Brew Review

Beer Review – Green Flash / Pizza Port Carlsbad / Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale

Whenever I walk in to a Craft Beer retailer to pick up some new beers, I am occasionally overwhelmed by the plethora of choices. According to the Brewers Association, there are currently 1,700+ Craft Brewers operating in the United States. With so many Craft Beers available (and I haven’t even mentioned the vast array of imported beer), it’s no surprise that I occasionally narrow down my choices by looking for a brand name that I recognize (preferably one with a reputation for making excellent beer). Green Flash and Stone are two Craft Beer brands that fall into this category (their IPAs are among the best). Though I’m not exactly sure where I first heard about the Highway 78 Scotch Ale (The Alemonger most likely), the names of these two brewers and Stone’s distinctive packaging are what prompted to make the purchase (this was purchased along with the Sam Adams Wee Heavy).

In case you were wondering, this beer gets it’s name from California State Highway 78 which connects the three breweries that were involved in this collaborative beer (Green Flash, Stone, and Pizza Port Carlsbad). Here’s what it looks like on the map:

And here’s what the Brewmasters have to say about this beer:

Now that you have some background, let’s get on with the review…

The Highway 78 Scotch Ale pours a deep ruby red with a thin half inch head that leaves little to no lacing on the glass as it dissipates. I had a hard time trying to describe the aromas of this beer. I’d stick my nose into this glass over and over again, and all I could say is that it reminded me of Port Wine (I guess dried fruit would also be an apt description of what I was smelling). On my first taste, the relatively high alcohol content was very apparent (a boozy 8.8% ABV). The carbonation was very fizzy on the tongue, and the sweet roasted malts dominate the palate. I was expecting this beer to be thick and mouth coating, but what I experienced was the exact opposite, i.e. it was a bit thin and watery. There also wasn’t very much of a finish. It just kind of ended.

When I purchased the Highway 78 along with the Samuel Adams Wee Heavy, I thought for sure that the Highway 78 would be the better beer, but once again, I experienced the exact opposite. Although I have only had these two Scotch Ales, I can say with confidence that the Sam Adams Wee Heavy is the better beer. Sadly, the Highway 78 was a one time brew, so my chances of revisiting this beer and giving it a second chance are slim to none. I really wanted to like this beer, but unfortunately, all it did was leave me with a pretty good buzz.

6 replies »

    • I’ve never been. Looks like a great place to live AND visit. I certainly hope you took advantage of all the great beer drinking opportunities!


  1. I can appreciate the honesty. Sometimes I wonder if I like more expensive brews more because it feels so special – like a fake out. I’ve heard that happens with people and fine wine. Anyway… at least one of them was good.


  2. In another life (though one which continues uninterrupted in a parallel universe just north of normal), I could zoom in on that map and see myself lounging in Cardiff and brunching (Sunday, of course) in Solana Beach. Unfortunately, that was about 10 years before Stone, Green Flash or Pizza Port were born.

    Flash sideways to February 2011 and a few hundred miles east of that map and you’s find me bouncing about Scottsdale, AZ in search of Highway 78 Scotch Ale the week after it was released. No luck. When I finally tracked it down a couple months later in the Republic of South Jersey, I was crestfallen at first sip. I expected a masterpiece given this brew’s pedigree but was confronted with a disappointing and grainy photocopy of one. That said, some time after that I had it on tap at the Pourhouse – much better on draft but still short of special.

    Boston Beer’s Sam Adams Brewmaster’s Series Wee Heavy is a much better Scotch Ale. One of the better ones I’ve had – a notch below Three Floyds Robert The Bruce but an impressive brew all around.

    I’d go on but they need more vowels in that other universe so I’m going to pack a few and slip into the wormhole.



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