Tag Archive: Cigar City

Yeastie Boys: Cigar City: Brewing With Wayne (New Zealand: Lichtenhainer : 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice to apricot. Large white to off white head.

Nose: Bready. Sulphur. Slightly sour. Dried lemon. Peppercorn.

Body:Lemon. Smoked meat touch. Tart grapes. Wheaty. Salt touch. Juniper.

Finish: Salted lemon. Barbecue ribs touch. Lemongrass. Lemon juice. Salt. Slight sage. Juniper.

Conclusion: This is a pretty thick, sticky, weighty mouthfeel of a beer. Which is completely not what I expected from the moderate abv, less so did I expect that, despite the sticky weight, it is actually easy to drink. Oh what a world we live in that has such things in it.

What makes it work is that it is tart – with lemon notes,slightly salted, something that should, by themselves, make an easy going summer refresher; here they are matched with a smoke character that is akin to scraping a thin layer of the top of a rack of barbecued spare ribs and dropping it straight into the mix. Flavour wise it is a light note, but it makes the whole beer feel more mouth clinging, before expanding into subtle peppercorn and sage notes that make me think of a good steak dish.

So, lightly tart and sour, smoked gently with savoury herb notes. Quite the mix. If kind of feels like the less sour goses that I tried in Goslar – the wheat beer character is more evident than most of the sour wheat beers, and it seems to have extra ingredient flavours packed into every place they could, with juniper notes coming out later on.

It has a strange weight, but the tart flavours let it slip down easily. Sticky, yet never outstays its welcome. Not exactly a session beer – just a tad too high abv for that. It feels like a gose meets smoke meets herbs meets an attempt at a session … thing with wheat beer influence meets the reflection on the concept of Plato’s cave. Ok, I lied about that last one. Just making sure you are still paying attention.

A nice easy drinking, big flavour unusual beer.

Background: This caught my eye as it is a darn unusual one – a lichtenhainer – a style I have not tried before. Looking online it seems it is a traditional German style, similar to the gose, but made with some use of smoked malt. So, a sour, smoked wheat ale. Of course! This one seems unusual even for one that falls in this style – it is made with lemongrass,BBQ charred lemons and juniper, along with several different types of smoked malt. Oddly for a collaboration between a USA and an NZ brewery, it looks like it was actually brewed in England. Again, of course! This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit and,feeling a bit old school, I put a variety of Madness tunes to listen to. One of the first bands I ever got into in my youth and I still have a soft spot for them.


Magic Rock: Cigar City: Wayniac IPA (England: IPA: 6.4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy browned apricot. Very large yellowed white head of creamy bubbles. Lots of sediment as you pour the last of the can.

Nose: Fluffy hops. Light bitterness. Peach and apricot. Slight cucumber? Something quite clean in there. Malt drinks.

Body: Good bitterness. Kiwi. Peach and apricot. Caramel and toffee. Peach syrup. Malt drinks. Good hop character. Tart grapes and accompanying fresh feel.

Finish: Good bitterness and hop character. Caramel. Peach. Light charring. Slight gritty touch. Sour cream twist. Toffee. Malt drinks. Light grapes. Light custard.

Conclusion: So, lot of IPA styles around these days, and with the option of big hops and big malt sweetness, they decided to go all out and shove both of them way up. Not a unique take, but a nice easy way to sum up the general feel of this thing. The malt base is a bit more gritty than usual for an IPA, giving a tad odd feel – more heavy duty and less easy drinking than normal.

For that unusual texture you would hope to have some big flavours in return – as grittiness by itself isn’t that appealing. Not a good look, you know?

This does give a lot on exchange for the oddities of texture – while not initially that strongly noticeable, the extra texture does give grip that really pushes up the bitter punch of this beer by the end. The fruitiness is equally pushed up big – the heavy malt influence means that it is less fresh than it would otherwise feel – though there are hints of that left – instead it is thick, slightly dry fruit; There is a huge range of green and peachy styled fruits – heavy and thick flavours.

There is also a metric (not imperial) shitload of sediment in this beer. I only noticed late on, as I kept pouring to refill the glass. It doesn’t hurt the beer at all when you add it in, it tastes just the same, it just looks odd.

So, overall – feels a bit weird, and a heavy one to drink – but very big flavours are given in exchange. A quirky, and with slight off elements, drink – but has a lot to make up for the weaker points.

Background: Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this collaboration was done with Wayne from Cigar City while he was in the UK. (I presume they mean Wayne Wambles – the brewmaster, but the site only says Wayne). Loved Jai Alai IPA so I presume Cigar City know what they are doing on this style. This was a bit bigger than normal at a 500ml can – so plenty of time to form an opinion. Drink while listening to the album “Visions” from Grimes. Lovely bright indie electro pop stuff. I was tempted to listen to E-rocks cover of “Maniac” and sing along replacing “Manic” with “Wayniac”. But that would be a tad eccentric even for me.

