Cigar City Brewing Co. of Tampa, Florida is one of those breweries that was able to achieve a kind of cult status within a few months of opening. They are particularly well known for their Humidor Series beers, big, bold-flavored beers aged on cedar from cigar humidors. I have had the pleasure of trying their cedar-aged IPA and it was indeed a treat; perhaps one of the best IPAs I have tasted.
Finding myself in Boca Raton with some time to kill I decided to seek me out some Cigar City beers. Mind you, I didn’t have a car. The closest liquor store to my hotel was a couple of miles away. But what the heck, I love to walk and the exercise would do me good. So walk I did. An hour and a quarter later I was back at my hotel with a big bottle of Papaya IPA, the brewery’s acclaimed Jai-alai IPA with dried papaya added during conditioning. It sounded intriguing. Here’s my notes:
Aroma: Flowers and tropical fruit. The papaya aroma is huge. Soft graham-cracker malt adds a sweet undertone. It’s like tropical fruit lifesavers. This beer smells good.
Appearance: Appeared to be amber and when I poured it, but I drank it from a hotel Styrofoam cup so it’s hard to say. Voluminous tan foam that just won’t settle. I wish it would. That’s the cup’s fault, not the beer’s fault.
Flavor: Papaya is much less pronounced in the flavor than in the aroma. That’s a bit disappointing. Fairly bracing bitterness, but backed up by a big base of sweet, graham-cracker malt. It comes off almost sugary. Light floral notes – or is that those tropical fruit lifesavers – hang in the background and linger into the finish. Otherwise a mélange of citrus, pine, and spice. Bitterness hangs on after the swallow. Pronounced papaya comes in long after the swallow and lingers a very long time.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.
Overall: It’s complex, offering a different sensation with each sip, but in the end I have to say that I didn’t really care for it. It seems at first to be just a double IPA, and not the best example of one either. Then these odd floral/tropical fruit flavors come in, layered on top of the large amount of hops. It really is like tropical fruit lifesavers. The malt comes off a bit too syrupy, like the syrup from a can of tropical fruit cocktail. It was worth a try, but I wouldn’t buy it again.