Smartmouth production manager Jeremy Hartson pours a growler of Rule G IPA

Smartmouth production manager Jeremy Hartson pours a growler of Rule G IPA

By Dan Yarnall

OK! Let us talk about the new guy on the block, Smartmouth Brewing in Norfolk.  After a long wait, while everything that could go wrong went wrong with their equipment, Smartmouth began distribution in late October of 2012.  Greg Papp, (aka Bluto and Head Brewer) formerly of Victory, Lagunitas, and Foothills brewing, has some nice brewing credentials.  After finally finding his home with Smart Mouth, this journeyman brewer is cranking out some great brews, namely their West Coast inspired IPA called Rule G.

First off, what’s with the name? With other brews called Murphy’s Law, Alter Ego and Hardy Porter, Rule G is hardly alone in the weird labels.  I believe they explain the names on their website, but who cares?  They could call this brew “Ass in a glass” and I’d still drink it because it’s awesome!  As with all really good IPAs, the star of the show are the hops!  Rule G does not disappoint.

This brew pours a hazy golden color with a brilliantly white foamy head.  The foam slowly packs down into a dense topper easily supporting a bottle cap.  Sticking my big nose into the glass reveals citrus, honey and a wonderful bread component from malt.  A quick sip and the smooth malt body initially dominates with honey and caramel malt.  As soon as it washes over the tongue, the hops kick in and finish with a pleasant bitterness, lemon zest and grapefruit.  As far as easy drinking IPAs on the market, this is one of the better ones.

Food Pairing: There is nothing I enjoy better than spicy food and hoppy brews.  Pair this beer with General Tso chicken, spicy buffalo wings or green Thai curry with tofu.

Where to find: Hoffman distributing Co., the big boys on the block that have taps in just about every bar on the Southside, exclusively distributes for Smart Mouth Brewing. Rule G is widely distributed throughout the area at better beer bars.   All you have to do is ask for it at your local watering hole and they can deliver.  Or you can just visit the brewery at 1309 Raleigh Ave, Suite 300 Norfolk, VA 23507.  It’s a great place to hang out and talk to the owner and brewers over a pint of their great selections.  Porter, Bluto, Waldo, Jimmy and the rest of the crew, please keep up the great work!

GREEN FLASH

Ok! Big News! Green Flash! What’s that? I said, Green Flash!  Green Flash? Yes, Green Flash.  I’ve been holding on to this little nugget of information for a little while and finally, I’ve been given the green light (rather appropriate) to sing it from the rooftops.  Virginia Beach is going to be the next Asheville, NC… sort of.  Green Flash Brewing out of San Diego plans to build (with 98% certainty) a $15M brewery in VB.  They plan to break ground this year and begin East Coast distribution in 2015.  The word on the street is that they have chosen a piece of property on the corner of General Booth and Damn Neck.  So, with this awesome news, let’s welcome our new West Coast brothers with open arms and empty mugs.  So, without further ado, let’s talk about their great brew that’s helping put them on the map.

Surprisingly, I’m not going to talk about one of their IPAs, that would be too easy. Rayon Vert (7%ABV), a hoppy Belgian Ale, finished with Brettanomyces, turns this beer into a subtle sour ale.  Brett, as it’s commonly referred to, is an intentional infection, that when it isn’t intentional, most breweries want to stay as far away from as possible.  However, when intentional this buggy friend, over time, helps with complexity and chews up left over sugars.

Rayon Vert pours a cloudy pale yellow.  A cushioning cloud of clean white foam quickly pops up, and a fierce amount of carbonation remains for several minutes as it recedes, coating inside the glass with residual white.  The nose smells like wet hay and citrus.  This is another side effect of brett and considered quite appropriate for the style.  Other terms I’ve heard describing the smell are: horse blanket or wet dog but I’ll stick with hay.  It sounds better.  I know it’s odd, but without that funky smell, it’s not a sour.

The taste is slightly acidic with a thin lemony body.  The finish is dry, clean and leaves an aftertaste of lemon rind.  I’m not sure why they consider it a hoppy Belgian style since the hops are mostly undetectable. As far as sours are concerned, this is an easy drinker and very subtle on the funk.  It’s light and refreshing, and I can easily picture myself drinking this on a nice sunny day sitting on my patio.  Green Flash can help change the beer culture in Hampton Roads and how serious beer enthusiasts perceive Hampton Roads when it comes to beer.  We should be grateful they chose us as their new home.

Food pairing: funky blue cheese, fatty pork dishes or ceviche

Where to find it: Lynnhaven Pub, Grape and Gourmet, Wholefoods and better bottle shops.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A Green Flash Brewing Company spokesperson confirmed Virginia Beach is one of several potential East Coast locations for its new brewing facility. No formal decision will be announced until May. Stay tuned.