Back in the dark ages of Florida’s craft beer scene, the mid-2000s, while states like Colorado were knee-deep in excellent beer from the likes of New Belgium, Avery Brewing, and Oskar Blues Brewing, Florida-brewed craft beers were few and far between. That was until 2009 when Joey Redner, the son of Tampa’s legendary strip club owner Joe Redner, founded Cigar City Brewery and effectively opened the proverbial Florida brewery floodgates. For obvious reasons Cigar Snob Magazine has had a love affair with Cigar City Brewing since its inception. We’ve happily featured Cigar City on our pages on more than half a dozen occasions and even enlisted Cigar City to pour Jai-Alai IPA at our famous Cigar Marathon events. So when we ran into Cigar City’s Alex Calante at Galiano Cigar Room in Coral Gables recently and he said, “You have to try the Humidor Series IPA. I can send you some samples!” we caved. That sort of arm-twisting always gets us.Few brands represent their place of origin as proudly and profoundly as Arturo Fuente. In 1912 Arturo Fuente founded A. Fuente & Company at 24 years of age. The company opened its first factory in West Tampa, eventually moving to Ybor City, then opening a factory in Nicaragua, which burned down during the Sandinista rebellion of 1978, and eventually opening in the Dominican Republic. But in spite of opening factories and finding success in other countries, the Tampa and Ybor City roots run deep. In 2016, part of 2nd Avenue in Ybor City was named Carlos Fuente’s Way.When we were choosing which Fuente brand we wanted to pair with the Cigar City Humidor Series IPA, we wanted a blend that could stand up to the IPA’s strong citrus notes without overpowering them. But we also wanted one where the aroma of cedar played a starring role. We chose Casa Cuba, which coincidentally is the least Fuente-looking brand in their portfolio. The blend for Casa Cuba was the final blend created by Carlos Fuente himself. He loved the flavor profile and balanced nature of the cigars made in Cuba and Ybor City at the turn of the century and this blend was his homage to those cigars.
The vitola that we used in the pairing was the Divine Inspiration; this 6 1/8 x 47 is smooth and creamy with beautifully balanced flavors of cedar, spice, and a touch of cinnamon. The beer on the other hand delivers tons of citrus and sweet hop flavors. The intensities are evenly matched allowing each a chance to shine but what truly brings harmony to the pairing is the subtle note of cedar in the beer. They are almost imperceptible when had separately, but when you take a draw of the cigar followed by a sip of the beer, the name “Humidor Series” really starts to make sense.