Cigar City Jai Alai India Pale Ale
What can I say about Key West that Jimmy Buffett hasn’t already said or sang about? “Gimme oysters and beer for dinner every day of the year, and I feel fine” captures Key West in one song line. It is one of the most beautiful, unique, and fun places I’ve ever been. It was exactly how I imagined it being. Paradise doesn’t quite describe it. I mean, any place that asks you if you want a to-go cup or a to-go beer before you leave their establishment is alright in my book. Oh and having the Gulf on one side and the Atlantic on the other while covering you with a canopy of coconut palms…exactly. I didn’t think coming home would be so difficult seeing that we’ve been on a million vacations, but this one was particularly hard. Key West was one of those places we always talked about going, but until January of this year, we never pulled the trigger. After a weekend of planning we had everything booked and we were ready to take the drive down in May. Yes, you read that correctly…the drive. The 24 hour 1450 mile drive.
Any beer lover knows how much great beer comes out of Florida. You have Cigar City, Funky Buddha, J Wakefield, M.I.A, to name a few, and you even have a few in the Key’s right off Route 1 on the way to Key West. Now I’d be an idiot if I didn’t propose the idea of trying to make the long trip back easier to deal with by mixing in some pit stops at a few breweries and craft beer stores, ya know, to stock up and fill the car with some beers that rarely make their way up north. And when you have a wife as badass as mine, of course she said yes. So needless to say the trip home wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
One of the beers that I kept seeing everywhere, whether it was at restaurants, bars, or any store we went in was the Cigar City Jai Alai India Pale Ale. It’s a very popular beer in the south, especially Florida, and there is no doubt in my mind that if you’ve never had it, you’ve definitely heard of it. Especially all you craft beer lovers. At first I was so pumped to see it all over the place, but as the week went on, and I drank so much of it, well to be honest I was still pretty pumped to order it on our last day. It’s just one of those beers you can drink every day and not get bored with.
The Cigar City Jai Alai pours with a thick creamy white head of carbonation, almost frothy like. The color is a deep orange, and has a slight haze to it. To the nose, a huge orange and tropical citrus character will be the first thing you pick up on. I also picked up on a slight lemon, melon, and some mango character in there too. Some caramel malt is noticeable but only enough to balance out the hops. The taste to me was an explosion of orange, orange rind, and grapefruit. Wow is it tasty. Some lemon to me was slightly noticeable, and a small back end taste of malt was present. It is so well balanced. It has a very clean bitter, it’s fairly dry, but you also get some malt on the back end, a little sweetness, and light to medium mouth feel to it. It reminds me more of a West coast IPA, but some of the characteristics scream East coast as well.
Needless to say the trip to Key West was something my wife and I will never forget. It captures everything we are looking for when it comes to finding a place to call home, where we both feel we belong. And to top it off we came home with 400 dollars of delicious beer that we will be enjoying for weeks to come. Don’t be surprised if this blog is coming directly from Duval Street in Key West in the very near future. Cheers!