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Belt’s Beer Garden: Ay, Papi

Commonwealth’s Papi Chulo

This week’s beer come from a brewery that’s very rare to find up here in the midwest - Commonwealth Brewing Company.

Virginia Beach, Virginia sits on the southeast corner of the state, right on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering North Carolina. And, since 2015, it has been the home of Commonwealth Brewing.

Commonwealth sits right on the Chesapeake Bay and lives on the philosophy that beer should be “adventurous, diverse, extremely drinkable, and defy boundaries.”

I had heard nothing but good things about them but never saw them in Chicagoland...until a few weeks ago. I was able to snag a single can of their Papi Chulo - a hazy, unfiltered IPA that has a 6.5% ABV and 56 IBU - for the price of just $4.

Papi Chulo poured a dark straw color bordering on copper with a massive amount of head topping the beer. Nearly three fingers of thicker, dense foam built up. It slowly disappeared, lacing the entirety of the glass with a thick webwork of eggshell-white bubbles as it vanished.

The aroma was dank tropical fruit and floral notes while flaked wheat sat underneath. The most notable scents were pear, orange, guava, and tangerine. The malts hid underneath the fruit with hints of some light caramel and cereal.

My first sip began with a smooth and silky mouthfeel that’s on the heavier side of things. There is very little fizzle from the carbonation and, instead, it’s almost like drinking a nitro’s that smooth up front.

The hops hit next with a dash of bitterness as the tropical flavors really begin to take shape. Guava, mango, tangerine, and a bit of grapefruit hit in rapid succession and really pop.

Surprisingly, there was no pear in the taste. For being the main offender in the smell, I was sure it’d make an appearance when drinking...but, alas, it never showed. Instead, it was replaced by that combination of grapefruit and mango (not a bad switch).

Midway through, there was an oily grassy flavor that appeared with some other floral/earthy notes, like a hint of black pepper spice and some weedy dankness.

However, there is one final push from the tropical fruit. A late burst of juicy mango and pity grapefruit that pushes out the earthy/grassy notes and leaves a lingering oily resinous feeling with just a bit of bitterness sitting towards the back of my throat. There is a tiny dry feeling left behind but it’s nothing a swig of water won’t take care of every four sips or so.

All in all, Papi Chulo is a very tasty brew. It does sit a bit heavier, with that soft, super creamy body and really fills you up. But there is a nice combination of hop flavors - mostly juicy tropical fruits with some spice and those floral notes making an appearance as well.

(But as good Papi was, from what I’ve heard their double version, Big Papi, is even better and I’ll be keeping an eye out for that one too!!)

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