Our magazine is based in Miami, about four hours southeast of Tampa. So in between issues we often make the trek across Alligator Alley (an uneventful stretch of highway that gets you to Florida’s Gulf Coast) and up I-75 to visit with the cigar companies in the Tampa-St. Pete area. Well, it’s become a bit of a ritual to drop in on Cigar City Brewing after our meetings (don’t worry, we don’t drive back the same day).
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. When we walked into the Tasting Room on one recent visit, Cigar City had just released the Caffè Americano Double Stout. It had coffee and double stout in the name, so we couldn’t resist. The moment the super-viscous, bittersweet espresso bomb touched our lips, we all knew it. If ever a beer was screaming to be paired with a cigar, it was this one. But what cigar would it be?
We’d just spent the day with our friends at Davidoff and we were fully stocked. But this is a big beer loaded with intense espresso, 90-percent-cocoa dark chocolate, and roasted malts. It’s layer upon layer of flavor. Most of Davidoff’s cigars would get lost inside this beer… but not Escurio. The cigar fits the bill perfectly. It’s complex with myriad flavors transitioning in and out, it has enough pepper and spice to stand up to this monster, and it even has some rich sweetness that’ll give the pairing some common ground to start from.
First off, the beer should be cool, not cold. That means between 45 and 50 degrees. Now because this is a special-release beer and not available year-round, you should take a couple of sips to experience it on its own. As mentioned before, it is intense; it is also strong (10.6% ABV). Before the cigar is lit the beer may be overbearing for some, but once you fire up the Escurio, the pairing soars. The cigar’s pepper and spice cut through the viscosity and mellow out the beer’s intense coffee and cocoa. You’ll start to notice things about the cigar that you may not have noticed before; there’s a salty note, a grassy flavor, and even a cayenne pepper characteristic that may have been hard to assess before the pairing. Eventually we started to have a hard time assessing anything. Time for an Uber!