I attended my first Great American Beer Festival a couple of years ago, and it was, indeed, great. However, as wonderful as being surrounded by an overwhelming volume of beers is, there's no pretzel necklace dense enough to ward off the inevitable palate fatigue. Between the anesthetizing boozier samples and the many scathingly hoppy options, the beers start to lose all their subtleties early on. Yet, even with my thoroughly embattled tongue, I knew immediately that the Cigar City Humidor IPA was something special.
Not only was it a nicely tuned IPA; it also had unmistakable spicy and woody notes that tasted exactly how I would imagine licking a humidor shelf would taste. I’ve been a Cigar City Brewing fan ever since, which is perfect since I can never, ever find their stuff. At least until now.
Courtesy of a collaboration with my new best friends over at Coronado Brewing Company, I’ve gotten a long-denied taste of Cigar City with The Last Spike. It’s a blend of the California common and IPA styles that delivers a unique and wonderful experience.
It pours out a chunky taupe head with a coppery body. It has a weakly woody aroma with still-fainter floral notes. The flavor, however, is far more pronounced than the aroma suggests. It has a sweetness reminiscent of Hawaiian bread and caramel, countered by a balanced grapefruit and citrus pith bitterness. There’s even a little menthol in the finish that's really pleasant.
The Last Spike is just all kinds of tasty. It’s not crazy bombastic in flavor or bitterness, but it delivers a very satisfying experience. Look for it at finer bottle shops.