Photo: Rick Nocon, DiscoverSD
Chuck Silva, the kind mastermind of Green Flash Brewing, is one of my favorite people in craft beer. Soft-spoken but radiating with creativity and brewing experience, he creates legendary liquids at the San Diego institution. Previously working at Karl Strauss, he met owner Mike Hinkley and started at Green Flash in 2004. “I saw a great opportunity to do my own thing, as they were doing mostly session beers at the time.”
He began by reformulating several of the production beers, including the Ruby Red, an American-Irish red, to a Dusseldorf alt, along with the extra pale ale and the nut brown, and ended up with awards at GABF 2005 and World Beer Cup 2006. To date, the most winning beer in Silva’s arsenal is the deliciously beloved Hop Head Red, while my longstanding love, Double Stout, is running close behind. Shockingly, the iconic West Coast IPA, Green Flash’s most famous and largest production beer has yet to win at GABF or World Beer Cup. Hello, judges?
Now a staple in every craft beer bar in San Diego and beyond, West Coast IPA was first released in March 2005 (Other local beers of that time were Stone IPA, Port Wipeout, Ballast Point Big Eye and Alesmith IPA). By August of that year, it was the brewery’s most popular, and is now classified as a double IPA at 8.1 percent ABV and 95 IBUs. For a single IPA, Green Flash now brews the Soul Style at 6.5 percent ABV and 75 IBUs, which positively bursts out of the glass with orange and citrus hoppiness. Made with Simcoe, Citra, and Cascade, it is my favorite new addition to the Green Flash lineup.
With 10 Green Flash years under his belt, what has been most exciting about the city’s beer evolution? “For us at Green Flash and for San Diego, watching the city turn from a Coors Light town to a craft beer town, offering a diversity of beer flavor, and not just hoppy beers. What San Diego did was transcend all of that, by tweaking IPAs, pushing hop limits, and making different styles of craft beer.”
What’s next on the calendar for Silva and Green Flash? In just a few months, a collaboration beer with Alpine called Handshake will be brewed up at Alpine, as a small batch, then scaled and brewed at Green Flash for a 22-ounce release. You heard it here folks. I can’t wait.
Q: How old were you when you took your first drink?
My dad drove for Coors, so around 12.
Q: When did you brew your first beer?
I started home brewing in 1994 at 27.
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
Home brewing. (chuckles). Hmm, engineering.
Q: If you could have one superpower?
To heal people.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
To live with love and freedom.
Q: What makes you laugh?
Having a good sense of the ridiculous.
Q: One wish?
Free flowing Champagne and world peace.
Q: Favorite vacation spot?
The Big Island of Hawaii.
Q: Desert island music?
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
I would be proud to be remembered as a San Diego brewer, but as kind person as well.
Q: What is your personal mantra?
I don’t have one.
Q: If you could invite three people living or dead to dinner, who would they be?
Colby Chandler, Paul Segura and Erik Jensen.
Q: If it’s not a beer, what are you reaching for?
Red wine and Champagne.
Q: Your last meal on earth?
Opakapaka in Hawaii, with Mary Jo and the Swedish bikini team.