Writer Dan Dunn’s work on wine, spirits, beer, and countless other vices can be found on Food Republic, Playboy, GQ, USA Today, Maxim, The Los Angeles Times, and more. So we thought who better than “The Imbiber” himself to review The Art of Craft, our cigar pairing pack collaboration with CAO Cigars.
Check out his thoughts below and find a Total Wine location near you to discover The Art of Craft.
OSA Sol and Snake Dog IPA
The Snake Dog has some serious bite to it, making it an ideal match for an easygoing smoke like the OSA Sol. When it comes to successful beer and cigar pairings, it’s all about balance. Resist the urge to gulp and swallow the Snake Dog, and instead allow the first sip to linger in your mouth, exploring all areas of your palate. You’ll find its strong citrusy flavor quickly gives way to a resinous hop bitterness. And, oh my, how that zest meshes tantalizingly with the earthy goodness of the OSA which, by the way, is short for Olancho, San Augustin — the lush valley valley in Honduras that yields the one-of-a-kind wrappers for this multi award-winning cigar.
CAO Brazilia and Gonzo Imperial Porter
What better to pair with a smoke as deep, rich, and satisfying as the CAO Brazilia than the most robust brew in the Flying Dog portfolio. The Brazilia blend is made with the finest Nicaraguan leaves, brimming with bitter chocolate and coffee flavor complemented by hints of clove and black pepper spice. The Gonzo is a heavy hops lover’s dream, as big and bold as the legendary writer who inspired it, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Try holding the glass with two hands to help warm up the beer. The Gonzo Imperial Porter, like most craft beers, is not meant to be served ice cold, as extreme cold actually masks flavor… but you already knew that, right? This is a perfect pairing for winding down after a hearty meal, a long day on the slopes, or sun and fun at the beach.
CAO Gold and Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA
The cigar burns slow and steady, imparting a beguiling combination of creaminess and spice along the way. As for the beer, well, as the name suggests, she’s a wild one. Exhale through your mouth while tasting, and the Raging Bitch will release a torrent of flavors, from crisp grapefruit to woodsy pine to exotic mango. The Gold is a far subtler, yet certainly no less enjoyable gustatory experience. This is a premium cigar, recognized as one of the best in the world, one that reveals its complexity over time. Among the more pronounced flavor components are caramel, vanilla, and even barnyard hay. Don’t expect the CAO Gold to tame the IPA, but count on its complementing it.
CAO Mx2 and Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout
The Mx2 is made with two types of wrappers that deliver double the delish. The outermost leaf is an ultra dark, super oily Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro, while the inner wrapper is a fuller-flavored Brazilian Maduro. The provocatively named stout is brewed with Rappahannock River oysters, which help to impart a dark, roasted, dry, and slightly bitter flavor. Don’t worry; there’s nothing fishy going on. What is happening here, though, is so powerful your taste buds aren’t going to know what hit ‘em. Prepare to be bowled over by what may very well be the most audacious pairing of the bunch.
Next week, we’ll have tips from Dan on hosting a cigar and beer pairing party (because trust us, it takes more than a few pint glasses and ashtrays).
For craft beer enthusiasts who want to drink their beer and smoke it too, we’ve partnered with CAO Cigars to pair four of their world-class cigars with four of our most iconic beers.
Gone are the days of old dudes sipping from snifters and smoking in their studies. Just as craft beer is defined by a unique blend of malt, hops, and yeast, a cigar’s wrapper, binder and filler determines its flavor profile and aroma, making for rich and complex pairings.
The CAO “Art of Craft” cigar pack will be available alongside each corresponding beer exclusively at 46 Total Wine stores throughout Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, and California beginning July 1. The pack features the following cigars and suggested beer pairings:
- OSA Sol and Snake Dog IPA: The zesty spice of OSA Sol meets its match with the citrus and resinous hop aromas and flavors of Snake Dog.
- CAO Brazilia and Gonzo Imperial Porter: Both big and bold, the bitter coffee and chocolate flavors in CAO Brazilia are mimicked by the same robust notes in Gonzo.
