STOUT & STEEL A Beer and Cigar pairing review By Ty Brandt

Sitting around a fire with friends one chilly November evening in the subartic region of Northern Alberta in a town called Fort McMurray, I decided to do a pairing of Stout with my chosen cigar. The North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Russian Stout is an all time favourite amongst Stout drinkers and for good reason. Produced in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great, Old Rasputin seems to develop a cult following wherever it goes. It’s a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish. 
I chose to pair it with a CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger. 
Size: Toro
Filler: Dom. Rep., Honduras, Nicaragua
Binder: Brazil
Wrapper: U.S.A./Conn. Habano
Country: Nicaragua 
Reminiscent of an old Harley Davidson this cigar is oily and and soft  with an extremely Flathead cap like its namesake. I choose a V-cut as my goto for most of my sticks and this one was no different, it left a beautiful and clean cap intact with no loose leaf to get stuck on my teeth or lips. I’m not an aficionado so I didn’t bother with a cold draw, not my style. I just wanted to smoke it and enjoy it with a dark Imperial Stout by the fire, so I lit up. Wonderful draw right off the bat, nice construction,
not loose and not tight but damn near perfect. Initial tastes of hay and leather, like a horse saddle thats been sitting too long without use. It started to have a touch of peppery spice but very subtle (I’m a bit of a hotsauce junkie so results may vary for you my dear reader) after about 10 minutes of just enjoying the Steel Horse alone I figured it was time to drink. 

Now most people would pour stouts into a glass but I was too thirsty or lazy, probably both and didn’t feel like leaving the fire pit.. so straight from the bottle would have to do. As far as Imperial stouts go the 9% ABV didn’t hit as hard as expected, it had a soft heat more like a regular 5%.  It was not a sweet Stout by any stretch. Heavy notes of bitter coffee and mildly floral hops with its intense dark color made me love it right away. Then a slight dark chocolate creeps up and just as suddenly fades to a smoky roasted barley flavour. After I drank about 1/3rd of the bottle I remembered that a cigar patiently waited for me to try it with so I would draw some smoke into my mouth, exhale and immediately take a sip. The oiliness of the cigar and the bitter chocolate linger of the Stout interacted wonderfully. 

Sitting around the fire and enjoying the company of good people I looked at the bottle some more and realised their was Russian writing on it. Choosing curiosity and rudeness over proper social etiquette I picked up my phone to Google Translate; 
Искренний друг не рождается мгновенно 
TRANSLATION: “A sincere friend is not born instantly” 
How perfect is that? Well as I finished the bottle and the cigar I determined that Old Rasputin would probably love riding a Steel Horse into the night and would spend many hours with the wind in his beard traveling towards the next adventure. 
Stouts and cigars are a wonderful pairing choice, some might enjoy a dark Stout with a lighter Connecticut style cigar and others might choose an oily Maduro but there is only one way to find out for yourself and that’s to keep exploring. There are no rules when it comes to this stuff, only adventures. 
Until the next time: Stay Smoky my friends.