I live so close to Green Flash that I only stop in when there is a food truck I am interested in. I can pick up most of my favorite beers at the store so that is good enough for me. Tonight I stopped by Green Flash to taste the food from God Save the Cuisine and I was glad I did. While I was there, I figured I would re-visit some of the regular beers in taster format. The photos are a bit darker than usual because it was night and I hate flash.
I had tasted each of these beers before but it always helps to give them a fresh look after all the beers I’ve had since then. All four impressed me and later I added a taster of the Serrano Double Stout to round out the evening. I found the Imperial IPA to be nice and refreshing. It is best to compare it to the Le Freak. While both beers have characteristics of both Belgian style beers and IPAs, the Imperial IPA is more on the IPA side and Le Freak more on the Belgian side. Both have great flavor though the Le Freak is a little bit sweeter. Grand Cru has a lot of that Belgian flavor as well though it is more on the darker side. Grand Cru and Le Freak were both favorites of mine at different times. Last fall when they first put out the Grand Cru I was hooked on it for months.
I then went for the Green Bullet, which I have been a huge fan of from the start. This Tripple IPA is really hoppy and just blows you away with the pine flavors. It is in my top five beers of all time and is a true achievement for Green Flash. The Serrano Double Stout was decent but not very spicy. Though I do enjoy the double stout on occasion, the Serrano flavors were not particularly strong here, nor was the beer very spicy.
To go with these beers, I ordered the smoked salmon flatbread sandwich and my mom ordered the lamb. Both were quite tasty although the lamb was a bit more spicy than we expected. The salmon had some bitter greens in there, perhaps even arugula. The capers and cream cheese rounded out the salmon nicely, giving it a fantastic flavor. I will certainly be trying this food truck again soon.
You really have to compare both beers at once to get the full idea about how interesting they are. Punishment is slightly hotter than I had from those Habanero Sculpin and Ghost Pepper Dorado at Ballast Point. The beer flavors are much better with this though because the underlying beer is so strong. The flavors of the peppers are quite strong and come at you really nicely. Under it you can barely taste the barrel aged flavors and the nice thick flavors of the beer. These beers are both brewed with Habaneros, Nagas, and Moruga chilis. Each of these is so hot that few people would eat it raw.
Compared to Punishment, Crime is only slightly less hot. Even though Crime is not as hot as Punishment, it is still quite hot on its own. If Punishment is a 6/10 heat (when compared to hot sauces and curry), Crime is a 5/10. Crime is made with the same peppers as Punishment and the pepper flavors are there just as strong. At $17 per bottle, I don’t recommend you buy a bottle unless the idea of beer that sets your mouth on fire excites you, though I would not have any problem taking some from a friend who couldn’t stand the heat. To get the most heat, make sure you let it warm up a little bit when you drink it. I noticed a decent increase in heat when I let the Crime warm up while drinking it.
For those who don’t need heat, there is a Southern Charred variety that doesn’t have any peppers. I haven’t tried it but I expect it has many of the same barrel aged flavors and can be enjoyed for the full flavor. While I won’t be buying any more bottles after this, my friend is hooked and will probably end up going through at least five bottles of Punishment.
I had visited Saint Archer once before and was impressed by the IPA but not so much that I was compelled to return to have more. Fast forward a few months and I noticed some San Diego Beer week specialties on tap so I had to return and brought with me a few friends to share. This time I got to taste the IPA, double IPA, and the Stout both on cask and on tap.
I was once again quite impressed by the IPA. It has all the qualities I love in a solid IPA without the heavy malts that sometimes make good IPAs un-drinkable. It is a little lighter than most people in San Diego might be used to from an IPA but it has a full body and is quite good. The double IPA is only a few percentages stronger and has a nice lighter appearance, meaning it is also not a malty beer. The flavors are very similar to Green Bullet from Green Flash though a few percentages lighter.
The American Stout was interesting because it was not the typical heavy chocolate or heavy coffee flavors you might expect from a stout in San Diego. It has a bit of hops added to it that gives it a bitterness that counters a lot of the sweetness you typically taste in stouts and porters. The hop flavors are light enough that they might not offend hop-haters out there but mild enough that they don’t reach the level of the Sublimely Self Righteous from Stone. The cask version of the stout was a little more creamy but because the underlying stout was not as sweet it did not impress me as much as other stouts on cask.
Saint Archer has a nice seating area with bar stools and tables with plenty of room for a lot of people to hang out.
Update October 2014
Saint Archer has been brewing a lot of great beers since I last visited them. Most recently, they won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their white ale. I visited them for a few tasters on October 6, 2014 and had a taste of the pale ale and the white ale along with a black lager.
The white ale is a very nice Belgian ale with citrus and spice aromas and flavors. It has a very light body but is quite tasty. The pale ale batch on tap was barely a week old and I could taste some nice crisp citrus and pine flavors. the pale ale was just what I wanted. The black lager was a bit light on the body and mostly had flavors of roasted malts. Hopefully future batches will be a bit more heavy.
Saint Archer sells six packs of the pale ale, blonde, IPA, and white ale. They also sell 22oz bottles of all four plus the double IPA and coffee brown. They make sure to sell the freshest bottles and cans at the tasting room so stop in for a six pack the next time you are in the mood.
If you love both hoppy beers and dark beers you might find that most dark beers are too sweet, or not bitter enough. Sublimely Self Righteous is the cure to that, giving bitter chocolate flavors you might recognize from a porter and mixing in the hop flavors that hop addicts love. To see if those who hate IPAs and exclusively drink porters and stouts think, I gave my fiance a taste. He pursed his lips and said “too hoppy” so don’t expect to share this with the less enlightened among you.
In some ways, it is the darker version of the Alesmith Winter Yulesmith. Where the Winter Yulesmith has malts, this has chocolate, but both are perfectly balanced with the hop flavors. At 8.7% you might be able to finish a bottle on your own, though I don’t know if I can say the same thing about the Double Bastard. Make sure you get a bottle of this while this year’s batch is fresh, before the end of November and into the first half of December it should be the best.
[As a fun side note, my brother thought this tasted more like beef jerky. He didn’t like it much either]
Hopefully you have tasted at least one variety of fresh hop ale in the past few years. The trend has grown over time. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t though because I didn’t hear about this idea until I was in Denver in September. I happened to stop by Great Divide Brewing and saw that they had a fresh hop pale ale at around 6%. As usual I ordered a few tasters, one of the fresh hop pale, and one of the IPA. I was so impressed by the hop flavors I tasted that I didn’t order any IPAs that night but instead a few pints of the fresh hop pale. Thankfully Great Divide Brewing has some solid distribution so I found a bottle of the Fresh Hop Pale in San Diego recently. Today I decided to open it with Sierra Nevada’s Fresh Hop Harvest Ale to see how the two compared.
To put this into some perspective, consider that the average IPA is around 6.5-7.5%. The average pale ale is between 4.5 and 5.5%. So when you have a fresh hop pale ale at 6.1 (like the Great Divide) and 6.7 (like the Sierra Nevada) it is almost like having an IPA. Sadly, only the Great Divide had an enjoy by date on the bottle so I can’t know how fresh the Sierra Nevada was when I tried it. I think they were overly generous though with the Great Divide since I found it in late October and it says enjoy by mid December of 2013.
Taste wise, both beers have a nice fresh hop on the forefront although I would say the Sierra Nevada was a bit more heavy on the malts. Both would satisfy IPA fans and hop heads and are worth checking out.
Did you try any other fresh hop beers recently? I’m interested in your suggestions in the comments.