I have been a student of cigars for over a decade. I have also been known to indulge in a few beers as well. My goal with this series is to inform you, the casual cigar smoker, in the fine points of smoking affordable cigars as well as pairing them with some of South Jersey’s best local craft beers.
One of the most daunting things to figure out as a new cigar smoker is how to know which cigar is right for you. The correct answer is that it really depends on how long you have to smoke a cigar. The length and ring (circumference) are as important as your palate, or taste preference. Cigars range from mild (Connecticut and natural wrappers) to full bodied (Maduro) stogies. My suggestion for the novice smoker is to purchase a sampler. Samplers are a bundle of 3-10 cigars that you can purchase online at any cigar site, or have one put together at your local Cigar Store. With samplers you modify and tailor the cigars to what you think you may like. I believe the best way to learn what you like is to start out mild and work your way up. This allows you to define your palate and learn the nuances as you work your way around the different cigar flavors. And remember, the darker the stogie the more nicotine it contains.
The spotlight cigar for my inaugural entry is the El Baton by J.C. Newman. These Nicaraguan beauties are full bodied and oily in a good way with hints of coffee, raison, and nuts. Most people equate Cigars with dark and heavy beer, but I feel that it can go just as well with an IPA. Angry Osprey by Slack Tide Brewing Company is the perfect companion to the El Baton. This American IPA with it’s dry, crisp, and citrusy flavor only intensifies the experience of both the smoke and the drink. The cigar really brings out a lot of the flavor in the beer, and the beer brings out the flavor of the cigar in a perfect, symbiotic relationship.
Remember, there is no right or wrong beer/cigar combos. Learning what you like and experimenting along the way will help you define you personal favorites.