The Winter Warmer Holiday 12-Pack
Posted: December 30, 2003
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(Atlantic Brewing Co., Bar Harbor, Maine)
Dating back 1,000 years ago, bragget was a style of barley wine popular in Wales. It was brewed with equal parts honey and barley, and aged in cellars during the winter months.
Brother Adam's matches that style. It's aged for up to a year before being bottled (the ones we sampled were marked 2001) and is very complex, not to mention high in alcohol (11.8% Alcohol By Volume). The addition of 2,000 pounds of Maine wildflower honey during the boil gives it sweetness and a dark, golden color. Honey flavors are obvious, and there's a creamy, vanilla finish.
Brother Adam's fared the best of the 12 in terms of pairing with the C.A.O., giving the cigar a distinctive honey character. The El Rey del Mundo also paired well, but we found that the honey didn't come through as well and that the finish on the Cuban cigar became slightly muddled.
Dogfish Head 60 Minute I.P.A.
(Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Delaware)
One of the fastest growing craft breweries in the United States, Dogfish Head brews its family of India Pale Ales for the unabashed hops lover. All three of their I.P.A.s -- 60 Minute, 90 Minute, and 120 Minute -- are intensely hoppy, full in character and excellent winter warmers.
The 60 Minute gets its name from the single hops addition that is infused continuously during the hour-long boil. (The boiling process occurs prior to fermentation when the wort -- a term for the malt and water mash that becomes beer -- is boiled in a large kettle and hops are added.) The result is a complex, hoppy beer that's pleasantly bitter. It is chewy, with pronounced fruit and citrus notes, and a touch of black coffee.
While the 60 Minute I.P.A. was an excellent beer standing alone, it seemed to clash with both cigars. The hops and its overall heavy character seemed to fight against the smokes.
Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
(Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, Ohio)
Taking its name from the bulk freighter that sank in Lake Superior in 1975 and was immortalized by musician Gordon Lightfoot, the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter is a classic representation of a style that originated among railroad workers in Great Britain in the 1800s. Similar to a stout with its black color and heavy body, porter is characteristically bitter, with lots of roasted coffee and chocolate flavors.
The Edmund Fitzgerald is just that. It is loaded with roasted malt flavors, and plenty of coffee, caramel and cocoa notes come to the fore. It was a decent pairing with the C.A.O., though it made the cigar spike a bit, and we found it to be a neutral pairing with the El Rey del Mundo.
Long Trail Double Bag
(Long Trail Brewing Co., Bridgewater Corners, Vermont)
From the Green Mountain State, Long Trail Double Bag is ale that is complex and flavorful, and one that will knock you on your rear if you aren't careful. At 7.2% ABV, you won't have a hard time getting your bag on, or even two bags for that matter.
It is pleasantly rich, with an apple aroma and flavor notes of wheat, vanilla and bread. It has a hoppy aftertaste, but the bitterness has an elegant edge to it. This bitterness didn't work with the C.A.O., giving the cigar it's own bitter quality, but with the El Rey del Mundo, it was superb. The pairing took away a lot of the ale's bitterness and produced a burst of leather and wood flavors.
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