Beers and Cigars to Celebrate National IPA Day
It is no secret that the craft beer industry has been booming for over a decade. The crisp, smooth, yet unrefined American lagers that this country has produced over the years have all taken a back seat to the wide variety of beer styles available today.
Before the boom, your average bar goer would just order a beer. Now, they will order a specific style from a specific brewery.
Among the more commonly known styles is the IPA, or the Indian Pale Ale.
This has become a buzz word for millennials, who more often than not, gravitate towards this flavorful and hoppy beer style. On August 6, the US will celebrate National IPA Day, so we thought it would be fun to give just a few solid examples of some great IPA and cigar pairings.
What is an IPA?
An IPA is a flavorful and hoppy style of beer. The name originates from the UK in the mid to late 19th century. While trying to distribute beer throughout the British Empire, the colonists in India found it too hot to brew.
The normal lager style beers were too weak to maintain themselves during the long journey from the UK to India.
A brewer named George Hodgson developed an ale style beer with a considerable amount of hops that he called “October Beer.”
George would usually age this beer like wine to make it smooth and less hoppy. He found that by brewing the beer and immediately shipping it off to India, it would age during the journey and arrive in its best form.
It became incredibly popular among the East India Company and was eventually copied by bigger breweries such as Bass. Today, IPAs remain one of the most popular beer styles, especially among beer aficionados.
Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing and Las Calaveras 2017
This intense IPA from Sierra Nevada is a flavor bomb. The Hazy Little Thing is unprocessed and unfiltered, so it is pure IPA all the way.
It is brewed with a variety of different hops including Citra and mosaic, which gives it that signature IPA bitter and hoppy flavor along with a well-rounded citrus aroma as well. This is not for the faint of heart, but for a refined beer connoisseur who knows what to expect.
Due to its incredibly hoppy nature, this was a tough one to pair. Luckily, I found some aged Las Calaveras from 2017 sitting in the humidor and lit one up. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is not as spicy as it was fresh out of the box. Instead, it was smooth with a notable woody and earthy undertone.
Its blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos gave it a natural sweetness, with some dashes of orange peel and dried fruit. This is a great pairing for someone who knows their beer and cigar preferences and isn’t afraid of intense flavor.
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA & Perdomo Craft Series Amber
The Dogfish Head 90 Minute is one of the most popular IPAs on the market, so I wanted to make sure I paired it with a cigar that was equally as popular and readily available. Let’s start with the beer.
The inspiration behind the Dogfish Head Minute series came from a cooking show, where the chef would continually add pepper to a soup throughout the cooking process.
This added much more flavor but made it more well balanced. The Dogfish team decided to brew an IPA in this fashion. The result is a flavorful, balanced, and strong IPA with notes of citrus, raisins, and dark fruit.
This creates a blend of sweet and spicy notes for a strong yet well-rounded cigar. The dark sweet nature of the cigar, as well as its overall strength, makes it a great companion to the 90 Minute.
Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai & Herrera Esteli Habano
I cannot write a cigar and beer pairing article without including a beer from Cigar City, for obvious reasons. The brewery is headquartered in Florida, inside an old cigar factory, so one of its beers is perfect for adding to these pairings.
In terms of an IPA, the Jai Alai is one of my absolute favorites. It takes its name from the sport that originated in Spain but is deeply rooted in Florida history. The beer itself is quite strong, with rich notes of caramel, oranges, and a slight bite/spicy note from the hops.
Willy Herrera, of Drew Estate fame, also made his bones in Florida, working at the legendary El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami before making his way to Nicaragua.
The first cigar he made for Drew Estate was his name brand, the Herrera Esteli. This rich and spicy cigar took the industry by storm and immediately established Willy as one of the preeminent blenders in the business
This Nicaraguan puro boasts notes of vanilla, pepper, cream nuts, and an overall spice. Its complexity and similar heritage make it a great accouterment to the Jai Alai.
Abita Big Easy IPA & Oliva G Series Maduro
When you think of New Orleans, your first thought is probably not craft beer. It is most likely a more traditional Southern cocktail like Sazerac or a Mint julip.
That is until you try a beer from Abita. This Louisiana based brewery is creating some incredibly popular beers, with the Big Easy IPA being a personal favorite.
It has a unique richness that separates it from other IPAs on this list. While it still has a tremendous amount of citrus and hoppy flavor, it also has a rich, sweetness similar to dark fruit, like black cherries.
It is because of its unique profile that I went with a richer, darker cigar, one I would usually pair with a stout. The Oliva Serie G Maduro may not have the notoriety of the V Series, but it such a solid cigar.
Its Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper offers up dark chocolate and rich fruit tastes, while its Nicaraguan filler adds in a touch of spice to balance out the bitterness of the hops. This would be a perfect IPA and Cigar pairing for Mardi Gras, so get those beads ready.
If you want to know more about cigar pairings, check out our comprehensive cigar and drink pairing article. If you want to pair your smokes with other types of beer, you can check out our beer pairing guide.