The End of Green Flash?

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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.

-HPMSNS

Beer Review: Green Flash Symposium IPA

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Got a review of a Green Flash IPA from their Hop Odyssey series which has brought some pretty great beers in the past. Symposium comes in at 7% ABV.

Appearance: Hazy light glowing copper with a very thick 1 and a half finger head that makes for some sticky lacing.

Nose: Super piney, resiny and floral. Really nice spicy vibe to it as well. Some pungent grapefruit in there as well.

Taste/Mouth: Grapefruit, grassy and earthy that finishes slightly dry and piney. Grapefruit flavor lingers throughout the taste and in the finish. Good malt to back up the brutal bitterness. Really good feel to it, bitter and brutal but still drinkable.

Price/Availability: Seasonal following the hop odyssey calendar. Pretty good pricing around $7.

Overall: Nice seasonal IPA offering from some of the masters of west coast IPAs. Just make sure you catch it when it first is released as Green Flash beers tend to become shelf turds. This beer or any of their IPAs fresh are great bets though!

Grade: B+

Beer Review: Green Flash’s Citra Session IPA

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Follow up my Flying Dog Single Hop Citra Imperial IPA up with another Single Hop Citra beer this time the Citra Session IPA from Green Flash. From their Hop Odyssey I was very excited to see this on shelves in NJ this past week. Also knowing it was fresh is also a huge plus since you never really know with Green Flash beers, they tend to sit on shelves quite a bit unfortunately. Citra Session comes in at 4.5% ABV and 45 IBUs.

Appearance: Golden yellow with no haze, perfect clarity. Good 1-2 finger head and incredible lacing. I like the updated Green Flash labels as well.

Nose: Tropical fruit and citrus fruits up front especially getting a lot of mandarin and grapefruit in this one. Some pine and resin; smells  nice and sweet. Big aroma with a 4.5% beer.

Taste/Mouth: Nice amount of bitterness and light-medium carbonation gives a nice bite on your tongue and makes it an easy drinker. Really very light and refreshing and very drinkable. Really nice citrus notes in the flavor from the exclusive citra hopping. Balanced out by some biscuit and grassy malt notes. Awesome approachable and drinkable beer so easy to kick back and enjoy.

Price/Availability: Rotating availability but this is the first time I have seen it bottled. $6 for a bomber is a pretty fair price especially considering Green Flash can sometimes be a little overpriced.

Overall: Great showcase of citra hops in this very drinkable Session IPA. I would definitely revisit this beer many times in the future. Will definitely grab it whenever I see it!

Grade: A-

Beer Review: Green Flash Road Warrior Imperial Rye IPA

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A while ago I posted about the release of Road Warrior, Green Flash’s new Imperial Rye IPA paying homage to their traveling sales team. Well now I have had it and I have a review of it for you. Brewed with Columbus, Mosaic and Amarillo hops and Spicy Rye and Crystal Malt this is right up my alley. I am always wary of buying Green Flash beers as they tend to sit on shelves and it’s hard to find really fresh ones but since this was just released I knew it was decently fresh. Road Warrior comes in at 9% ABV and 80 IBUs.

Appearance: Deep reddish, amber color with a 1 finger head. Definitely filtered despite its darker color it has nice clarity. Nice new Green Flash bottles and label design too. Has a spot for Enjoy By date but nothing there, not cool.

Nose: Spicy, tropical fruitiness and pine dominant up front. You get a really nice spicy aroma from the rye which pairs great with the piney and spicy aroma from the hops. Great hop presence too from the nice three hops in this one columbus, mosaic and amarillo.

Taste/Mouth: Love a good spicy rye IPA. Piney and citrus hop presence dominant as well. Very smooth don’t get really any heat from the 9% ABV. Great balance of malt with the spice from the rye and bitterness of the hops. Very drinkable despite high ABV and IBU.

Availability/Price: Bought a single bottle for ~$3, as usual Green Flash 4 packs are a little pricey but available pretty much everywhere. I always question the freshness of Green Flash beers especially when, like this one, it has no bottling date or enjoy by date.

Overall: A really, really great offering from Green Flash. I am a huge rye beer fan especially Rye IPAs so this one was right up my alley. Would love to have this one on draft soon but if I can find some more fresh bottles I would probably shell out the extra money and buy a four pack of it.

Grade: A