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Belt’s Beer Garden: Paw Pawtrol

Fonta Flora’s Banango! - an IPA made with paw paw fruit

Fonta Flora hails from North Carolina and now has three locations across the Tar Heel State. Their Whippoorwill Farm in Nebo, North Carolina cans most of their beers but they have tasting rooms in nearby Morganton and another in Charlotte. You can find their brews in both Carolinas, Georgia, and Massachusetts.

They bring “English tradition and Belgian inspiration to the Appalachian mountains” and produce seltzers, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, in addition to all their beers. With that Belgian inspiration, Fonta Flora is known to produce numerous wild ales, saisons, and farmhouse ales...along with quite a few IPAs.

Today I share with you a special release that has made a few appearances over the years - Banango!

Banango! is a Double IPA brewed with Citra, Huell Melon, and Mosaic hops and fermented with heaps of paw paw fruit. It has a very solid 8.5% ABV and costs about $5 for a 16-ounce can. It was canned on February 20th and this review was written on April 3rd.

For those that don’t know, the paw paw is one of the few fruits indigenous to North America and has a unique custard-like flavor profile of mango, banana, and pineapple. That combination has led to some awesome nicknames like the Indiana Banana, hillbilly mango, or, simply, the banango. They can be found around the Midwest, near every MAC university, and throughout the Appalachian Mountains. The fruit, which many people still haven’t heard of, is starting to grow in popularity and this is now the second beer on BBG that has featured the paw paw.

Banango! poured a slightly hazy, murky golden straw color with just about a finger of dense off-white head topping the beer. The foam was quite sticky and refused to fizzle away, sitting at half an inch high for quite some time.

The aroma was sweeter with loads of tropical fruits and a flaked oat backing. The slew of fruits included mango, papaya, banana, honeydew, cantaloupe, and berries, among others. Between the hops and the paw paw, this brew was inundated with fruits.

My first sip started with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel and just the slightest hint of carbonation.

The paw paw was easily picked up, imparting characteristics of banana and mango early on. Cantaloupe and honeydew were nipping at the heels of the paw paw, thanks to the Huell Melon hops.

Midway through there was a little sweetness and a hint of hoppy bitterness that hit the back of my tongue. The bitter twinge was quickly overrun with a burst of juicy mango and blackberries. There was also a very light kiwi flavor that peeked out for a brief moment.

Banango! ended rather cleanly. There was a slight dry bitterness that lingered on for a moment or two afterwards but, otherwise, it was a real easy finish.

The 8.5% ABV was hidden entirely and that made this a very crushable DIPA.

Sadly, this brew isn’t available that often - or for that long - so, if you ever see it, make sure you get your hands on it. It’s a sessionable double with a nice blend of fruits.

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