Green Flash Brewing Co., Hop Head Red Ale

Green Flash Brewing Co.
Grade: B-

Green Flash is almost synonymous with west coast style IPAs, so it makes sense that they would join the ranks of breweries that are trying to push the style even further.Without forgoing the aggressive bitterness or higher alcohol content that make west coast IPA what it is, Green Flash has instead explored the world of malts, and how they interact and play off of their good pal the hop. Is this to be held up as an example of what's to come? Perhaps not, but I think it's a good leap in the right direction.

A light khaki head tops a very dark and luscious ruby red ale. There is a fair amount of cloudiness however, and some particulate floaters. To me this isn't a detriment, but some consumers might have a problem with it. Aroma has some toast and bread, with pine, earth, garlic, and citrus notes from the hops. The carbonation is lively, which accents a high level of hop bitterness. I'm getting a little bit of a mineral off-flavor, like rusty pennies. The hops are nice and floral, the resinous pine and the bright citrus work very well together, running all the way through the beer from the first sip to the aftertaste. There is some caramel sweetness here, but it's far from cloying. In fact the beer finishes nicely dry, and like a classic west coast IPA, very bitter.

But this isn't a classic west coast IPA. This may come from one of the biggest names in west coast IPAs, but the color is something to be marveled at. The deep, dark red is nothing if not enticing, however the 'floaties' that are swimming in it might put off many beer drinkers. Personally, I don't have a problem with cloudy beer. If anything it means that so many hops were stuffed into it that it caused a haze, which I take as a good sign. However the cloudiness detracts from the color itself. The particulates block light from passing through the beer, which muddies the color somewhat.

Would this beer be better filtered? Maybe, at least in appearance. But I think the more interesting part of this beer is the use of some darker malts in conjunction with the hops. Much like it's cousin the black (or dark) IPA, this 'red IPA' not only challenges you with it's appearance, but with it's complex malt profile. I think that the future of IPA lies in the direction Green Flash and some other breweries are going, which is finding balance between a hop bomb and an aggressively malty beer. Personally, I find this beer a nice departure (if not a very far one) from the traditional India Pale Ale.