Cigar and Wine Reviews: Micallef Grande Bold A Maduro and Ménage à Trois Midnight.

Tonight I have a cigar and a wine to review, so let’s just get right down to business.

Grande Bold A Maduro

This offering from Micallef cigars features an Ecuadorian Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. The size reviewed is a 5″ x 52RG Robusto vitola.

First light is a perfect draw producing thick plumes of smoke. Medium/full body. Earthy and peppery. A tinge of must and an unsweetened cocoa in the background.

The first third tames the pepper a bit while seemingly dialing the body down to medium. Smoke gets creamier and the cocoa asserts itself more on the finish while the earthy tones morph more toward a distinct leather.

The 2nd third sees a subtle shift as the leather takes on a cashew note and the pepper dies out completely allowing an aromatic bright cedar to shine on the retrohale. No further changes were noted in the profile but the body came back up to medium/full in the last third. Ending at 50 minutes for an average burn time for the size and entering a subtle mild/medium nicotine strength.

Flawless construction and a razor sharp burn. Ash holds for half the stick at a time. No issues there.

An interesting complex cigar great for any time of the day. Would go well with a variety of drinks but went very well with tonight’s wine. My only issue is I would have liked the body to maintain its intensity instead of dipping toward the middle. Rating: 4/5.

Ménage à Trois Midnight

This dark red blend from California consists of 59% merlot, 16% cabernet sauvignon, 15% petite sirah and 10% petit verdot.

Pours a deep burgundy color. Ample lacing when swirled. Aromas of black cherry and rose petals. Flavors of blackberries and raspberries, plum, cherry and a hint of nutmeg. Finish contains a slight hint of chocolate. Medium body and mouthfeel.

Very good middle of the road wine for everyday drinking. Not too expensive. Complex enough and easy to please. Went well with the above cigar. Rating: 4/5.

That’s all for today. Have you had either of today’s offerings? Let me know what you thought!

Beer Review: W00t Stout

This bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing in Escondido, California in collaboration with Drew Curtis, Wil Wheaton and Greg Koch is a heavyweight in traditional Stone fashion. It weighs in at 11.5% ABV, 45 IBU and an unspecified gravity rating.

Stone always has these entertaining blurbs on their bottles, as can be seen here:

This beer pours a jet black as any good Imperial Stout should. A solid inch of tan head that recedes to a small ring that sticks around and leaves some lacing. Big aromas of chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt and alcohol and a touch of vanilla. The palate is a big blast of rich caramel and milk chocolate up front supported by a tinge of vanilla and pecan. The middle of the palate turns fruity with notes of black cherry and raisin which eventually gives way to a finish consisting of espresso and the slightest tinge of pine. Bourbon takes over on the aftertaste and on the way down. Thick in body with low carbonation, this one is a sipper for sure, though it drinks easily enough.

What a great beer. It’s big and complex, lots of flavors going on. This one is definitely a sipper. This one is a 5/5 all the way.

Suggested cigar pairings include the Marrero Fuerte, CO Final Third, Padron 80 Years, CAO Brazilia.

Beer/Cigar Review – Loup Garou and Tatuaje Reserva

Today I have both a beer and a cigar to review, so tune in for some good (or maybe not-so-good?) stuff to check out.

Loup Garou Stout

This American Stout brewed with natural flavors and aged in wooden barrels comes to us from Bayou Teche Brewing Company in Arnaudville, LA. It weighs in at 8% ABV and an unspecified IBU or gravity rating.

Pours dark brown with a thin ring of tan head that dissipates fairly quickly. Aromas of dark chocolate and plum on the nose with a slight smoke and oaky undertone. Flavors follow the nose almost exactly to the T – dark chocolate, lum, smoke, oak. A bit of a coffee note on the back end of the finish. Medium body and medium carbonation.

A good beer, but it did leave me wanting some more substance and complexity. It would be a great imperial stout if the ABV was kicked up a bit. Rating: 3.5/5.

Tatuaje Reserva

This offering from Tatuaje Cigars features an Ecuadorian Habano Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. The size reviewed here is the Miami J21 – a 5″ x 50RG Robusto vitola.

First light reveals a perfect draw producing plumes of medium/full bodied smoke. Straight tobacco core with substantial pepper and spice on the nose.

The first third is more of the same but bringing in a smooth earth tone into the draw. Fairly consistent start to finish with the only change being the pepper dropping out almost entirely and a slight sweetness entering. Ending at 45 minutes for an average time for a Robusto sized stick. Strength is a medium at the end.

Construction was excellent. Burn line was straight enough and ash held on well.

Though well constructed the flavors were rather uninspiring. Pretty plain and boring really. At the price point (approx. $10-12/stick) I really expected more. If you’re a fan of Cuban-esque blends this might be to your liking but  the plainness just reminds me why I think Cubans are way overrated. I had bought two singles with my last haul and I smoked both in one sitting just to burn them out. Not one I’ll smoke again. Rating: 2.5/5.

Have you had either of today’s offerings? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Beer Review: Barrel Runner

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a beer review here so I figured it was time. With that, let’s get into today’s topic: Barrel Runner.

