Many cigars, especially those with a maduro wrapper, have a natural richness to them. This Padron 1926 maduro delivers powerful notes of dark chocolate, espresso, and coffee beans. So, it is only natural that a hearty stout with rich notes of coffee would be a good pairing. I went with the AleSmith Vietnamese Speedway Stout.
AleSmith has been producing artisanal craft beers for more than 20 years. They are based out of San Diego, but their delicious brews have found their way across the country. The Speedway Stout has been their most popular collection thus far, garnering critical acclaim from beer drinkers everywhere. In 2012 they made this special edition, that includes four Vietnamese coffees, known in Vietnam as cà phê sa đá. Hers a little fun fact for you, Vietnam is one of the world’s leading suppliers of coffee!
The coffee beans were slow roasted at a low temperature before being brewed with a traditional phin-style filter that gently percolates water through the ground coffee. The result is an intensely aromatic and bold tasting coffee that complements the notes of chocolate and roast in this massive stout.
When pairing this cigar, I smoked about a good inch of the Padron before taking my first sip of the beer. The initial results were exquisite. The cold aromatic flavors of dark chocolate and intense notes of the coffee roast paired perfectly with the warm, nutty richness cigar. Let’s just say at the end, I smoked it down to the nub and there wasn’t a drop of beer left.
#2 Cycle Brewing Trademark Disput Orange Label Coconut paired with Las Mareas Olas
Las Mareas Olas is one of the newest cigars from boutique manufacturer The Crowned Heads. Working with the legendary MY Father Factory, they have created an exceptional smoke with a solid medium body and a ridiculous amount of flavor. What made this one difficult to pair was its complexity. It has heavy richness, with notes of bitter dark chocolate, coffee, and leather, yet there are also slight hints of floral notes and a touch of sweetness. Then I discovered one of the more sought after craft beers in the country.
Cycle Brewing is a small craft beer brewery located in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Although on the rare side, their stout selection, known as the Trademark Dispute, is highly coveted by the beer community. The Coconut, with its Orange label, is among the most highly rated beers in the country, with several critics giving it a perfect 100 score. This thick beer pours nearly all black with a solid head. It is bursting with notes of dark chocolate, dark fruit, and then a subtle but noticeable taste of coconut and vanilla.
It was almost a shame to drink it because of how rare it is (and its cost), but once I lit up the Las Mareas I knew I did the right thing. I meant I felt it in my bones. The sweet rich notes go so well together, while the floral notes from the cigar and the coconut flavors combined for a sultry experience. This may be one of the harder pairings to pull off, but I swear its worth it.
#3 RaR Brewing 1st Meal paired with Tatuaje Belle Encre 10th Anniversary Perfecto
I would argue that the best part of waking up, is this pairing. First off, you don’t even need me to explain this cigar. Tatuaje has been the leading boutique cigar manufacturer for 15 years. The 10th Anniversary, especially in this size is a testament to the quality and flavor they have become known for. What made pairing difficult was that this cigar combines full strength and richness with a creamy sweetness. That is slightly unusual for a powerful Nicaraguan smoke.
Don’t worry though, RaR Brewing was there to rescue me. Although relatively new to the beer scene, this Maryland based brewery has already established a firm reputation due to their unique profiles and high quality. The 1st Meal is the beer that caught my attention for this pairing. It is essentially a breakfast stout, perfect to wake you up in the morning. It is brewed to perfection and offers up wonderful notes of maple syrup, coffee, and chocolate. I swear to god, at one point I tasted pancakes in there, and it made me feel at home.
When I lit up the Tatuaje, the first thing I tasted was rich chocolate, then after a few puffs, a creamy sweetness became more and more prevalent. That is where the sweet richness of the beer kicked in. They went perfectly together. All the flavor notes, from both the beer and cigar were present but balanced. Not one flavor overtook the others, which is exactly what I look for. Overall, wonderful pairing, especially in the morning
The key word when it comes to this pairing is flavor. Actually intense flavor would be a more appropriate term, and that as we all know is two words. First off, I’m going to go out there and say Kristoff is so incredibly underrated it makes me livid. They make some of the best full bodied cigars in the industry, and their rustic style is on point. I received some of the new Pistoff Kristoff at the 2016 IPCPR tradeshow and absolutely fell in love with it. It is rich and powerful, with a bold aroma and a complex profile consisting of nuts, chocolate, toffee, and a very nice sweet finish.
So to pair up this cigar, I went with one of the more complex stouts that I could find. I decided upon the critically acclaimed Oskar Blues Barrel Aged Ten Fidy. Oskar Blues is responsible for craft beers being served in a can. They decided that can beer is not only easily transportable, but keeps the beer fresher by eliminating sunlight and ingressed oxygen. This beer is aged in oak bourbon barrels of some of the world’s finest whiskeys. The notes of oak, bourbon and vanilla stack up side by side to its powerful, dark chocolate and espresso notes. However, just like cigar tobacco, the longer it is aged the smoother it becomes. Let’s just say this beer is exceptionally smooth.