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Monday, January 21, 2008

Green Flash IPA; Ridgeway IPA

Cathy and I took her brother Curt out to Teresa's Next Door on Saturday night. Curt was down visiting from where he lives, near Rochester, NY. He's a chef, and had a rare weekend off, so it was nice that he and my nephew Patrick spent it with us. We got Chinese for the kids and headed off for Wayne.

We found a spot on Wayne Ave. right in front of the Wooden Iron...had to be fate. I whined until Cathy and Curt agreed to go in for a pre-prandial drink. I got Redbreast, Cathy got a glass of a very nice Shiraz, and Curt got a Hoegaarden, and we talked with the bartender, Dave, an old friend from his days at Gullifty's. Dave's going bold next month: he's going to replace his whole tap selection with "all Victory, all the time." Five or six Victory beers will be the draft beers at the Iron. Ballsy. Dave said his wine and spirits sales have reached the point that even if the Victory experiment is a crashing disaster, he'll survive.

On to Teresa's, where we met Matt "Beer Yard" Guyer -- we'd called him from the road and invited him up to join us for a beer. I was determined to stick to that New Year's resolution, and ordered a Green Flash IPA (Stan? You see this? Green Flash IPA, Stan). It was everything I've come to expect from this beer: breathtaking, assertive, clean as fresh snow, and whip-sharp with classic American hops, piney, pungent, almost puckery, but with enough malt background to keep things lucidly drinkable. I'm not really a big fan of shipping beer all over God's green earth (I'd rather be shipping me all over to drink it fresh), but they can send this East any time they want, and thanks.

What to have next? There were several American IPAs and Double IPAs vying for my attention, but Matt suggested the Ridgeway IPA. Ridgeway is a Dan Shelton import, probably best known for their series of Christmas beers with the whimsical labels: Bad Elf, Very Bad Elf, Seriously Bad Elf, Insanely Bad Elf, and Santa's Butt. Dan's a wild man, and brings in a number of wild beers -- Cantillon, EKU 28, Fantom, Kulmbacher Eisbock -- but he is a fervent champion of smaller, balanced session-type beers -- he has a special love for the insanely drinkable lagers at Mahr's, for instance.

Ridgeway falls in that latter category. I got a taster of this 5.5% IPA (which was the original Bad Elf, re-tooled a bit) and said yeah, pour me a full one. Oh, mama. What a beautiful beer. The balance was perfect: nothing tongue-stripping here, this was just a great beer, very drinkable and flavorful, with none of the diamond-edged hop character of the Green Flash. Ridgeway's hop character is English: spicy, floral, restrained but firm. The malt's wonderful, jazzed up by yeast character, not too heavy, just tasty and fresh. I had two pints.

We got dinner (drunken mussels, quail, a revelation in the form of seared foie gras (Curt, a confirmed non-hophead, got another Shelton beer, Cantillon Kriek, and the sharp acidity of it was a perfect foil for the goose fat), a Cuban sandwich, a duck breast and Serrano ham sandwich, and a cheese plate), and with all the beers it set us back quite a bit, but...a good deal for the experience. Two outstanding beers, great company, delicious food. A night well spent.
After we left, we took Curt down to the Beer Yard to see Matt's wonderful selection of beer for sale, and Matt threatened us with his 3-liter bottle of Samichlaus. He ought to put a stock and a scope on that thing...

Jeez, aren't I the guy who said he was going to do fewer tasting notes this year?


Stonch said...

I tried a bottle of Ridgeway IPA recently and was similarly impressed.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm jealous about the Green Flash. You happy now?

Lew Bryson said...

I'm glowing, Stan, positively glowing.

Kathy said...

We have a number of Shelton Bros. on tap at Maduro (the jewel in Madison's beer bar crown) right now, including said Mahr's -- the unfiltered pilsner. As a fellow blogger whose opinion I respect encouraged me to do so, I had a glass of that, but its lemony-tartness and mouthfeel has me preferring Czechvar. We're lucky to have that one on tap now, too. Just the thought of a tulip of that elixir is distracting!

Oh, and count me as a vote for more tasting notes, your resolution be damned. I like those little narrative slices-of-life!

Anonymous said...

You've never had Green Flash IPA??? Its a classic west-coast IPA people, the best kind of IPA out there [Smuttynose IPA and Bells Two Hearted Ale taste very similar to this WCIPA expert, give them a try too if you haven't yet].

Green Flash, kinda like Bear Republic and Sierra Nevada, aggressively hops most of their beers...they make a beer I'm dying to try called Hop Head Red. Maybe now they'll send some our way! Thanks Lew! :P

Lew Bryson said...

What? No, I've had Green Flash before, Scoats gets it at the Grey Lodge fairly often. Great stuff. I just did a tasting note on it cuz, well, cuz I had it, and it was good.

Anonymous said...

There are soooo many software programs to get out redeye.
You made Matty Beeryard look like a devil

Lew Bryson said...

Dude, I've got sooooo much better things to do with my time than PhotoShop Matt's red-eye! If the booger would smile for instance, that would help a lot, wouldn't it?