This is an American Double IPA aged in Rum barrels hailing from Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It weighs in at 11.1% ABV, 55 IBUs and an unspecified gravity rating.

Pours a hazy goldenrod/orange color with about 1″ of frothy cream colored head that sticks around and laces the glass like crazy. Rum smell is up front and center, supported by tones of orange zest, grapefruit and rose petal. Rum is once again the star of the show on the palate, hitting you with that characteristic brown sugar/fruity sweetness straight away. Undertones of banana, pineapple and yeasty bread toward the center of the palate and finishing out with a substantial but not overpowering grapefruit hop zing. Thick body with medium carbonation, this drinks way too easily for its weight.

If you like rum, double IPA or both, you have got to try this. Complex blend of flavors without being too hoppy to put off non-IPA people. Drink alone or paired with vanilla ice cream on a hot day – this is almost a dessert beer. Rating: 4.5/5.

Wine Review – 1916 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Today we are reviewing a wine. I haven’t done many wine reviews on here but I’ve been asked to do more so I’ll try to make a conscious effort to do so. Today’s topic is this 1916 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon of a 2012 vintage.

This bottle I found at a local grocery store on special, but don’t let that fool you. It’s not a cheap wine by any stretch. My research has pointed to me to Espier Estate in Victoria, Australia as the mastermind behind this wine but the back of the bottle says “Our Cellars” in Hopland, CA so I’m utterly confused, as can be seen here along with the ABV. Maybe someone more knowledgeable than me  can educate me on what exactly this is.

Pours a deep red as a good Cab should. Ample lacing when swirled. Aromas of rose petals, blueberries and black cherry. The black cherry carries over into the initial attack which gives way to a jammy plum note and just a tinge of dark chocolate. Warm, peppery finish with oaky undertones and an ample amount of tannins. Medium to heavy body with a long warming aftertaste.

An excellent wine, it would go well with a heavy dinner or, as I had it for this review, paired with a full bodied Maduro cigar such as the previously reviewed Blanco Liga Exclusiva Maduro. Rating: 4.5/5.

Beer Review – Kindred Spirits

This offering from Innis & Gunn in Edinburgh, Scotland is, true to its name, a stout aged in Irish whiskey barrels. It weighs in at 6.1% ABV and an unspecified IBU or gravity rating.

Pours a near opaque brown color with a thin ring of tan head that sticks around. Rich oaky whiskey notes tickle the nose up front supported by dark chocolate and roasted malts. Flavors follow the nose almost exactly – dark chocolate and a tinge of vanilla start things off while a heavy oak takes over the back of the palate with that distinct sweet warmth of Irish whiskey on the finish. A hint of an espresso on the aftertaste. Surprisingly light on body and fairly high carbonation. It drinks easily enough and the ABV is low enough to kill a few without overdoing it.

This beer was pleasant enough, though I wish it had some more substance and a thicker consistency. If it had those couple of things it would be excellent. The flavors were nice but it just left me wanting something a bit more. Rating: 3/5.

Have you had this beer? What did you think?

Beer Reviews: The Maharaja and Undead Party Crasher

Now for some beer reviews. We’ve got two killer offerings tonight so let’s jump right in!

The Maharaja 

This American Imperial IPA hails from Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado. It weighs in at 10% ABV, 102 IBU and Avery is kind enough to provide us the original gravity of 1.090 (21.6 Plato) and a final gravity of 1.012 (3.1 Plato).

Pours a hazy goldenrod color with a lot of foam. Thick off-white head that laces the glass like crazy. Aromas of orange peel, grapefruit, caramel, syrup and alcohol. Flavors consist of a caramel and molasses backbone supporting a wallop of citrusy hop notes following the nose almost exactly – orange zest, grapefruit and a little lemon twang. A hint of a floral note toward the back. A slight hint of a pineapple on the aftertaste ties it all together. Surprisingly not harshly bitter. Thick, syrupy body with low carbonation. Definitely too thick to chug but an easy sipper.

This was a classic Double IPA in every way – smooth, complex but not overly bitter. Even non-IPA drinkers can appreciate this one. Would pair great with either a burger or Asian food. Rating: 4.5/5.

Undead Party Crasher

This offering from Clown Shoes Brewing Company in Ipswich, Massachusetts is an American Imperial Stout weighing in at 10.5% ABV and an unspecified IBU or gravity rating.

Pours jet black as a good imperial stout should. Thin ring of brown head that dissipates somewhat quickly. Big aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, prunes, and caramel. Flavors follow the noes almost exactly – notes of caramel and plum kick things off up front with a substantial sweetness. The middle of the palate is greeted with dark chocolate and a little bit of black licorice zing. The back end finishes off with notes of espresso and a balanced pine hop note. Very warming down the throat but alcohol is fairly well hidden. Thick body with low carbonation, this one drinks way too easy for its heft.

I am a sucker for a good imperial stout (it’s by far my favorite style of beer) and this one delivers. Bold, complex and smooth, pair this one with a Blanco JT Limitado, CO Final Third, Marrero Fuerte or a Padron x000 series or 1926 Series in Maduro. Rating: 4.75/5.

So that’s a wrap for today’s offerings. Have you had either? Let me know what you thought!