Hidden behind a Total Wine in Tampa, Florida lives a brewery and brewpub who is serious about about IPA and sports some other good styles. It’s called Cigar City Brewing and it’s not in Ybor.
I tried this in November for the first time with a good friend in the Tampa area who was exploring craft and import beer styles. We both thought it was just ok. He isn’t much of a hop head and I thought it was too mild of an IPA. In fairness I may have gotten an older package or possibly a different version of the IPA. Upon second tasting over Christmas I changed my mind and put it in the upper tiers of IPA’s. Why? It’s plenty hoppy (seriously) with a semi sweet finish and it does this without having the massive citrus notes that are so common in West coast IPA’s (I’m looking at you Pliny). It’s no wonder this is one of their biggest year round brews!
My first beer love was Belgian and Belgian’s continue to be high on my favorites list. Wit’s are seriously hit or miss for my taste but Florida Cracker, a Belgian White style beer, is very well done. It’s a little sweeter than other versions but it works out well. It’s nose carries some fruity notes but the taste is what I like in my witbier: mild, well balanced and full of Belgian spices. If nothing else you have to love the name.
Yeah, a brown ale. I don’t go for them. Stouts, yes. Black IPA’s, sure. Pale ales or wheats, of course. Brown ale, pass. Well, except this one. This ale reminded me of a more relaxed milk stout in flavor. Chocolate and toffee was present and had a mild nutty finish (which I believe is more common in brown ales). I bought a six pack just to get something different and I am glad I did. Those who are fans of brown ales should give this a run.
Where is it?
Sadly it doesn’t seem like Cigar City Brewing has good distribution. With the exception of Florida I’ve not seen it on a shelf for purchase. That’s unfortunate as I’m positive the IPA (if not more) would surely get good sales. Heck, even Beer Advocate rates it at a 100!