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Belt’s Beer Garden: Tropic Like it’s Hot

Two tropical brews to try - Oskar Blues Can-O-Bliss: Tropical IPA & Cruz Blanca’s Palm Shade


With the weather finally warming up, I decided to try a couple tropical brews to get me in that summer mindset.

Up first Oskar Blues and one of their newer releases.

Oskar Blues is one of those OG breweries…opening way back in 1997 in Longmont, Colorado. They are one of the pioneers in canning craft beer and, in fact, don’t bottle at all. Instead you can only find their brews in cans or on draft.

They now have four separate locations – one in North Carolina (Brevard), one in Texas (Austin), and two in Colorado (Longmont and Boulder). If you can’t make it to one of those four cities, no worries…you can find their brews in all 50 states.

Recently they released their Can-O-Bliss series. Currently there are three Can-O-Bliss brews – Citrus IPA, Hazy IPA, and Tropical IPA.

Today I have the Tropical IPA version, which is brewed with Azacca, El Dorado, Galaxy, Idaho 7, and Mosaic hops. It’s sold in six-packs that run the typical $10 with each of the cans containing a very solid 7.2% ABV and roughly 68 IBU.

It poured a super cloudy, pale orange color with just about a finger of head. The off-white foam quickly vanished into a thin line around the edge of the glass and a sprinkling of bubbles across the top.

Tropical certainly describes this beer well. Huge notes of pineapple, mango, guava, papaya, and kiwi dominate the aroma. But, with the hops commanding the smell like that, a resinous bitterness is also detected. Some pine and grassy notes linger in the background as well.

A flash of carbonation starts it all off. After a second or two those fruit flavors begin to overpower the fizz and spread across my taste buds. And, as anticipated, it’s packed full of tropical fruit flavors.

There’s the tart sting of pineapple initially with mango, guava, and tangerine following it up. A light dose of honeydew melon peaks out every so often, sometimes joined by the kiwi. But, for the most part, the taste focuses on the pineapple, tangerine, and mango.

Midway through a sticky resinous characteristic begins to cover my tongue and comes with a light bitterness and some grassy flavors. There’s one last pop of tropical flavors before the beer starts to come to a close.

And, as everything begins to fade away, a long-lasting dryness creeps in which is amplified by the sticky resinous feeling and a citrus peel bitterness.

Overall this brew is a bit of a mixed bag. It has a real solid smell and starts off really nicely with those bold tropical fruit flavors…but then the grassy notes and that grapefruit rind bitterness begins to tiptoe into the mix and the beer ends more on the “meh” side of things.

Great start, decent finish.

Up next, Cruz Blanca’s take on a tropical pale ale.

Cruz Blanca is situated in the West Loop of Chicago, just a few blocks west of Ogilvie Transportation Center – one of the city’s main train stations.

Founded in 2016, they only have a limited distribution across Chicagoland and sell just three beers outside of their brewpub – a Mexican lager, an IPA, and a pale ale. However, if you make it to their place on Randolph Street, they have plenty of other options and styles to choose from.

Today I have their Palm Shade, which is one of those three cans you can find outside of the city.

Palm Shade, a tropical pale ale, was brewed with Citra, Ekuanot, and Mandarina hops along with four types of oats/grains. It has a decent 6% ABV and is solid in six-packs that will set you back $11.

It poured a somewhat cloudy straw color with a nice helping of foam initially. More than two fingers of airy eggshell-white head built up and slowly worked its way down to a small accumulation within a minute or so of pouring.

On the nose, this beer is certainly fruit forward. Mango, pineapple, and mandarin orange lead it all off with a nice balance from the malts. The grains add some more sweet notes and a slightly bready characteristic to the aroma.

A burst of carbonation starts off the sip and actually fizzles for quite a decent amount of time before allowing the beer to start showing its true colors.

Soft tropical flavors start to creep across my tongue, with the mango and orange leading the way. The pineapple initially seemed to be hiding but, as things progressed, that stereotypical sting associated with the fruit started to prick my taste buds.

Midway through the hops provide a low-level bitterness that is accompanied by some light stickiness. The malts do their best to slice out the bitter twinge with some caramel sweetness and some breadiness and, for the most part, they succeed.

As this brew comes to a close, the grains impart a lingering yeasty aftertaste with some tropical fruit flavors and a hint of dryness included as well. It’s not the best combination and is somewhat unexpected but it’s nothing too bad.

All in all, Palm Shade is a super easy to drink pale ale. There’s nothing amazing or too special about it…but it’s still a damn fine beer. Perfect for hot summer days and lounging at the beach.

The lingering flavor on the end isn’t the greatest but this tropical pale ale is certainly worth the cost.