by Kyle Smith –
As the seasons change, so do my tastes. Summertime is filled with light beers and mild cigars—but winter is all about the dark stouts and heavy cigars. But constantly having to find a good match of cigar to beer because my tastes are constantly changing can be a hassle! You can’t enjoy a beer fully—or a cigar fully!—on its own; cigars and beer must be experienced together.
So what do I look for in a cigar/beer pairing? Well, remember that there really are no rules. If you pair a cigar you love with a beer you love I’d bet that you’d enjoy the tastes together, at least most of the time. But for the sake of having a “rule,” here’s what I follow: Try combining cigars and beers that have similar flavors or taste profiles. And always go with your gut—er, I mean, mouth.
Here is a list of some of my (and I stress “my”) favorite chilly weather beer-cigar combinations:
- Double Bock (Sam Adams) – rich dark red color. Fruity flavors with a mix of spice and caramel. Perfect for a dense meal or a chilly night by the fire. Drinker beware: this guy is potent! At nearly 10% alcohol, you wouldn’t want to have too many of these bad boys! Cigar pair: CAO Italia, Excalibur 1066, Cu-Avana Intenso.
- Raison D’Etre (Dogfish Head) – deep brown ale. Made with Belgian-style yeast and raisins and sugar. I first encountered this at a party for Monday night football (a friend brought some over). Sweet but flexible enough for most palates. Cigar pair: CAO Brazilia, Rocky Patel Sun Grown, Cohiba Black.
- Old Brown Dog Ale (Smuttynose) – an interesting mix of bitter and sweet make this medium-bodied beer quite a pleasure. It took a few sips to get used to the heavy malt flavor but other than that this beer is a winner. It’s a classic nutty brown ale. Cigar pair: Oliva Serie O, Carlos Torano 1916, Padilla Series ’68.
- Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale (Sierra Nevada) – lip-smacking-ly spicy and woody, a great beer to appease both brown ale and stout lovers. Quite like the aforementioned Double Bock. Probably the least sweet on the list, but it’s dense. Mostly listed for its uniqueness. Cigar pair: H. Upmann Churchill, Rocky Patel Sun Grown, CAO Brazilia.
- Octoberfest (Sam Adams) – dark red in color with tastes of caramel and cinnamon. A dessert-like flavor is prominent. A very attractive beer in a glass and although popular, it certainly isn’t a sell-out when considering taste! Cigar match: Padilla Miami, Man O’War Ruination, AVO #9.
In the upcoming months, we slowly begin our descent into hibernation madness—more food, more sleep, less daylight. Add to that dark beers and full-bodied cigars and you have a pretty good schedule for the next few months. So sit back and relax in the den with a beer and a stogie and I guarantee you won’t have a care in the world—other than finding that perfect cigar/beer pair!