Cebu lechon and Green Flash West Coast IPA
Without wanting to jinx anything, I’ll begin on the note that yesterday, I finished my final exam in law school. Barring any untoward incidents, I’ll be marching in a few weeks, taking the bar exam in a few months, and hopefully, passing that as well. That being said, a little bit of a celebration was in store.
Luckily, my brother had just arrived from Cebu early yesterday morning with a package of lechon — that flavorful Filipino fiesta favorite famously favored by Anthony Bourdain as the “Best. Pig. Ever.” Yes, it’s so good that I had to write in cheesy alliterative language that the great high school mentor Onofre Pagsanghan would be proud of.
Just as fortunately, I was able to get my hands on a bottle of West Coast IPA from Green Flash Brewing Company in San Diego through fellow UP Law product and beer enthusiast, Concon. Described on the label as “extravagantly hopped,” and given a perfect score of 100 by the Alstrom Brothers of Beer Advocate, this was a must-try beer. All in all, a simple, laid-back but gratifying way to celebrate my first night of relative freedom, instead of partying in club.
Green Flash is named after that sailor’s myth (or is it?) that at the exact moment the sun sets, one can see, well, a green flash, on the horizon for a split second. I heard about this first from my dad, who spent several years at sea when I was much younger. I thought he was only kidding until Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow mentioned the same legend in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Personally, I haven’t been able to see it, despite my attempts to during the few times I experienced sunsets at sea.
The beer itself was a beautifully bright but cloudy amber with a relatively thick head compared to other IPAs when poured into my trusty Duvel tulip glass. I found the resiny aroma wanting, but then, I’ve been spoiled by Sculpin which has an unparalleled floral-citrus-mango-apricot bouquet. Flavor-wise, there was an initial flash of sweet, bready malt followed immediately by what I’ll described as a layered hoppiness. It was not of the in-you-face intensity you’d get from a brewery like Stone, but it seemed that the hops came through in subtle waves, slowly increasing in strength until the beer finally fully showcases the 100+ IBUs that it brags. I guess that’s what extravagantly hopped refers to. The West Coast had a bit more body than your other similar (i.e. west coast-style) IPAs and well-concealed alcohol, with long-lingering hop bitterness at the end. In all, this is a welcome change from the IPAs I’m used to, if only for some variety.
My Beer Advocate rating: Appearance: 4.5 Aroma 3.5 Taste: 4.5 Mouthfeel 4.5 Overall: 4.25
The bitterness in the end was a bit overpowering for the flavorful, juicy Cebu lechon (or more accurately, pritchon, since I had to reheat by refrying), a problem I don’t usually get with other westcoast IPAs. This was a beer that I enjoyed sipping on its own, allowing the depth of the hops to really come out. The lechon I enjoyed just as much – luckily the skin crisped up again when I fried it, and the juiciness of the meat wasn’t diminished by much despite reheating. No need for sauce, or course, and partnered with a fried vegetable spring roll dipped in vinegar and some brown and red rice, this was a hearty all-Filipino dinner, followed by a wonderful – and for me, novel – craft beer.