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Barley Wine and Cigars: A Dynamic Duo
The saying, ďitís lonely at the top," is true for cigars. A type of smoke that makes the Marlboro man look weak rather than rugged, cigars have a way of excluding themselves from the group. Yet, you canít fault the cigars. They might not want us to elevate their reputation and status by deeming them synonymous with luxury and sophistication; for all we know, cigars are standing in the background - looking lovingly at pipes and cigarettes - yelling, ďCanít we all just get along?" Luckily, cigars might have found something to relieve their loneliness: they just may have a lifelong companion in barley wine.
Upon performing research, I was surprised to find how many websites laud the combination of cigars and barley wine. And, naturally, I was even more surprised to find these websites werenít just the ones that sell barley wine.
For those not familiar with barley wine, the simplest way to remember it is by the term ďbarely wine." Truth be told, barley wine isnít really wine at all; because of its high alcohol content, it only thinks its wine (ironically, after a few too many bottles, I sometimes think this same thing about myself). With wine like characteristics, the big difference is in the ingredients: barley wine is made with grain instead of fruit. If it were cereal, barley wine would be Wheaties while wine would be Fruity Pebbles.
Still, barley wine is not without some fruit flavor. It displays both sweetness and bitterness at the same time, giving it a unique taste among beers.
While it originated in England, barley wine is available worldwide. However, when sold in the US, barley wines are required to be sold with the label, "barley wine-style ales," thus avoiding confusion for the wine-seeking consumer.
Barley wine is sometimes aged, much like wine, and used for celebratory occasions. It is this last sentence that undoubtedly makes the ears of cigars - with their penchant for celebration - prick up.
Cigars and barley wine compliment each other nicely. With a slightly peaty taste, barley wine does maintain some whiskey-like characteristics and, as most of us know, cigars have never found a whiskey they do not like.
Unlike wine, barley wine doesnít always go well with food, but, luckily you donít eat a Churchill. Many cigars, depending on your individual palate, do well with barley wines, in particular Old Nick Barley wine, which, according to many consumers, is one of the best barley wines on the market.
Overall, the key to pairing a good barley wine with a good cigar is to keep the tastes in cahoots, you donít want the flavor of the beer and the flavor of the cigar fighting each other for your attention. Itís also a good rule to pair up beers of lighter color to cigars with lighter wrappers. This may help keep one from overpowering the other.
When it comes down to it, barley wine and cigars are good friends, and you just might find yourself - as you beg to be included - asking the duo to become a trio.
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