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Paul Sikora

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Tun Tavern Launching Diving Horse Line of Craft Beer Paying Homage to the Steel Pier Icon

For nearly half a century Atlantic City’s Steel Pier was home to one of the most amazing attractions in the world,  the Steel Pier Diving Horse.  Up to 4 times a day an energetic, well-trained, water-loving horse would dive from as high as 60 feet from an elevated platform into a large pool for a throng of spectators. Usually an attractive young woman in a bathing suit would ride on the back of the fearless steed as it jettisoned through the air and into the water. The horses trained for several months and only the most valiant were selected for the big show. 

As Legend has it, the idea of the Diving Horse was born in Texas by “Doc” William Frank Carver, a 19th Century sharp shooter who traveled the Wild West performing shows that included animal acts and shooting exhibitions. The story has it that while his show was traveling over a bridge in Nebraska, Carver and his horse fell through a wooden bridge plunging into a river. This mishap gave birth to the Diving Horse, which quickly grew to become his favorite act in his traveling show. Doc’s children Al and Lorena helped train and take care of the horses. It is said that Lorena was the first rider of diving horses and she trained her own favorite horse, Ruby Red Lips,  to make the dives. In 1923 Sonora Webster joined the company and quickly became one of the most well-known divers starting at the young age of 15.  Senora would go on to marry Al and continue to dive and help Al run the company after Doc Carver’s death in 1927. The traveling show was eventually split into two distinct companies with one of them settling in Atlantic City in 1928. 

The continued to run on the Steel Pier until 1978, when pressure from animal rights group forced it to close, even though during its 50 years on the Pier not one animal was harmed. When the animals did jump, they jumped on their own. No cattle prods, whips, or any other devices were used to force the horse to do the dive. In fact, sometimes it would take a horse up to 20 minutes to decide to jump. In some cases the horse would just turn around and walk down the ramp and not jump at all. When an injury would occur it would be to the diver, and that was usually from the horse thrashing in the water to swim after a dive. The major injury happened to Senora Carver when she landed in the water face first. She wasn’t expected to be propelled face first and her eyes were open causing her to rupture both retinas and leaving her virtually sightless. This did not stop her from diving as she continued to do so for 11 more years until her retirement.

The Tun Tavern is no stranger to history. The original Tun Tavern was established in Philadelphia in 1685 by Samuel Carpenter in what is now known as Penn’s Landing. The Tun Tavern hosted a number of first meetings for individuals and organizations including Benjamin Franklin’s use of the brewery to recruit members for the Philadelphia militia as it prepared to fight a Native American uprising. The Tavern would also later host meetings for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the Continental Congress. The Tun was also the place where the United States Marines held their first recruitment drive.

The reincarnated Tun Tavern in Atlantic City was established by Montgomery Dahm and opened in 1998. As of this date it still is Atlantic City’s only brewery using the famed quality water found in Atlantic City to make craft beer. With Montgomery’s love of history, his service to this country, and his affection for the Atlantic City area, the development of the new Diving Horse line of beers seemed like a no brainer. With new Brew Master Brad Judge at the helm of the Diving Horse brand, one can only expect excellence, and that is what he has accomplished. Coming off of his collaboration with Atlantic City’s own Little Water Distillery’s Whitecap Barrel-Aged Stout, Brad has proven to be an up and coming brewer in South Jersey ( See our ”New Tun Tavern Brew Master Brad Judge Crafting Great Beer in Atlantic City).

The Diving Horse line of beers has three distinct flavor profiles on its roster. The Diving Horse IPA is a New England Style IPA. This hazy beer is full-bodied, yet smooth, with an intense flavor profile brewed with a combination of barley, oats, and wheat. It is heavily dry hopped with Amarillo, Mosaic and Citra. The flavors and aromas of tropical fruits, melon, and citrus will definitely impress those with the more fickle taste buds. 

The second beer under the Diving Horse line is the reimagined High Altitude Double IPA. This beer is brewed with oats and wheat. It is aggressively hopped with Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic leaving it with a citrusy, tropical fruit and pine flavor profile that makes this a very drinkable double IPA. (Almost too drinkable in my opinion!)

The third beer in the Diving horse line of beers is the Red Lips. This is an American Red Ale named after the famed diving horse owned by Lorena Carver. This beer has a slightly sweet and toasty malt profile with a light hop bitterness that is extremely drinkable.

