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2017-08-11 - Article: Sturdy Matches - Seasonal Beer and Cigar Pairings

By: John Moralis

The leaves will soon be changing, the air cooling down, and the craving for a robust beverage will beckon. While cigars are a welcome indulgence any time of year, cooler temperatures warrant a libation with a sturdier profile. In anticipation of fall and winter, brewers release fuller-bodied beers. While pairing these seasonal brews with premium cigars is an absolute treat, flavor profiles must be taken into account for a balanced experience. Full-bodied cigars can overshadow brews with delicate flavors, while beers with striking profiles can steal the spotlight from a mellow handmade.

Here are a few libation suggestions that strike a balance for a more enjoyable experience you won’t soon forget.

BROWN ALE The flavorful, yet often overlooked, brown ale is a fantastic autumn beer and is a natural pairing for cigars. With nutty undertones, a strong malty flavor, and a faint sweetness, brown ales pair beautifully with medium to full-bodied cigars like Man O' War or Obsidian White Noise . Both blends are rich with notes of cedar, pepper, and coffee, which complement a brown ale’s muted sweetness and hints of toffee and chocolate.

PORTER Another fantastic companion for cooler weather, porter is often misunderstood because of its dark appearance. While they look menacing, porters are actually mild and can easily be overshadowed by a stronger cigar, so a mellow to medium-bodied cigar like Macanudo Maduro  or 5 Vegas Gold Maduro pairs perfectly with a nice porter. Both blends feature a dark brown wrapper, but like their brew-mate, looks can be deceiving. The cigars’ smooth and creamy profiles will accent a porter’s subtle notes of coffee and licorice.

BARLEY WINE Those feeling a bit more adventurous may want to consider a barley wine. These brews, gaining in popularity, are known for being full-flavored, complex, and a bit of an oddity in the craft beer world. They have nuances similar to cognac or brandy and their alcohol by volume (ABV) is generally on the higher side (between 8% and 16%). The flavor profile is also unique, in that it has a subtle molasses-like flavor with bountiful notes of caramel and malt. Traditional barley wine styles are best paired with a full-bodied cigar to balance the boldness. La Herencia Cubana , La Palina El Diario, and CAO Brazilia have enough natural sweetness and spice that will stand up to a barley wine’s pronounced profile.

STOUT For anyone craving something on the sturdier side, nothing sticks to the bones and satisfies your thirst quite like the classic stout. Dark and creamy with a full-bodied consistency, stouts have a reputation for their traditionally bold flavors. Strong notes of chocolate, coffee, and molasses will stand up to a medium to full-bodied cigar like Ave Maria Argentum or Drew Estate MUWAT. These cigar blends are perfect pairings because of their equally bold, balanced body, and complex flavor profiles.