August 26, 2013

San Cristobal Clasico X + Karl Strauss Flanders Style Ale (Sour Red Ale)

Having enjoyed craft beer since around 1996 or so I have had to  adjust my  taste palette to all types of different beers. Everybody from novice to the experienced appreciates a good IPA or an occasional stout. But how many really truly enjoy a sour?

This week we actually tried to pair and blend every other beer except the sour to our weekly pick, the San Cristobal Clasico.  We had 8 different match ups to go with this cigar after tasting, reading, and along the way, talking to the fellow tobacconist about complex  flavor and finishes on this stick. We were very surprised to find the end result.
The San Cristobal had a very complex taste . From the beginning to end I enjoyed it . It lit the air with its scent and made my partner (Fern) in a rush to ignite the foot of his as well .
 We chose this stick for a couple reasons. Mainly I like this cigar. But also, I haven’t even tried to pair a San Cristobal. We went about it all wrong. From what I read , talked about, and previously smoked. I was to assume that this stick would have been a perfect match with something heavy and sweet (and it was decent with heavy sweeter style stuff but not perfect.) We went through constant 4-6 oz glasses of craft beer. It took 2 days and towards the end of them we decided to do different beers of the same kind and 3 sours.
We thought -” there’s no way a sour will compliment the complex flavor of a San Cristobal!”
We spent hours, money , and days racking our brain on this stick. And to our surprise , a sour in the end held his arm up as the champion in this weeks pairing.
Here we go !
We lit the cigar with our usual (non sulfur match.) It’s aroma flew around the shop like a paper airplane. We didn’t know where it was gonna land? or how long it would take ? But we did know we wanted to fly it again .
We poured 4-6 oz in a glass of the Karl Strauss Flanders Style Ale, and let me tell you, we were very afraid! But, its desert sand khaki color head was very nice. It’s copper red color was shining thru the glass like a store front window with a rose gold piece .We took a draw and relaxed. Took another draw and swilled the first drink. At first I automatically wanted to disagree. But midway thru that splash I gave it a real chance. I took one more draw and swilled a second time . This time it was certain. This beer was undeniably the match! It’s sour fruit (grapes and wine similarity) actually went very well with this cigar. It had a sweet vanilla type style with a nice oak crisp. It reminded me of a cherry coke – and I like cherry coke! Wait, who don’t like cherry coke? I took another draw, looked down at my glass, and the lacing was decent. It wasn’t a cream or chocolate , heavy stout or anything of that type of lacing, but it was nice and I was surprised it had as much as it did .
This cigar had very earthy tones to it. I tasted a few good points in the beginning. At one point I told Fern -” I need this with coffee”. It’s espresso  taste and hints of cedar were very delicious . It’s full body was like a 1974 Chevy Caprice. It was there and you weren’t missing it. Each and every draw seemed like it was getting better and better. Now, mind you, we smoked about 4 (2 one day , 2 the other) of these sticks each with different stouts, porters, and numerous random stuff prior.  We damn near gave up!  I was feeling like a novice poker player . Everybody kept raising and I wanted to call just to see where this was going! I felt genuine and real about this pair and I tried a couple other beers to make sure. My partner agreed. And him being a fan to a sour about as much as being excited to watch synchronized swimming on television (not very excited). He agreed with me.
We continued on to the middle enjoying this combo and I noticed even sweeter notes. I read that the San Cristobal had notes of cherry – I never heard that before – but I could honestly say that it did have a subtle hint. But it could also be the beer which actually contains small hints of cherry in it (hence the cherry coke.)
Winding down we finished taking notes and topped off our glasses. On occasion I rinsed my palette with Perrier and did a lil side testing to make sure! Hahaha! I couldn’t help it! But as I slipped the final band off, and put it on my finger. I knew it was time to appreciate this pair. We had no more sticks, and we should’ve bought a box, but we didn’t know how complex this was gonna be.
The sour complimented the the smoke like pin-striping on custom paint. Sharp crisp and kept getting better with every angle. From beginning to end the sour evened out the San Cristobal like equals. I  will enjoy this combo again!

Check out our other cigar and beer pairings here.

Review by Mike and Fern (follow them on Instagram)

Beer pairing for San Cristobal Clasico

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