As an internationally distributed publication, we’ve drawn the attention of numerous companies who send us their newest products for our gift guides and reviews. Aside from thousands of cigars and hundreds of cigar accessories, we’ve also received everything from guitars to watches, and even a kegerator. Add Archetype Brewing out of Asheville, NC to the list of companies who have gotten in on the fun.They sent in two bottles of their Archetype Fatal Reflection. The beer is a saison that comes in at an uncharacteristically high 9.2% ABV. The style comes from Belgian farmers who traditionally brewed these “farmhouse ales” during the wintertime, typically with low alcohol levels. They were then stored and enjoyed during the warmer summer months as a refreshing beverage for seasonal workers or “saissoners.” That’s what traditional saisons were about, but in today’s uber-creative beer landscape, brewers like Archetype are doing some exciting things with saisons. The Fatal Reflection is brewed, then aged for 20 months in French oak red wine barrels. They then re-ferment the beer —hence the high alcohol —but they do so with sweet raspberries as the fermentable sugar! Brilliant! For the cigar, we had a decision to make. Do we try to find a cigar that complements the flavors of this funky saison or do we match the beer up with a cigar where the branding lines up perfectly? It would have been a shame to pass up a pairing of Archetype beer with an Archetype cigar, so we went for it. We knew the beer was full bodied, so we had to choose an Archetype cigar that could stand up. We went with the Archetype Axis Mundi. The Archetype Axis Mundi is owned and distributed by Ventura Cigar Company, but it is manufactured at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua.
The beer pours into a beautiful hazy pale red color contrasted by the white head with a slightly pink hue. The nose is amazing. It’s what you imagine a raspberry saison should smell like but combined with a boozy red wine barrel. You will wish you could bottle this aroma and smell it every day. The flavors of yeast, hops, and wheat are balanced by plenty of mouth-watering fruity and sour notes. The raspberry finish is what puts this beer on another level. It starts as a continuation of the fruity sourness but closes out as raspberries at the peak of ripeness. Incredibly, the Axis Mundi finds the parts of your palate that were not being stimulated and wakes them up. It delivers tons of dark chocolate, earth, and just enough pepper to balance it all out.