When I’m not stuffing my face with rich, decadent foods alongside drinking a rich, decadent beer, you can find me enjoying a nice cigar…. and drinking a rich, decadent beer (Let’s be honest, I drink every chance I get). As is the case with food, I find beer pairs better with cigars than a nice brandy, porto, or what have you. Beers can be manipulated in ways that liquors and wines can not be. The flavor profiles and varieties of beers are innumerable, and, as much as I enjoy a good bourbon or Bordeaux, there’s only so much you can do to change the taste of liquor and wine. The same is the case with cigars, in terms of manipulation of flavor profile. There are so many types of tobaccos that have the ability to have their tastes changed with slight manipulations. The pairing of the two together is just common sense.
That being said, you can not just throw any beer and any cigar together. As is the case with pairing liquors with cigars, match like qualities with like qualities. You do not want to pair a nice robusto with pale ale. Likewise, it would be equally disastrous pairing a big English barleywine with a mild cigar. Match them flavor for flavor. An stout would not serve well when paired with a cigar whose profile is a bit more on the citrusy and light side. As I said, the pairings are common sense, but think before pairing. If you happen to be more knowledgeable about one and less about the other, as a beer connoisseur or cigar aficionado about the flavor profiles of either/or…. or you could just follow Barleydine.com and ask us (hint, hint).
Well finally, onto the pairing. I lucked out at one of my local beer stops when a buddy of mine who works there told me about a shipment of fairly rare Goose Island beers that had just come in. Naturally, after hearing they had the 2008 version of their Bourbon County Brand Stout in said shipment, I bought as many as was allowed. I knew that this would be the perfect beer to pair with a cigar…
… which cigar though? Now, due to the flavor profile and high %ABV of the BCBS, I knew I wanted a robust cigar that had a creamy, sweet yet spicy taste. Nicaraguan tobacco is known to have a flavor profile such as this, so I set out to look for the perfect smoke to match. At my local smoke shop, I came across a fairly inexpensive, yet interesting smelling cigar. The Diamondback Robusto, a cigar made with Nicaraguan tobacco, has the words “Dulce Humo” on the wrapper, which translates to sweet smoke. A whiff gave me just what I was looking for; a bit of a sweet, yet peppery and oaky smell. I knew this would pair well with the BCBS.
Back at home, a pop of the top, a light of the smoke, and I was in heaven. The beer itself was divine. A nice, velvety smooth vanilla flavor came through first. Not a sticky sweet cloying vanilla that you get sometimes from vanilla bean aged stouts, but a subtle, yet powerful vanilla that comes from oak aging. Big chocolate flavors play with a much more subdued, yet perfectly balanced, bourbon sweetness. This beer is rich, smooth, and nearly perfect. I did not want the first sip to end. A puff of the cigar put me in even more of a subliminal state. A nice peppery taste, followed by nutmeg and cinnamon, were the first on the palate. After they subdued, a nice creamy vanilla, akin to the one tasted in the beer, came through. As I pushed the smoke to the the roof of my mouth, a sweet toffee flavor began to rear it’s head. Going back and forth between the two enhanced the flavors of each, as well as bringing more subdued notes out. The Bourbon County began giving off slight coffee flavors, not bitter coffee, but a nice, creamy mocha. A bit of a paprika note was tasted in the cigar, as well.
This was a fine pairing, one I did not want to end. When the beer and smoke was done, I was forced back to earth to rejoin reality.