Beer: Green Bullet Brewery: Green Flash Brewing Co. Style: Imperial IPA ABV: 10.1 percent
Science tells us that, biologically speaking, the best time to taste a beer is in the morning, when your senses are sharpest. So when evaluating a beer for a review, I'll often wake up early and squeeze in some samples before breakfast. Problem is, sometimes the beer I'm drinking is a tongue-bruising imperial IPA with an alcohol content into the double digits. And sometimes it's so good that I polish off the bottle -- and then a second -- before 9 a.m.
Such was the case with Green Bullet, the newest seasonal offering from Green Flash Brewing Co. Drinkers near the brewery's San Diego tasting room have had the opportunity to make this brew their liquid breakfast since 2011, when brewmaster Chuck Silva created it for Green Flash's ninth anniversary, but only recently did day-drinkers such as myself have the opportunity to buy bottles. The beer gets its name from the eponymous Green Bullet hop, a varietal Silva came across while researching New Zealand-grown hops. He loved Bullet's floral, pungent spice, and decided to pair it with the fruity notes of another kiwi hop, Pacific Gem.
The resulting brew is sneaky-strong, its light hue lulling you into a false sense of security. Pale fawn in color, the beer's filtered with such purity that, were you to fill the ocean with this stuff, you'd probably be able to see clear to the bottom. Trips to the beach would also be a lot more interesting.
Dip the nose close and you're treated to a rich, sticky aroma, so pungent it's almost vinegary. Aggressive dry-hopping delivers notes of fresh-cut grass, orange blossom and black pepper that quickly give way to fruitier fragrances like passion fruit.
The flavor of this high-caliber brew is deceptively sweet. Malt provides a subtle caramel note and simple syrup-style sugars, but most of the saccharine flavors seem to come from the hops, as pine and mint are replaced with tangerine, pineapple and Juicyfruit gum. For a 100-plus IBU beer, Green Bullet is incredibly balanced, but make no mistake -- the alcohol and hop oils are in there. Treat it like gunpowder -- with respect and care -- and this volatile brew will pay huge flavor dividends, no matter what time of the morning (or, you know, the evening) you decide to drink it.
em>Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.