One man’s sour note is another man’s craft beer of choice. Just a day after Great Lakes Brewery pulled its barrel-aged Christmas Ale off the shelves, due to an unintended sour note from the barrel-aging process, Green Flash Brewing Co. explained that a hoppy accident at its San Diego brewing facility was the catalyst behind its limited edition holiday release, Jolly Folly IPA. The seasonal offering was created when a newer team member mistakenly mixed two different beer tanks, resulting in 500 barrels of the merry new brew. A taste of the resulting batch revealed it to be delicious, a hop bomb with a winter spice flavor.
“Our team is always looking to bring a new, fresh approach to brewing beer,” says Green Flash CEO and Co-Founder Mike Hinkley. “And it doesn’t get any more original than ‘accidentally’ crafting a beer that just so happens to be uniquely Green Flash and allow our loyal fans to celebrate the holiday season with a limited-edition brew.”
Enthusiasm for Green Flash’s recently acquired high-tech hop back is partly to blame for the mix-up, but it’s what gives Jolly Folly its big hop aroma and flavor. The craft beer is the first Green Flash offering brewed with the new device, plus a ridiculous amount of dry hopping. The IPA is 7.7 percent ABV and 71 IBU.
“We first installed our new hop back to produce Alpine’s Pure Hoppiness, but we’ve been enjoying experimenting with it since and were looking forward to producing our first Green Flash beers,” explains Green Flash brewmaster Erik Jensen. “It just happened a little faster than we thought it would — and we’re all very happy with the result.”
As Editor Chris Crowell noted in the Great Lakes story, releasing an unexpected, experimental beer is an interesting wrinkle in the craft beer experience. It’s one that speaks directly to the old school craft beer customer who is looking to be a part of the brewing process, albeit the easiest part. I’ll take that thought one step further and say, with no actual facts backing this up, that perhaps Great Lakes felt pressure to pull its barrel-aged Christmas Ale because, here in Northeast Ohio, the general population’s expectations for the beer are high. Christmas Ale hitting the shelves is basically a seasonal rite of passage. It’s what makes family get-togethers a pleasure and eases the pain of holiday shopping. Green Flash, on the other hand, accidentally created a new brew that has no expectations in the marketplace — so let the cash registers sing.
In a time when a heavy-hitter like Brock Wagner says the term ‘craft beer’ might be obsolete soon, there may be a growing subset of craft beer customer who continues to take an interest in the brewery beyond the beer sitting on the shelf.