With colder weather and the holidays upon us you may find yourself looking for ways to relax and enjoy the time off of work. While holiday parties, shopping, and other traditions may make a good winter season, why not try something new and settle in for an exquisite smoke and a fine drink? But instead of the usual pairing of cigar and whisky—or port or cognac—why not change things up a little and sample a fine stogie with an equally fine beer? It might sound a little blue-collar but a fine Dominican Robusto paired with a rich craft beer will bring a smile to the face of even the most demanding bon vivant. Both make for great explorations into the increasingly vast array of cigar and craft beer options available on the market. Here are five beers and cigars that when had together will create a fantastic union of flavor. So grab a bottle, call a friend, settle in, and stoke the fire. And if anyone complains about the smell, just close the door—or ask them to join you.
Beer: Weihenstephaner Vitus
Cigar: Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Toro
To start with a more mild and easygoing pairing, the Weihenstephaner Vitus and Romeo and Juleta Real make for a great midday break. The Vitus is a Weizenbock—or strong beer—brewed in Freising, Germany, that carries a medium body, with a light golden hue. The Vitus has wonderfully sweet aromas of spice, clove, bread, and even banana peel. This sweet character plays well off of the mild, nutty, and creamy profiles of the Romeo y Julieta Reserva, which is made from Ecuadorean Connecticut wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and a blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco for the filler. The Vitus is also a refreshing beer, whose carbonation keeps the flavor profiles moving and your palate awake for more to come.
Beer: Ommegang Three Philosophers
Cigar: Don Pepin Garcia “My Father” Le Bijou 1922 Grand Robusto
For more of a complex combination, find the Cooperstown (N.Y.)-based brewery Ommegang’s Three Philosophers and the Don Pepin Garcia “My Father” cigar. The Three Philosophers is a Belgian-style quadruple fermented ale, which brings the alcohol content to nearly 10 percent. Equally large and complex are the flavors found in this beer. Dark fruits like plum, cherries, and raisins come through on both the nose and the flavor palates with a lovely body that brings everything together. The Don Pepin Garcia, which has Nicaraguan filler and binder leaves and an Ecuadorean wrapper grown from Habano seed, is equally complex, delivering a big tobacco punch and layering the flavors throughout the entire smoke. You will find notes of spice, pepper, even a slight cherry touch with rich earthy overtones. For a cold day and a roaring fire, try this combination for a great winter warmer.
Beer: Allagash Curieux
Cigar: Arturo Fuente Magnum R Rosado Sungrown Vitola 52
Many cigar smokers enjoy some type of whisky while they smoke, for the smoky, woody characteristics it brings to the table. For something more lively and equally enjoyable, try Allagash’s Curieux, a Belgian-style Tripel (a strong pale ale) brewed in Portland, Me., that has been aged eight weeks in Jim Beam oakwood bourbon barrels. The result is an astounding flavor complex of vanilla, oak, wood, and a light smoked profile. While this beer is 11 percent alcohol content, it is light- to medium-bodied in color and mouth feel. The Curieux complements the Arturo Fuente, which has an Ecuadorean Sumatra wrapper, and binder and filler from the Dominican Republic. Its savory cedar and leather notes come through on the cigar as the beer’s oaky-bourbon flavor meets the peppery smoke.
Beer: Cigar City Maduro Brown
Cigar: Ashton VSG Torpedo
The Cigar City Maduro Brown lives up to its name. Brewed in Tampa, Fla., which was once one of the largest cigar manufacturing centers in the U.S., the Maduro brown ale is true to cigars with nutty, cocoa overtones, mixed with a malty and somewhat sweet backbone. The body of the beer is slightly lighter but this really allows for an easy consumption and perhaps a better pairing when having this cigar. The Ashton virgin sun grown (VSG), which has an Ecuadorean wrapper and aged Dominican binder and filler, complements the brown ale well here, with slight nut and coffee flavors. The VSG brings a wonderfully clean and consistent smoke, easy to inhale and overall very enjoyable. As the Maduro brown is also only 5.5 percent alcohol, the two make a perfect pairing for a winter afternoon break.
Beer: Harviestoun Ola Dubh 16 year
Cigar: JL Salazar y Hermanos Robusto
When dinner is over, the combination of Harviestoun Ola Dubh 16 year and the JL Salazar y Hermanos Robusto is the perfect way to unwind and enjoy an evening by the fire or on your front porch on a crisp night. Brewed in the central Lowlands of Scotland, Ola Dubh is an Old Ale-style brew, meaning a beer that has been barrel-aged. In this case, aged in barrels of Highland Park’s 16-year-old single-malt Scotch whisky. The result is an amazingly dark beer, almost coal black in color with an aroma of dark fruits, rich cocoa, vanilla, caramel, and even hints of coffee and truffle. The flavor is even more complex, adding layers of toffee, dark chocolate, smoke, and leather. The JL Salazar then comes in with additional flavors of mild pepper and finishes with earthy cocoa and roasted clove notes. Its wrapper is Ecuadorean Habano leaf, as is the binder, and the filler is Nicaraguan-grown Habano tobacco. Together the experience is a highly rich pairing of two full-bodied products that will certainly ease you into a nice holiday slumber.