CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ ON THE COAST OF VIRGINIA
Sea to Sea Lager Zwickel Lager “bi coastal brew”. Green Flash, San Diego, Ca. Abv 4.9 IBUs 23
Craft beer fans on the East Coast greeted the avalanche of West Coast immigrant breweries with mixed feelings. On one hand, very good beer would be available at, ultimately, a better price and presumably fresher brew dates. On the other hand, these well-financed large craft brewers would put pressure on our local friends and neighbors. It’s hard to predict whether choice will expand or contract, but our money’s on the latter.
Still, it’s hard to get upset about the availability of relatively consistently high quality beer. These big guys got big by avoiding mistakes and making beers people would return to.
When we first visited Green Flash’s San Diego brewery in 2006, neither we nor their brewers would have put them on a likely list for Eastern expansion, but they’ve produced a huge range of very hoppy and very tasty beers that have sold well in the east. Their purchase/merger with Alpine has given them some additional street cred and some additional top shelf beers for their portfolio. Their Virginia Beach tasting room has a mix of Alpine and Green Flash beers from the West Coast as well as house brewed flagships from the east. As far as we know, however, this “bi-coastal” brew is only brewed in California at the present time.
Zwickel beers were once hard to find in Germany, but there are dozens of them there now and an increasing number in the US. They’re always unfiltered and usually lagers. The tastes vary greatly according to the brewery’s house yeast, but most are smoothly chalky rather than the fruity funk of some unfiltered ales. Green Flash has chosen a session lager for their zwickel- lower in alcohol than most of the zwickels we’ve found in Germany, but nevertheless with a satisfying rich taste; the yeast helps round out the mouthfeel and make up for the relatively low gravity.
Tasting notes: Chalky, yeasty, and mild, but with some fruity Hallertau hops. Even, softly sweet and clean flavors ride throughout making it an sasy drinking session beer. Ellie found a persistent metal bitter but also noted the cleanness of the brew. Those Hallertau hops pushed my rating higher than hers, but we both thought it was an above average lager.
Food Pairings: This is a good warm weather beer and would be a fine addition to a summer picnic. If you can find a beach that still allows fires, this beer would be hard to beat with stick-roasted hot dogs. It’s got enough flavor to match an opening course of cheese and fruit, however, and would leave some liver capacity for bigger beers with the main course. Beer Review # 0112 20170531
NEXT WE’LL FEATURE A RIDICULOUSLY GOOD STOUT FROM BROOKEVILLE BEER FARM