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Jul 2 2014

The Imbiber Dan Dunn Reviews The Art of Craft

Dan DunnWriter 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).