Style: Double India Pale Ale
OG: 18° Plato
From: Tampa, FL
Brewer’s Note: “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.”
The beer’s can is camo colors. Orange and green. I love the hop background and how it seems like underbrush camo, and I love the orange highlights. I think this label’s color scheme worked nicely. The font choice is goofy and odd, but fits nicely with the can’s style and makes it feel a little retro, which I also like. I especially liked the font for its three colors, which I think really helped to make the beer’s name pop out. The Cigar City label is also pretty sweet, and nicely place at the top of the can with just enough size that anyone looking at the can, can tell that they matter.
Unfortunately, this is another beer that, for me, seems to be wrongly labeled in category. To Cigar City, this beer is a single IPA, but to me, at 7.5% alcohol by volume, this beer is big and deserves the double/imperial moniker. A style name is just a name, but I feel like calling it a single IPA is a little bit deceitful… Oh well, let’s see how the beer tastes.
The beer pours a ruddy copper orange color with a nice rocky head of smaller bubbles. The head leaves behind a lovely sticky sheet of lacing that forms a ring with some nice stalactites running from it. In the body, the beer is very clean and light, and completely clear of particles. On the nose, the beer smells of tropical pine trees with a touch of mango citrus. The beer smells even better from the can, where the citrus is amped up into pineapple range while the pine amplifies as well into dank resinous hops. The hops are big but not overpowering, and really quite inviting. The malt base behind it is warm and bready with a terrific yet subtle rye spice. On the tongue, the beer tastes bittersweet with a nice warming heat from the spice flavor. The flavors begin as bready spice, which builds into bitter pine and grapefruit flavors with a touch of pineapple. The finish is strong with bitters which move towards medicinal in flavor with a nice little hiccup of spice to close out the finish. The aftertaste also tingles with spice and bitter pine. This is not an in-your-face IPA flavor, and certainly not a big double IPA, but it is delicious and still fills my bitter-thirst. The nuances between the hops and the generic spice flavor continue to unfold different flavors on the tongue, and really make this beer fun to drink. In the can, this beer’s fruit flavors are intensified and made crisper while the spice is diminished. I get a lot of juicy pine and orange citrus hops with a touch of cool mint at the back of the throat. On the mouth, the beer feels medium creamy in carbonation with just a touch of tingle. The beer’s body feels medium light on the tongue, and the mouth is left properly dry and a touch sticky. Alcohol is present only as a soft tingle in the sides of the mouth. Overall, this is a damn fine IPA that stands out by being different. I love the spice and I love the mixture of the hops with the spice. This is a terrific in-the-can beer, and this is a terrific out of the can beer. It is my first taste of Cigar City, and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed it, they pack a hell of a lot of flavor into it, and they hide the alcohol brilliantly. Try this beer.