Not many Americans are familiar with the game jai alai. It comes from Corsica, and is a cousin of American racquetball, or European squash: two opponents hit a ball against a wall in a far variant of tennis. But most Americans are in fat familiar with cigars and Tampa, Florida. Tampa is nicknamed Cigar City because there are many Cubans, Dominicans, and others who live there and make very high-quality cigars. Because of that, Tampa has a very cigar-friendly culture and is known worldwide for its cigar city life. So, what happens when you combine the Cigar City with jai alai? You get a highly-rated India Pale ale called Jai Alai.
Cigar City Brewing probably has an interesting history, but since their website offers not a single word about it, I cannot confirm. I hate when breweries do not give information about their history: we want to know! I also emailed the company, and received no reply. Sometimes it feels like breweries are under persecution and having to work in secret, as if telling customers a little bit about their history would cause them to be put into re-education camps for life. All I could find out is that the CEO and Founder of the company is Joey Redner. But I digress. I suppose the main thing in a beer review is the beer itself, so let’s take a look at Cigar City Jai Alai IPA. One last note: I have no idea why the company named this IPA Jai Alai, and nowhere in any of their literature do they explain it, except to say that a jai alai fronton (court) once existed in Tampa. Go figure. An IPA is a top-fermented, warm-fermented ale with a large amount of hops, thus bitterness.
Everything On Tap Review – Cigar City Jai Alai IPA:
Bottle: This beer comes in a can and a bottle. Canned beer has its supporters and detractors. I am not a big fan, but I do not harbor any undue prejudice against cans, except that I truly can taste a difference. The bottle and the can share the same basic design: a background of green foliage, on top of which is yellow lettering, an orange logo, and a prominent image of a hop flower. My sample was in the bottle.
Pour: The color is a profound orange-amber with partial clarity.The head is easily two-fingers thick and calla lily white. It dissipates very slowly, leaving thick rings and lacing.
Aroma: The attack releases a malty sweetness with hints of tropical fruit, followed by some grassy hoppiness, with the slights hint of grapefruit on the finish. The aroma is fairly typical for an IPA. It is nice, but not overwhelmingly wonderful.
Flavor: In opposition to the aroma, the first flavor to touch the palate is piney hops, with undertones of bitter citrus and green grass. Then comes malty, floral sweetness. While the flavors are not hugely complex, they are nicely balanced. What it lacks is any yeastiness, which I personally like in an IPA.
Mouthfeel: The body is medium with a slight bit of very nice viscousness. The carbonation is light to medium, and it suits the ale well.
Structure: While the structure is not broad and complex, it is nevertheless nicely balanced, especially for what I would consider to be a daily table IPA.
Food Pairing: As with most IPAs, Jai Alai would pair well with spicy food, especially spicy seafood. It would stand up well against Indian curries, or even Louisiana boiled crabs.
Overall Rating Out of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: