Pull Up A Stool with Chuck Silva
Green Flash Brewing Co.
All About Beer: What is it about the San Diego beer community? Ten years ago, even though a lot of the major players were in place, it wasn’t on fire the way it is now.
CS: I think the fun thing that makes San Diego unique, compared to other awesome metropolitan craft beer hot spots, is that San Diego offers more diversity of beer styles. There’s a lot more Belgian styles, innovative new styles, not just hoppy beers. We have great hoppy beers here, for sure, but we’re not so narrowly focused.
Compared with San Diego, in LA, people who want to get into the industry seem to face more of an uphill struggle, even though there are very good places there. It’s hard to see how the two places can be so different.
LA is a whole different scene. Everything’s so “what’s hot and what’s not.” Brewpubs are restaurants first, and so LA, being so fickle—what have you done lately?—a brewpub might be hot for a couple of weeks, but what’s next? It’s hard to build a loyal audience. That’s just how I feel about LA. It’s not personal; it’s just an observation.
It’s my impression that Green Flash was one of the earlier companies, not to brew Belgian styles, but to put a Belgian twist on American beers. Is that accurate?
To some degree, yes. The original focus at Green Flash was high-end craft session beers. That all changed once we made West Coast IPA. It redefined the benchmark West Coast IPA style. There were already a lot of great IPAs out there, so we had to make the beer extravagant.
Our introduction to Belgian beers was our third-anniversary beer. We did a Belgian tripel, which is still in our line-up. That was more a traditional abbey tripel. Then I saw Belgian breweries were inspired by the hops that we’d been using on the West Coast in particular, with beers like Houblon Chouffe. So I looked at that and thought if they can put a Belgian flavor and American hops together, I can do that my own way. I started playing around. We used our imperial IPA wort and fermented it with our house yeast and a Belgian Trappist yeast, dry hopped with several American hops. That’s how we got Le Freak.
Julie Johnson is the technical editor of All About Beer Magazine.