Jai Alai: Cigar City Brewing, Tampa

Cigar City Brewing's Jai Alai Pale Ale.

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CHIP WEINER
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It’s the signature beer because: “Jai Alai reminded me of Tampa, of my childhood and younger days when we’d go watch at the fronton where Sam’s Club is now,” Cigar City’s founder Joey Redner said. “Even in high school, we’d sneak into the fronton for quarter beer night and watch Jai Alai.”

The masterminds behind it: Redner, recently nominated for a James Beard award, worked with Cigar City’s Head Brewer Wayne Wambles to create Jai Alai.

“Wayne likes hoppier beers,” Redner said. “I knew I wanted a more balanced taste with tropical fruit leanings. But it was his recipe, his baby, from the start.”

Ambience: Cigar City’s unassuming Spruce Street brewery and tasting room has grown into a bustling beer block. The vast tasting room offers on-site-only beers on tap for pints and flights, growlers, brewery tours and more.

Best time to go: There’s always a tribe of knowledgeable beer lovers seated at the tasting room’s front bar, even mid-afternoon on a weekday.

Don’t miss: Once a year, thousands travel from all over the world (literally) for Cigar City’s annual Hunahpu release. On Saturday, March 8, fans of the aged Imperial stout will line up before dawn in hopes of snagging a bottle.

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