Cigar City Jai Alai

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Cigar City Brewing 

Tampa, FL

Jai Alai IPA

7.5% ABV

In addition to picking up packs of the I-10 and People’s Pale Ale during my recent trip down to the Sunshine State, one of the standbys I sought out – and really couldn’t leave without getting –  was Cigar City‘s Jai Alai.

Named after the sport that I vaguely remember playing during gym in elementary school, as well as one that became the focus of an episode of Mad Men, Jai Ali is the oft-applauded year-round IPA the Tampa-based brewery produces. In addition to the standard IPA, a white oak-aged variation is produced, as is a cedar-aged variety.

The first time I tried Jai Alai, I came away a little underwhelmed. I blame it partially on the hype. But it’s hard to pass up the chance to try it again, and on second taste, it turned out to be much better than I remember.

Jai Alai pours a deep hazy orange with a sort of rust brown tint toward the middle. There’s an almost creamy look finger worth of head on top, although it does settle and dissipate pretty quickly. The lacing does fall off pretty quickly and leaves a kind of watery film along the edges of the glass. Good alcohol legs, though.

The nose is much better than I remember. There’s a big, wet juicy hop aroma of orange juice, grapefruit and pineapple. There’s definitely a bit of alcohol on the nose as well. The sweet malt backbone is definitely present as well. Overall, it’s just really rich, juicy and delicious.

The maltiness is the first thing that’s really present on the taste. There’s a very mild bite of hop bitterness on the front of the tongue and across the palate. It’s a sort of wet pine flavor. The hops do bite a little more on the end with a big tartness and a lot of grapefruit flavor. That sweeter malt character is there to temper the hop bite a bit, but it clings to the back of your tongue. The alcohol does have a bit of a punch on the finish as well, but it’s not boozy. Very well-balanced.

Second time was a charm with this one. Then again, it’s hard to pass on anything from Cigar City.

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