Brew Review

Beer Review – Cigar City Brewing Maduro Brown Ale


Before I review the Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale, I need to get this rant out of the way…

During the first week of November, the family and I spent a week in Orlando, FL. Let me clarify that. We spent a week at Walt Disney World, which is located on the outskirts of Orlando, FL. I never actually stepped foot in downtown Orlando.

Since we had rented a condo at a timeshare resort just outside of Mouseville, I planned on picking up some of Cigar City Brewing‘s big bottle offerings (the condo had a full sized refrigerator) which I hoped to sample in the evenings after spending our days at the amusement parks.

It turns out that the area immediately surrounding Walt Disney World is a Craft Beer wasteland (I’m sure Orlando proper would offer more options). I went to at least four different liquor stores, and the only Cigar City beers in stock were either the Jai Alai IPA or the Maduro Brown Ale. Please don’t misunderstand me, the Jai Alai IPA and the Maduro Brown Ale are excellent beers, but since I could get them in Philly, I didn’t see the point in buying them. In a nutshell, my dreams of big bottle Cigar City tastings never came true.

Wait… who am I kidding? After 8 to 13 hour days at the amusement parks, I could barely walk, much less pour myself a beer. Perhaps I should view the elusive nature of these beers as a sign that it just wasn’t meant to be.

I feel better now. Let’s get back to business…

While perusing the Craft Beer offerings at The Foodery a couple weeks ago, I noticed that they had the Maduro Brown Ale in stock, so I decided to pick up a bottle for a full review (we have reviewed the Jai Alai IPA on two separate occasions). Here is what Cigar City Brewing has to say about their Maduro Brown Ale:

Maduro is a Northern English-style brown ale with some American affectations. Maduro is higher in alcohol than the common English brown ale and features flaked oats in the malt bill which imparts a silky body and works to mesh the roasted, toasted and chocolate components together in Maduro’s complex malt profile. The end result is a remarkably full-flavored yet approachable and sessionable brown ale that pairs well with mild to medium cigars.

And here is my take on this beer…

  • Appearance: Deep brown when you look at it straight on. Ruby red highlights when held up to the light. Quarter inch high, tan head that dissipated rapidly. Lots of fast rising bubbles that pop and fizzle when they reach the surface.
  • Aroma: Rich, roasted malt aromas with bittersweet chocolate and medium roast coffee notes. Very faint smell of tobacco in the background.
  • Taste: Very well carbonated. Smooth and fizzy mouthfeel. Those bittersweet chocolate and coffee notes carry through to the palate. Rich roasted malt flavors from beginning to end. Some mild, pleasant bitterness in the finish.
  • ABV: 5.5%

I have had the Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale on at least five occasions, and it has never disappointed me. This is a seriously session worthy brown ale. Smooth, easy drinking, and thanks to it’s fizzy carbonation, also quite refreshing. I highly recommend this beer. Well done Cigar City!

29 replies »

  1. Stop by my house and you can have either an Either or an Or 🙂
    Pete and I were the pourers for Cigar City at the Navy Yard’s beer fest. There were a couple of “extra beers” left at the end.

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      • Simple, first commit to work 12 hours for a complementary hot dog and soda. Then as all of the other pourers around you (“yutes”) abandon their stations (get drunk during the show), you pick up the slack by manning all of the tables adjacent to yours. OK, now by the end of the show you are trying to simultaneously man the booths for Cigar City, Caldera Brewing, and The Bruery, (Sweet job, but just dumb luck BTW) Now here’s where it pays off… As the show ends and the place turns into a scene reminiscent of the movie 300, you cherry-pick a couple of mixed 6-packs and blend in with the catering staff carrying equipment out the kitchen door to the back alley. Ta-Da! Thomas Crown would be proud 🙂 Are you interested in helping out next time? I’ll put in a good word for you.

        If you want to try the Either and the Or sometime soon let me know, but there are no promises as to how long it will stay in the beer closet if no one makes a claim.

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      • Max — I can almost hear the Mission Impossible theme in the background as I read your comments. You are the Mr. Phelps of fermented and distilled adult beverages (Peter Graves would be proud). We are not worthy to be in your presence.

        BTW — I volunteered all of us to pour for Aviator Brewing if they come up to PBW next year. Payment for services will be made in the form of great beer and brewery t-shirts …. I’ve assumed we are all good with this.

        …. this comment will self destruct in 5 seconds!

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      • I did manage to make it out of WhiskyFest NY one year with a backpack filled with half-full (always the optimist) bottles of great and rare scotches. I didn’t have to buy anything for a year. I probably did buy something, but the point is that I didn’t have to. The backpack did make a horrible noise of glass clanking and whiskey sloshing as I walked down the streets of NYC, but I’m sure that wasn’t the only thing odd about us that night.

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  2. I will just say that we’ll have to agree to disagree on this beer’s greatness. 😉
    I had this on draft not too long ago and I couldn’t get the lingering “smokiness” out of my mouth; I didn’t find it appealing. Then again, maybe my subconscious just took over when I saw “cigar flavor” in the description (you know how you never taste the banana esters until someone says, “this tastes like bananas”). Maybe I need to buy a bottle and try it again.

    Anywho… great review and gorgeous pic!

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    • I saw your review, but refrained from commenting since I knew I had this one in the works. I really enjoy this beer and hope to try a barrel aged version at some point. It’s available in Philly at certain times. I just need to part with the cash.

      Glad you liked the photo!

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  3. So I have this vision of the brewers at Cigar City down in Tampa as some sort of Kevin Costner-esque Waterworld outfit adrift in their own craftbeer geographic wasteland. World class brewers belong in San Diego, Portland, Denver and even Muncie, IN but not Tampa. Definitely not Tampa. Da-da-Dun-da-da…The People’s Court….

    Anyway, these guys turn out some pretty impressive stuff on that raft. Jai Alai IPA is a gem and I’m a fan of Maduro Brown as well. When I first had it on tap at Tria I thought it was the best brown ale I’d ever had but a few days later I returned to a Rogue Hazelnut Brown and that reminded me that the boys in Newport still held top slot in browns in my book. That said, Maduro Brown is a really well-executed beer.

    And don’t get me started on WDW and the abhorrent paucity of legitimate craft beers. Thankfully our visit coincided with Food & Wine Week at Epcot so there were a few servicable options but aside from that, the likelihood of finding a world-class craft beer at WDW is about the same as finding an actual spilled ice cream cone on the ground or a public and invictive-laced argument between Tinkerbell and Snow White.

    @TheAlemonger

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    • While I can respect keeping the good stuff for themselves, as a guy who likes good food and drink, I was disappointed to not find what I was looking for. I had a better chance of finding Sam Calagione Pangaea Mouse Ears (made from materials sourced from each of the seven continents) than finding an actual Dogfish Head Beer.

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