- CAO Gold and Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA: The wildly complex hop bitterness and fruity sweet Belgian yeast notes in Raging Bitch are soothed by CAO Gold’s caramel creaminess.
- CAO Mx2 and Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout: Dark and dry is the name of this pairing’s game with Mx2’s rich notes of earth and Pearl Necklace’s dry, roast, and slightly bitter character.
Our CEO Jim Caruso and and CAO Cigar blender Rick Rodriguez will host the “Art of Craft” launch on Wednesday, June 25 at the brewery. From 6 to 9 pm, guests will learn about both the beer and cigar making process from the experts themselves and experience the pairings on the brewery’s patio. Tickets are $35 and include the cigar pack, beer samples, and appetizers.
For 75 years, OLD BAY has been a staple on newspaper-covered tables piled high with steaming shrimp, corn, and Maryland Blue Crabs. To commemorate this milestone anniversary, we released Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale, a beer that has quickly earned its spot right alongside that iconic yellow, blue, and red tin.
Discover the True Flavor of the Chesapeake with The Dead Rise OLD BAY Cookbook.
We asked 17 of the area’s most cutting-edge chefs to develop recipes that showcase the unique aspects of the Chesapeake Bay that continue to inspire them. The only requirement was showcasing the seasoning we all know and love:
- Chesapeake Bloody Mary | Chef Scott Drewno
- OLD BAY Falafel with Crab Yogurt | Chef Mike Isabella
- Beer! Cheese! | Chef Spike Gjerde
- Northern Neck Gumbo with Choptank Oysters | Chef Todd Gray
- Grilled Oysters with Peaches and OLD BAY Butter | Chef Barton Seaver (pictured above)
- Maryland Crab Dip | Chef Rob Klink
- Belgian IPA Bay Mussels | Chef Chris Clime (pictured above)
- Crab Mac and Cheese | Chef Chad Wells
- OLD BAY Mustard BBQ Fish Collars | Chef Kyle Bailey
- OLD BAY Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese Fondue | Chef Chad Gauss
- Grilled Lamb Merguez Skewers with Harissa Aioli | Chef Zachary Mills
- Chesapoutine | Chef Jeff Eng
- OLD BAY Caesar Salad | Chef Matt Baker
- OLD BAY Fries with Creole Mustard | Chef John Critchley
- Maryland Crab Cake Sandwiches | Chef Bryan Voltaggio
- Maryland Blue Catfish Tacos | Chef Keith Long
- Gertie’s OLD BAY Peanut Brittle Ice Cream | Chef Doug Wetzel
100% of the proceeds from the cookbook will benefit True Blue, a program that advocates on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay’s 5,500 watermen and promotes sustainably harvested Maryland Blue Crab.
This beer has no soul.
Now that that’s out of our system, let’s get down and dirty with Ginger Beer, the redheaded stepchild that is our latest Brewhouse Rarities release.
Ginger Beer was the brainchild of (you guessed it) two resident gingers: Steve Brockwell, a brewer, and Torie Sullivan, a tour guide. They were inspired by organic ginger sodas and aimed to make an adult version by crafting a Belgian-style table beer. Along with fresh ginger pulp, orange peel was added to the beer to play off of the Belgian yeast strain used in primary fermentation and the Japanese Sake yeast used to finish. To make it perfect for the summer months that lie ahead, Ginger Beer is effervescent, refreshing, and snappy.
Here are specifics:
- 6.6% ABV
- 25 IBU
- Specialty malts: Imported Pilsner, Malted White Wheat, Light Caramel
- Hops: Perle, Cascade
- Yeast: Belgian Bastogne and Japanese Sake
- Special ingredients: Fresh ginger pulp and orange peel
Following our tap room release, Ginger Beer will launch in Frederick this Thursday, May 15 at NOLA Cafe.
Want to track it down? Use our Beer Finder to see if Ginger Beer will be on tap near you.