Green Flash International Collaboration Comes Stateside
Green Flash and Belgium’s St. Feuillien reteam to produce special black saison
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 01:32PM
From left to right: Green Flash owner Mike Hinkley, St. Feuillien brewmaster Alexi Briol and Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva
Back in 2010, I was chatting over a beer with Brewmaster Chuck Silva at Green Flash Brewing Company’s facility when, out of nowhere, owner Mike Hinkley zoomed up, clapped him on the back and said, “Pack your bags, we’re going to Belgium!”
Hinkley had booked them on a tour of the country regarded by many as the motherland of artisanal beer. That excursion included a stop at Brasserie St. Feuillien, an iconic 139 year-old brewery, where Silva not only met, but collaborated with Brewmaster Alexi Briol, to create Biere de L’Amite (which translates to “Friendship Brew”), a strong yet elegant Belgian blonde ale that’s won raves among the beerophile sect.
Nearly two years later, the tables are being turned. This time, Briol is taking a rare leave from his brewhouse to re-team with Silva at Green Flash’s Mira Mesa brewery. The result will be a black saison, a rare beer style that has nothing in common with Biere de L’Amite other than the fact it will share the same name—Friendship Brew.
“I could drink Biere de L’Amite every day until I die, but I didn’t want to replicate it. That seemed like it would be a wasted opportunity,” said Silva. He also decided not to do the typical collab thing and ask his brewing compatriot to contribute a house yeast strain or some other item from their end of the equation to the process. “It’s not really respectable to ask a fifth generation brewery to share a proprietary ingredient.”
So, Silva chose to make experimentation the focus of their project by choosing the obscure black saison style. Briol ate the idea up like the hungry Bastogne yeast the duo will use during the brew process. It’s the same yeast that Silva uses to produce his Rayon Vert, a brettanomyces laced Belgian-style pale ale with a bitingly dry finish.
Of Friendship Brew, Silva expects a beer that will come in around 6% ABV and feature a complex malt profile borne of dark, German crystal and chocolate wheat malt, which is in keeping with Briol’s desire to create a richness akin to traditional oatmeal stouts. A pair of top secret spices and a combination of American and European hops will balance things out and, no doubt, bring on the bitterness and piney aroma so present in Green Flash’s true-to-form West Coast ales.
A beer like that’s a good enough reason for a cross-Atlantic reunion, but there’s far more to it for Silva. “The most exciting part of this collaboration is the way our friendship has developed. We’re very respectful, considerate and careful for each other, and that’s allowed us, as international counterparts who are worlds apart, to find common ground.”
The collaboration will allow Briol the opportunity to brew on a brand new, state-of-the-art system—a thrill for anybody, but especially someone whose brewing equipment dates back over a century and is currently working on building a new brewing facility.
Take the opportunity to meet this acclaimed brewer at one of two events—a meet-and-greet from 3 to 6 p.m. today at Green Flash’s tasting room (6550 Mira Mesa Blvd), or brewmaster’s night tomorrow at O’Brien’s Pub (4646 Convoy St.) featuring beers from Green Flash and St. Feuillien. Both will feature 2010 and 2011 versions of Biere de L’Amite’s. The new Friendship Beer will be available at Green Flash’s tasting room and quality San Diego beer bars sometime in May, and will show up in four-packs and 22-ounce bottles in autumn.