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April 28, 2015

Cigar And Beer Pairing 101

When most publications discuss cigar pairings, it is usually followed by the words whiskey, wine, or brandy.  With the rich history of diverse varieties of these libations, they are always seen as the traditional pairing partner to a fine cigar.

For the better part of the past century, most beers served in the US were almost one dimensional, making them problematic for pairing with cigars that have a variety of flavor profiles and characteristics.

The past two decades, however, have seen a renaissance of sorts in the beer industry.  Craft breweries have popped up all over the country and they are constantly creating new and unique beer varieties.  It is because of this, that beer and cigar pairings have become a much more popular practice.

For this article, we are going to go over some of the more popular styles of beer and discuss how to get the best cigar and beer pairings for your palate.

beer and cigar pairings

Beer Styles

There are two major classifications of beer, which generally full under the umbrella of either an ale or a lager.  Ales, which date back to ancient times, are fermented at a warm temperate for a short period, while lagers use a cold fermentation process and are fermented for much longer.

In the modern era, there is also a classification known as specialty beers.  They are usually brewed to a classic style but with modern techniques and flavors.  These include beers such as porters or Weizenbier.

cigar and beer pairings

Ale Styles And Cigar Pairings

Ales tend to be the heavier and richer class of beer.  The way in which ale is fermented, using top-fermenting use and higher temperatures, makes for a much fruiter, spicier, and richer flavor than most lagers.  Most of the strong or intense beers you’ve tried are most likely an ale.

Some styles you might be familiar with include IPAs (also known as Indian Pale Ales), brown ales, stouts, and porters.  For something common, such as an IPA, you want a nice medium-bodied cigar with a good amount of spice, but nothing overwhelming.  The Crowned Heads Four Kicks would pair very nicely with this style of ale.

With such a vast classification, it makes sense that not all ales are created equal and different cigars will pair with different ales.  Stouts and porters, for example, are dark, rich, and creamy.  This beer styles lend themselves to pairing with a rich and dark Maduro cigar.

Something like the Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Maduro would be a great match for a dark porter or stout. Sour beers, which are also classified as ales, have become incredibly popular in recent times.  You might think that due to the sour and fruity flavor, it might be impossible to pair them with a cigar.

That is certainly not the case. Cigars such as the Flor de Valle from Warped or the Espinosa Laranja Reserva have tremendous floral and citrus notes, making them ideal companions for sour beers.

cigar and beer pairing

Lager Styles And Cigar Pairings

While fancy and flavorful ales tend to dominate the modern craft beer scene, it is the light lager style that is still the best selling.  That is because the most common, American style beers are all derived from a lager.  They are fermented cold and have a much more mellow profile and a crisp, clean finish.

Some popular examples of lagers include pilsner, bocks, and Marzen style beers.  If you ever had a Budweiser or Coors, then you have a lager, as these are considered American Style Pale lagers.  In terms of a pairing, you want something smooth and creamy for a traditional pale lager, such as a Montecristo White Series.

However, there are a few styles of lager that are heavier and more flavorful than others. Germany’s famous Oktoberfest style of beer is, in fact, a lager.  For an Oktoberfest pairing, well you want the Quesada Oktoberfest cigar.  I don’t think there is a more suitable pairing in the industry.

beer and cigar pairings

Last Thoughts On Cigar And Beer Pairings

As always, when it comes to my pairing recommendations, these are just my opinion.  The best way to find your favorite beer and cigar pairing is to experiment.  Try several different cigars with different beers and discover what really connects with you.

These guidelines are just a simple first step in seeing what would most likely go well together.  If you have a beer and cigar pairing suggestions, yourself, leave us a comment below.

As always, experiment responsibly!


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