On a recent adventure to Florida, I was surprised to find a bountiful harvest of delicious craft brews. Few were as delicious as Jai Alai IPA by Cigar City brewing. Although I became very familiar with this beverage during my visit, I pronounced it “j-eye (A) l-eye” for probably 90% of the trip… Like a total noob! Luckily, a friendly local politely filled me in on the proper way to say it, “ˈhī (ə)ˌlī”. I also learned that the name Jai Alai is in reference to a Spanish game in which a small ball is hurled at lightning speeds using banana shaped mitts… Humbled and confused, I come to you now with something I do know about Jai Alai… the beer analysis:
Jai Alai pours a bright, clear copper with a moderate, off-white head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is a pleasant bouquet of orange and grapefruit citrus tones accompanied by tropical fruit, light pine, and a hint of caramel. This is certainly one of the more fragrant IPAs that I have experienced.
The flavor profile runs the gamut of citrus fruits. Sweet orange on the front transitions into sour lemon and acidic grapefruit. Malty caramel balances the citrus explosion before finishing with pineapple and a moderate bitterness. The body is on the lighter side of medium with a feel that is crisp and approachable considering the 7.5% ABV.
Aside from the embarrassing experience of ordering this IPA at several establishments in a way similar to how your backwoods uncle may order food at a Mexican restaurant, I thoroughly enjoyed Jai Alai. The citrus flavors were extremely potent but also very distinguishable. Combined with complex tropical fruit notes and an expertly concealed ABV, Jai Alai is solidly in the upper echelon of IPAs. Just don’t let the scary name keep you from trying this masterpiece!
- Appearance: Clear Copper / Moderate Off-White Head
- Aroma: Orange, Grapefruit, Tropical Fruit, Light Pine, Light Caramel
- Flavor: Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Caramel, Pineapple, Moderate Bitterness
- Mouthfeel: Medium, Crisp
- ABV: 7.5%