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Why Jai Alai IPA Is Our Go-To Beer This Summer

  • If you’re looking for the perfect summer IPA, look no further than Jai Alai from Cigar City Brewing
  • The Tampa brewery’s flagship beer is the ideal pick for any and every gathering
  • Here’s why nothing goes better with warm weather

I’ve checked basically all the requisite boxes that come with being a Certified Beer Nerd since I dove headfirst into the magical world of craft brewing, a journey that began around the same time the industry with gearing up for the renaissance that would lead to the massive boom the world has witnessed over the past decade or so.

During that span, I’ve planned vacations and bachelor parties based almost entirely on the breweries I’d have the chance to visit. I’ve routinely woken up earlier on a weekend than I ever would on a typical work day for the chance to snag a limited release.

I know the thrill that comes with unexpectedly stumbling upon a legendary beer at a bar or a bottle shop, and am all too familiar with the agony of defeat that comes with spending hours in line for a limited release only to have the person ahead of you snag the last pack or bottle.

Like many beer fans these days, I’m always on the hunt for something new from the hundreds of breweries around the world that are dedicated to constantly pushing the envelope and pumping out some of the finest suds ever produced (and more than guilty of partially doing so to pad my stats on the app I use to chronicle the thousands of different beers I’ve tasted over the years).

However, there are also a few beers I always find myself coming back to time and time again, including one of the most reliable staples in my regular rotation: Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai.

In a world currently dominated by uberhopped hazy IPAs boasting some borderline dangerous ABVs, Jai Alai has more than managed to hold its own and stand out from the rest of the pack by being one of the most impeccable examples of an American IPA you’ll ever have the privilege of sipping.

The beer is just one of the many fantastic offerings to come out of Cigar City since the brewery officially opened up shop in Tampa in 2009 (it’s located around a 15-minute drive away from Ybor City, the neighborhood that earned the nickname the brewery derives its name from thanks to the many businesses specializing in the hand-rolled cigars that once operated there).

It didn’t take long for Cigar City to put itself on the map thanks in no small part to Jai Alai, the flagship IPA that also draws some inspiration from local history; Florida was once a hotbed for the fairly obscure (and occasionally deadly) sport it shares a name with, a spiritual cousin of squash first played in the Basque region of Spain in the 14th century that involves hurling a tiny ball with the help of a wicker basket around an enclosed court known as a “fronton.”

With that history lesson out of the way, let’s turn to what really matters: the taste—and more, importantly, why you won’t find many beers that are more suited for warm weather quite like Jai Alai.

Why Jai Alai Is The Perfect Summer IPA

Jai Alai harnesses six different types of hops that contribute to a profile that’s absolutely bursting with the citrus that floods the palate with every sip (its primarily defined by the tangerine and clementine that take center stage, but you’ll also get some orange and mango).

While it clocks in at 65 IBUs, there’s really no bitterness to speak of; I actually have a family member who insisted they hated IPAs until they questioned everything they thought they knew after I offered them a sip of Jai Alai at a cookout.

Jai Alai is really a beer for all occasions, but it’s tailor-made for summer thanks to the juiciness that contributes to its incredibly refreshing nature and the inherently tropical essence capable of transporting you to your own personal paradise. It also packs a very respectable 7.5% ABV, which is worth keeping in mind based on how easy it is to crush a can without realizing you’ve finished it.

I’m not one of Those People who will tell you that you can’t really appreciate a beer unless you pour it into a glass. However, I would highly suggest doing exactly at some point if you have the chance. It will not only help enhance the taste but allow you to appreciate the fact that Jai Alai it’s an absolutely gorgeous beer to look at thanks to the roasted malt that gives it a dark caramel color (one that reflects the slight sweetness that malt imparts).

Now, I could go on and on while continuing to sing the praises of Jai Alai, but there’s really nothing I can say capable of properly articulating the merits of a beer that really just speaks for itself.

So, if you’re skeptical about anything I’ve said, the best way to put those doubts to rest is to crack one yourself this summer. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you only need to take a single sip of Jai Alai to quickly discover the reasons it will be far from the last one you ever have.

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.