Monday, December 12, 2011

Drinks for the Drinking Nonthusiast: Cigar City Brewing

 The Contestants:
Cigar City Brewing's Jai Alai IPA, Maduro Brown Ale, Hillsborough River Dry Irish Stout, Florida Cracker Belgian Wit, Tocobaga Red Ale, and Hotter Than Helles Lager
The Review:
So this review is going to be a bit different for a few reasons.  I actually visited this brewery when I went home for Thanksgiving (thanks parents for telling me about it!), so the majority of that list is what I tried while at the brewery itself.  The only one I had any large amount of recently is the Maduro because I bought a growler of it to take home.  And, unfortunately, I didn't take notes while I was at the brewery because I am lame like that.  So most of this review will be from memory.

What are you're initial thoughts?
Jai Alai IPA (7.5%):  I honestly don't remember too much about this one...  I know I didn't have more than a small taste of it, but from what I remember it is just a pretty standard IPA...  I'll have to see if I can find any around here, seeing as this is really the only one of their brews that gets shipped out farther than the immediate city.  This is their most well known brew and the only one I had heard of before realizing the brewery even existed, and in my hometown for that matter!

Maduro Brown (5.5%):  Now this is my favorite out of those that I sampled.  Obviously I liked it enough to buy a growler (a full quart filled from their taps at the bar that you take home with you).  It has a rather chocolate-y flavor, that is still bitter with a slight roasted espresso flavor.  I'm not usually one for "flavored" beer, but this is absolutely delicious, especially as a sort of winter/dessert beer (seeing as a opened my growler on one of the first chilly nights this past week), although it is brewed year-round from what I understand.

Hillsborough River Stout (5.5%):  I got a sample of this beer for one reason only: the river for which this is named for is one of my favorite places in my hometown.  I have rather fond memories of hiking around the river and canoeing on the river itself.  So I had to try the beer (which ironically shares the same color as the river)!  If the Maduro had a chocolatey coffee flavor, it was nothing compared to the Hillsborough River.  This brew was overwhelming in its flavors of roasted coffee and cocoa.

Florida Cracker Wit (5%): This was the first beer I sampled at the brewery.  I don't remember too much about it, but I don't think it was my favorite by any means.  I remember the flavor being much stronger than I had anticipated, although I don't really remember much else than that.  According to their website, this beer has citrus-y notes with a hint of coriander and vanilla.

Tocobaga Red (7.2%):  This was my boyfriend's favorite of everything we sampled.  Therefore, I made him (although rather unwillingly haha) write up the mini review of this one.  He says, "It was a strong beer, with a very rich piney taste that may put off people that aren't too big a fan of reds. Personally, I really enjoyed it and wouldn't mind having it again sometime. "  I will have to agree with him on the piney nature of the beer being off-putting.  While I do enjoy reds upon occasion, the piney-ness of this beer was a bit overwhelming in my opinion.

Hotter Than Helles Lager (5%):  This was the favorite of my light-beer-drinking parents.  They initially got this thinking it would be spicy (I think someone told them it had a bite), but is wasn't like that at all.  From what I remember, it was just a nice beer, especially for those who aren't used to the stronger flavors of craft beers,

How's the price?
Well, my parents took my boyfriend and I on the tour of the brewery which was $5 a person and included a beer and a pint glass.  What a deal!   I don't remember the price, but the growlers were rather reasonable as well.

Would you ever buy this again?
Well, next time I am at home I plan on buying another growler of the Maduro Brown and possible a six-pack of the Jai Alai, so I would say yes.  I'm rather sad that I don't have any more of the Maduro!

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