So here we are, our weekly installment of beer and cigar reviews. This is where I share my thoughts of any notable (and some not-so-notable) beer I’ve drunk or cigars I’ve smoked over the past week.
Lakewood Thread Spinner
I think it should go without saying that Lakewood Brewing in Garland, Texas is one of my favorite breweries. They always bring flavorful brews all the way from their session lager all the way to their high-brow brews. This is definitely on the high-brow spectrum; Thread Spinner is an American Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels and weighing in at a whopping 13.5% ABV, 90 IBU and 1.105 OG (about 24.5 Plato) and oh baby it is all there.
Poured on draft from my local artisan pizzeria into a half pint. Hazy red-orange color with a thin ring of head. Strong aromas of floral and citrus hops, some alcoholic burn and a big sweet malty and slightly fruity aroma. Big, complex flavors in this beer: sweet caramel and molasses start things off and provide a backbone for a blast of floral, piney and citrusy hops and some dark fruity tones. A hint of pineapple and the slightest tinge of vanilla come through as the beer warms. A bit of a bourbon burn as the beer goes down. Very thick body with medium carbonation. Don’t dare try to quaff this one – sip on it slowly and gently in front of the fireplace.
A truly amazing beer in every respect. It’s big, bold, malty and hoppy but in that package is an incredibly smooth and complex flavor that will appeal to beer drinkers with all palate preferences and experience levels. Rating: 5/5.
Lakewood Saint Dymphna
Yes, yet another Lakewood product, this time a Belgian Style Trippel. Though nowhere near as heavy as the previous beer, this one is no slouch weighing in at 8.6% ABV, 34 IBU, 1.085 OG (20.5 Plato) and is a solid Trippel.
Pours a hazy, unfiltered bright orange color with a substantial head that recedes to a thin ring and laces the glass like crazy. Typical aromas of a Belgian – fruity, slightly spicy and a touch of alcohol astringency. Flavors of banana, vanilla, and a bit of a lemon bite too. Subtle floral hops round out the package along with a slight alcohol burn down the throat. Medium in body with a soft carbonation. An easily drinkable, but not quaffable beer.
Yet another solid product from Lakewood. I will say I’ve had better Trippels but I would not turn my nose up at this one. It was a tasty beer and I would gladly drink it again. Rating: 4/5.
Unibroue Don de Dieu
From Unibroue in Chambly, Quebec, Canada comes this self-described Triple wheat ale. It weighs in at 9% ABV and a paltry 10.5 IBU, but don’t let that number fool you. This is a great wheat beer.
Pours a hazy golden color with visible sediment and a fluffy head that quickly recedes to almost nothing. Citrus aroma up front with undertones of vanilla and sweet pale wheat malt. The palate is greeted with a blast of tart lemon goodness with a sweet backbone of wheat malt and honey, a touch of vanilla and a wine-like finish that I wasn’t able to positively identify until I hopped on and checked the stats and the brewer mentions “sake” and I can see that. Fairly big alcohol burn on the way down. Surprisingly thick in body with high carbonation. Not quite quaffable but goes down very smoothly.
Yet another unique yet tasty beer from Unibroue. They’re known for making off-the-wall powerhouses of beers and this one is no exception. Give it a try, you will be pleased. Rating: 4.5/5.
And now for this week’s cigar picks:
Crowned Heads Luminosa Toro
This cigar is a 6.5′ x 52 ring gauge Toro sized cigar featuring Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper and undisclosed long filler. This is marketed as a milder cigar that is meant to be paired with your morning coffee and after smoking this one I have to say the blender succeeded in his goals.
First light features a perfect draw with plentiful mild/medium bodied smoke with flavors of plain unsweetened cream on the draw and a touch of unsalted butter and a slight zing on the retrohale. Smoke thickens in texture about an inch down, still mild-medium body leaving the cream on the draw but dropping the zing and bringing in a smooth leather on the retrohale. The draw flavors remained consistent all the way down but with the leather morphing into a soft wood around the halfway point. Just over an hour of burn time and no detectable nicotine strength.
Performance was great all the way down – a razor sharp burn requiring no touch-ups and the ash holding for roughly a third of the cigar at a time. Though not my favorite cigar in the world, it was a very pleasant smoke and went beautifully with coffee, therefore I am giving it a rating of 4/5 as it was definitely successful in its intention.
Nording 50th Anniversary by Rocky Patel
I picked this cigar up from the blowout bin at my local tobacconist. It is a non-boxed press Toro sized stick measuring 6.5″ x 54 ring gauge. It features an Ecuadorian Habano shade wrapper and Nicaraguan long filler. I had somewhat mixed expectations of this one. One it seems to be a lower-end cigar than the standard RP line but it does have the RP pedigree so I felt it could go either way, and quite frankly mixed results are what I experienced.
The first light featured a perfect draw with just a bit of resistance, and a medium-bodied smoke consisting of sweet spice on the draw (almost an eggnog flavor) with earthy/peppery retrohale. Getting deeper into the first third it the pepper died down to just a subtle note but retaining the smooth earth retrohale. Second third transitions to a slightly sweet coffee with a toasty tobacco on the retrohale. Final third drops everything but the toasty tobacco which comes in more on the draw. Ended at one hour not due to the smoke getting hot but due to the plain tobacco not really being interesting.
The burn was sightly wonky and required a couple of touchups along the way. I have mixed feelings about this one; I loved the first third, the second third was pleasant but the last third just didn’t do it for me. Not something I’d smoke again unless I could get one on the cheap and only smoke about half of it (would work for a quick smoke). Rating: 3/5.
Nub Maduro 460 by Oliva
At the recommendation of a coworker, I decided to check out the Nub line. I’d known of them but always passed over them thinking they were a novelty of sorts in that they are short cigars of a large ring gauge (hence their name – this 460 is 4″ x 60 ring gauge). When I did my research and found out they were made by Oliva I decided to try one thinking I might find a new quick lunchtime cigar. I did some more research and decided this maduro version featuring Nicaraguan long filler and Brazilian wrapper would best suit my palate. I have to say it was a pleasant surprise.
First light featured a perfect draw with just a touch of resistance and full bodied flavors consisting of a big blast of black and red pepper on both draw and retrohale with a rich dark chocolate on the draw. Getting into the cigar the body toned down slightly to medium/full dialing the pepper/spice back a bit which allowed a coffee to join the dark chocolate on the draw and also introduced a smooth earth and leather on the retrohale. Flavor profile remained consistent through to the final third where the chocolate and pepper/spice dropped and was replaced by a pleasant nutty flavor. First hot/acrid draw came in at exactly one hour right at the band.
Performance and burn was above average considering the large ring gauge and maduro wrapper, only requiring a couple of small touchups along the way (to be expected). Ash holds on about half the cigar at a time. Overall a surprisingly complex taste without any harshness and a longer than expected burn time. Medium nicotine strength. Surprisingly I absolutely loved this cigar and will definitely buying more. Rating: 4.5/5.