In which Ed definitively proves that some beers just taste like vacation:
I am confronted with a kaleidoscope of colors on the illuminated bar of Grand Palazzo -- orange and pink and yellow and somewhere in the background, the orange brown of St. John Brewers' Island Hoppin' IPA (St. John USVI, 6.2% ABV). Our bartender keeps bringing out something new, something even more colorful than the next. It's all strikingly similar to the neon display beneath the sea that I've witnessed each day I've been here. Beautiful royal angelfish, immaculate polka dot box fish puffing at the sand, vivid purple damselfish frolicking through the coral -- all of these have turned at least one of their eyes to me as I grope my way through the sapphire blue water behind them, an awkward stalker from a far away world. But yet I still return to the familiar, and Island Hoppin' IPA has much of that: flavorful hops abound, and the firm feel of a substantial foundation of the style holds the line. Yet there's something more there -- a sniff of fruit? A touch of mango or pineapple? It's hard to discern, as I'm lost in the islands on a journey that takes me to an indefatigable supply of abandoned beaches with sugar sand and plastic blue waters. With mask and snorkel always at my side, I contemplate the joyous repetition of our days. But like the IPA, I remember there's something more substantial to return to, even than this paradise. Just not quite yet....
Island Hoppin' IPA, a foundation of the familiar with a bashful hint of the color of the islands. A-
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