You’ve seen quite a few Tampa Bay Brewing Company beers on local shelves over the past couple of years, from perennial favorites like Reef Donkey American pale ale and Old Elephant Foot IPA, to seasonal and one-off releases, like Last Days of Summer sour ale and the Hop Silo collaboration series.
You won’t find one of the brewery’s best recent creations, however — Zongo IPA is a tasting-room exclusive, part of a small-batch series of brews that are sold exclusively on-site at the Ybor City and Westchase tasting rooms.
Zongo has proven to be a standout entry in the series, with its 30-case can run selling out on the first day of sales. The rest is available on tap until it’s gone. In other words, make haste. Zongo is an impenetrably hazy New England-style IPA, of the sort popularized by breweries like Treehouse and Trillium. Two separate dry-hopping stints with Sabro and Cashmere hops give the brew its trademark cloudiness, while also providing intense aromas of pineapple and coconut: a suitably tropical characteristic achieved without the use of any additional flavorings beyond malt, water, hops and yeast.
The Kviek yeast strain — a centuries-old Norwegian variety — has gained popularity in recent years, partly because of its hardiness in a variety of fermentation temperatures and partly due to the interesting fruit-like esters that it produces, often lending a hint of tropical fruits to the fermentation profile.
Zongo, then, is loaded with dense fruit notes despite containing no actual fruit. It’s not sweet, however — the beer is loaded with the juicy hop flavors you’ve come to expect from the New England style, but it finishes crisp and dry.
Many local breweries have had success experimenting with this style, but Zongo is one of the best, rivaling the output of breweries that have made their name on New England IPAs. The cans are gone, and the draft is next, so head to your closest Tampa Bay Brewing Company tasting room to try it while you can.
— Justin Grant is a tbt* correspondent.
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