With their launch of the Diving Horse line of beers early this May, The Tun Tavern has created the perfect balance of Atlantic City’s past and future. With their reputation in the food industry already being top-notch and Brad Judge as their Master Brewer the Tun Tavern is now Atlantic City’s next must visit attraction.


Breweries Cigar Pairing

Stogies and Sips with Paul: Imperial Stout Barrel-Aged Cigars

A few weeks ago I was sitting on my porch with my cell phone in hand as I waited for the mail truck to arrive. I knew the delivery would be coming soon because I had the tracking info pulled up on my phone.  My wife was watering the flowers and commented on how ridiculous I was being. Then, BOOM, the truck pulled up. I think I knocked my wife over on my way to the mail truck. I grabbed the package from the mailman nearly tearing his arm off. There it was, in my hands, something I have been anticipating for nearly 2 months. It was my order of Imperial Stout Barrel Aged cigars. These cigars are a collaboration from Cigar Dojo and Camacho Cigars.

In 2015, Camacho pioneered the America Barrel-Aged cigar using tobacco aged in used American Whiskey barrels. The process of barrel aging the tobacco originates in Kentucky, the whiskey capital of the world. This is where the barrels used to create Heaven Hill Distilleries’ Bourbon are located. Heaven Hills is famous for making Elijah Craig, Parkers Heritage, and Larceny bourbons. These three unique bourbons are known to have complex flavors that partly emanate from the charred oak barrels that they are aged in. Camacho Cigars is one of the more renowned cigar companies in the world and is known for their bold and complex flavors. The introduction in 2015 of their whiskey barrel aged cigars proves they were up for the challenges set forward by Cigar Dojo. Cigar Dojo is known as the first and largest social cigar site in the world. They have collaborated on other projects in the past that have produced quality cigar offerings. But in my humble opinion, this is their most daring attempt to advance cigar tasting limits.

The Imperial Stout Barrel Aged Cigar was an idea that Cigar Dojo, who is in located in one of the craft beer hotspots in the world (Denver), came up with.  They were on the hunt for a locally brewed beer that would represent not only Cigar Dojo but also Colorado’s Craft Beer Community.  As fate would have it, Colorado’s own Oskar Blues had just recently barrel aged one of the most highly rated stouts in the country, their Ten-Fidy Imperial Stout.  After the Barrels were used to make the bourbons, Oskar Blues uses these barrels to age their Ten Fidy stout beer. After the Barrels have aged the stout for over four seasons, the selected barrels are then transported to Camacho’s facility located in Danli, Honduras where the Corojo tobaccos are aged for a minimum of six months.

Like most Dojos, you need to have a Master Sensei. That master is Eric Guttormson, owner of Cigar Dojo. I was able to track down Eric and I was able to get his thoughts on the Imperial Stout Barrel Aged cigars (ISBA). When it comes to working with Camacho cigars Eric states that “working with Camacho on this project was the fulfillment of a dream. After all, these guys are legendary in the cigar business and they proved it by taking this cigar from concept to completion with perfection”. When the topic of craft beer is broached Eric states that “all of us at the Dojo are big craft beer nerds. Every Friday night we try new craft beers to see what pairs really well with the cigars. As you might imagine living in Colorado is a great place to be a craft beer fanatic.”

According to Eric “the Imperial Stout imparts a velvety smooth, yet deep malt flavor to the already rich Maduro tobacco. Everything about this cigar is deep, dark, and rich”, I couldn’t agree with him more. I found that these cigars were very well constructed. They burned evenly and were deliciously consistent throughout the smoke. There were only 4000 cigars produced in the Imperial Stout line and manufactured in the Vitola Toro of 6”x50.

If you are looking to purchase these fine smokes don’t bother, they are sold out.  So why would I even bring this topic up for you to read? I want to inform those who read to know how interesting things are getting in the cigar/craft beer collaborative scene. My hope is that there are many more projects like this that will be created. As I have said before, craft beer and cigars are both products involving art and skill to create.

When it comes to my pairing for this article I went with the obvious, an Imperial Stout. The notes of malt, chocolate and faint hints of vanilla, probably from the bourbon, make these cigars a perfect compliment for the New Brighton Coffee Stout produced by Tuckahoe Brewing Company in Egg Harbor Township. The New Brighton is a Russian Imperial stout infused with Mexican Chiapas coffee grounds that really plays well with the hints of vanilla and the malt from the Imperial Stout Barrel aged cigars. When you smoke a stout why not drink a stout. I was amazed at how well these two creations really complimented each other.


