“Taste it once – remember it forever.” This is the slogan Green Flash lives and thrives by when brewing their year round, seasonal and barrel-aged offerings. Since 2002 Green Flash Brewing Co. has been blessing San Diego, and now the rest of the country with its award winning beers. For owners and operators Mike and Lisa Hinkley this slogan could not ring more true representing an unforgettable company delivering an unforgettable arsenal of brews. Three B Zine could not be more excited about our opportunity to sit with co-founder and CEO Mike Hinkley.
Green Flash Brewing Co. was founded in 2002 when Mike and Lisa Hinkley decided to take their interest in craft beer to the next level. In 2003 brewmaster and beer genius Chuck Silva joined the team and Green Flash has been blazing their way to the top of the beer world ever since. Creating a reputation as a company with great people and great beer with its award winning brews including 30th St. Pale Ale – which pays homage to the local beer movement in North Park San Diego. Le Freak – a Belgian style IPA which has won 2009 Gold medal in Los Angeles for specialty ale and 2010 “Best of Show” at the Oregon Brewers Festival amongst other awards. Hop Head Red Ale – winning the Gold medal award for best American Red Ale at both the 2008 World Beer Cup and 2011 San Diego County Fair. As well as their West Coast IPA – which has won numerous gold medals for Best American IPA and has helped define the category. With the 2011 opening of a brand new brewery in Mira Mesa CA there is no doubt that Green Flash Brewing Co. will continue to race right to the top of the craft beer mountain, creating and delivering world renowned beers for us all to taste and never forget.
1. What was the motivation behind starting Green Flash?
I love the seeing the beer on the shelf and on tap for people to enjoy. It is a very basic idea, but the root of my interest. I love seeing people buy and enjoy my beer.
2. When did you first realize you were passionate about craft beer? What was the beer that made you fall in love?
When I was at UC Berkeley, I fell in love with Anchor Steam. To this day, I love Anchor Steam, Liberty Ale and Old Foghorn. Classic beers and the packaging is the best in the market. I love their bottle and labels. Beautiful. Berkeley also has a very good brew pub, Triple Rock. A few years back we collaborated with them and a cool Red Rye ale.
3. What are some of the thoughts and procedures that you throw around when creating your brews?
Simple, if the idea comes from me. I think of some beer I would like to drink. I talk the best brewmaster in the country, our own Chuck Silva, about it and let him do his magic.
4. In your opinion, why do you think San Diego has embraced local craft beers? What do you think makes craft beer so popular in San Diego?
San Diego embraces its breweries because they make exceptional, exciting and interesting ales. There is a great collection of brewers in this town and we are all lucky to be part of it. I suppose it really started in about 1997 when Pizza Port, Stone, Ballast Point and AleSmith all got started. It was the same time as the craft beer business was taking a down turn and those brewers had to be awesome to overcome the challenges in the market. They were indeed awesome and set the stage for breweries like ours. We are part of the growth and innovation in San Diego, but realize the doors we are walking through now, were kicked open before we got here.
5. What are the immediate benefits of your new brewing location? Do you plan on keeping your the Vista space open as a second location for brewing?
We have already shut down the Vista brewery and sold most of the equipment to Aztec Brewing Company, a new start up in San Diego. Our new brewery in San Diego is state of the art and designed especially for Green Flash ales. The batch size is relatively small, so that we can continue to make lots of experimental and seasonal brews. The system is automated and comprised of nine brew house vessels including two kettles. So, we can make up to 400 barrels per day and fill the demand for our beer. We are very happy with the first beers from the system. Our beers will have the same great taste and improved quality and consistency.
6. We know Green Flash collaborated with Stone and Pizza Port on a special brew. How was the experience collaborating with them and does Green Flash have any collaboration plans that we can look forward to in the near future?
Our collaboration with Stone and Pizza Port was particularly fun because they are our good friends and the beer style was out of our collective wheel house – a scotch ale. It turned out great and people really enjoyed it. We went to Belgium last year and collaborated with Brasserie St-Feuillien. They will be coming here in Spring 2012 and we will work on the US version of Bière de l’Amitié (Friendship Brew).
7. When did you decide to retire you original three beers and why?
Extra Pale Ale, Ruby Red Ale and Nut Brown Ale were great beers and all won Great American and World Beer Cup medals. But we evolved and moved to other beers like West Coast IPA, Hop Head Red and Le Freak. We found our identity as a brewery in those beers and never looked back.
The thing that has most contributed to our success is the skill and passion employed by our brewing team. Chuck Silva is an exceptional brewer and has designed some absolutely amazing beers. The leadership and culture at Green Flash rewards hard work and dedication. We have had almost no turn-over in our brewing team over the years. That has lead to great continuity and teamwork and it shows in our beer.
9. What style of beer is your favorite? Do you have a favorite Green Flash brew?
My favorite beer changes with the people I am with, the food, the mood, the music, etc… If I had to pick a favorite Green Flash beer it would be our West Coast IPA. It is my favorite beer and favorite style. I am proud that we helped define that style and that people love the beer so much.
10. What are some of the future plans for Green Flash that we can expect? Whats next for Green Flash Brewing Co?
We haven’t been able to introduce new bottled products the last couple years because we did not have the production capacity. Our specialties and seasonals were only in draft. Now we will start bottling some of our favorites as seasonal offerings. The first in the will be four packs of Rayon Vert (French for Green Flash) which was designed to be what Green Flash would be if we were a 100 year old abbey brewery and had just one beer to offer. Bottle conditioned with Brettanomyces, it is a hoppy, zesty, fruity, Belgian Pale. I think people are going to flip for it.
11. What is your favorite spot to catch a green flash while enjoying a cold beer?
It used to be from my back yard in Carlsbad. I haven’t seen one from my new place in Pacific Beach yet, but I’ll keep looking.
12. Finish this sentence… A world without beer… will never be, see our Prohibition history.
Three B Zine would like to say Thank You to the wonderful people of Green Flash Brewing Company. We know they have a great reputation for their amazing products, and Three B now knows first hand their reputation for being a company filled with great people. To learn more about Green Flash Brewing Co., their beers, brewery / tasting hours and events calendar please visit their website at www.greenflashbrew.com.
All photos used with permission courtesy of Green Flash Brewing Co.