Cigar Pairings

The Beer and Cigar Pairing Guide

Holt's Staff Cigar's picture

Holt's Staff

Cracking a cold one to go with your favorite cigar is an easy proposition these days thanks to the infinite number of craft beers and handcrafted cigars available. Because beer is traditionally carbonated, it can make a great marriage with a wide variety of cigars. Carbonated beverages continually cleanse and refresh the palate due to the crisp, effervescent texture they possess. Although there is a contingent of cigar lovers who argue that carbonated beverages can be interruptive to the flavor of their favorite smoke, we recommend trying a tasty cigar and beer combo. We know a lot of beer fanatics who also love premium cigars and would never separate the two. While a matter of personal preference exists, we believe your sense of taste can often benefit from a palate-cleansing drink when you’re indulging in a great cigar. We’re not here to set absolute rules that emphasize or prohibit the best cigar and beer pairings. Rather, it’s our goal to illuminate a handful of cigars that match well with a style of beer worthy of your taste.

One important, unifying characteristic cigars and beer share is the merger of science and artisanal craft many brewers and cigar-makers employ as they blend their products. Makers of quality cigars and craft beers excel at managing the relationship between the ingredients they select and Mother Nature. They consider many essential factors, including seed varietals, growing regions, climate, coloration, filtration, fermentation, and more. Both traditional and unconventional techniques can be found at play as premium cigar-makers and brewers set themselves apart in a competitive marketplace.

Generally speaking, we all have preferences for dark beer versus light beer, pilsner versus stout, etc. The same can be revealed in our cigar choices. Some of us prefer Natural wrappers more so than Maduro, or Dominican profiles more so than Nicaraguan. In order to recommend ten great beer and cigar pairings, we decided to put our beer goggles on and indulge our taste buds with a range of popular cigars guaranteed to complement your preferred style of beer.

#1 - San Cristobal Ovation & Stout

Stout originated in pre-Victorian London as stout porter, known for its robust flavor and dark coloring. Present-day stout is creamy, strong and dark (think Guinness) with a toasty flavor provided by roasted barley. San Cristobal Ovation is similarly full-bodied and creamy, featuring Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos that resonate with notes of cocoa, wood, and leather. These profiles meld together perfectly, without intruding on one another. This is a distinctively powerful pair.

#2 - La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor & Porter

Porter is similar in origin to stout, but has a lighter flavor courtesy of malted barley, as opposed to the roasted barley found in stout. As a result, porter retains a rich, well-rounded texture, but exhibits a slightly less intense flavor. The more approachable full-bodied character of a porter matches well with the award-winning La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor, a cigar known for its medium to full-bodied profile. Mi Amor displays a mix of almonds, dark cocoa, spices, black pepper, and black cherries that resonates magnificently with the earthy and coffee-like nuances of the brew.

#3 - Montecristo & Pilsner

Pilsner is one of the world’s most popular beers. It is a spicier type of lager, bearing a light color and strong, hoppy flavor. Montecristo cigars maintain a mild, sweet and somewhat grassy taste which is the perfect accompaniment to the hops in a pilsner. The cigar’s Connecticut Shade wrapper emanates with a silky flavor that satisfies without overwhelming. If you prefer a mellow cigar and an exceedingly drinkable beer, this is the pairing to indulge in.

#4 - Arturo Fuente Anejo & IPA

India Pale Ales (IPAs) have morphed into four distinct classifications over the years, each displaying a unique taste. English-style IPAs have a less hoppy flavor than American IPAs, and boast a signature that is crisp and dry. American-style IPAs are bitter with moderate to strong fruit flavors, while Imperial (Double) IPAs showcase strong hops and fruit flavors. Session IPAs contain the lowest ABV (alcohol by volume percentage) of the four (<5%) and a milder hops taste.