I would like to thank Eric Guttormson for his cooperation in this article. I would also like to encourage all of my brothers and sisters on the site to look into adding the Cigar Dojo app to your cellular device. With Cigar Dojo no one smokes alone.

Visit Cigar Dojo on the web at

For the Cigar Dojo App click HERE

Breweries Cigar Pairing

Stogies and Sips with Paul: Cigars & Craft Beer Are Both Artisan Creations

This past weekend I was able to spend time with family and friends at an outdoor graduation party. The alcohol was flowing and fantastic conversations were had by all. My buddy and I decided to step out on his deck and spark up a couple of splendid handmade stogies. After a while, another one of our friends came out on the deck to see what we were up to. We talked about our kids and how awesome our wives are (not sure if that is exactly true but I’m sure my wife will eventually read this article). After we consumed a couple of well made local IPA’s our conversation turned to the cigars. Friend number two said that he just doesn’t get the point. He said that cigar smoking is a weird habit that is very expensive. So my point to him was that like the production of his IPA, my cigar is also a piece of art made with an artisan’s hands. And, like craft beer, making cigars takes several steps that can take a long time to perfect into something savory and delicious.

After thinking about what my friend had said I started to ask myself, “Why are cigars so expensive?”  The answer is a short one, they are not. The steps needed to make handmade cigars are very similar to that of brewing craft beer. In craft beer there are the tedious steps of mashing, sparging, boiling the wort, cooling the wort, fermenting, carbonating, and packaging. In cigar making, the stesps include harvesting the planted crop, sorting the leaves, bunching, binding, molding, and wrapping. Sounds pretty similar, right?

Since most people who read this blog are beer people, let me give you a brief overview of how a cigar goes from seed to smoked. The first step in cigar manufacturing is the planting and harvesting of cigars. Cigar tobacco is a relatively quick growing plant. It usually only takes about 3-5 months for the seed to grow into a full adult plant ready for harvesting. After they are carefully harvested, the leaves are taken into a drying room. In the drying room the leaves are hung to cure. This step alone can take 3 months to a year depending on the flavor profile the tobacconists want (some tobaccos are even being cured in beer barrels or wine barrels to inject more flavor into the leaf). Once the tobacco is cured, the tobacconist then chooses the types of tobacco to use as the filler, the wrapper, and the binder. Different types of tobacco and the way they are cured are carefully selected for the rolling process. A few types of tobaccos are then stripped into pieces that will be used as the filler or inside tobacco. The roller then places the filler into a binding leaf and finally a carefully selected wrapper is applied. with the filler and the third part of the cigar is the wrapper. The finishing piece is the cap. This is a small circular piece cut from the wrapper and glued into place to close the cigar.

As you can see there are a lot of steps and expertise used to produce a handmade cigar. It can take up to a year to make, and maybe even longer to age. Some leaves are cured for multiple years after the production to increase the flavor of these artistic masterpieces which is very similar to how a brewer creates a barrel aged stout, or an aged barleywine.

Creating craft beer and handmade cigars are truly the works of expert artisans. Anyone can nock down a Budweiser or smoke a machine made stogie, but I believe the creations of craft beers and handmade cigars are works of time, love, and art that need to be appreciated by the consumer.  And enjoying a great cigar with a great beer is one of the great pleasures in life

Spotlight Pairing

My spotlight cigar is the CAO Flathead V660 Carburetor. Inspired by the era of pin-up girls and hot rods these box pressed beauties do not disappoint. They were Cigar Aficionado’s 2015 #3 cigar for a reason. They are full-bodied stogies with hints of toast, chocolate, coffee, spice, and nutmeg. It runs about 7-9 dollars/stick. I paired the 660 with the Leeds Point Wicked Porter from Garden State Beer Company. The Leeds Point Wicked Porter is smooth and easy to drink. Like the cigar, this Porter has notes of coffee and chocolate that makes that realy compliment each other making it a perfect combination. I usually do not like to match heavy cigars with porter beers, however the Leeds Point feels lighter than most Porter’s that I have found and leaves you wanting more.

Please remember to drink at one of our many craft beer establishments and patron one of our local cigar shops.  If you have any questions or suggestions let me know what you think in the comments section that follows this piece, I would love to hear what you think!

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Breweries Cigar Pairing

Stogies and Sips With Paul

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.