Welcome to another edition of my beer and cigar reviews where we take a look at some notable (and some not so notable) beers and cigars. I’ve got a Fall-festive lineup for you today so let’s just jump right in and take a look!
First off, for our beer selections:
Oak Highlands Oktoberfest
This Oktoberfest/Marzen style lager hails from Oak Highlands Brewery right here in Dallas, Texas. It weighs in at 5.8% ABV and 24 IBUs, consistent with the style. As a side note, given that October is breast cancer awareness month, a portion of the proceeds go to breast cancer charities so I’m all about supporting a good cause.
Had on tap at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House in Dallas. Pours a bright red/orange color with a thin white head that retains longer than average. Sweet, inviting aroma of caramel and pale malt, a hint of spice and a tinge of piney hops. The flavor is dominated by a beautiful caramel malty sweetness. This is supported by notes of yeasty bread and an ever so slight tinge of sweet potato. Finishes with a delicate tea-like hoppiness making for a very flavorful example of the style. Light to medium bodied with sharp carbonation. Easy drinking and refreshing.
A very solid Marzen for sure. Very festive, very fall-like. Sessionable and satisfying. Rating: 4.5/5.
Ballast Point Dead Ringer
This beer is also an Oktoberfest/Marzen style lager coming to us from Ballast Point Brewing Company in San Diego, California. It weighs in at 6% ABV and 26 IBUs, again consistent with the style.
Had on nitro tap at Goodfriend. Pours a clear ruby red color with a creamy white head characteristic of nitro taps. Apple dominates the aroma supported by a backbone of caramel malt. Flavors of toasted bread and caramel with a hint of the apple coming through on the front of the palate. Light body and light, smooth carbonation. Chuggable.
For me, this one fell a little flat. I’m sure the nitro tap didn’t help matters any and I imagine it would have been better on a regular tap or out of a bottle. What flavors it did have were nice but I just was left wanting more. Would like to try it that way but as the nitro is all I have to go off of I’m rating it as such at 3/5.
Now for our cigar selections:
The Le Careme is one of the latest offerings from Crowned Head cigars. It features a dark Connecticut broadleaf wrapper (maybe maduro?) over an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan long filler. This particular cigar is the Robusto vitola measuring in at a box-pressed 5″ x 50RG.
First light revealed a slightly snug draw but putting off plentiful medium/full bodied smoke consisting of a smooth, creamy earth and a substantial peppery retrohale. A hint of cocoa comes in after the first light.
Getting into the cigar the cream and earth meld together into a tangy cream cheese type of flavor while the cocoa also ramps up a bit and the pepper tapers off slightly. A tinge of graham cracker enters the mix, greatly enhanced on the retrohale. Definitely a complex and interesting flavor package.
The 2nd third maintains much of the same flavor package but the pepper morphs into more of a hot cinnamon, again primarily on the retrohale. No further changes were noted. The smoke started going hot at 50 minutes in for a very respectable burn time from a Robusto-sized stick and enters a medium strength kick.
Construction was excellent throughout with a razor-sharp burn all the way down and the ash holding on for 1/2 the cigar.
Overall quite an impressive cigar. Lots of complex, dessert-like flavors – right up my alley. My only real issue was the slightly snug draw, but if you can deal with that you’re going to love this cigar. Pair with a nice stout beer or a mellow, smooth rum for best results. Rating: 4.25/5.
Kentucky Fire Cured Muwat
Drew Estate has long been known for pushing the envelope and this is no exception. As the name suggests, this cigar features a Kentucky fire-cured what I’m going to call maduro wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and a mix of Kentucky fire-cured and Nicaraguan filler. This is the “Just A Friend” vitola which is a 6″ x 52RG Toro.
First light revealed a slightly snug draw but producing decent smoke. Medium bodied, meaty, smoky (don’t laugh!) flavor with tones of hickory. An inviting campfire aroma on the retrohale mixed with a hint of a black pepper and metallic zing on the finish. After a few puffs the body ramps up slightly to medium/full.
Getting into the first third the core flavors remain the same but a subtle sweetness enters the mix which sometimes leans toward a cocoa and other times more toward a maple syrup making for a very unique and complex smoking experience. Draw opens up slightly but still on the snug side and smoke output increases substantially.
Getting into the 2nd Third the fleeting cocoa drops off entirely and the sweetness becomes a very distinct maple syrup while retaining the same core flavors. Only subtle changes entering the last third as the maple dies off gradually and the hickory smoked notes become more intense. The smoke started going hot and acrid at 1 hour 10 minutes in for a good burn time given the size and only brought in a mild/medium nicotine strength.
Very good construction throughout with a near razor-sharp burn and the ash holding on for about 1/3 of the cigar at a time. As is typical of Drew Estate sticks, this one absolutely pours off foot smoke.
Overall, a very good, unique and complex flavor package. I’ve heard Kentucky fire cured tobacco is a love-or-hate kind of thing, but I obviously love it. I only wish the draw would have been slightly more open. This one would go great with a nice, hearty Bourbon. Rating of 4.25/5.
That concludes this episode. Hope you enjoyed. If you’ve had any of the above, let me know your thoughts!