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Draft Notes

One beer at a time…

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Cigar City White Oak Aged Jai Alai IPA

This week I am returning to my collection of Cigar City beers (Tampa, Florida) which I purchased online and wanted to review while they are fresh. Last week I reviewed the Maduro Brown Ale and based on the hype of this brewery I was not completely thrilled. I am excited to see what I have in the White Oak Aged Jai Alai India Pale Ale. I quite enjoyed the regular Jai Alai IPA (sorry no review on that one), so I am definitely curious to taste this oak aged version.Oak Jai Alai Label

As a somewhat educational note, the term Jai Alai refers to what was known as the “Merry Game” or “World’s Fastest Game” which was once very popular in the Tampa area. This sport of Spanish origination is a mix of lacrosse and racquetball/squash (well, that is how I would describe it). Four players are on an indoor court about the size of basketball court with a wall at the end and sling a ball back and forth at very high speeds against a wall with a basket type sling (think lacrosse but shorter and deeper).

Now back to business with a quick look the specs on this beer.  Weighing in at 7.5% ABV and 70 IBU, White Oak Aged Jai Alai is part of the Cigar City’s year round selection. My serving will be from a 12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.Oak Jai Alai Glass

The appearance is a cloudy copper with a thin layer of head which sticks around for a couple of minutes.

Aromas are dominated by oak with a sprinkling of pine, vanilla, and raw sugar.

Tastes I pick up are the expected oak followed by vanilla, citrus, pine, and some bitterness followed up with more of the oak.

Mouth feel is very smooth with a medium body and a satisfying amount of carbonation. Very nice.

Overall, this is an outstanding beer which reminds me of a hopped up version of Innis & Gunn Original. The oak aromas and flavors are strong, but it is needed to keep up with the hops.  Aromas are very enticing and complex. The mouth feel is so smooth and with perfect carbonation. I will rate the Jai Alai White Oak 4.5 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale.

This beer shows me why Cigar City has received such praise and I feel that this particular beer will appeal to most beer drinkers. Additionally I see this as one of those beers with the potential to convert white wine lovers with the oak/chardonnay type flavors giving them something familiar while introducing to hops. I believe I may have mentioned this with Innis & Gunn too.

Learn more about Cigar City here: http://www.cigarcitybrewing.com/ and if my awesome description has enticed you into a Jai Alai career: http://www.dania-jai-alai.com/.

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Cigar City Brewery Maduro Brown

Cigar City Maduro Brown

I recently saw that RateBeer posted their Top 100 Brewery list and the number 4 position was held by Cigar City Brewing. I had heard a lot about this brewery out of Tampa, Florida, but did not realize it held such clout in the industry. Unfortunately, Cigar City beers are not distributed in the DC Metro area (and from what I can tell, many places outside Florida). After being bombarded with emails from Let’s Pour, an online beer sales site, I decided to hand over my savings and order a selection of Cigar City beers (10 for $40 after a $10 off and free shipping). The beer I am going to review today is the Maduro Brown, one of their year round selections.Maduro Can

Maduro Brown is an English style Brown Ale which contains 5.5% alcohol and 25 IBUs.  The brewery website notes that the ABV is a little higher than most English Brown’s and they have also added oat flakes to give it more of a silky body. The addition of oats is most often seen in stouts, so I am very curious to see how it impacts the brown ale. I just can’t imagine a beer like Newcastle Brown having the silky feel of a stout.

The serving I have is a 12 oz can, which I will pour into a mug.Maduro Glass

Appearance is a hazy brown (surprise!) with fairly minimal head which recedes almost immediately.

Aromas I pick up are chocolate, brown sugar, and caramel.

I taste a fair share of cocoa, toffee, caramel, and a touch of coffee (maybe just the slight bitterness).

Mouth feel is the interesting part of this beer. It is definitely silky as expected due to the oats, but nothing like a thick silky stout. It is a watery silk if that makes any sense with a bit of a chalky finish. This leaves me a little confused about my feelings for this beer.

Overall I am not highly impressed, but I think it is an interesting take on the English Brown style which must of us a most familiar with due to Newcastle Brown. It is easy drinking and plenty of flavor, but I am just not too impressed with the use of oats giving it a feel that just did not sit well with me. I will rate Cigar City’s Maduro Brown 3.5 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale.

I plan on reviewing at least one more of the Cigar City selection with hopes I can see more of why this brewery is held in such high regard. I did try their “Hotter Than Helles” which was an amazing Helles Lager, a style I usually avoid.

To learn more about Cigar City, check out their website here: http://www.cigarcitybrewing.com/. See the entire RateBeer Top 100 here: http://www.ratebeer.com/RateBeerBest/bestbrewers_012013x.asp.

Sixpoint Brewery – The Crisp

The Super Bowl is upon us, so I have decided to take a look at a sessionable beer perfect for the game day celebrations. The beer of the hour is The Crisp; a Pilsner by Sixpoint Brewery. Sixpoint is a craft brewer from Brooklyn, New York who prides themselves on stepping outside the box on traditional styles.Sixpoint Can

The brewery website offers an interesting narrative on the name Sixpoint. Sixpoint has been synonymous with brewing since the 1300’s when it was often seen on barrels of beer and eventually became the official insignia of the European Brewers Guild in the 1500s. Folk law says that the six points of a star represent the six critical elements of the brewing craft: grain, water, hops, yeast, malt, and the brewer.

The Crisp is brewed with Noble hops and weighs in at 5.4% ABV and 42 IBUs. I do not see any detail on whether this is a Bohemian (generally Saaz hops) or German (generally Hallertau hops). Beer Advocate classifies it as German, where Rate beer lists as Bohemian.  Based on the breweries tendencies, maybe it is a combo.Sixpoint Glass

I am consuming a 16oz can poured into a pilsner glass. The beer pours a straw color with a think Ivory head which is in no hurry to dissipate.

Aromas are floral, bready, banana, and citrus. All fairly light as the head seals them in.

Tastes I detect are herbal hops, biscuits, and caramel. There is definitely a bitter aspect to this beer which leads into the crisp, dry, and clean finish.

Mouth feel is light with plenty of carbonation, although the carbonation is not overwhelming. Slightly syrupy for a second, then dries right out.

Overall, despite the out of the box angle taken on many of their beers, this pilsner is pretty true to the style.  My palate is not experienced enough to take on the Bohemia verse German question, but it is experienced enough to say this is a nice beer with generally good malt to hop balance. Maybe a little hoppier than most pilsners, but I prefer hopped up beers so it works well for me. I will rate The Crisp 4 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale. It is all I would like in a sessionable pilsner to go along with an extended drinking session during Super Bowl Sunday or and other sporting event.

Learn more about Sixpoint Brewery here: http://sixpoint.com/ and more detail about the significance of the name Sixpoint here: http://sixpoint.com/about/logo. Cheers!

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