I've never had a beer from Cigar City before. (Interesting name for a brewery as a side note...) I saw this one in Craft in London a few months back and decided it looked interesting enough to stump up for a bottle. Turns out this is a beer in a four part series of beers, each respectively called; Either, Or, Neither and Nor. I spied they had some Or in Craft, but the wallet dictated that I just purchase the one. I'm not sure what the other beers in the series are, but it sounds like a really cool idea, I really like the artwork on the labels too, it's really well designed.
It's been called a Black IPA, but the label suggests a Black Ale, and at a hefty 11.2% it's certainly a snifter job. It's made with "Ty Ty Honey, copious amounts of hops and aged on toasted Spanish Cedar"
If you give the glass a bit of a swirl and get some foam forming you get a decent aroma of all sorts of stuff going on; chocolate, honey, burnt toast, sticky resinous hops, roasted malt and raisins. If you let it settle down a bit you start to get more of, an almost smoky, woody aroma - just enough to give an essence of a Rauch Beer.
It's quite a strange beer. On the initial sip you get a really smooth beer and you expect something really thick and oily. This disappears though, the body and mouth feel is light, and your left with your mouth burning of pure flavour. There's a big orange tang on the back of your tongue after the swallow, but the most obvious element is the powerful woody flavours which dominate your senses. (I've worked with Cedar before in furniture making, it's got really powerful and distinctive aromas, and takes a while to get the smell off your hands... not that it was a bad thing) It's slightly charred, lots of the burnt toast coming through with a drying quality making it very moorish. It's obviously alcoholic, but not in a way which makes you think 'slow down' - I don't think it's as warming as a 11.2% beer should be, which makes it a little dangerous in my opinion.
It's a great tasting beer, I think it would have been nicer if the honey had a little more umph in the flavour - I think it gets a little dominated by all the earthy Cedar wood. A good first beer to have from a brewery which I've not visited before though, I hope I can try some more from Cigar City. If your down and about in Craft, ask them if they have any left!