How to Pair Cigars with Beer & Food
Here are two truths about how to pair cigars with, well, anything:
There is no wrong way to do it.
Experimentation is the key.
Before you scream “Horseshit! It TOTALLY matters what you pair up together…” - it does a little. But let’s first agree about why we pair cigars with drinks: you want to bring out the flavors in each, and experience them to the fullest. So when I say there is no wrong way to do it, it’s because everyone’s tastes are different and we all like different things. But isn't there, at least, a cheat sheet to keep your cigar pairing experience from sucking? Yes. Yes, there is.
Smokes + Beer = Happiness
Intensity of flavor: Have a more complex cigar, with a full rush (or variety) of flavors? Match it with a beer that offers a similar drinking experience. The flavors shouldn't have to duke it out like prizefighters; instead, they should foxtrot like old-school dance partners.
Flavor profile: When it comes to the individual flavors, you might find that you can overdo it with too much of a good thing. If your cigar is peppery, try a beer that balances that with a sweetness of its own. Or for fuller-bodied stouts, pair cigars with a smoother (yet still reasonably rich) profile.
Mouth Feel: Used to describe a food or wine’s texture, we use it to describe smoke when we say, “body.” Thicker smoke? Try a thicker beer. Lighter beers call for milder cigars. If the smoke is thinner, try something lighter. Match up the body weights and see what happens.
Pair Cigars with Food
A good pairing for your cigar doesn't have to come in a 12 oz. bottle. Many people (myself included) have found that chocolate - especially dark chocolate - is mighty tasty alongside a cigar. I have found it really makes the cocoa and caramel flavors jump out of each. If you like spicier cigars, try this: cold, fresh fruit. Not only will it be refreshing to the palate, but an apple, pear, plum or sweet-tasting grapes, in particular, will help take some sting out of the smoke while upping the flavor hit of the fruit.
As for other food – and big dinners – that’s a discussion unto itself. But still, I revert back to my original two truths: there’s no wrong way to do it, and experimentation is key…that means more cigars and bigger dinners. Two things of which I’m a very big fan.
What NOT to Pair With Your Cigar
Normally, I wouldn't try to talk you out of trying something different or new in your effort to further the enjoyment of your cigar experience. But I have never had, nor heard of a good experience by eating a mint before. So there you go – even I broke my own rules. Just goes to show you that some things just don't mix well with tobacco. So remember the rules of pairing: there are no rules (except the mint thing – that just sucks). And experiment, experiment, experiment: try anything and everything and, if you find something you like, then that’s your pairing.