Florida’s Cigar City Brewing is one of those outfits I’ve always heard legends about, like Bells or Founders, but even more frustrating because they’re RIGHT THERE and don’t sell in Louisiana for some reasons. Change this soon y’all.
What’s more, its just been that many years since yours truly had been to the beach. But a recent visit to Orange Beach with family finally put me in position to not only try some, but stock up for the trip back. Crucial.
Now, I can’t say I was able to try all things CC, but I did very much enjoy two of their regulars: Jai Alai IPA and Maduro Brown Ale.
This was one of the beers I’d heard a ton about from people, and I have to say it really did meet the hype.
Jai Alai, a game native to the Basque region of Spain, is played on a court called a fronton. Jai Alai players attempt to catch a ball using a curved mitt whilst the ball travels at speeds up to 188mph! Proving they have a sense of humor the Spanish dubbed this game, with its ball traveling at racecar speeds, “the merry game.” Tampa was once home to a bustling Jai Alai fronton but sadly all that remains of Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game. The India Pale Ale style of beer has its roots in the ales sent from England to thirsty British troops in India during the 18th century. Pair Jai Alai India Pale Ale with Beef Empanadas, Deviled Crabs and other spicy dishes.
It has a very bright orange-y yellow color, which fits the colorful can and the style. The bouquet is heavy on the floral, hoppy notes that you’d expect, but with a malty backbone. But this won’t sock you in the face with hops like a lot of IPAs — the open is sweeter, almost like more of a wheat beer, but it slowly trails through some citrus notes through the hops. Almost like licking a lime peel. And with just a tiny bit of spice on the aftertaste. Very refreshing for an IPA, and drinkable. The flavor pairs really well with spicier food, and you can definitely enjoy this all day. Maybe the best IPA I’ve ever had, a strong 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Maduro™ is a Northern English-style brown ale with some American affectations. Maduro is higher in alcohol than the common English brown ale and features flaked oats in the malt bill which imparts a silky body and works to mesh the roasted, toasted and chocolate components together in Maduro’s complex malt profile. The end result is a remarkably full-flavored yet approachable and sessionable brown ale that pairs well with mild to medium cigars.
Now this one joins the pantheon of truly great beers. The pour is kind of thick, but the texture is never too heavy, so this is an English brown you can really enjoy. The bouquet is very rich and malty, with a bit of caramel sweetness to it, and the flavor matches that perfectly. There’s a nice note of spice right at the end — something earthy that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, that makes for a really nice, flavorful close that really makes you want to pop open another one. Five stars. Would drink forever.