In the Tasting Room: "Dry Hopped on the High Seas" From Cigar City
Friday's here, so it's time for beer.
Every Friday, so long as the creek don't rise, this beer enthusiast will take a look at a Florida beer that, hopefully, should be readily available in a local shop or on tap at your favorite bar.
Experimental and concept beers are a familiar sight to craft beer geeks, who look far and wide for the strange and out-of-the-ordinary. Delaware's Dogfish Head is known for producing these types of beers, like the Miles Davis-inspired Bitches Brew or URKontinent, a beer made from ingredients sourced from every continent.
Cigar City Brewing in Tampa is no different and has most recently come up with a conceptual beer formed when the opportunity arose to create the single largest batch of CCB beer ever created: Dry Hopped on the High Seas.
Puerto Rico's Cervezas del Sur, producer of a local light lager called Buyé, led the opportunity for head brewer Wayne Wambles and his team to come down to the territory and brew with them. What came out is a 7 percent abv India pale ale, with a huge focus on Simcoe hops. This varietal of hops boasts an alpha acid content of 12 to 14 percent and huge myrcene oil content, one of the four essential oils (and major flavor component) of hops.
The feature that makes this beer a conceptual beer and not just an off-site brewing collaboration is that it was shipped from Puerto Rico back to Tampa while being dry-hopped with 165 pounds of Simcoe. Hence "dry hopped on the high seas." That was probably one of the best-smelling container ships ever to sail the Florida Straits.
The can is dated October 1, as much as I can tell. Sometimes these dates on CCB cans are quite smudged. The labels too are different from normal CCB cans in that they are adhesives on a blank silver can. The core series of canned beers have their labels dyed. If this shows that there's a possibility of further experiments and one-offs coming out in cans, then I'm all for it.
After pouring into a CCB snifter, the aroma is the first thing to hit the senses. Even at arm's length, the beer has an amazing citrus aroma that wafts out as it's being poured. Closer inspection reveals aromas of grapefruit and some heavy pineapple. It smells almost sweet.
The color is a crystal-clear copper-like orange with a mild white head and sticky lacing.
The taste starts with some citrus pith and evolves into spicy, herbal hops notes backed up by a fairly evident malt backbone of bread and biscuit. The peppery hop notes linger on the palate for a while. I dare say there's a hint of alcohol sharpness, even though this is not high in abv. Mouthfeel is moderate, and carbonation is fairly low.
My reaction is to call this "Jai Alai went on vacation to Seattle," as opposed to a "Caribbean-style IPA," as the can suggests. It's an interesting IPA and will appeal to those looking for a spicier entry from CCB. Overall, it's a delicious and solid IPA, and if you can find a six-pack, it's worth the exploration of flavors.
Beer things in your Twitter feed, follow me @DougFairall
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in the South Florida dining scene.