Pairing beers and cigars

If you follow SBG on Instagram you've probably noticed I often enjoy having cigars with my beers. It's a hobby that my father got me into, and although I'm no expert, I've been smoking them long enough to know a thing or two about pairing stogies with different beer styles. I pulled together some basic guidelines to help budding cigar aficionados find the right stick to have with their beer.

Keep in mind that just like craft beer, how you pair your cigar and beer is a subjective experience, so treat all this information as a basic starting point.

Cigars and Hunahpu's Imperial Stout


Enter your email address below and I'll send you a list of specific beer and cigar pairings you can try! 🍻 👇

* indicates required


Cigar Basics for Beginners

The tobacco, wrapper, and the size of the cigar are the three core components that impact your smoking experience.

  • The wrapper of the cigar is what holds most of the flavor. Light wrappers mean the cigar was aged for a shorter period of time, and these "younger" cigars often taster “fresher” or more acidic. On the other hand, those aged longer will be on the fuller side of the flavor spectrum.
  • Filler tobaccos vary significantly and directly influence the flavors you'll experience while smoking. For example, Dominican fillers are more mild whereas Havana is more intense and full-flavored.
  • Cigars come in different lengths - usually around 4 to 7 inches long - and various widths called ring gauges. Ring gauges affect the flavor, with smoke from skinner cigars often being more intense, whereas larger ring gauges having more flavor.

You can also expect to see variations in the flavor and intensity of a cigar as you enjoy it. It's not uncommon to hear cigar aficionados talk about the discernible differences they notice throughout the beginning, middle, and end of their smoke. 

DDH Elder with a Cigar

Cigar and Beer Pairing Basics

Like with beer, this is all about your personal preferences,  and it’s a good idea to experiment a little to find what you enjoy most. I find taking photos of my favorite pairings is a good way to hone in on my favorite combinations.

A good rule of thumb is to match the color of the wrapper with the color of the beer (or vice-versa).

  • Lighter beers pair better with more mild cigars
  • Medium-bodied beers or those on the bitter side pair well with medium-bodied cigars
  • Darker, heavier beers will pair well with more full-bodied cigars

Here are some more concrete style breakdowns:

  • Pilsners, blondes, and lagers would go well with mild cigars
  • Pale ales and IPAs go well with more mild and medium-bodied cigars. Know that IPAs that are really hop forward can potentially mask the milder cigars, so I typically take that into account.
  • Stouts, barleywines, porters, and other higher ABV or barrel-aged beers often go well with the more full-bodied and darker cigars
  • Sours and lambics can be tough, and to be honest I don’t often smoke cigars when I’m having them, but milder cigars or those with a sweeter wrappers can pair nicely.

Moksa and Cigar

Choosing a Cigar

If you’re already a cigar smoker, this shouldn’t be a problem for you. However if you’re just starting out here are some of my general tips and specific recommendations.

Steer clear of "extremes" when buying cigars for the first time.

Don’t bother buying gas station cigars and don’t shell out $20 for a fancy cigar. The former will taste awful, and for most beginners the latter will just be a waste of money. Find something with some flavor but that's not too intense. You don't want it to completely overwhelm your beer, but you also don't want to drown out the cigar with whatever you're drinking.

If there is a local cigar shop near you, stop in and ask for help.

This is just like finding a great local bottle shop. If it’s worth its salt, the person working there should be able to help you find what you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m just starting out and wanted to grab 3-6 different cigars on the mild side that won’t break the bank.”

Here are some of my favorites cigars to enjoy with beers.

Outside of pairing with beers, I tend to prefer medium-bodied cigars, so I typically end up buying more of those. It actually works out for me pretty well because outside of stouts, IPAs, pales, and the like are more normal go-to beer styles. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Sobremesa Brulee Toro
  • Undercrown Shade Gran Toro
  • My Father Connecticut Toro
  • Leaf By Oscar Toro Connecticut

Definitely see what local shops are near you, but if you have to buy online, I recommend Famous Smoke. I'm in no way affiliated with them, but I order from them often and they usually have some pretty good deals going on. 

Beer and Cigar Pairings

Conclusion

Just like with beer, cigars are completely subjective. Although these general “rules” exist, don’t be afraid to try different combinations and find what works best for you. At the end of the day, it’s tough to not have a good time when your “problem” is figuring out what cigar to pair with your beer.

Have any favorite cigars or specific pairings you like? Let me know!