and I wanted to rant about how I hate them. They produce no original content and exist solely to repost pictures from other accounts. What an idiotic concept. Create your own content. Simply taking other peoples posts and making an archive of those posts on an instagram with a clever handle like @hotbeergirlz or @coolbeerpics is dumb. God it is so dumb. If you enjoy someones content they post follow that person, not an account that takes their content and posts it. I am sure some people love the attention of having their pictures reposted on these accounts and that is why they exist and have thousands of followers. More and more of them pop up everyday and they basically all just recycle the same content back and forth with each other. They are a plague to the craft beer community and I want them to go away.
Overhyped, overrated, overpriced; yes you are reading that right. I am using all of those words to describe Kentucky Breakfast Stout by Founders Brewing Co. Sorry not sorry, it is true. Maybe, just maybe, at one point in a lot of peoples eyes this was the best Bourbon Barrel Aged stout in the game. It never was for me, I certainly held it in higher regard back between 2012-2014 when less breweries were doing BBA Stouts really well.
So why the article? No I am not bashing Founders, I actually really like Founders and despite writing this article there is a good chance I will buy a KBS at some point this year (I have a few in my cellar from past years). I just have had this feeling toward KBS for a few years now and have talked and ranted about it to friends of mine in the community and while some agree off the bat, some don’t and I feel like my opinion toward this beer is important and not one people always want to explore. So we are exploring it!
Overrated seems harsh. Yeah, maybe it comes off as harsh. Don’t think I am saying KBS is a bad beer, that would be harsh and also not true. KBS is a great beer, but people hold it in such high regard and hence I find overrated to be the right word. Like I mentioned above, just think of all the breweries doing great BBA Stouts. Even just regionally here in Chicago so many breweries are doing amazing things with barrel aging beers. Here are some easy quick examples of barrel aged beers I rank higher than KBS in the Chicagoland area; Pipeworks The Jones/Hyper Dog, Transient Kentuckley, Revolution Deth’s Tar, Half Acre BA Big Hugs. I could make a really long list, but that seems unnecessary and overkill. You get the point, I guarantee you can do the same for whatever region you are in. Every year KBS just becomes a little less special and less unique. So many other breweries are cracking the code and making top tier BBA Stouts. Even Founders makes a better BBA beer in my opinion and I will get to that later. What I am saying is that I do not think in the year 2018 KBS is worthy of garnering the attention it gets as one of the biggest beer releases of the year.
KBS represents a lot of what is wrong with beer releases on a national scale. Founders is the largest independent craft brewery in the US. They can’t and don’t do anything on a small scale anymore. Every year they release Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS), the beer this article is about, an imperial stout aged in Bourbon Barrels. Despite it’s name it is not just a barrel aged version of Founder’s Breakfast Stout (a beer I actually love), the base beer for KBS is allegedly similar to FBS but has differences. The release of KBS every year marks a frenzy for everyone from beer snobs to casual beer drinkers to snatch up as much as they can. Hitting multiple stores in a day to grab each stores bottle limit and hoarding as much of it as possible. That sucks. I get why people do it and I am sure I have done something similar in the past but stockpiling a beer just because you can is dumb. That seems like a topic for another article. The release of KBS is just a larger scale version of a beer release at a brewery. Some people are able to get there, stand in line and walk out with the beer they desperately want to try while others are not. If you are not able to get to your local store the day they receive KBS within hours of them receiving it you are not going to get it. Walking in to a store and finding a readily available beer that you are excited to drink is awesome and that seems to rarely be the norm these days. Beer releases are now stressful by nature.
Founders are the masters of building hype. Founders rides the KBS hype train every year and now more than ever the hype can grow and extend to people who are even just getting into craft beer or are more casual beer drinkers because of how big they are. Their marketing and advertising team kill it, they make all their beers seem like you need to get them and if you don’t you are a craft beer leper. When hype is dying for a certain brand of theirs they stash it away a while and let it build back up until people are begging for those beers to return to the lineup (Double Trouble and CBS). I mean I was on the CBS hype train for sure, I was at the brewery picking up my bottle allotment. KBS has never not been in demand, every single year that beer sells out without a doubt. Sure you can argue that it is because the beer is so good that missing it if you are a craft beer fan is the end of the world. It is more that we are all almost conditioned every year that we are doing something wrong if we consider ourselves craft beer fans/nerds and we aren’t going out and trying to get KBS. As Founders has grown they have continued to make more and more KBS and it continues to still sellout every single year. Can’t knock them for building that kind of hype and maintaining it.
Is KBS worth buying? Short answer, no not really. You are going to pay probably $20-$25/4 pack best case scenario or anywhere from $7-$10 for a single bottle. KBS is one of the most price gouged beers. Don’t overpay for it, if it is more than $25/4 pack go somewhere else, that place obviously sucks and you should not support them. If you want a great barrel aged beer from Founders buy Backwoods Bastard. That beer is ALWAYS readily available, cheaper ($15/4pack) and is far superior in my opinion. It just isn’t KBS and doesn’t have the hype behind it so people don’t line up to buy it. I am pretty sure they announced it is available year round now as well so there you go. I will say for new craft beer drinkers I think drinking KBS is an important step in the process of building your craft beer resume. You need to check the classics off your list and KBS isn’t a must have in my opinion but it is certainly an important beer in the grand scheme of craft beer history. If you want to drink KBS do it at a bottle share, they pop up pretty regularly at those or grab it on draft somewhere, it is always popping up places on draft in Chicago.
Fish, Unicorns and Ninjas are a few of my favorite things when it comes to Pipeworks beers. In this review I have Sunburst Peacock from Pipeworks with honey, guava and citra hops! This series, as most of Pipeworks double ipas, has impressed me quite a bit. Sunburst Peacock comes in at 9.5% ABV.
Appearance: Very hazy, deep golden copper color. Very small head, sticky lacing not a ton of head retention.
Nose: Guava is the big component. Passionfruit, pineapple, orange and mango come in big as well. Tropical fruit, for the most part it smells very fruity and kind of syrupy.
Taste/Mouth: Guava, mango, tropical fruit with not a ton of bitterness. Medium carbonation that finishes dry and sticky. High ABV is really well hidden as usual in these big pipeworks beers.
Price/Availability: $10.99 a bomber which is solid pricing as usual and it is a rotating beer.
Overall: Another well executed double IPA from Pipeworks, not their best but they are always solid. They do a great job with balance and masking the usual high ABV in these big hoppy beers. Sometimes the fruit addition works and sometimes it doesn’t, I think it adds a nice aspect to this beer. I would buy it again for sure.