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Green Flash takes a rare misstep with Road Warrior

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The presentation of Green Flash’s Road Warrior is impressive. Unfortunately it falls apart in the taste department for IPA fans.

Ever since I got introduced to Green Flash a few years ago, I've been a huge fan. From its West Coast IPA to its Hop Head Red to its Le Freak, the Southern California microbrewery has proven to be a bastion of consistent quality.

Until now.

For the summer months, Green Flash is releasing Road Warrior, an imperial rye IPA aimed at the market that doesn't want the usual light fare when the temperature hits the triple digits. The product gets its name from its "tireless national sales team," and clocks in at 9 percent ABV.

I recently received a shipment, and decided to share it with my co-workers. After all, one of the best things about beer is the social aspect, and besides, I was anxious to see what they thought.

My first experience with Road Warrior did not go well. Granted, I had already had another IPA before diving in, so my palate was perhaps not as sharp as it could have been, but still, it was a huge disappointment.

Road Warrior certainly looks lovely in the glass, a deep amber color with an excellent head. It also smells fantastic, with maltiness and the spiciness of the rye creating an intoxicating bouquet.

But that's where the praise ends. Road Warrior is advertised as an IPA, and falls almost completely flat in that department. Instead of the bitterness mixed with the slight fruit and pine of the best IPAs, it's just flat-tasting and bitter, and the taste vanishes almost completely. There's just nothing to savor here, just a big, rich alcohol hit with no followup.

I decided to give it one more chance, this time tasting it with an unmolested palate. I wish I could say the results were different, but the second tasting only confirmed my first impressions.

But hey, I'm just one reviewer. What did my co-workers think? One of them thought it was fantastic, but it should be noted he was not aware it was an IPA -- he was referring mostly to the rye aspect, as he is a huge fan of that category. The other co-worker was less complimentary than I was--he poured his out after only a few sips.

Basically, it boils down to this: If you're a fan of rye-based beers, you should check out Road Warrior. But if you're buying this expecting any kind of IPA experience, don't bother. There are plenty of other West Coast IPAs that deliver huge in that category.

As for Green Flash, I'm still a fan. One disappointing experience isn't going to stop me from buying their new products every time I see them on the shelf.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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