Siren Cigar City Caribbean Chocolate Cake
Siren: Cigar City: Caribbean Chocolate Cake (England: Foreign Stout: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin dark brown creamy head.

Nose: Thick and cloying. Nutty and sour dough. Light perfumed and spice. Brown bread. Chocolate hints. Tabasco sauce and ketchup.

Body: Condensed cream. Burnt macaroon bases. Milky chocolate. Mild brown sauce. Fruity chilli sauce. Cherries. Cinnamon apples.

Finish: Coconut. Dried mango. Brown sauce and burger meat. Chocolate cake.

Conclusion: I was kind of expecting this to concentrate on the chocolate cake, it is half the name and the part I would most commonly associate with stouts. Well the chocolate cake is there, delivered pretty big as well, but it is far from the whole story.

The story is spicy touched but not harsh or one note. The story is a fruity chilli sauce through to a brown sauce touch, all over a thick textured beer that leaves your mouth feeling like you have chewed a burger as much as had a drink for the imagery it brings.

The chocolate sweetness is thick and condensed cream like that allows all those condiment sauces and spice elements to work as a turbulent undertow that drags you into its depths then blasts you back into the thick sweetness – a wonderful contrast that works magic in your mouth.

To get a hint of what is come with this beer, to get a beer overture, all you need to do is take your time and let the aroma in. It is all hinted at there. the juicy warm sauce just floats out over the glass bubbled over the chocolate.

Frankly an excellent beer – so different, so fruit, warm, thick and so chocolaty – yet still so smooth. The alcohol is so eased out that this could be just a jalapeno chilli dipped chocolate milkshake for all you would know.

Drunk at the end of 2015 and as I drink this it is one of the great beers of 2015, and that is saying something.

Background: This was highly recommended to me at Independent Spirit, I put off grabbing it for a while as my cupboard was stout heavy at the time. As you can tell, I finally picked it up. This was the first use of the new stout glass given to me by craft beer sis at Christmas. many thanks. Only the wheat ale glass to go! This beer was made with coca nibs, cyprus wood and lactose. Drunk while listening to Akala and Napalm Death again.

Neither Imperial IPA

Siren: Cigar City: Grassroots: Neither Imperial IPA (England: IIPA: 8.3% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to orange. Large sudded yellow to white head and some sediment in the body.

Nose: Pink grapefruit. Pineapple. Fluffy hops. Custard cream biscuits. Rhubarb. Tangerine.

Body: Grounded bitterness. Slightly earthy. Rhubarb and gooseberry. Light raspberry. Tangerine. Creamy feel. Vanilla and toffee. Grapefruit. Strawberry notes. Honey.

Finish: Earthy hops. Soil. Robust bitterness. Gooseberry. Malt chocolate. Raspberry notes. Light toffee. Honey.

Conclusion: Hmm, odd one this. Reminds me a bit of Shiga Kogen SOBA. It has a similar texture and those rhubarb like notes. It has that slightly thicker creamy texture that makes the earthy bitterness used here a bit more grounded and clinging.

Contrasting that earthy bitterness in the finish the main hop usage is fresh. (No and I don’t mean in a 1980’s slang fashion..ok, ok, well that as well, but that wasn’t my first intent). It has slight tart pink grapefruit and rhubarb. This element comes through clean as a whistle in the aroma, but the more grounded feel of the body calms the hop freshness, turning it into a dessert like mix with creamy and toffee notes. Less sharp, more rounded. The finish then feels old school English IPA in its slight soil character, pushing the tartness to the edges. You also get a discernable honey element that can be discovered early on in the beer, even if it never becomes a front note – more just increasing the sweetness to make up for the reduced malt.

I’m mixed in my opinion, the variety is impressive, the contrast interesting and frankly works better than most beers that try to mix earthy and sharp characters, so in that they have done good. That earthy finish though is just a tad too heavy, it doesn’t leave you appreciating what came before as much as it tramples upon it.

Still, interesting up until that point and so I will not linger too much on it, much as it is a notable flaw. The rest of the beer shows a mix of styles from American IPA aroma, hybrid body and English IPA finish. The hybrid body is where it peaks as the best of both worlds, and so it does earn its place as a beer to enjoy. So despite the flaw it is well made enough and interesting enough to be worth it.

Great aroma and body. Crap finish. It does enough to pull beyond that.

