You might have learned a little bit about how to pair cigars & whiskey from one of our previous articles. Now we’re going to go over the next most important cigar pairing – cigars and beer!
I am going to start this out with the number one tip that I tell every person who asks me about cigar pairings – you know your palate better than anybody. What I enjoy in terms of a pairing may be the exact opposite of what you’re looking for, but the most important thing is to keep an open mind and try out everything, so you learn what you like.
With that, let’s get into it!
I am not going to dive too deep into the guidelines for pairings around body and flavor profiles, but I will review some of the quick hits. If you want to read more in depth, check out our first pairing article on Cigars & Whiskey here.
First off, you want to keep your flavor profile at top of mind. Do you prefer to have matching profiles or would you rather a bit of varying tasting notes? My recommendation is to try to match your profiles, or at least stay in the ballpark. The main reason I say this is because if you decide to smoke a smooth Connecticut and end up pairing that with an incredibly hoppy IPA, chances are your palate will be a bit overwhelmed and you won’t be able to fully appreciate the different aspects of the beer and cigar.
Next up you want to figure out how you want to complement your cigar. Would you rather try to match your tasting notes, or would you rather have contrasting flavors that complement your cigar? My preference here is to always have contrasting notes to complement my cigar. When I have contrasting notes within the same profile, I find that my tastebuds go into overdrive, and I can really savor every aspect of both the cigar and the beer. So here you might have a medium-bodied habano cigar that is rich in notes of pepper and spice, something like a citrus IPA could have really complementary tasting notes.
Now let’s think about how our palates like to line up flavors outside of just cigars. My favorite example is the salty & sweet combinations – chocolate covered pretzels to be specific. Two very different parts of the palate, but when combined produce a very savory and enriching experience. Alright don’t judge here, but another in the salty & sweet combination for me are French fries and a chocolate milkshake – or for those who know me Wendy’s fries and a frosty. I said no judgment!
The moral of the story is that every palate is different and the way we experience flavors is really tailored to every cigar smoker. But if you’re looking for more of my thoughts, read on for a couple of pairings that I put together with some tasting notes.
I will preface this by acknowledging these are based on my palate and admittedly I did choose a couple of my personal favorite cigars.
Ashton Cabinet Selection – Stout
Kicking it off with an Ashton Cabinet Selection that I paired with a stout. Side note – if there are any golfers out there, Ashton Cabinet Selection is hands down one of my top 5 golf cigars. Anyway, I digress! The overall cigar profile falls into mellow to medium which is rich in notes of cream, nuts, and espresso. I found that these flavors really complemented the underlying coffee and chocolate notes in the stout. While you might look at these and see super dark beer combined with a really mellow-looking cigar, don’t be fooled – this pairing is one of the most elite that I have come across.
Tatuaje Verocu Blue – Citrus Wheat
This one I am going to lead off by saying this might be my favorite cigar that I smoked in 2022, so I needed to figure out the best type of beer to pair it with. I knew that I could expect some hidden notes of pepper and a lightened wood flavor from this cigar, so I went with a great find from a local brewery – a citrus wheat beer. This beer was much heavier on the citrus than others that I have had in the past, but I have to say it paired beautifully with the cigar. The notes of pepper, cashews, and leather from the cigar were met with the citrus from the beer and my tastebuds were in high gear. I’d do this one again any day of the week.
Liga Privada No. 9 - Lager
Last, but most definitely not least we have a Liga Privada No. 9. When I was thinking to myself that I needed a full-bodied cigar, I remembered I had a Liga No. 9 sitting in my humidor from my best friend’s wedding and I couldn’t think of a better reason to break it out than for an article on beer and cigars. Given the incredibly complex tasting notes of earth, roasted coffee, black pepper, and a semi-sweet chocolate, I knew I wanted a beer that would not overpower any of these flavors. So I went with a local lager that had a light and crisp profile with a really gentle touch of hops and malt. Together, I experienced every bit of the flavors for both the cigar and beer - this was a powerhouse that I would recommend to anybody.
I said it right in the beginning and I will say it again. You know your palate and the flavors you like more than anybody else so trying new things might seem hard. My absolute best advice is to keep an open mind and try out some new things. You’d be surprised to find what flavor and profile matches will open your eyes to a new world of pairings!