With such disparity between IPAs, it takes a very special cigar to match up with all of them. That cigar would be Arturo Fuente Anejo. This medium-bodied rarity is hard to come by due to its limited production. However, when you have the opportunity to indulge, Anejo offers unsurpassed richness courtesy of finely aged Dominican tobaccos and an exclusive Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that has been fermented in a cognac barrel. A rich, buttery sweetness emanates from Arturo Fuente Anejo and merges seamlessly with the crisp, malty edges of a quality IPA.

#5 - Oliva Serie V & Lager

Lagers are commonly known as ‘bottom fermenting’ beers. Lager can deliver a sweet taste, but is more readily known for its crisp and refreshing profile. The full-bodied Oliva Serie V is an ideal choice for a pairing. The earthy, hearty and intense spices of Serie V are balanced nicely by the clean and seamless swig you get from a cold lager, and you have a ton of options from accessible, budget-friendly beers like Bud Light to numerous locally brewed crafts, including Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co. or Grupo Modelo Negra Modelo.

#6 - Fuente Fuente Opus X & Barleywine

Barleywine beer packs a powerful punch, with a high ABV (8%-15%). Its amber to dark-brown color is punctuated with strong hops or fruit flavor and deserves a cigar of similar magnitude. Fuente Fuente Opus X delivers an amplified profile of figs, cedar, oak and spices with a pronounced finish. Its full-bodied taste is a great partner for barleywine when you’re in the mood for a substantial diversion.

#7 - Romeo y Julieta 1875 & Belgian Beer

Belgian beers are recognized primarily as ales (as opposed to lagers), with heavy emphasis on malts and fruity notes of yeast. They are traditionally very low in bitterness and flavored with coriander and orange peel extracts. Romeo y Julieta 1875 matches up nicely thanks to a mild to medium-bodied finish, accentuated by hints of toasted nuts, peppers, and coffee. Both profiles meld with a malty and nutty richness that satisfies without lingering.

#8 - Perdomo Champagne & Hefeweizen / Wheat Beer

Hefeweizen and wheat beer are both members of the ale family. Each utilizes wheat over barley as a main ingredient and contains a low to moderate alcohol content. Hefeweizen is known for its German heritage and its darker color, while wheat beer (sometimes called ‘witbier’) hails from Belgium and is lighter. Both styles are mild and can be ideal to sip on with a silky, medium-bodied cigar like Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne. Notes of white pepper, coffee beans and dried fruit display a complementary spice that encourages the creamy, midrange quality Hefeweizen or wheat beer delivers.

#9 - Ashton VSG & Amber

Amber is a pale ale brewed with amber (or crystal) malt to yield its signature color range of light copper to light brown. The term ‘amber’ is used in North America, France, and Australia, and makes identification easy. Ashton VSG is a magnificent match for an amber beer as its toasted malty character welcomes the bold, earthy profile of VSG. Pronounced notes of cedar and spices with a raisin-like sweetness around the edges emerge from VSG. An amber beer supports the cigar’s tasteful rumination without interrupting it. The dark, glistening Ecuador Sumatra wrapper leaf on Ashton VSG also serves up a striking visual contrast next to the glowing hue an amber displays in a cold glass.

#10 - Flor de las Antillas & Brown Ale

Brown ale is known for its rich, dark color and is available in a variety of styles and flavors (based on country of origin). Because brown ale can encompass a range of profiles, a versatile cigar is called for when you’re looking for a surefire cigar and beer pairing. The award-winning Flor de las Antillas is an obvious choice thanks to an all-Nicaraguan amalgam of tobaccos beneath a rich, Sungrown wrapper leaf. The medium to full-bodied character of the cigar emerges in cool, easy draws that display notes of cedar, cayenne, and black peppers with a perceivable sweetness. A brown ale can offer up bitter notes of coffee and nuts with a hoppy flavor that goes along seamlessly.

Although countless brands and blends of both beer and cigars can be brought together, we hope we’ve narrowed your introduction down to some winning combinations. One thing we can promise is that your taste buds will never get bored when you’re developing your passion for beer and cigars.

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