Like any respectable woman, I love beer. My deep appreciation for beer is one that is only rivaled by my equally respectable appreciation for a cigar, sweeten the deal with a back porch and a sunset and you might just have described the happiest place on Earth. Cigars have traditionally been heralded as the complementary hand prop to a nice whisky or scotch. While this still holds true, a lesser known fact is just how well certain beers can go with certain varieties of cigars. Not only are they a new alternative to customary libations, they are usually significantly cheaper, making that relaxing evening with a cigar and drink in hand a lot less disastrous to your bank account.
Like pairing a nice wine with a meal, pairing a quality cigar with a nice beer takes a little foresight and the occasional bit of homework. You won’t want to open up that glass beer case and pick a six pack of beer with a fancy label to compliment that cigar you bought with the equally fancy label. Beers and cigars have a slew of tastes, aromas and nuances that, when matched up correctly, can really bring out the best of both worlds.
For the sake of brevity, I’m going to limit my discussion of beers to two types, ales and lagers. Yes, there are more, but for pairing’s sake, these two varieties offer the most distinct complements to a cigar. Venturing outside of these beers runs the risk of either the beer or the cigar competing for taste, texture in aroma. Rather than engaging in a sensory brawl, play your cards right and consider some of the pairings below.
Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA and an Arturo Fuente Maduro
A nice IPA deserves a cigar that is going to be on the fuller and rich end of the spectrum. The smoke to compliment an IPA should pack a little more punch to play off the lightness of the ale. The perfect matchup? Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo IPA and the Arturo Fuente Maduro. IPA’s are known for completely saturating the palate and you will want a cigar that is up to the task of really playing off that.
The citrus and pine notes of the Torpedo offer a great flavor profile that will enhance the smoke from the Arturo Fuente Maduro (which scored a pretty impressive 87 with Cigar Aficionado). The Maduro will really develop some of the sweetness that comes from the tail end of the Torpedo. Along with that sweetness you will also finish with a little bit of spice which will be the perfect setup to re-introducing the IPA back to your palate.
Samuel Smith Taddy Porter with Alec Bradley MAXX Nano
Samuel Smith Taddy Porter gives all the sweetness right up front and finishes with dryer notes. You won’t get any of that hoppy taste with a rich Porter like this and that should be music to your ears when looking to pair with a nice cigar, such as the Alec Bradley Maxx Nano.
I like to take a good swig of the porter and really hold on to it for a few moments to pick up on some of the great chocolate and licorice notes. Let this wash down and then follow it up with the Nano. I find that the Nano really brings out the lingering licorice tastes that were left behind and further develops the ones that exist within the Nano. The Nano provides a really nice, rich smoke which makes that next swig of Taddy all the better.
Bitburger Pilsner with Camacho Connecticut Churchill
Pilsner’s are famous for giving any hint of sweetness at the beginning of its flavor profile, and the Bitburger doesn’t deviate from that, well, too much. Bitburger is a great choice for a Pilsner due to its lighter, almost grassy and citrusy notes. You won’t get a lot of foam and the carbonation is low so it won’t interfere with your follow up smoke from none other than the Camacho Connecticut Churchill.
The Camacho really works with the flavors of the Bitburger. Playing of the subtleness of the pilsner, the Camacho really swoops in and gives you a great, full-flavored experience. The dry finish of the pilsner is the perfect setup for the silky pull you’ll get from this cigar. Try to really focus on those spicy notes of the cigar, I find that it really enhances the next sip of pilsner.