Cigar: Camacho – American Barrel Aged- Robusto – (American Broadleaf – Honduras)
Beer: Founders Brewing Co. – Breakfast Stout (8.3% ABV – Grand Rapids, MI)
Pairability Rating: 80/100
Welcome to the second installment of our cigar pairing reviews. If you haven’t checked out the first one, I’d suggest going back in time and correcting this horrible oversight. That said, we’re ready to jump into the newest edition of cigar pairing genius for your reading pleasure. If you like what you’re reading, scroll up to the top of the page and click that share button in the picture. We’d appreciate it a bunch.
Today we’re going to jump in with Camacho’s newest offering, the American Barrel Aged. Barrel aging isn’t new by any stretch, but we have seen a resurgence in the cigar world lately. This smoke has been getting great reviews and I’m excited to pair it with a highly rated beer. I’ve got the Breakfast Stout made by Founders Brewing out of Grand Rapids. It’s a seasonal release by Founders that’s generally available between October and December each year. Get your hands on a couple if you see them, it’s well worth the investment. Also, thanks to our good friend Dennis Halszynski for sharing the beer and the pairing suggestion.
The first thing I notice when I pick up this cigar is the rough texture to the wrapper. It feels nice in the hand. There’s a slight oily sheen to the cigar and the band is unmistakably Camacho. The tobacco has a slightly sweet smell and a definite hay scent. A cold draw is very sweet. You can taste a good bit of the bourbon and an underlying sweetness that reminds me of the fancy flavored coffee creamers you find in a gas station. I drink my coffee black, but I can’t help but think the sweetness I’m getting on the cold draw is going to play well with the coffee flavors in the stout.
Dark. Really dark. Looks like a glass of black coffee and the smell isn’t too far off. The aroma on the beer is what you’d expect of a good stout. Dark chocolate and coffee are the prominent smells. The cocoa scent is noticeably strong. From the moment I poured the glass, I can smell the cocoa from a few feet away. A quick sip and this beer is like drinking a meal. The coffee and cocoa flavors are strong and there’s a hint of cinnamon and oatmeal on the back of the tongue. There’s a nice sweetness that I think should pair well with the barrel aged tobacco.
Starting off, the Barrel Aged only has some hints of bourbon coming through. There is more of an earthy/woodsy type flavor to start. A little pepper on the retrohale is tickling my nose and the first sip of the stout after lighting pulls a bit of vanilla out in the mix. As someone who generally sticks with hoppy beers, I am blown away with how much I’m liking this stout. I’ve had it before but haven’t had one in years. The coffee flavors from the stout and the sweetness of the tobacco are working well off of each other.
Coming into the second third of the Barrel Aged and I actually had to fight the ash to clear it. Long and strong, the ash was holding on for a long time with a clean burn line. I would have gladly kept it going if it weren’t for my fear of dropping a half of a cigar in ash into my keyboard. I noticed a little more bourbon flavor as the stout has warmed up a little. Maybe it’s the slight booziness from the beer pulling it out, but it’s there. I can’t help but notice a nutty cinnamon type flavor coming from the beer after each draw on the cigar. This Camacho is providing lots of thick smoke and hangs in your mouth with each puff. The cigar and the stout are working well together, but I can’t help but wonder if the bourbon aged tobacco would be more noticeable if it was paired with a barrel aged beer. I can definitely see myself smoking this cigar with a lot of different beers to find the perfect match. Full Pint’s Rye Rebellion comes to mind as well as Weyerbacher’s Heresy Imperial Stout.
As I work past the midway point on the cigar and into the final third, the sweetness is picking up. Almost a caramel undertone that’s coming out with the coffee flavor of the stout. There is also a lot more of a woodsy oak flavor that I find sitting on my tongue after the smoke clears. It’s a nice combination with the stout as it warms up.
I definitely have to say I’m a fan of both of these individually. The smoke is great from top to bottom, despite being a little different than I expected. It’s very well constructed, but that is to be expected at this point from Camacho. Founders has a great beer in the Breakfast Stout, though they didn’t need me to tell them that. This beer has won a handful of awards over the years and I was reminded why today. They definitely paired well together, but I can’t help but think there are better pairings for each one that can pull out some of the nuances of each. To put a number on how well they pair together, I’d give it an 80 rating. Again, that has nothing to say about the quality of each item, but just how well they pair together. I definitely want to give the Camacho a go with a few other stouts. I definitely want to get my hands on more of this Breakfast Stout just so I can have it.
Cheers and long ashes!!!