Description: Jai Alai pours copper in color with an off-white head that leaves behind layers on lacing on the glass. Strong notes of citrus and tropical fruit dominate the aroma with backing hints of sweet malts. The taste follows the aroma and has upfront citrus bitterness with a hint of sweet caramel malts in the mid-palate and finishes with citrus and tropical fruit hop notes that leave a semi-dry finish and leave you wanting more. The medium body and moderate carbonation give this beer an extremely smooth and creamy mouthfeel that imparts a hop candy like taste without being overly cloying. The hops are certainly apparent throughout the beer, but stray from becoming overly aggressive. Jai Alai is a great beer to have handy for all occasions.
Food pairing: The subtle hop bite and sweet malt character of the beer pair wonderfully with spicy foods of all varieties. Mexican dishes are especially delicious with Jai Alai. Try pairing with huarache, tamales, tostadas, chile relleno and, of course, tacos and burritos. Any spice will be enhanced by the hops but quickly subdued by the sweet hefty malt profile that will scrub the palate clean between each bite. Jai is a beer that will match perfectly with other spicy cuisine from Indian food and Thai as well, bringing a wonderful citrus fruit profile to many of the dishes that will lead to a pairing that enhances both the beer and the dish. For a truly wonderful blend, pair Jai Alai with Cuban food. Some great Cuban dishes to pair with this beer are: fried plantains, coconut chicken, pulpeta, ropa vieja and spicy mojo chicken with mango avocado sauce. Jai Alai is most certainly a beer that is great to experiment with as it has enough heft to hold its own against many dishes so any dish that will be enhance with wonderful citrus and tropical fruits is a must try with this phenomenal beer.
The Final Word: Cigar City is a brewery with an incredible reputation that has been earned through brewing world class beers that are both fan favorites and award winners. Jai Alai has long been one of their most popular beers which is quite impressive when the beer roster is full of world class beers. One sip and it is easy to see why this, a beer that hopheads bow down and worship, is approachable for a novice IPA drinker. If you are looking for a variation on Jai Alai that adds even more to the flavor profile, then Jai Alai White Oak is incredible. Bottom line, if you are a fan of hoppy beers then Jai Alai is an absolute must try beer.
Where can I get it? : Currently available in 12 oz. cans. At: Cooper’s Seafood- Scranton; J & H Beer- Plains Twp; Goldstein’s Deli- Kingston; AuRants- Duryea; and Backyard Ale House- Scranton
Remember, enjoy responsibly!
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer, and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour on 102.3 FM Saturdays @ 10 AM and his beer blog found @ IdTapThat.org