Cigar City Brewing - Jai Alai Cedar Aged Humidor Series India Pale Ale

Cigar City Brewing - Jai Alai Cedar Aged Humidor Series India Pale Ale

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club


Cedar Aged India Pale Ale


United States

Alcohol by Volume:


Cigar City Brewing - Jai Alai Cedar Aged Humidor Series India Pale Ale

  • ABV:

  • Serving Temperature:

    45-55° F
  • Suggested Glassware:

    Oversized Red Wine Glass or Snifter
If you are like we were, you’re not sure what to expect from this beer. This heavily hopped IPA is aged on spirals of Spanish Cedar during primary fermentation. Who ages beer on Spanish Cedar, a wood normally used in the construction of humidors and high end cigar boxes? Cigar City Brewing, that’s who—and they are, to our knowledge, the first commercial brewery to use this wood in beer aging. Which had us asking: why didn’t someone else start doing this before? Could this possibly be any good? Well if the nose is any indication, then yes, because it smells amazing. Conjures up visions of a West Coast IPA rolled into a cigar. Very alluring. But let’s back up a bit… Pours a clear, coppery orange color, capped by an enduring off white, sticky, oily head. On the nose, it’s just amazing (did we already mention that?). This will be extra appealing if you happen to enjoy the smell of a seasoned cedar humidor. The spicy, fragrant notes of Spanish Cedar are unmistakable, and if you’re not sure what Spanish Cedar smells like, just take a sniff of this beer. However, the hefty dose of citrusy American hops imparts notes of orange, and the Spanish Cedar-meets-citrusy-hops gives a distinct aroma that is not unlike the scent of Orangina soft drink. Challenge your nose to get past the obvious cedar and hops, and you’ll find the aroma of a big, sweet malt base. We also get suggestions of tobacco, but that’s probably just a sensory cross-pollination of the oft-associated cedar and cigars playing tricks on our minds. We could sniff this all day long, but let’s get to drinking the stuff. The first sip romantically assaults the palate with a cavalcade of flavors. Big cedary spice, floral, aromatic hops, sweet, juicy malts, grapefruit rind (huge grapefruit notes!), sandalwood, kumquats (there, we said it), and a huge blast of cannabis—yes, pot (there, we said that too!). If you’re not sure what pot smells like/tastes like (uhhh, huh-huh), just take another sip of this beer. As it warms, lingering notes of fresh orange pulp emerge, blending with the distinct notes of white grapefruit imparted directly by the Spanish Cedar. The finish is marked by the rise of bitter hops which grab the palate, and come very close to thrashing it, but somehow the spice of the cedar helps to clean the hops off the tongue just a bit, and these two flavor elements converge with a long-lasting bristling of spiciness that ends with a remarkably grapefruit pulp-and-rind-like flavor. Hoppy cedar burps remind you how great this beer is, even after it’s gone. A remarkable brew that uses an exciting, new form of wood aging that we fully endorse. Don’t expect notes of oak or vanilla or funk that you’ve come to associate in the current wave of mainly oak-based wood-aging—this is something else altogether and we couldn’t be more excited about bringing it to you. Sets the bar perhaps unattainably high for any cedar aged IPA that may follow.

Brewer Wayne Wambles has advised us that this beer is best consumed within two to three months. That being said, the sample that won them the Gold medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in the Wood and Barrel Aged Category was about five months old, so it will hold up over time. The cedar presence remains pretty steady over time, but the other part of this beer’s appeal is the hops, and those will indeed fade with time, so, best to go for it now. So full of flavor on its own, it works nicely with super sharp cheddar cheese, yellow curry, or for a special treat, with freshly prepared, honey-drizzled baklava.
It’s actually fitting that we’re up to our second Floridian beer of the year in the Rare Beer Club—great beer from Florida is a relative rarity in and of itself. But a handful of brewers in the state are laying waste to the popular notion that Florida is a beer wasteland. Cigar City Brewing was founded very recently, in 2008, by Joey Redner, a Tampa native with a thing for beer. He’s owned a bar, sold beer at the retail, brewery and import levels, and has written about beer for several publications. A free spirit by nature, Joey tends to shun things like recipes, temperature gauges and gravity readings in favor of “flavor readings.” While this keeps him happy in his home brewing pursuits it doesn't always produce a consistent product at the commercial level. This is why Joey is happy to be working with Wayne Wambles, a man who grounds unfettered enthusiasm in the foundation of sound brewing practices. In addition to beer, Joey is passionate about Cuban food and the colorful history of the city of Tampa—and the pair are working to contribute to that ongoing Tampa legacy by crafting some of the most exciting beers in the country today. In their first year of production brewing, they took home a Gold medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category—no small feat for a new brewery competing in a crowded microbrew marketplace. It is truly remarkable that a new entrant into the competition took home gold in a very competitive category. But we happen to think the beer that won is actually on the path to creating an entirely new style of wood-aged beer—cedar aged IPA. Aging on cedar is just not done outside of the homebrewer realm. But Cigar City brewer Wayne Wambles, a talented homebrewer turned pro, is all about creativity and experimentation. Cigar City Brewing’s small 15 barrel brewery gives him the flexibility to brew what he wants, how we wants, in very limited quantities. Capitalizing on that creativity and the mission of the brewery, he merged an element of the local traditions of Tampa, as the epicenter of cigar culture in the US, with aging beer on wood. Spanish Cedar is used extensively in the cigar industry, mainly as a lining for cigar boxes or humidors, where it has antimicrobial and anti-pest properties and helps to marry the flavor of different blends of tobacco in cigars. Each year, Cigar City Brewing takes one of its year round offerings and ages it on cedar, releasing the beer under the name “Humidor Series.” The result is unlike any beer you have ever tasted, and when we first tried it, we knew that we had to bring this new wood-aging treatment to our members. It’s not just the cedar that makes Wayne’s beers remarkable—they are creative on many levels, and above all, are exceptionally well made. Their Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, for example, is aged on Peruvian cacao nibs, Ancho and Pasilla chilies, cinnamon, and Madagascar vanilla beans. It’s like a chocolate mole in an 11.5% ABV beer geek’s dream. His Jai Alai India Pale Ale is a highly drinkable west-coast style IPA bursting with citrusy, hoppy notes and it was this beer that was aged in cedar to create the beer we are featuring this month—the same beer that earned them GABF Gold. Cigar City seeks to celebrate and integrate the culture and traditions of their hometown, and in the process, they are clearly creating a legacy of their own. Quote us on that, as you’ll be hearing more about this clever little brewery from Tampa.
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