Nothing will make you feel better about losing out on something than gaining something just as good. Freshly bummed from Stone Brewing Co.’s decision to pass on opening a site here, in swoops San Diego-based Green Flash Brewing Co., hosting two back-to-back events on the site of their future East Coast hub in Virginia Beach.
Sunday’s Treasure Chest Fest not only welcomed our area’s largest brewery to town, it also showcased some of the best talent of our small, yet very gifted, craft breweries. I attended with AltDaily writer Mark Harris, who previewed their arrival last month and had a good level of beer knowledge to piggyback on.
It was gray outside, as though the afternoon itself was hungover, and really good for fall day drinking. Arriving to the site by a party bus driven by Santa Claus (no joke), we were immediately greeted by a pink Norfolk mermaid (pink because the $40 ticket to the event went directly to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity), and handed a generously sized tasting glass and guidebook for the 32 beers plus 10 other food and attraction stations.
I wanted to try Green Flash beers first, as my palette is already pretty familiar with many of the 757 breweries. I started with Rayon Vert, their Belgian-style pale ale. It was sour and fizzy and something I’d like to drink again soon, but it wasn’t distinctive enough to make me remember minor notes even minutes after sipping it.
Next up was their Treasure Chest 2014 beer (one made specifically for this event–now in its 4th year). This year, it was a barrel-aged saison with plum. It was very, very tart. I really hate to critique a beer developed for an event bringing us such good things, but, yeah, it wasn’t good. Its aftertaste was that of stale Spree candies neglected at the back of the cinema for far too long.
Mark tried their Hop Head Red (a double red IPA) and called it as his favorite, complimenting it as super hoppy with a great bitter balance. Next up was probably their most well-known brew, the West Coast IPA, which is even more hoppy than Hop Head and also quite peppery. I don’t recall trying it before, which apparently makes me a wallflower and/or alien to my friends, but whatever, I like it. I like it a lot. I then learned it is made with habanero and mango, and am happy to have identified that before reading it (alien wallflower no more!).
In an effort to support the locals, I also hit up Hardywood (who didn’t have anything special or seasonal when I was by their station) and O’Connor’s (who had their breast-cancer awareness special pink grapefruit infused Green Can, which they’ve dubbed Save the Cans), their fall special Punkelweisse, and old faves like Great Dismal Black IPA and (my favorite) El Guapo IPA.
Saving room for one more Green Can tasting, fresh from my sip of El Guapo, I decided to compare Green Flash’s Green Bullet Triple IPA. Whewwww! That is a grown-up’s beer. Two days later, I can still taste it, its hops and honey combination following me around. A fan of El Guapo’s “sweet + hops = awesome” formula, all I can say is Green Bullet takes that, puts it in a rocketship to Pluto, gives it steroids and probably some quaaludes, and then kegs it. It’s like syrup–I want to put it on a waffle.
With that, I could drink no more. It’s the beer that’s beaten me. I respect that.
There were bands and food there too. More Perfect Jones played their pretty bluegrass melodies and then Session Rockers took over with their reggae and ska, which was great background music for a distracted and buzzing audience.
Green Flash followed this fantastic party with a more professional groundbreaking Monday, which included speeches by Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Virginia secretary of commerce and trade Maurice Jones. It was the ceremonial ribbon cutting ushering in construction of the 58,000-square foot building expected to be ready for us to enjoy sometime in 2016. According to their press release, “From a production standpoint, the new brewery will replicate the… headquarters in San Diego. The brewery’s interior footprint will follow the same plan with most equipment installed prior to opening… Upon opening, the Virginia Beach facility will employ 40 people and represent $20 million of invested capital.“