We are big fans of what Cigar City Brewing is doing to push the frontier of craft brewing. From their Cucumber Saison to their Horchata Ale, this Tampa Bay-based brewery is producing adventurous beers for drinkers around the country. Earlier this year, we tasted their Jai Alai India Pale Ale and Florida Cracker along with their limited-release beers Hopped On The High Seas and white oak-aged Jai Alai to our 2 O'Clock Tasting. While we were writing Make Some Beer: Small-Batch Recipes from Brooklyn to Bamberg, we also had the chance to speak with Cigar City’s Vice President Justin Clark and pick his brain on cocktail inspired beers. In 2013, Cigar City Brewing partnered with Widmer Brothers Brewing, based out of Portland, Oregon, to produce a beer inspired by the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. Widmer Brothers Brewing is a powerhouse in Northwest brewing; brothers and founders Kurt and Robert Widmer were responsible for reviving German-style craft beers in the Pacific Northwest. Widmer Brothers recently celebrated their 30th Anniversary by launching "30 Beers for 30 Years", featuring 30 small-batch brews of their most memorable beers from their 30 year history. We’ve recently featured Widmer Brothers' Citra Blonde Summer Brew and Drifter Pale Ale in our Hop of the Month column.
Based on an Old Ale recipe, the Cigar City/Widmer Brothers Gentlemen’s Club Collaboration brings together ingredients from the home states of both brewers. The base beer was brewed with Florida oranges and Oregon cherries, Alchemy, Sorachi and Pacifica hops, and hand-selected specialty malts to mirror the flavors of the classic Old Fashioned. The beer was then aged on three different woods - bourbon barrels, rye whiskey barrels and new oak spirals. We had a bottle of each at our tasting table; read on for our tasting notes.
The bourbon barrel aged Gentlemen’s Club pours a cloudy, amber color reminiscent of dark warm honey or candied orange. With aromas of cherry and caramel, the bourbon barrel aging imparts a smooth chocolate flavor lightened by its carbonation. A little bitterness at the end rounds out each sip.
Rye barrel-aging imparts a deeper, pink and red hued cherry wood color to this version of Gentlemen's Club compared to its bourbon barrel-aged brother. Tasting noticeably grainier with stone fruit and cherry flavors, the rye adds notes of spicy pineapple and maraschino cherries to the nose, as well as hot sweet coconut and vanilla to the palate.
This new oak-aged ale pours the same amber cherry wood hue as the rye barrel-aged version. The milky, caramel aroma reminded us of the best part of a Rolo or other non-trademarked chocolate covered caramel. Full bodied and creamy with tones of toffee and chocolate, the new oak treatment of Gentlemen’s Club gives off an adult Milk-Duds-in-a-bottle vibe.
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