Like you, I enjoy trying new beers, whether from a brewery I already know well and love, or from a brewery I’ve never heard of. And, I suspect that you’ve experienced the same thing I have when you’ve tried a beer from a brewery you know nothing about: sometimes you strike gold and sometimes you realize that the beer you bought is one you’ll never buy again.
And that’s part of the craft beer journey. It’s an adventure! When I find something magical, it’s another reason to celebrate life. And when I find something that’s bad, I’m faced with deciding if I should give it away or just dump it down the sink. But when I find that great beer or exceptional brewery, I like to spread the word. I want the great breweries to thrive and grow, even if they’ve already found a high level of success. Plain and simple, I want to do my small part to make sure they remain strong in what has become a highly competitive craft beer world.
Four years ago, I tried a beer from Cigar City Brewing, a brewery that, at the time, I knew nothing about. The beer was… and is… Jai Alai, named after the sport. And it was excellent! I was so impressed, I’ve bought it again, and again. Jai Alai is Cigar City’s flagship beer and features six hop varieties, giving the beer a tropical hop flavor and an aroma with notes of orange peel or maybe even clementine. It’s a great IPA, weighing in at 7.5% ABV.
Cigar City Brewing was founded in 2007 by Joey Redner in Tampa, Florida. In 2008, Joey hired Wayne Wambles as his brewmaster and on January 30th, 2009, Cigar City brewed their first batch. In that first year, Cigar City Brewing produced 1000 barrels of beer. As the brewery wrapped up their twentieth year of brewing at the end of 2019, Cigar City had 65 full-time employees and was producing 143,000 barrels of beer! Their growth makes sense because their beer is really, really good. I haven’t had one that doesn’t stand out.
Cigar City has great distribution here in Baltimore, so you won’t have any problem finding their flagship IPA, Jai Alai and many of their other beers. Here are a couple Cigar City beers that I recommend: Fancy Papers, a soft, fruit forward Hazy IPA coming in at 6.5% and Florida Man, a well-balanced Double IPA with an ABV of 8.5%.
Make a virtual trip to Tampa this weekend and enjoy a delicious Cigar City beer at home!
100.7 The Bay’s Craft Beer Guy