The had me at cigars; it was the first amazing spring day and @TopekaBeer was hosting a tap takeover at Brass Rail Tavern with Cigar City Brewing out of Tampa, FLA and treats from Churchills Cigars. The brewery, owned by Joey Redner and his father has been brewing beers named in honor of Tampa’s cigar-making history for over 12 years. “Hecho A Mano” meaning “Hand Made” is branded on their logo, and must mean good because the brewery has medals from GABF and is ranked within the top five Top Craft Breweries in the country, according to them and a USA Today report.
Our patio tasting consisted of Jai Alai, Guayabera and Maduro, all available in Topeka liquor stores. Based on the write-ups I was confident I’d like Guayabera with its Citra hop varietal and notes of tangerine, lime and berries – this was not the case. According to the brewery, “the exclusive use of Citra hops in this beer creates a flavor that make it unique and recognizable.” This was the case.
My partner in crime, who believes in trying any and all IPAs, no matter how obscure, cupped his glass of Jai Alai and conquered. Named after a popular game in Spain, Jai Alai has an intense bouquet of oranges (Clementines, tangerines, etc.) and an assertive bitterness, which was applauded by my IPA partner but accosted my taste buds. Jai Alai is clearly the fan favorite and is already flying off shelves in Topeka liquor stores.
The Maduro, the darkest of the tastings, is an English-style Brown Ale with a silky body and hint of chocolate. It was dark, complex, heavy and delicious. I don’t smoke cigars daily, not even monthly, but when I do I want a good, bold, flavorful cigar that’ll keep me on a patio for an hour. Maduro is my cigar of beers.
– published Summer 2019, seveneightfive magazine