I’m generally not known to light up a cigar unless I have a beer ready to drink with it, especially in the colder months. A lot of trial and error went into creating this list (more trial than error), but beer and cigar pairing generally comes down to one easy rule: your beer should be about as strong as your cigar, and no stronger. That said, it’s completely up to your own personal taste, but in my experience, even a slightly stronger beer can totally muddle the subtleties of a mellow cigar. Anyway, without further ado, here are my five favorite beer and cigar pairings:
Camacho SLR and Sierra Nevada Tumbler
I’m pretty sure this was the first cigar I ever smoked while drinking a beer (see my review). I’m convinced that these two were made for each other—the bold, spicy, earthy, chocolaty flavors of the Camacho SLR balance nicely with the bready, malty flavors of the Sierra Nevada Tumbler. And if you’re looking at the beers-per-cigar ratio, this is also a great cigar to get buzzed on. What I mean by that is that the thing burned so slowly that by the time I was done it, I was already on my fourth beer. Anyway, Tumbler only comes out during fall, so if you’re going to try this one, there’s only a several-week-long window of time to do it (until next year!).
Hopz and Green Flash West Coast IPA
Before we got in our first Hopz samples, I had already tried Green Flash West Coast IPA. This beer is heavily hopped, particularly with Simcoe hops, which have a citrus-like character to them. When we got our samples, I opened one of the Hopz tubes and huffed it for a few minutes, and I knew this was the perfect beer for that cigar. The bitter, piney-citrus flavors and slight sweetness of the beer balanced perfectly with the buttery, smooth, classically Cameroon flavors of the cigar, and the Centennial hops infusion brought it to the next level. Regardless of whether you go with the Green Flash, Hopz is definitely meant to enjoy with your favorite IPA.
Kensington Connecticut Reserve by Alec Bradley and Avery White Rascal
I’ve heard Avery White Rascal described as a breakfast beer, and after getting up one Saturday morning (okay, it was 1 in the afternoon) and cracking one open, I realized how perfect that description is. The week before, we’d gotten our samples of the final blend for Kensington Connecticut Reserve, and man, am I glad I decided to save one for the weekend. What you get from these two is a combination of cream, pepper, and caramel from the Kensington Connecticut Reserve and malt, orange peel, and coriander from the White Rascal, and it is, indeed, the perfect breakfast combo.
Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatra and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
Mark from General Cigar stopped by a few weeks ago and gave a lucky few of us a few sticks of Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatra Noche that had been aging in his personal humidor for two years, and that’s what I’m basing this recommendation on. This cigar is one of the smoothest, woodiest, most ridiculously chocolaty cigars I’ve ever had, and what better beer to have with a super-chocolaty cigar than Young’s Double Chocolate Stout? These two fit together like you wouldn’t believe, with their chocolaty flavors intertwining, and the soft mouthfeel of the beer complemented the creamy texture of the smoke from this cigar. This is a must-try combination, preferably with an older Dark Sumatra. Thanks to Mark for providing the cigars!
Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 and Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
Here’s a pairing that is guaranteed to knock you on your ass. The Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 is easily the strongest cigar I’ve ever had, and Arrogant Bastard Ale is among the most full-flavored beers I’ve ever had, so the two go together naturally. The huge, leathery, peppery flavors from the JDN bounce off of the brutally hoppy, intensely malty flavors of the Arrogant Bastard Ale to create one of the most intense taste combinations you could ever imagine. My advice is to eat a decent-sized meal before enjoying this combo, because it could be pretty brutal on an empty stomach.
Anyway, I could go on and on with these pairings, but these five happen to be my absolute favorites. Got a favorite beer and cigar pairing of your own? Feel free to post it in a comment below!