Green Flash Brewing Co, Le Freak

Grade: B-
Green Flash Brewing Co.

Ok, the last Belgian IPA I tasted was so terrible I poured it out and cursed it's name. We'll see how Green Flash holds up, they haven't let me down yet...

The color is light straw with hints of gold, topped with a white head that is thin, but persistent. Aroma is aggressive and complex. Spice mixed with Belgian funk, some banana and peach come through most predominately. Some slight alcohol notes mingle with herbal, piney hop aromas. Mouthfeel is medium, coating the tongue yet letting the carbonation scrub away any lingering sweetness for a fairly dry finish. The flavor balances the peach and banana well with some very bready, biscuit-like malts. Belgian flavors are certainly here, but you aren't allowed to linger on them due to the heavy hop bitterness. Some citrus and grapefruit are somewhere in the middle to late palate, possibly from the American hops used. Neither the funk nor the hop flavor are overdone here, however the only element out of balance seems to be the bitterness. It's very present, almost overbearing, and doesn't allow you to sit and savor the sip. I find myself swallowing the beer before I'm done tasting it because the bitterness comes in and destroys the Belgian characteristics.

This is a difficult style to brew, mostly due to the fact that it was only created a few years ago. Belgian brewers liked the aggressive American IPAs, and wanted to create a fusion between their style and the American. The result was a beer with perfect Belgian elements, but completely unbalanced hop elements. Likewise Americans tried to emulate the Belgians, adding their own knowledge of hops to the Belgian yeast strains of their brothers across the pond. The result was an appropriately hopped beer, but one with competing and often terrible yeast esters. The common problem seems to be that Belgians can't work with American hops, and Americans can't work with Belgian yeasts.

There are countless other examples of this style, both from Americans and Belgians that are completely undrinkable. This beer, while it has issues, is not unpalatable. Beer fans who have been following this innovation in style have a unique opportunity. They are able to taste an evolution in beer making at every stage, starting with the terrible first attempts, and working their way up to (hopefully) a perfectly balanced new style of beer. Le Freak is another step forward in this evolution, yet it hasn't come into it's own yet. If we were to associate the progression of this style of beer to humanity, I would say that Le Freak is a fully functional Cro-Magnon. It's starting to mess around with fire, building tools, and turning grunts into language, but it's not what we would call "human" yet. It's getting there.