There’s a lot of barrel-aged IPAs out there these days, but Cigar City’s White Oak Jai Alai is still my favorite. The first time I had it, I was surprised by how smooth and slightly sweet it was. Sure, the bitterness you’d expect from an IPA was there but the white oak adds considerable depth and complexity. At first, it gives off a sweet, floral smell that brings images of meadows and forests to mind. But that all gives way to the creaminess that bitterness. It’s such a surprising diversity of tastes that as you get deeper into the can, it’s hard to know what’s coming next. While there’s not as much of the tropical and citrus aspects of it’s non-Oaked counterpart, they’re still there hiding.
And this is much like The Garment District’s debut LP If You Take Your Magic Slow (god that’s such a good title) on Night People. Jennifer Baron creates a fully entrenched vision of lush, cinematic music as diverse as it is hypnotic. “Weird Birds and Strange Days” (another great title) is languid without feeling forced. It moves along like a marathon runner stretching toward the last miles of a hot, humid race. Much of If You Take Your Magic Slow works as a soundtrack for summer days spent in the sun, especially the pop-heavy elements in songs like “Bell, Book and Candle” or “Soon We See Green.” This is where the pairing really thrives: this beer and this album demand to be enjoyed outside, underneath trees while swatting away mosquitos. Add in the endless different facets both the album and beer heap on you and it starts to make sense.
The Garment District’s LP is available from the excellent Night People on vinyl and digital. White Oak Jai Alai is available in Florida, for sure, and maybe elsewhere? I’m not entirely sure, but seek it out. It’s a good one.