Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Green Flash Brewing – Le Freak

When I was younger, I had a standing argument with my mom. She claimed that there was a “green flash” that occurs just before sunset, and that there are bars and places in Calfornia to use that as the end of happy hour, etc. I maintained that she had smoked a little too much of something else green while in California and that couldn’t possibly be something that happens. It became a friendly argument, and I’d tease her now and then and ask her if I should come home before the green flash…

Little did I know that my mom was not the only one that believes this*. There are, in fact, bars and brewries named after this west-coast phenomenon. Though I’ve never seen this mythical green flash, I now am convinced, at least, that my mom didn’t make it up.

Photo 22So, on my last trip to California, I stared at more than a few sunsets… and also picked up a bottle of the San Diego based Green Flash Brewing Co.’s “Le Freak.” Described as a “Extreme ale converging San Diego-style imperial pale ale and Belgian-style trippel.” I tried to imagine what that might taste like. Hoppy? Sweet? Yeasty? At 9.2% ABV I decided that I’d start writing the preamble to this brew early so that my description skills didn’t abandon me halfway through the bottle.

It pours a cloudy amber yellow, with a head that is respectable, but not overly fluffy. The smell reminds me of some Belgian characteristics – there’s a bit of yeast and candy-like sweetness, but at the same time, there’s a citrusy hop note too. It’s like my brain is having trouble focusing on one or the other – however, they oscillate with grace instead of conflict. Its kind of like having something sweet and bitter on your plate and tasting them at once, your brain registers each seperately but after a while they become one entirely new flavor.

The taste of this one is similar to the smell. The best way I can describe this is that this beer has a Belgian foundation – the bready sweetness is there, but the bitter bite is the icing on the cake at the end. It comes in to remind you hey- you don’t get to revel this sugar on your tongue without a sweep of hops. The aftertaste is hoppy – a few minutes after a sip and you’d swear you’d just been sipping on an IPA. But the next rush of sweet undertones makes you forget that completely. Definitely a unique experience.

I highly recommend this beer because it has a really unique flow of flavors in your mouth – and they are good ones that you’ll recognize and go back for, sip after sip.

*P.S. If anyone has any evidence that proves or disproves the existence of said “green flash” I’d love to hear it…


Alaskan Amber


Sam Adams – Latitude 48 IPA


  1. Just had this beer, I thought it was very interesting and pretty delicious. Thanks for the write up, I found it useful.

    I am from San Diego and have always heard of the legend of the green flash. Despite seeing countless sunsets at the beach however I have never witnessed this phenomenon for myself. I’m still not sure if it’s just an old wives’ tale or if it actually exists…

  2. Beer Babe,

    Le Freak is a truly enjoyable Belgian IPA. The Belgian presence in this ale actually reminds me a bit of St. Bernardus Watou Tripel.


    Bill Z.

  3. I suppose I was mistaken about Green Flash’s distribution. I picked it up in San Diego, so I assumed I couldn’t get it out this way since I’d never seen it. Just heard I can get both Green Flash and Lost Abbey in MA as well. So I’m happy to be wrong if I can find it closer 🙂

  4. Say the word, and I’ll pick some up for you. We could do a trade, since I’m dying for some Smuttynose and can’t get it here in sunny So CA…

  5. zdk

    With all due respect, beer babe, that’s not true. We get Green Flash brews on tap at bars in NYC. Another reason why the big apple >> Portland, Maine in terms of beer.

  6. Mom – you’re on. Though they only sell this beer on the west coast, so I might have to call in some favors to get it again 🙂

  7. mom

    We may have to settle this with a thumb wrestle match. Winner gets the beer.

  8. mom

    There is most definetly a green flash!

    my only regret is that I was not enjoying said beer at the time I say it.

    P.S.& for the record I have seen it more than once. love mom

  9. Teal

    Yes there really is such a thing:

  10. Kelsey

    If you believe Wikipedia to be a legit source:

    There are pictures, but there are pictures of Big Foot too 🙂

    I must try this beer. Would you say it’s similar to La Chouffe Houblon Chouffe? I love that beer.

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