Beer Review 0319: Green Flash Palate Wrecker Imperial IPA
Green Flash has been brewing beer in San Diego, California since 2002. Founded by Mike and Lisa Hinkley, they quickly got hold of Chuck Silva, renowned brewmaster. The brewery are known for taking traditional styles and putting their touch on them.
While still being relatively small, Green Flash enjoys great distribution in the United States, and their West Coast IPA (95 points) is often the first beer thought of when discussing hoppy beers from, well, the west coast.
Palate Wrecker was released in 2012, and was originally brewed for a tavern’s (Hamilton’s) second anniversary celebration. The limited release last year was extremely popular, which has prompted Green Flash to bring this back in a wider number; their website says this is a seasonal beer, but various Internet reports suggest this will be a year-round beer. Brewed with six pounds of hops per barrel, “Palate Wrecker” may be an apt name. This beer comes in at 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and an astonishing 100+ IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
The pour produced a large, soapy, off-white head that lasted atop a deep golden-orange beer, which was completely clear of particles and sediment. Nearly sparkling in body, this was a great looking brew that when held to bright light, threw off carbonation bubbles that resembled fireworks. Lacing was good, leaving behind a good amount of suds.
On the nose, there was lots of grapefruit and pine, coupled with a nice lemon and lime presence. There was some general fruitiness, along with a light malt backing that lent just the right amount of sweetness — some mild caramel and a sweet bread-like grain. But Palate Wrecker does seem to have a dank, bitter edge; however, this aroma isn’t as pungent as you might have expected.
Is this a Palate Wrecker? Well, there’s soapy grapefruit up front, which teams with lemon and an exceptionally fruity orange to provide a pleasant opening. The middle of the mouth sees some pine come out, and introduces the malt presence, bringing on some sweetness before pounding the tongue with a heavy bitterness that stops just at the point of turning medicinal. There is some flavor here, too; a nice lemon peel ushers in the maximum bitter, which leaves the taste buds with a grassy hop. This beer is full-bodied, medium in mouthfeel, with a creamy but drying finish that will leave you with cottonmouth.
Ah, this somewhat heavily hyped beer leaves you with some great flavors that unfortunately never get to completely show themselves because of the heavy-handed bitterness. That’s a disappointment, because there seems to be so much potential here. But don’t get me wrong; a hop head will still have a blast with this brew; however, it might not be worth the bucks it commands. Approach with caution and don’t commit to the full four-pack until you’ve tried it. (Also available in bomber bottles for around half the price of a four-pack.)
Green Flash Palate Wrecker Imperial IPA, 90 points. Price: $12.99 US for a four pack.