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Cigar Spirits: Five Summer Beers to Enjoy with a Cigar

21 Jun 2012

When it heats up in the summer, a beer can be a tremendous refreshing beverage to enjoy with a cigar. But while I enjoy a Mexican beer with lime as much as the next guy, when it comes to pairing up a cigar with a summer beer, I prefer something more flavorful.

On a recent trip to the store, I browsed the seasonal section in search of summer beers that could be simultaneously refreshing and flavorful. Two distinct styles stood out as possessing both characteristics.

Saisons, light pale ales often bottle conditioned and unfiltered, were first brewed in Belgium so farm workers would have something to drink during the late summer harvest, making them excellent summer beers. Meanwhile, Altbiers are a German beer first brewed in the Rineland area that take on many of the lighter, crisper qualities of a lager but maintain some fruity notes.

I selected three Saisons and two Altbiers by American craft brewers, none of which I had tried before, to see how they paired with cigars:

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

Made by Brookly Brewery, a favorite beer maker of mine (no doubt in part because of my Brooklyn roots), it’s made with rare Japanese Sorachi Ace hops and sells for $8 a bottle (22 oz.). The pour is a hazy golden color and it features citrus, hops, subtle coriander spice, and grass flavors. It’s lemony, crisp, rich, and refreshing. At 7.6% ABV, it’s no lightweight, but it keeps a dry balance that make it an excellent summer beer to pair with cigars.

New Holland Golden Cap

This Saison ($2 for a 12 oz. bottle) features a hazy appearance, medium carbonation, and almost no head. It is heavier than the Sorachi with more hops to accompany pine, lemon, grapefruit, wheat, and yeast. Less complex and crisp than the other Saisoins, it would be a good choice with a yard gar.

Yards Brewing Saison

Brewed by Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia, this Saison ($2 for a 12 oz. bottle) pours a yellow straw color and generates a medium amount of foam. From my experiences with Saisons, it’s a pretty traditional rendition of the style. Zesty, citrusy, bready, and spicy. It’s far from the most complex beer I’ve ever tried but I think it’s an excellent candidate for pairing up with a medium-bodied Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapped-smoke.

Lagunitas Lucky 13 Alt

If it didn’t have “alt” in the name I certainly wouldn’t associate this May release ($6 for 22 oz.) with the style. Instead, it’s a classic hoppy brew (8.9% ABV) from Lagunitas, who is known for intense, hop-dominated beer. A powerful aroma is followed by a lively combination of caramel, grapefruit, and malt flavors all in excellent balance. This will be a beer I return to often, most likely with a broadleaf maduro cigar.

Full Sail Phil’s Existential Alt

This member of Full Sail’s Brewer’s Share collection is a far more classic interpretation of the Altbier style than the Lagunitas with a 5.1% ABV and a $5 price. Copper-colored and malty, it’s very balanced with hints of caramel, coffee, toast, and citrus. This would make an excellent introduction to anyone who has never before tried an Altbier. As for cigars, something about this works perfectly with a Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped blend.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

5 Responses to “Cigar Spirits: Five Summer Beers to Enjoy with a Cigar”

  1. Robert Samberg Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Beer has always been one of my favorite pairings with a fine smoke, however, citrusy brews are never to my liking. A german lager or a czech pilsner reign supreme in my cigar/beer world. I seem to have a minority opinion-my friends are crazy for the type of brews you have reviewed.

  2. Chris S Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    One I've always liked is DogFish Head 60 Minute IPA. I think it just about goes well with anything. To be honest, I've found my favorite pairing with many cigars is just a glass of plain old Coke!

  3. Tyler Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    what cheaper beers do you recommend? How about a Shock-Top or a Blue Moon with an orange slice?

    • RICHARD DAVENPORT Friday, June 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      GO BUD!

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