Background: Siren, upcoming UK Brewery, Cigar City, USA Legend. Grassroot. I dunno, I’ll have to look into them. Anyway, put it together and I just had to grab this Imperial IPA. Yes Imperial IPA, it still counts to round off IPA week. This is made with the adjunct corn which is usually avoided by most brewers – here used in a call back to early post prohibition ales. Also honey, because, well, honey. Drunk while listening to “Gold Teeth” by Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac.

Papsos passion fruit porter
Cigar City: Papso’s Passion Fruit Porter (USA: Porter: 6% ABV)

Visual: Black, large bubbled thin browned head. Quite a bit of wet suds caused around glass.

Nose: Light roasted. Chocolate dust. Apricot. Cloying.

Body: Quite fresh and slightly tart. Bitter chocolate undertone. Lime cordial. Passion fruit. Sour dough. Apricot. Strawberries. Bitter complex coffee. Kiwi fruit. Cider apple.

Finish: Roasted nuts. Bitter. Fresh feel. Sour touch. Bitter coffee. Sour dough. Peaches. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Well, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this beer but I definitely know what I got! It took me a while to pin down, but finally I realized that this is very much like those deliciously fruity high end coffees.

Now of course a bitter coffee porter isn’t exactly ground breaking, but that really is the undertones and base, the element that allows it to layer on all the fruit flavours that make it seem like not just any coffee but quality coffee.

What grabs your attention is that slight soured fruitiness, yes there is passion fruit, but it mixes with the porter to create the impression of a huge range of fruit flavours somehow. What I find marvellous is exactly how heat responsive it is. Chilled it is all about the fruit, warm the coffee and chocolate are the main play, but it is in that half way point where it peaks as a mix of the two and that impression of high quality fruity coffee is exemplified to show its best facets.

There, in that moment it is lovely, however it is hard to hold it at this point, but well worth trying to hold there as long as you can and enjoying while you have it, all that kiwi depth, apricot high notes and sheer passion fruit. All wrapped up in and backed by the coffee, but the fruits are what you pay attention to.

I think we are going to see a wide range of experiences from people with this beer due to its heat reactiveness. Warm it is good but a bit too close to a standard porter style, cold it is very fruity and almost completely loses the porter. When it is on though, it is bloody great.

A difficult beer, but worth it if you can play it just right.

Background: Picked up from Brewdog Bristol this sounded proper nice, I’ve only had a bare handful of Cigar City beers but they seem to do pretty darn well. This one, a porter made with vast amounts of passion fruit, which sounds very counter intuitive, but hey. Anyway, drunk while listening to some moody music from Ritualz, especially Bodie (Warning, that song samples the last series of the wire so some spoilers).

Cigar City: Jai Alai IPA (USA: IPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Browned bronze. Massive tight and small bubbled head of lemon colour. Reasonable amounts of carbonation.

Nose: Lemon grass and spritzy fresh. Very lemon like in fact. Coriander. Slightly wit beer in style. Pineapple and syrup below.  Honey. Ginger bread.

Body: Honey. Hops and resin. Bitterness is smooth but still kicks home. Grapefruit. Very thick but smooth texture. Peach.

Finish: Bitter. Resin and dry hops. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: You know, I’ve been trying to get more concise in my flavours listed in the main section of these tasting notes. I have a habit of rambling slightly as I try to get a range that describes the experience I have had.

Well this beer’s aroma just ruined that little attempt. Almost sorachi ace style lemongrass to begin with, it then passes through wit beer styling of lemon and coriander into a ginger bread and honey touch as it warms, All wrapped around the usual expected fruity notes and bitterness.

How then hell am I meant to sum that up concisely?

Similarly the slick body takes you on quite a run. The hop bitterness and resin elements are the main show, but it still has quite the fruity range within that.  The excellent thick texture is what really makes the body. It allows the bitterness to be subtle without sacrificing force. You find the beer coating your tongue in a lovely sheen before suddenly the hops kick forth to great effect.

The only real criticisms is the finish which doesn’t move much past dry bitterness and resin. It does at least keep the flavours fresh on each sip but other than that does not add much to the experience.

Frankly excellent. It is so easy to drink yet packed with hop character. The abv is will masked and the aforementioned aroma is massive and wide ranging. This is up there with the best in a highly competitive IPA world.

Background: Cigar City. One of those huge reputation brewers I have never reviewed.  I have drunk their beers before, I think. I’m fairly sure that I tried them at The Great British Beer Festival a few years back.  Of course from the “I Think” you can probably guess that I was not in the most fresh of tastebud and liver states by that point so I hesitate to draw any conclusions from the beers I drank then. This beer was picked up from Brewdogs guest beer section and drunk as part of a relaxing fine sunny day.

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