It was just last week that Green Flash released their Black IPA, a wickedly bitter brew. This week they released the Ristretto Black Lager, the perfect balance to the Black IPA. I saw no mention of celebrating Black History Month on Green Flash’s Facebook page but that might have also been a consideration for the timing of these releases. I was expecting a bitter brew from the Black Lager but instead I was greeted with a deliciously smooth brew that is less bitter than the Double Stout.
The Black Lager has a strong coffee flavor that is complemented nicely by some chocolate and roasted malts. This is certainly on the sweet side so it won’t be for everyone but it is a great option for those who find most Green Flash beers to be too bitter. It is certainly on the low end of the IBUs, maybe around 30 or 40. With it I got to try the cask they had available, the West Coast IPA with Simcoe added. This was a refreshing beer because the cask and added hops really put the hops on the front of the flavors. I only had an 8oz of this one though because I had to experience more of the Black Lager. Overall, I was quite impressed by this one and will likely be back to have a few more of these before they run through it all.
In an environment where most of the breweries serve tons of stronger beers, it is nice to have an option for more fresh hopped extra pale ales and session IPAs. Acoustic Aleworks does have an IPA called Willow Wolves but when I dropped by it was only available on cask and nitro. Because of how both cask and nitro mellow out IPAs I rarely like IPAs that way. I did quite enjoy the white IPA though. I will keep an eye out for their beers in bottles in 2014.
Acoustic Ales has a nice relaxed atmosphere resembling a jazz club. Instead of the usual plastic bar-stools, they have leather stools and low leather chairs to sit in. This is a pretty small tasting room so it might not be able to fit more than 20 or 30 people comfortably.
I only had a few tasters here because I had already enjoyed so much good beer at Modern Times just a bit earlier. I started with a taster of the white IPA and session IPAs. The Session IPA had a nice light earthy hop flavor. At 5%, it is almost a full on IPA or extra pale. The white IPA was the highlight of the night for me. While many white IPAs have been too sour for me, this one was not sour at all. It had a nice light sweetness to it as well. If this had been my only stop of the night I would have ordered a pint.
My sister ordered a pint of the Willow Wolves IPA on cask. It was about what I expected from a cask IPA, too smooth for what I like. I had a hard time really distinguishing the hop flavors compared to the white IPA. The double IPA was good but again a bit too resiny/piney for my tastes. Thankfully there was enough citrus flavor to round it out.
Acoustic Aleworks seemed to me like they were trying too many things without making sure to master some solid mainstay brews. I’ll have to make it back some time to see what Willow Wolves is like on tap. I also did not have time to try anywhere near all of the beers because of the insane number of options. I expect this many beers at Green Flash but it seems a little overkill for such a new brewery.
Update: July 2015
I visited Acoustic Ales again in July 2015 to see how things had progressed since my last visit. This time they had the Willow Wolves on tap but the Run for the Hills IIPA was only available on cask. I can’t tell if the tap versions are super popular or if they are more focused on cask beers. Either way, I was glad to get to taste the willow wolves on tap.
Though they still have a surprisingly large tap list for such a young brewery, it now makes more sense because they are actually bottling a large number of beers and their list of core beers is a whole 12 beers long. Besides the one above I also tried a cask of the Run for the Hills and a cask of the Groupie Belgian with grapefruit zest. The cask IIPA was very smooth with a nice lemon flavor. This beer was dangerously drinkable considering the high ABV. The cask of the Groupie was very nice sporting a good blend of Belgian yeast and subtle grapefruit.