Brewing with Cigar City

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Palm trees pepper both of our home states, so the tropical leanings of our Beer Camp Across America collaboration with Cigar City Brewing resonate. But it’s a beer style born in Germany—notably farther from the toasty equator—to which we’re applying our western quirks.

In their brief, triumphant five years as a Florida brewery, Tampa’s Cigar City has established a tradition of infusing into each of its beers a nod to the Latin roots surrounding them. Their Humidor Series, for example, features beers aged on Spanish cedar (“cedrela”). If you fancy a cigar on occasion, then you’ve seen the same wood; cedrela is used to make cigar boxes. For this beer, though, Cigar City brewmaster Wayne Wambles suggested we veer from the likes of spicy cedar toward the rich aromas and flavors of fruit.

And the faraway bock family of beers, often inclined to malt character, is a curious place to start. But with creativity and finesse, Wayne was confident a profound yet balanced brew would emerge. He’s now visited us in Chico for two test brews, and we suspect we have a tropical bock that artfully straddles the Atlantic, respecting German history while embracing American innovation.

Maibock (“May bock”), as the name implies, is traditionally a springtime beer whose lighter color is a welcome shift from the darker bocks of winter. Maibocks also sometimes dial up the bitterness, but the grain bill keeps our collaboration in check.

“It’s not just excessively bitter,” Wayne said. “There’s enough malt backbone to make it luscious.”

Luscious, too, is our deliberate blend of hops varietals. US-bred Calypso hops bring to mind green Bartlett pears, Golden Delicious apples and Freesia flowers for Wayne, and an experimental hop he calls the “lemon drop hop,” when blended with Calypso, creates a soothing yet vibrant tropical character. Other hops in the lineup impart notes of mango, pineapple and guava. Mouthwatering? We agree.

Under palm trees, atop the Rockies and everywhere in between, Beer Camp Across America allows our two breweries to share our beer and our bi-coastal inspiration with everyone.

February 10, 2014 - 12:39pm