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Pairing Beer and Cigars – A Simple Guide

Pairing Beer and Cigars – a simple guide

Lately, it’s become more and more popular to pair beers with cigars. This is especially so with the recent explosion of micro-breweries in the U.S.

Everyone who writes about this topic says it’s about personal preference, your palate, you should try all different combinations to see what you like best, yada yada. Wrong. There is one golden rule (of thumb): your cigar wrapper should be roughly the same color as the tint of your beer.

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Here’s why: the darker the wrapper, the more full-bodied the cigar. A dark brown, oily-skinned “maduro” is almost certainly going to be full-bodied, whereas a lighter beige-brown Connecticut shade wrapped cigar will be a mild smoke. Here are examples from our house-blend stock:

Having tried countless different variations of drinks and cigars, I can tell you it’s a bad idea to have a rich full-bodied stout with a Connecticut shade cigar – all you’ll taste are chocolate notes and some hints of smoke. On the flip side, if you pair a pale lager with a full-bodied maduro, the beer will just taste like water after the first few puffs. (If you’re going to err, do the latter – at least you can enjoy the smoke, and the buzz will be real, even if you think it’s just water.)
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What you want is for the drink and stick to complement each other: you want to really taste and enjoy both, so make sure that neither is overwhelmed by the other. My favorite combination is a Guinness with a Padron Anniversario 1964 Maduro A (this is a long, two-hour smoke, so you’ll need 2-3 pints). Both have heavy coffee and chocolate notes, and the finish on the Padron A will linger and impart a subtle smoky flavor to the Guinness. On the lighter side, I enjoy a Boddingtons with a selection from Romeo Y Julieta’s Vintage line (an excellent weekend morning selection – the cigar and the beer).

By following my very simple “color match” guide, you’ll make sure that the cigar and beer will be in harmony.

Cigar Landing: 150 Beekman Street, New York, New York 10038 (at the South Street Seaport).



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