Monday, February 18, 2013

Cigar City White Oak Jai Alai IPA (2013 original review)

Aging beer on oak chips or in barrels has become a big trend in American brewing in recent years, but it’s not necessarily a guarantee for success. If it were, Cigar City White Oak Jai Alai IPA would be a good beer. It’s completely unlike any other oak-aged beer I’ve ever had, so it’s certainly original. But the end result is a strange-tasting, off-putting beer.

NOTE: read and watch my 2014 re-review here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2014/01/cigar-city-white-oak-jai-alai-ipa-2014.html

2.7
   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 11/20
Chad9976 (816) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 18, 2013
I received a 12oz bottle in a trade with a friend in Florida (thanks, Matt!). I poured it into a goblet.

Appearance: Dark amber/orange color, opaque. Forms a two-finger, white, frothy head which leaves excellent lacing and retains well.

Smell: Potent aroma of dill, cannabis and ash.

Taste: I’ve had regular Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, and even though it’s been a while, I remember it being a pretty standard, but good American IPA. If I were drinking this white oak-aged version blind there’s no way I would peg it as being in the same general style, let alone the same beer. I appreciate the originality of aging the beer on white oak (and an IPA instead of an imperial stout at that). However, this is not a good-tasting beer in my opinion. The palate is completely overrun and ruined by the white oak presence. The hop character has significantly faded and the palate is overrun by a potent, distracting taste of herbs and ashes.

The flavor I was most reminded of was pickle juice as it’s not so much bitter as it is salty. The white oak imparts the taste of a hot southern swamp in July. There’s also cigar ash and a slight resiny character. If I pay attention I can detect some malty sweetness, but it doesn’t make up for the rest of the palate. I’m not sure what the brewers’ intentions were with this beer, and I certainly don’t understand the rave reviews. I doubt it’s an old bottle, I just don’t think this beer is for me.

Drinkability: While I found the taste of Cigar City White Oak Jai Alai IPA to be off-putting, I have to admit it wasn’t too difficult to get down. The mouthfeel is medium, with a soft, smooth texture and easy finish that is surprisingly clean (but with a hint of dill aftertaste). The 7.5% ABV seems rather high as this drinks like a more sessionable type brew. I could possibly see this working with a select few Cuban dishes, but otherwise it’s for acquired tastes only.
 Grade: 3/10

4 comments:

  1. I know a lot of people are going to say (and have already said) "you probably just had an old bottle." Well, there's no freshness date on it at all, so how am I supposed to tell!? If a brewery doesn't date their bottles they are NOT entitled to a re-review from me. It'd be one thing if I went into this knowing the beer was pretty old (I probably wouldn't have written the review at all), but since I have no way of knowing I can only assume this is how it's meant to taste. If anyone wants to send me a bottle they know is fresh I'll give it another shot, but otherwise - no. Screw you Cigar City. Date your bottles!

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  2. CCB has spent an exorbitant amount of money on dating bottles. unfortunately they have been screwed on some of the technology by shady businessmen. Some bottles, the date is very legible, others it is not as well. Sadly you got one that it isn't legible on.

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  3. Usually I can tell if there was a date stamp and it was smeared, but there was no date on here anywhere.

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  4. I have only had the White Oak Jai Alai from the tap, but I thought it was a delicious beer unlike any I have ever tried. I wish I could get it all the time, might be one of my favorites.

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