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.
Cheers to 20 years! To celebrate their 20th anniversary Stone brewed an IPA, like they have done so many times before for their anniversary. In addition they brought back some old favorites, a few of which I reviewed. Citracado is brewed with Citra hops and showcases avocado flower honey as well. Citracado comes in at 9% ABV.
Appearance: Hazy slightly darker amber, deep red copper color with a 1 finger head.
Nose: Pine, resin, grapefruit, orange and tangerine up front. Honey, caramel, juicy tropical fruit and citrus fruit aromas come through as well.
Taste/Mouth: This is definitely a Stone IPA and has some of its classic characteristics. It is piney, floral and has a nice amount of citrus flavors from the Citra. Good malt backbone with some caramel flavors and some honey as well. Easy to drink.
Price/Availability: The bomber itself is around $8 and also comes in the Encore series 4 pack of bombers which is around $23.
Overall: Stone can close the book on an extremely successful anniversary celebration this year as they celebrate 20 years of brewing excellence. Glad they brewed an IPA for the big 20 and although it is not their best ever it is a well done and easy to drink IPA from some of the masters of the hop. Looking forward to another 20 years of hoppy beers from Stone. Cheers.
Next from Stone’s encore series I have the 10th Anniversary IPA which comes in at a whopping 10% ABV.
Appearance: Deep reddish, copper, amber color with a 1/2 finger head which dissipates to a thin layer that sits above the beer. Decent lacing.
Nose: Caramel malt, resin, pine, woody, earthy, floral and some orange zest. You can sense some heat on the nose as well from the high ABV.
Taste/Mouth: Follows the nose closely with pine, resin, citrus, orange and is balanced out nicely by caramel malt. Some toffee and earthy notes as well. Surprisingly not a ton of heat but it is definitely there, chewy and full feel. Very balanced all the way through, good carbonation as well. It very much feels like an American Barleywine.
Price/Availability: Available in the 4 pack of bombers for Stone’s Encore series celebrating their 20th anniversary. The 4 pack was around $23.
Overall: This is a Double IPA very much bordering an American Barleywine. Pretty awesome, like the 5th anniversary, to finally get to try this beer. Stone and beer have some a long way since this, especially the Double IPA style, but this still stands the test of time as a super solid beer. The fact that Stone can bring back these beers from 10-20 years ago and they are still great is a testament to how well crafted their beers are, thanks Stone!
Obviously a little late posting these next few reviews of Stone’s encore series but as usual they were drank fresh and notes written at that time! First up is the 5th anniversary IPA, a beer I have long wanted to give a try to and one I had heard a lot about. Stone 5th Anniversary comes in at 8.5% ABV.
Appearance: Nice deep honey, copper, orange color with active carbonation and a half finger head. Great retention and nice lacing. Stone always makes a pretty beer.
Nose: Citrus, resin, west coast all the way. Caramel, orange, tangerine and piney as well. The caramel along with some fresh bread notes compliment the hoppy notes nicely. It has a classic Stone nose.
Taste/Mouth: Perfect balance of hops and malt in a brutal west coast hop bomb! A trip down IPA memory lane really as this was probably the motivation for so many brewers and beers of today. Pine, resin, earthy, floral, lemon and grapefruit dominate. Caramel, honey, bready malt for balance and a piney, dry and brutal finish on the palate. Heat is there but well hidden.
Price/Availability: This beer was brought out of retirement for Stone’s 20th anniversary as part of the encore series. It was featured in a 4 pack of bombers which ran around $23, great pricing.
Overall: What an awesome 4 pack of bombers and what an awesome beer. Such a great idea to do this encore series and so happy they decided to bring this particular beer back. If you are a hophead you really need to experience this beer as it is certainly the building blocks for a lot of today’s beers. This was probably one of the earliest examples of a Double IPA, I don’t even think the style existed at the time this was first brewed. It is a great trip down memory lane and amazingly still holds up really well today. I loved getting to have this beer, thank you Stone.
Luponic Distortion is Firestone Walkers new revolving hop series beers. The recipe will change every 90 days as the brewers tweak the beer slightly as hops and malt change. Luponic Distortion No. 002 comes in at 5.9% ABV.
