Cigar City Brewing’s flagship beer, Jai Alai, presents itself in a 12oz can poured into specialty glassware. The slightly hazy amber color is accompanied by a thick head of rocky, off-white foam. The recent redesign of the can and brewery logo showcases a simplified and visually appealing packaging, aligning well with the brand’s Cuban influence from Tampa.


Upon cracking open the can, the aroma is undeniably explosive. Resinous hops dominate the olfactory experience, creating a powerful introduction. Once poured into the glass, the scent evolves into a harmonious blend of bright tangerine and sweet Hawaiian bread rolls. Notably, the citrusy hops transcend the norm, resembling the authentic fragrance of freshly peeled tangerine, setting it apart from typical IPAs.


Jai Alai’s flavor profile is a remarkable journey of brightness and unexpected acidity. The initial taste mirrors biting into a clementine – juicy, refreshing, and delicately acidic. The dominating clementine citrus flavor, impeccably balanced with acid, sugar, and bitterness, makes for a unique and delightful experience. The mid-palate offers a silky smooth body, complemented by notes of caramel and bready Hawaiian rolls. Despite its amber appearance, Jai Alai surprises with a lighter body and a finish that strikes a perfect balance between semi-dry and refreshing.


The beer’s mouthfeel contributes significantly to its overall appeal. The silky smooth body and the interplay of caramel and bready notes create an enjoyable texture. Jai Alai defies expectations, deviating from the traditional chewy, amber IPA stereotype. Its brightness and lighter body distinguish it, providing a refreshing departure from the usual characteristics associated with amber-colored brews.


Jai Alai proves to be a refreshing departure from the saturated IPA market. The beer’s distinctive characteristics, including its explosive aroma, vibrant citrus flavors, and unexpected acidity, set it apart from its competitors. While it leans towards the hoppy side, the beer maintains balance, with a touch of dryness that might not suit those seeking a more robust body. In a market dominated by heavyweights like Stone IPA, Ballast Point Sculpin, and Lagunitas IPA, Jai Alai confidently asserts itself as a formidable contender, surpassing expectations and offering a unique and enjoyable drinking experience.