Stogie N Stout is an annual fine cigar and craft beer pairing event held at Dunedin Brewery. The concept is simple: the beer-geek staff at Dunedin Brewery spends the year acquiring a bevy of quality hand-crafted dark beers, and when they have a formidable cache of the dark stuff, they pair that malt goodness with the kind of pleasurable hand-rolled cigars that earned Tampa the nickname Cigar City.
It's a simple concept, but one that just might be the answer to the question, "What is best in life?"
While the name of the event would suggest only stouts are offered — and stouts from oatmeal to imperial are surely the focus of the event — Dunedin's numerous taps will be pouring a variety of dark beers, including porters, brown ales, old ales, barley wines and even a dark lager or two, including doppelbocks.
In its 10th year, the event has solidified itself as one of Tampa Bay's most unique and anticipated craft beer happenings, beckoning dark beer lovers from far and wide to sample the incredible assortment of dark-hued brews that will be available this one day alone.
In honor of Stogie N Stout coming up on Feb. 20, I'd like to share two of my recent favorite beer and cigar pairings.
Rich, dark and decadent
The cigar: Camacho Liberty 2009. This stick is medium to full bodied, but it is very rich and complex, with mild coffee and stronger nutty notes along with increasingly spicy cedar notes toward the end of the stick.
The beer: Terrapin Depth Charge. This is a big (7 percent alcohol by volume) milk stout brewed with Athens, Ga.-based Jittery Joe's espresso and coffee beans. This stout is a silky smooth affair with the kind of luscious, liquid-mousse body that makes other ales develop inferiority complexes.
Why they pair well: The coffee in Depth Charge is a natural compliment to the more subdued coffee notes in the Camacho Liberty 2009, but the real magic here is how the two compliment each other from a body standpoint. Many beers are often hard-pressed standing up to the intensity of even medium-bodied cigars, but the decadent lusciousness of Depth Charge, with its dark malt and roast coffee notes, compliments this complex cigar without ever fading back.
Unfortunately, a perfect pairing of both the cigar and the beer can be hard (though not impossible) to find in Tampa Bay. Here's an option for a more accessible pairing.
The cigar: Rocky Patel's Java Maduro by Drew Estate. A nicely box-pressed cigar infused with cocoa and coffee bean aromatics. Cigar purists might not embrace the coffe aromatic infusion thing, but here the hot chocolate and cinnamon favored infusion works extremely well.
The beer: Left Hand Milk Stout. This milk stout out of Colorado has a slightly deeper roasted-coffee note than many of its peers, all while remaining approachable to beer geeks and newcomers alike.
Why they pair well: Both are very approachable and high quality, if not penultimate, examples of their craft. If you have never tried a cigar/beer pairing, these are a good way to ease in, with rounded and complimentary flavors that play off each other very nicely.
— Joey Redner is a beer enthusiast and the owner of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa.