With the emergence of the craft beer phenomenon over the past decade, recognizing beer styles and types can be a bit confusing. From porters, to pilsners, to stouts, most of your average beer fans have trouble figuring out which to choose and for what reason. That’s why over the next few months, we are going to focus our pairing articles on different varieties of beer. This month, we are going to start with Amber Ale. An Amber Ale is a form of pale ale that uses an amber malt to create its unique and signature color. While each one will have its own flavor profile, Amber Ales are not know to be particularly hoppy. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite amber ale and cigar pairings.
Among the most popular Amber Ales on shelves today is the Fat Tire from New Belgium. Created from ingredients and recipes straight from the European nation itself, this flavorful beer has tremendous notes of malty sweetness, caramel, a bit of spice, and fruit. Picking up a Stalk Cut from Henry Clay, I knew these two would be lifelong friends. The sweet, chocolate notes from the cigar pair effortlessly with the rich malt taste of the beer. Being that they are both delicious, widely available, and affordable, these two make a great everyday pairing.
Lagunitas is not only one of the oldest craft beer breweries in the country, but among the top 5 best-selling. To celebrate their 13th anniversary, they released a special edition ale known as the Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale. With a 4.2 out of 5 rating, it is one of the company's highest rated beers. It has a rich, dark taste with notes of sweet malts and a wonderful smoky undertone. The CAO La Traviata Maduro was a natural companion. Its rich, dark wrapper, along with its impressive smoke production, make this one a no-brainer.
The only negative thing we have to say about Red Oak is about its availability or lack thereof. It is only available in North Carolina, although once you are in the state, you can pretty much get it anywhere. It is an amazing, affordable, flavorful brew that may be classified as a lager, but acts and tastes more like an Amber Ale. Its smooth taste and crisp nature is due to its ingredients and brewing process, with one strain of yeast coming from a European brewery that predates the Crusades. We found the H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez to be an interesting and enticing partner. Its complex but smooth flavor profile includes dashes of pepper, leather, and a sweet spice that goes perfectly with the notes of beer.
The word dank is defined as something that is dank, musty and sticky. While in years past it had a negative connotation, many current day beer aficionados use it to characterize a thick and sweet beer. The Founders Brewing Dankwood is no exception. It is an amber-colored IPA, essentially an Amber Ale, that is aged in bourbon barrels to increase its complexity. When looking for a complex smoke to complement this beast of a beer, we went right to our exclusive size of the Herrera Esteli, the stunning box pressed Cuadrado. This Nicaraguan masterpiece combines notes of spice and pepper with a silky sweet spice and enticing aroma, making this pair one of the most complex and flavor-driven yet.
If the villain from Captain America was half as amazing as this beer, I think he would be viewed quite differently by fans. The Red Skull from Revolution Brewing is a red IPA with an Exceptional rating from Beer Advocate. It is a warm, rich brew with hints of malt and a bold caramel sweetness. It was the caramel notes that really got to me and made me go right to one of the lesser known Tatuajes, the affordable and delicious El Triunfador. This cigar may not have the esteem of the Black Label or the Monster series, but it is a solid smoke nonetheless. With Pete Johnson teaming up with Jaime Garcia, the result is a well-constructed, complex smoke with notes of wood, leather, and caramel. This is a great pairing for after dinner on a warm summer evening.