7.5% ABV on cask
I was dining with a friend’s family at a nice joint when I ordered a Scotch.
“Mmm…I just had my one Scotch for the month last night.”
It was my friend’s grandpa, Mr. Gibson, a 91-year-old but fit as a fiddle, he still walked on his own, drove short distances, and had an incredibly sharp memory.
“Your one Scotch for the month?” I inquired.
He explained that though he was very healthy, all things considered, once you get old you simply shouldn’t drink that much, if at all according to his doctor, but since he loved his Scotch, there was no way he was going to completely nix that from his life. So he came up with a solution: one single glass per 30 days.
Wow I thought, how delicious must that single monthly glass taste? Surely better than anything I ever drink. He must savor every last drop of that Scotch, inhaling it with all of his senses, understanding aromatic and flavor complexities that an over-consuming hedonist like me quickly glosses over as I dump the liquid down my gullet.
I decided to try and take inspiration from Mr. Gibson by abstaining from drinking more frequently, by trying to make each great drink I have more special.* I’m getting better. One beer I explored recently was perfect for this focused task.
Now I hadn’t been overly wowed by the “standard” version of Jai Alai–even got in a little friendly e-mail tiff with Cigar City founder Joey Redner–but I’d been really excited to try something from their Humidor Series. Nowadays there’s so much invention in beermaking that there’s paradoxically almost no invention. Not that I don’t love many if not most of them, but when all breweries are oak-aging, Brett-ing, chocolate nibbing, and bourbon-, wine-, rum-barreling their beers, these things no long really seem that special and you start to wonder if there is any new ground to break. With the Humidor Series, Cigar City shows there clearly is.
Humidor Series beer are aged on the rarely-utilized cedar which the brewery itself believes has a more “subtle” effect than a more oft-used beer-aging wood like oak. I actually thought the flavor wasn’t that subtle but I loved it all the more for that very reason. The tropical fruitiness and floral hop aromas still come through, and you never doubt for a second that this is clearly an IPA, but that cedar just makes it so much more interesting. Off cask and uncarbonated the flavors just came together so beautiful and I think I really prefer the cedar to oak.
I’m a big cigar smoker and this one tastes just like a liquidized cigar you’ve pulled fresh from your humidor, evoking pleasant memories of relaxed evenings lazily smoking with friends. Now I’m sure that kinda sounds gross to you but the cigar “taste” is more a result of mind association than actual beer content. I really hope to try this again, along with the rest of the series, hopefully with an actual cigar in my other hand this time around. Though that is probably impossible in a bar due to NYC’s draconian laws, so perhaps I’ll have to figure out a way to acquire some Humidor Series for home-usage. This beer is truly one of a kind.
*Says the author, having just gotten loaded for six straight days and nine of the last ten.