Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Le Freak: A new wonder from Green Flash Brewing

By William Brand
Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 at 9:33 am in Uncategorized.

I wrote about a new favorite beer of mine in my column today in the Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times: Le Freak, from Green Flash Brewing in Vista near San Diego.  Green Flash is one of the leaders in the Double IPA style that’s made San Diego County famous.

Le Freak
is a brilliant copper color with a thick head of foam and an interesting kind of brett-like (wild yeast) nose. Taste starts out mildly sweet with a rising dryness and slight spicy, sour note that made me think of a beer brewed with brettanomyces.

It isn’t. After I filed the column, Green Flash head brewer Chuck Silva called me back and told me a bit more about the beer.

  • “It’s a creative style and I’m really proud of it,” Chuck said, “I call it ‘Belgian-style tripel meets San Diego imperial IPA.’ I guess I was inspired by Belgian brewers. If they can do a hoppy Belgian, I can do a Belgian-style beer my way.”

He explains that the beer is fermented with two yeasts, the Green Flash house yeast and a Belgian yeast.  He starts with regular Green Flash Imperial IPA mash. (This is a big beer, 9 percent ABV. But it has such striking balance that it drinks like a session beer.)

The mash is a blend of two row pale barley, a little bit of Carastan, a British crystal malt that provides a full mouth feel and color and crystal malt. Hops are all American, Summit and Nugget. It’s dry hopped during fermentation with Amarillo. The hop blend gives it a delicious, orange marmalade note.

He starts fermentation with a White Labs Belgian-style yeast, then on the second day,  adds their regular American ale yeast, the same White Labs yeast used in the regular triple. As he says, it’s definitely Le Freak.  Oh yes, it’s bottle conditioned with fresh yeast. And it’s 9.2 percent.

The Le Freak in stores now was made months ago and Chuck says he’s about to brew  a new batch. That should be interesting, comparing the two, the fresh and the aged. I’m gonna’ do that definitely.

Can’t find Le Freak? E-mail me at and ask for my Bay Area Retail Beer Store List.

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  • Morgan

    Bevmo on Winchester and Stevens Creek had 6 bottles of this in stock last night. Well 4 after we left. :)

    If you buy the last one be sure to harass the cashier to stock more soon!

  • discdude

    Agree Bill, this is a “freakishly” great beer.

  • Betty

    My husband is from the Oakland area. I’m going to have to see if he has tried this one yet. Thanks for the recommendation.
    Stop by check out his latest review let us know what you think thanks.

  • Darren

    That is so weird I just tasted a bottle of this last night. Picked up at Healthy Spirits in SF. This beer is masterful, big citrusly flavor and aroma, silky mouth feel, billowy creamy head, loved it.

  • lastdregs

    thanks for the compimentary feedback about le freak. i am the lead brewer at green flash. we can only fit our specialty beers into the production cycle on a limited basis and therefore it is released occasionally. fortunately we have several thousand gallons fermenting as i write that will be released in a few months after bottle conditiong. even i have to stash a bottle or two away when i can for the times when we have shipped it all out! look for our grand cru for release as well: a big spicy and fruity dark belgian-style ale that will begin the bottle conditioning process on monday the 3rd of november. personally, i can hardly wait to get my hands on one. cheers all, brett

  • William Brand

    Brett… I wait for the next edition with great anticipation. Have one more 2008 bottle and I’m going to keep it for a couple of years. Well, I’m going to try to keep it.