The international American craft beer boom continues as Green Flash Brewing Co. took the opportunity to announce that it will be the first American craft brewery to brew, bottle and distribute fresh IPA in Europe via a production partnership with legendary, old-world Belgian brewery St-Feuillien.
The breweries have made the strategic decision to advance their relationship from creatively collaborative “sister-breweries” to pioneer new territory as production partners in Europe. After a year of top-secret planning, St-Feuillien and Green Flash are executing plans based on a handshake agreement whereby the legendary Belgian operation will brew, bottle and ship the San Diego craft brewery’s flagship beer, West Coast IPA for broad distribution throughout Europe. The first 240 hectoliter batch of West Coast IPA in bottles and kegs is currently shipping from St-Feuillien in Belgium to a hand-selected network of distributors and importers in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Germany and France.
“We’ve been pursuing European distribution of West Coast IPA for some time, however the obvious challenges in delivering fresh IPA to the region have been a huge roadblock,” said Mike Hinkley, Green Flash co-founder. “After testing various export scenarios on a small scale, it became apparent that the quality of our IPA when transported to Europe was not ideal and cost-prohibitive for consumers. We were not satisfied with the customer experience and felt we had to come up with a better solution.”
“Last year, I turned to our friends at St-Feuillien and proposed that we work together in our efforts to get fresh West Coast IPA to market in Europe,” Hinkley continued. “We are thrilled that Dominique and her team have agreed to allow[Chuck Silva, Green Flash brewmaster] to physically brew West Coast IPA using the state-of-the-art equipment at their new facility in Le Roeulx, Belgium. I am proud that Green Flash is the first U.S. brewery to both brew and deliver locally crafted, fresh American IPA to the European consumer. Working with our friends at St-Feuillien is the most logical and efficient way for Green Flash to introduce high-quality and affordable West Coast IPA in the market.”
Green Flash was driven to pursue the endeavor due to the rapidly growing European demand for U.S. craft beer. Green Flash and St. Feuillien have built a longstanding relationship and produced several successful collaboration beers over the years. The unique bond between these two breweries affords Green Flash the ability to oversee the entire brewing process and work with a trusted ally in the market.
“We have formed a friendship with Green Flash that extends beyond beer collaborations,” stated Dominique Friart, chief executive officer of Brewery St-Feuillien. “Because of the success of the IPA category in the U.S., European consumers are interested in further exploring the style as it represents a taste of America. I am very enthusiastic about this program and believe many Europeans — particularly in Scandinavia, Germany, England and Italy — are eager to try this trendy U.S. beer style.”
“Green Flash already has a good reputation in these markets, and I think West Coast IPA is one of the most well balanced IPAs in the world,” Friart continued. “The success of West Coast IPA in Europe hinges on product quality, and we are all committed to ensuring the beer is exceptional.”
Last month, Green Flash Brew Master Chuck Silva returned from one of many trips taken to Belgium over the past year. Chuck has been working closely with St-Feuillien Brewmaster, Alexis Briol to brew West Coast IPA, ensuring that the distinctly hoppy flavor profile of the brand’s most popular beer will be consistent on both continents. This unparalleled enterprise is the first international craft beer partnership of its kind and will allow the European craft beer consumer to discover Green Flash at its best. The recipe for Green Flash West Coast IPA in Belgium is as close a replica to the U.S. version of the beer as possible — the ingredients include the same hops, malts and the Green Flash house yeast. Each are produced using the same complex brewing process. The only difference is that the West Coast IPA produced in Belgium is bottle-conditioned to protect beer quality in areas of Europe where unrefrigerated conditions may be unavoidable.
“As brewing partners, we have always been humbly enthusiastic to learn from one another,” said Silva when describing the evolution of his rapport with St-Feuillien Brewmaster Alexis Briol. “This mutual respect allows us, as international counterparts, to find common ground, and we have worked very closely on our latest endeavor. I have complete faith in Alexi and his team to consistently brew the highest quality West Coast IPA in Europe, hopefully for years to come and will continue overseeing the process as needed.”
For many Europeans, the notoriously hoppy beer style from Green Flash will be a new discovery, but for the growing segment of craft beer lovers in the market, the opportunity to find super-fresh and high-quality American Craft beer from Green Flash will be an exciting prospect. Green Flash is honored to be joining forces with the world-class Belgian brewers at St-Feuillien to satisfy this rapidly growing thirst for specialty craft beer from the United States. Both breweries are looking forward to continuing to work on collaborations including production of West Coast IPA and other beers, for many years to come.