Appearance: Crystal clear golden yellow color with a 1 finger head and some great lacing. Classic looking Firestone IPA here.
Nose: Pine, resin, tropical fruit, mango and mandarin oranges. This beer was danker and juicier than I expected. Some pineapple and melon notes as well. Smell it as soon as you crack it.
Taste/Mouth: Great tropical fruit flavors, mango, pineapple, some piney bitterness as well. Real clean, light feel and easy to drink. Finishes with a lingering tropical fruitiness. Some sweetness on the back end as well. This beer is really just super crushable and clean.
Price/Availability: Damn does this beer shine in this category. Super easy to get as Firestone’s footprint is massive and at $10 a 6 pack of cans, hard to beat that.
Overall: A great, accessible offering from Firestone. Just a good go to beer and a great series. Firestone is one of those breweries sometimes people sleep on because of how big they are but don’t because they are still making incredible beers and pushing boundaries just like those hype breweries that you are waiting an hour in line to get 4 cans of. Can’t wait to get a hold of 3 and 4. Always keep Luponic Distortion as a back pocket option when you need a great crushable fresh and delicious IPA.
One of Lagunitas newest releases this is The Down Low Ale, a super sessionable American Pale Ale. I first had this at the brewery in Chicago and then ended up picking up a bottle so I could write it up for the site. Lagunitas is really at the top of the game right now, they just continually put out solid releases. The Down Low Ale comes in at 3.9% ABV.
Appearance: Hazy light copper amber color. Darker than I was expecting it to be when I saw the style and ABV. 1 finger head and great lacing, simple and pleasing packaging.
Nose: Pretty dank nose for a 3.9% session beer. Smells more like an IPA. Super pine resin, great tropical fruit, grapefruit, orange and citrus. Some caramel malt sweetness can be picked up as well.
Taste/Mouth: Some earthy, flowery, hop notes and a pretty good bite of carbonation up front. Finishes dry with a good dose of bitterness. Definitely invites you to keep sipping, so I guess it succeeds in being a great session beer. Not a really big flavor profile though, mostly earthy hop flavors, not as big as the nose. Easily crushable.
Price/Availability: This has been added to the year round lineup and at $4 a bomber you really can’t go wrong.
Overall: Lagunitas delivers another quality beer at an amazing price point, like a truly amazing price point I can’t stress that enough. Not my favorite beer they have ever brewed but it is certainly solid and succeeds in being very sessionable. The nose is quite impressive but the flavor, while fine, leaves a little to be desired. I would definitely buy again or grab on draft.
About this time last year Stone brought us their 19th anniversary beer, an IPA called Thunderstruck (important to note that is when I drank and made notes on this beer). Now Stone has had some incredible anniversary beers and a few that were forgettable. I do prefer when they stick to IPAs (or doubles) when releasing their yearly anniversary beer. Thunderstruck features 4 Australian hops, classics Topaz and Galaxy along with newer varieties Ella and Vic Secret. Thunderstruck IPA comes in at 8.7% ABV.
Appearance: Very hazy with a glowing orange color. 1 finger head with some really nice lacing and some active carbonation in the glass. Pretty classic Stone anniversary artwork.
Nose: Tropical fruit, citrus, peach, mango, pineapple and resin. Super juicy fruit notes, really a very dank and enjoyable nose. The fruit notes really come out and it is easy to grab all the different ones.
Taste/Mouth: Pine, grassy, earthy and solid hit of bitterness right up front and on the back end of the taste as well. Finishes dry and bitter, it has some malt sweetness in the middle which balances both ends of the beer nicely. The fruit flavors from the nose come through but not as strongly as I would have hoped. No heat or alcohol flavors despite the 8.7% abv.
Price/Availability: Part of the Anniversary series so it was brewed once to celebrate Stone turning 19. Great pricing as usual from Stone at around $7.
Overall: An awesome display of Aussie hop varieties, especially great to get some newer ones in there. Great juicy, tropical and citrus nose on this one was a highlight for sure, it was also very enjoyable and easy to drink. Stone kills it with (almost) all their IPAs, this one was definitely a winner.