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Belt’s Beer Garden: Creature Feature

New Image’s East Coast Transplant & Creature Comforts’ Tropicalia

This week a couple beers that celebrate the East Coast’s brewing prowess.

Up first, New Image, a brewery that might be located some 1800 miles away from the East Coast but can brew a hazy IPA like the best of them.

New Image Brewing, from Arvada, Colorado, specializes in making citrus-forward, juicy IPAs and unique sours. Currently available in Colorado and a handful of other places (Chicagoland and Detroit from what I’ve seen), they offer seven year-round beers.

When I first saw that they had sent some beer to my area, it was a no brainer to grab a four-pack. I found their East Coast Transplant, their most popular and widely available brew. It was also Colorado’s first canned hazy IPA.

East Coast Transplant is made with Citra, El Dorado, and Simcoe hops and has a malt bill that includes Pilsner, Wheat, and Oats. It does cost a bit more, at $17 for a six-pack, but each can of the beer has a very solid 8.5% ABV and about 85 IBU.

This Vermont-style style double IPA poured a slightly hazy, super bright straw color with moderate head. Just about one finger of pure white foam topped the beer and quickly vanished into a ring around the edge of the glass with a few clouds swimming in the middle.

It certainly smelled like a New England-style beer. Big, juicy notes of orange, tangerine, grapefruit, mango, and peach lead the aroma while some mild dank undertones and a sweet, bready malt profile sit underneath.

My first swig began with a sharp bitter bite and a moderate carbonation, both of which were quickly overrun.

The first wave of flavors contained mango, tangerine, and peach. Of those, the tangerine was the prolific – surviving long enough to be joined by a light honeydew melon and grapefruit rind twinge.

Midway through, the brew began to have that typical “pillowy” feel that most NEIPAs have but this brew also had a slightly heavier mouthfeel that made it feel thicker and almost chewy. The malts appeared here as well, providing a bready sweetness and that uniquely oaty flavor.

From there, East Coast Transplant begins to end and it does so quite quickly. All those juicy tropical fruits flavors fade in a matter of mere seconds. All but one. Lingering behind is the grapefruit peel but it is soon accompanied by a diesel-like sting that lasts for about a minute after everything else before fading away.

This turned out to be a rather good brew. It did have some stronger hop notes than expected, as the hops attacked early on and then again late in taste. But, with those exceptions, it was a very solid brew. And it certainly doesn’t taste like a double IPA or like it has an 8.5% ABV!

If you have a few extra bucks to spend on beers (it is kind of pricey) and like stronger New England-style IPAs, it’s worth grabbing a few. Plus, the higher ABV certainly helps.

Next up, a Georgian brewery that’s made a huge name for themselves.

Creature Comforts is located in Athens, Georgia and just a stone’s throw (if you could throw a stone exactly one mile) from Sanford Stadium, the home of the Georgia Bulldogs. They began back in 2014 and have since become one of the Southeast’s most prolific and sought-after breweries.

And the reason for their popularity comes from one single beer...Tropicália.

You might know it as the beer that Fat Thor was drinking in the last Avengers movie but, for craft beer lovers, it has been one of the highest-rated IPAs in America for a while now and one that many people go searching for. Myself included.

After attempting to find this brew for nearly three years, I finally had a friend get their hands on a six-pack for me during a recent trip to Georgia.

And, surprisingly, a six-pack is reasonably priced, at $11. The liquid gold inside each 12-ounce can is made with Centennial, Citra, and Galaxy hops and four types of malt. It comes complete with a 6.6% ABV and 65 IBU.

Tropicália poured a bright, mostly translucent, golden copper color. Two fingers of off-white head topped the beer and slowly fizzled its way down. As the foam faded into a thin line across the top of the beer, it left a nice, solid lacing around the glass.

After getting my first whiff of this brew it became clear that this IPA was aptly named. A plethora of tropical fruits popped here controlling the aroma with a solid hop profile. Passion fruit, tangerine, mango, melon, and grapefruit are easily detected but, below the fruit, a soft malt base provides a sweet biscuity backing to hops.

My first sip begins with almost no carbonation, just a light hum, and that allows the flavors to immediately appear.

The hops provide a quick burst of bitterness up front that are soon followed by the tropical flavors. Mango, passion fruit, and melon lead the way initially. It’s a sweet, yet dry, beginning, as, right after the first round of fruits, I can feel a slight resin begin to coat my tongue.

As the resinous feeling continues, a citrus peel flavor - that featured a heavy dose of grapefruit – began to slowly roll across my taste buds and seemed to fill my entire mouth.

Once that wave of flavor reached the end of its journey, everything began to start fading away.

Depending on the sip, I was left with a moderate to higher level of dryness and a sticky grapefruit peel resin lingering for a few moments after everything.

The brew, outside of that initial hop bite, was a very easy to drink IPA. It has lots of great tropical fruit flavors, minimal bitterness and, outside of the dry ending, was quite the tasty beer. It’s easy to see why it’s become as popular as it has!

If you can find Tropicália, you will NOT be disappointed. It was well worth the wait.

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