Friday, March 16, 2012

Palate Wrecker (Green Flash Brewing Company)

I had hardly finished reading the February 27th press release about the impending arrival of Palate Wrecker when I wrote to Green Flash Brewing Company requesting a sample for review. From my experiences with Hop Head Red™ Red IPA and Double Stout Black Ale, I knew the San Diego brewery to adeptly craft bold, flavorful beers, and the write-up made their latest one sound too intriguing to miss -- "the most complicated West Coast–inspired IPA we have ever brewed," they called it.

I was amused when the 750ml bottle arrived in a reused Keurig box, incognito, like illicit booty from a mail order catalog. Quite fitting, actually.

The name makes the (tongue-in-cheek?) implication that this beer's hop content will render your palate unfit for tasting anything afterward. Fair enough. If it's as good as what I know Green Flash is capable of, after 750ml of it I won't be needing anything else.

Poured into my pint tumbler, the beer is clear amber with loads of sturdy, off-white foam. The aroma is incredibly intense, with a pungency blasting straight through grapefruit into the territory of high grade cannabis, stopping just short of skunk musk. Ripe peach is also amply present.

The taste is pretty intense, too, as expected. Bitter citrus zest is my first impression, followed by pine resin, creosote, guava, and alcohol. Very pungent, powerful flavors up front. The beer becomes considerably more accessible as it warms, and only then do I appreciate the delicious caramel malt body that does the formidable work of supporting all of that hop action.

For all the enormity of flavor, the beer still manages to feel medium weighted in the mouth. The long-lasting aftertaste is an event unto itself, casually evolving through butterscotch, jasmine, and finally black tea.

To be honest, my palate seems no worse for wear. Nonetheless, this is officially the hoppiest beer I've ever tasted, beyond Nugget Nectar and even 120 Minute IPA. Make no mistake that Palate Wrecker is way over the line for the casual drinker and should never be offered to anyone uninitiated in the resinous mysteries of Humulus lupulus. But for those already of the faith, you will find no elixir more thoroughly devoted to celebrating hop flavor than this one.

From the bottle's label:

Palate Wrecker was originally brewed for the Hamilton's Tavern 2nd Anniversary celebration. It's the most complicated West Coast-inspired IPA we have ever brewed -- mashing and sparging with hopped wort, in addition to our hop layering regimen for IPA. By popular demand, it is now released for the world to enjoy. -- Chuck Silva, Brewmaster

Featured beer:
Palate Wrecker

Honorable mentions:
Nugget Nectar
120 Minute IPA

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