DECATUR, GA -- What follows is a story about supply and demand. It’s described as a “phenomenon” by those in the know – and a happy problem for the Athens brewer that makes the India Pale Ale called "Tropicalia."
Darren Comer has sampled a lot of beer. Tropicalia, he says, is one of a kind. "The element of fruitiness, the hoppiness the balanced nature of it," Comer said. "I’ve not seen another beer in the last decade in this market do what it has done."
Comer is co-owner of an Irish pub in Decatur called the Marlay House.
"When we have Tropicalia on draft, it typically sells more than Guinness. Which is kind of surprising in an Irish pub," Comer said.
Thursday night, the Marlay house ran out of Tropicalia draft, and had none to serve this weekend -- at least, not on the menu. "We have a secret stash of cans that some of our regulars, and friends and family of the pub, they know to ask for it," Comer said.
This is not surprising to Nazim "Rocky" Ravji, at S&N Package Store in Decatur. "The demand is too high," Ravji said Friday. "The supply is not consistent."
He stocks countless varieties of craft beer, but there's no Tropicalia to be found -- unless you're a regular customer. "I know you and you walk in and ask me for Tropicalia, you will get it," Ravji said. He keeps it out of sight and limits sales.
Tropicalia is brewed by Creature Comforts – an Athens craft brewery that launched less than two and a half years ago. And the brewery can’t make enough of it.
I think there’s some frustration" among customers, said co-founder Chris Herron. "I think it was more anger early on, and now it’s the continual frustration we get from the retail side as well. We share that frustration."
Herron says Tropicalia is made with an Australian hop that helps give the IPA its fruity aroma and is in very short supply.
"And we’re contracting hops through the year 2022 right now trying to get ahead of this, and trying to be ready," Herron said. "But some of the hops in that beer, we couldn’t go out and get them today on the open market if we wanted to."
This means Tropicalia will likely remain the intriguing beer you mostly can’t buy in Atlanta. unless you know who to ask.
"It is special. It has a very good flavor. No doubt about it," said Ravji. "That’s why people are crazy."