Thursday, January 25, 2024

Beer Review - Jai Alai

A fresh pint of Jai Alia

Jai Alai, you may struggle to pronounce it.

But if you are in a Florida theme park, you likely will find it at a themed bar, lounge, or restaurant. And if you journey away from the parks or pre-buy some beer at a local grocery or liquor store you are going to find it packaged in multiple ways. It is simply everywhere.

First, don’t worry about pronouncing it. If you are nervous, you likely can just say “Cigar City please!” You will get a beverage!

If you want craft beer on your visit, Jai Alai is your middling collectible. It may be numbered and advertised as a limited edition. But the run is 170,000 and growing. Maybe the production run will never end! It is a solid drinkable choice that ensures you are drinking craft beer instead of one of the macro brands you will find all over the park. You can feel hip and cool. But honestly, it is everywhere, anyone can get it. It is the Loungefly backpack that Funko over-made and will show up at a discount on ShopDisney in 9 months. But it is still a Loungefly, it’s still cool, and it will hold your stuff! For Figment’s sake, don’t stand in a long line for it. It’s not a popcorn bucket!

Jai Alai is a freaky ball game where players use a curved mitt that makes it look like they have a talon on their hand. In the 1980’s there was a growth of the sport in Florida…which has now declined. 99% of folks drinking this beer, all numbers approximate, have never seen or played the game. So you are not the only one! Everything I know about Jai Alai I learned from the beer and a plastic toy set that entertained me for 4 minutes as a kid…because I could never catch with it. Don’t mock me…you couldn’t do it either!

Cigar City, the Florida semi-big well-known craft brewery. is out of Tampa. They have national distribution for both Jai Alai and mixed 12 packs. So if you love this you can likely get it at home. Or maybe you can buy some and impress your friends with your all-new knowledge of obscure Spanish ball games played in Florida forty years ago. Coming from the Midwest, Cigar City reminds me of Surly, Toppling Goliath, or Boulevard. Cigar is a craft brewery that everyone in the region knows. I personally compare Jai Alai to Surly’s Furious. 

A can of Jai Alai sitting in the snow.
A Can of Jai Alai Far From Florida!

Now what about the beer? Cigar City speaks of the citrus flavors of orange peel and clementine. And they are definitely lightly present. It has a caramel color you can’t see through. And most of all, it is drinkable and crushable even with a 7.5 Alcohol by Volume and 65 International Bitterness Units. Your local craft brewery likely has a standard flagship IPA. I mean it has to have a IPA to prove its craft right?  Jai Alai  is the sort of beer that experienced craft fans say isn’t bitter or dangerous enough. And our non-craft fans think it’s too bitter until you really pull them into the craft black hole and they decide this is the best thing ever.

What is Jai Alai? It’s the beer you’d rather spend $12 on in a theme park instead of a Coors or Bud! It’s smooth, it has some flavor, and at least you can say your drinking craft as a mouse or a minion takes the money from your wallet!

Who's Drinks This?:  While you may not drink it a lot, you are always glad to see Jai Alai on tap when other theme park tap lists are all macros because at least it provides you a beverage on the craft spectrum.  But I think if you are used to drinking macro beers as your go to, you will reach for all of those other options when you stumble on a theme parked beer. 

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