How many young breweries take their first few steps after opening with the highest of aspirations in mind? How many likely say to each other while planning and dreaming: “Let’s start off by making the best IPA in the state”? And how many, when all is said and done, actually succeed?
The answer is: Not many. Almost none, in fact. Especially not in 2014. But in Georgia, Creature Comforts can make that claim.
This brewery, which is still months away from its first birthday, is now making the best packaged, commercially available IPA in the Peach State, and it’s known as Tropicalia. The brewery began canning it about a month ago, alongside their other year-round Berliner weisse, and the acclaim has been immediate and practically universal. It’s a little hard to find if you’re not visiting Athens, but you’ll soon be hearing from others that you should seek it out.
Tropicalia takes its name and inspiration from the currently trendy wave of tropical fruity American IPAs, which have largely dialed back the bitterness and classic citrus/pine combo of West Coast pale ales to create a softer, juicier, sweeter variation. It’s a variation likely to challenge the preconceptions of beer drinkers who are under the impression that they dislike all IPAs.
As the name would suggest, this IPA’s aroma explodes from the glass with tropical fruit and citrus character. It smells, for lack of a better word, “ripe,” like grapefruit and mango chunks macerating in sugar to soften and release their juices. There might be malt character in that aroma somewhere, but you’d never know, given the strength of its fruitbasket nose.
On the palate it’s again juicy fruit, a little cloudy and unfiltered, with sweetly fruity pineapple and passionfruit flavors. Bitterness is medium, just enough to keep the beer’s overall impression as “balanced” rather than overtly sweet. I’ve implied a fair amount of sweetness here, but this IPA is truly quite drinkable—almost frighteningly so. At 6.5% ABV, it could be one that sneaks up on people who are new to craft beer.
This is not the most complex profile you’ll find in American IPA’s today, but it doesn’t need to be. Tropicalia delivers a powerful, refreshing, sweetly delicious punch, vaulting ahead of many “samey” Southern IPAs and into immediate “must have” territory. A brewery that’s been open for eight months shouldn’t be able to produce a year-round, canned IPA with this kind of exquisite balance. If you have the means, seek this one out, and get it fresh.
Brewery: Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
City: Athens, GA
Style: American IPA
Availability: 12 oz. cans