Jai Low IPA

IPA / Cigar City Low / 4%

Jai Low IPA lowers the intensity of a typical India Pale Ale while maintaining the highest quality and hop flavor possible.

The number one rule in so many different industries is that the customer is always right. But when it comes to something like craft brewing, where every consumer has their own personal tastes, which customer should beer makers listen to? Many of the larger craft breweries in the United States have become expansive enough that the answer to that question is “all of them.” They have the ability to tailor different beers to different types of beer drinkers in an effort to appeal to all. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails miserably.

With a seemingly booming number of health-conscious consumers out there, one of the ways that this idea is manifesting itself is that the big craft operations are releasing low-calorie, low-abv beers, while doing their best to maintain a nice, rich flavor profile. This way, those who are attempting to live a little bit of a healthier lifestyle but don’t want to cut alcohol from their lives completely won’t turn elsewhere. And, of course, once one brand does it, all the others must follow suit in order to not lose that market share. Cigar City Brewing, based out of Tampa, Florida, may not be one of the absolute largest craft breweries in the country, but their Jai Alai IPA is pretty much ubiquitous. They too, are now utilizing this tactic. I’ll let you know how it is going through this Jai Low IPA review.

Jai Low IPA Review

You actually wouldn’t be blamed for initially mistaking Jai Low for the flagship Jai Ali when you see it on the shelf. The labels of the two beers are quite similar but with the two dominant colors, orange and green, flipped. Jai Low also has a silhouetted figure of a man playing the sport jai alai, which is not present on the can of Jai Alai. It’s all a bit confusing, so just make sure you are reading the label.

There isn’t a ton else to the can besides a brief marketing blurb on the back. The label does tell us that this IPA is 4 percent alcohol by volume, 35 IBUs, and contains 120 calories per can. That calorie count falls somewhere in the middle of the low-abv options that I have seen on the market. It isn’t drastically low, which may make for a more robust flavor profile if we are lucky.

In the glass, Jai Low appears a nice, deep orange color with a little bit of haze to it. There is a modest foamy head on top that shows a good amount of retention and some impressive lacing even after sitting for some time.

It’s almost tough to put into words the dominant note that I find on the nose. It strikes me as tropical, but probably is more specifically a combination of orange citrus, some piney hops, and a light caramel maltiness. Overall the aroma is not all that strong, but it does have some pleasantly complex character. No sour wort ruining things.

I am largely encouraged by what I see and smell from this can of beer, but there is only one way to answer the question, “Is Jai Low IPA good?” And that is by touching it to my lips.

Is Jai Low IPA Good?

Unsurprisingly the answer to this question is a clear “yes.” This beer tastes quite like a lighter version of the very successful Jai Alai. But for those perhaps unfamiliar with that brew, I’ll go into some more depth.

There are some nice fruit flavors present, but the notes go deeper than the simple juicy orange that you might expect. There is a bit of dry mango and perhaps a little grapefruit as well. I also get a fair amount of pine and grass, but neither of those notes overpower. They simply step forward within the hop character while the bitterness lags behind a little bit. I found that bigger gulps accentuate the grass and pines notes toward the back of the mouth.

Though I was tipped off by the aroma, the amount of caramel malt that I get, while not tremendously substantial, is a pleasant surprise. Even better, there is a bit of a toasty quality to it that I don’t often find in IPAs but might make this beer a year-round option. Just as on the nose, I don’t find any wort, which is entirely fine by me in a low-cal brew like this.

Texture wise, the mouthfeel is a bit thin. While there is a good amount of complexity to the flavor profile, but it isn’t particularly rich or deep. The body is about average even not a tad heavier than I anticipated for a low-cal IPA. The finish is relatively crisp, leaving something of a resin quality on the tongue. That note clears out pretty quickly but remains nestled on the lips for a while longer.

Delivering on what you promise can go a long way towards learning a high grade from me. Finish reading below to find out exactly where I ended up with my final Jai Low IPA rating. 

Jai Low IPA Rating

Going into this tasting experience as a fan of Jai Alai already, I had some idea of what to expect. Jai Low followed through perfectly. Would I have been even more pleased with some surprise element that knocked me off of my seat? Of course. But when you are an established craft brewery looking to release a crowd-pleasing low-calorie, low-abv option, I assume the tendency is to play it safe – to get something out there that won’t offend in order to satisfy the health-conscious drinkers. This IPA is exactly that.

That doesn’t mean that it is straight down the middle. The trends on the market these days include loads of haze and hop combinations. Here they are subbed out for a pine backbone and nice malt character, giving this beer a bit of uniqueness. My biggest knock would be the lack of rich depth. That’s about the only thing keeping it from earning a top grade. Instead I’ll end this Jai Low IPA review by awarding it a strong score of 4 out of 5 stars. A more than reasonable transition into a lower-calorie world.


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