Are you a Cigar City fan? Have you noticed that cans of their most popular brew, Jai Alai IPA is missing from store shelves? Seems that the popularity has thrown the invisible hand of supply and demand into a frenzy.
Rumors have been swirling for months about the lack of availability of the popular, and highly rated (the Alstrom brothers of Beer Advocate give it a perfect 100) 7.5% abv brew. It seems that the company has acknowledged this fact in a recent statement.
"There have been a lot of questions regarding the availability of Jai Alai in certain markets. We can assure you that we have not stopped making Jai Alai; in fact, we brew more now than we ever have, by a large number. However the demand has not caught up with the supply yet. We have ordered more tanks though and eventually we will catch up to the demand."
Cigar City's Vice President, Justin Clark, spoke with Clean Plate Charlie about their current dilemma.
"We're very fortunate that people are into the beers that we put out, but more people are purchasing [Jai Alai] than we can produce."
"Florida is our home market... we don't want to disappoint people, nor miss an opportunity. We've invested in more fermenters... and have constantly expanded since we've opened. We recently took delivery of 4 120 barrel fermenters and then immediately ordered 6 more that won't be here until the 3rd quarter. We'll have to upgrade our power, purchase another chiller, upgrade our water supply... it's also an infrastructure update."
We asked if perhaps demand was pushed over the top when Jai Alai came in second place on Paste magazine's Top of the Hops judging brackets, beating out 62 other IPAs to make it to the very end before falling to Firestone Walker Union Jack?
"We were super honored to get first runner up on that, Union Jack is one of the best IPAs out there."
Perhaps as the percentage of craft beer lovers increased over the past year, Cigar City has just run into a simple production and demand problem? After all, it's still a relatively small operation, not even in the top 50 of producers in 2012 according to the Brewers Association.
"Jai Alai is over 50% of what we make," Clark continued. "We'll be able to produce between 25 and 30 thousand barrels this year, and up to 60 thousand when all is said and done."
"We appreciate the South Florida market and want to thank all of the Cigar City fans for helping us grow the way we have."
It falls to a simple and honest truth: they make a damn fine product that people want to drink.
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