4.7% ABV bottles from a sixer along with an OLIVA SERIE V Churchill extra cigar
My oldest childhood friend Matt was getting on my case earlier this week: “You don’t write about enough different vices!” he proclaimed. He thought I should touch on “vices” such as a bad crank habit, LSD usage, Charles Barkley-levels of gambling, porn addiction, Miami Vice, the Vice Lords, and maybe even the U.S. Vice-Presidents. Believe me, nothing would tickle me more than to have nice critical reviews of the crystal meth in Utica or the mushrooms dispensed at Bonnaroo or the BDSM hookers in Chinatown, but unfortunately, I don’t really do drugs and, though I think it should be legalized across the board, I have never paid for a lady of the night. (Perhaps I’ll use the vast funds from my Vice Blog empire to hire a guest blogger to tackle those things.)
However, Matt is absolutely right. I do have tons more vices than craft beers. Cigars for one. I fucking love a good smoke. In the summer, I try to have a toot once per week and in the winter I try to smoke whenever I can smoke inside. Which usually means I’m lighting up less than once a month, what with the increasingly anti-libertarian, draconian, nanny state laws pervading this nation. Nowadays, smoking cigars has almost become less about pleasure and more about exercising one’s inalienable rights to freedom!
I don’t want to sound like a poseur, but I don’t 100% enjoy cigars for how they make me feel. Yes, they taste great and are relaxing and are a great way to laze away a few weekend hours, that’s a given. But they also feel manly. The great Winston Churchill was wrong. A cigar is never JUST a cigar. Perhaps in his day, but not now when if I light up in Central Park I get everyone within a 50-foot radius glaring at me, the most passive-aggressive souls tsk tsking me, and the outright stereotypically rude New Yorkers coming up to me and calling me an asshole. An asshole? For indulging in pleasure? I’m fucking outside! I NEVER smoke within 10 yards of another human, and even then I casually ask those around me for permission. I likewise never smoke within sight of babies, children, or animals. I may not like those creatures but I’m no WC Fields!
I think the biggest problem sniveling little over-educated no-good-nik “goin’ green” yuppies have with cigar smoking is that it is manly. It evokes images of fat cat capitalists that like to eat steak, drink bourbon, fuck women, go golfing, and earn money. And we all know those things are bad because they kill animals, hurt livers and vulvas, clear out disgusting wastelands in order to build beautiful fairways, and they make people rich.
Or maybe a cigar IS simply just a cigar and these folks are just worried about second-hand smoke. Despite the fact that it isn’t even dangerous, fuck you The Truth and your annoyingly catchy sophistic commercials (“It musta been a typo! A typo! A typo!” SHUT UP!).
OK, this wasn’t meant to be a crazy libertarian screed…let’s get to the reviews.
You know how you could take a class PASS/FAIL in college? That way you could be a lazy fuck, barely go to lectures and understand the material, achieve at an absolutely miserable level, and so long as you got a D+ you’d get a “PASS” on your report card and no one would know the wiser? Well, I don’t know as much about cigars as I know about beers, but I do know what I like. And, thus, my cigar reviews will be on a PASS/FAIL system.
I don’t have many cigar-smoking friends, and very few of them are in New York, so when I’m out of town with smoke-friendly pals we always have to allot an hour or two for a cigar. Usually this occurs on the golf course, but sometimes you’re lucky enough to find a friend with a balcony. Like my bud Batch. We needed to kill the time between breakfast and the-appropriate-hour-for-hitting-the-bar on Saturday and we knew that nothing would be better than a smoke. We’ve both becomes fans of most all of Oliva’s blends so we grabbed some. The smokes were enormous, definitely making us look like classic over-compensators. But I like a huge cigar that you can really get to know in the hour or two you pull on it.
The Oliva V has a great draw and the smoke comes easy. Very flavorful with tastes of coffee. Not too heavy so you don’t have to have your stomach full of cheeseburgers in order to not keel over from this one. A great little spiciness too. I can taste it on my tongue as I write this. It was a perfect selection for a lazy Saturday of smoking, drinking, and philosophizing.
Before smoking we went to the supermarket to find the perfect beer to “pair” with our smokes. That’s always a tricky proposition. First of all, you don’t want something too powerful. A nice Scotch or bourbon always works but we didn’t want to be wasted by nightfall. Back in college I actually found a certain kind of root beer that went terrific with a cigar. But we needed some beer this time. We figured two or three lighter beers would be enough to get us through the cigar and feeling fine. Looking through the huge coolers I found nothing that intrigued me.
And then I saw it!
The cutest little bottle of beer. A bear with sunglasses juggling pomegranates! The label made me incredibly happy so we grabbed one–no better make it two, Batch–six-packs of the beer.
I’m being coy but I actually have a long history with this brew and it holds a warm place in my heart. Last summer I was upstate visiting my sister for a little BBQ and I bought a six-pack of the Pomegranate Wheat on a whim. And it fucking blew my mind! I told any one that would listen how great this beer was. Only problem was, I couldn’t find it anywhere once I got back to Manhattan. I could find dozens upon dozens of other styles of Saranac, but never the Pomegranate Wheat. So this would be my first time to have it since then.
Maybe I’d talked it up too much, maybe I had over-idealized it over the last year–who knows–but it didn’t blow my mind again. I’m not even sure if you can have your mind blown twice by the same thing, but I certainly didn’t. The beer was still good, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not even sure if I could call it great. It was still tasty and flavorful and still eminently drinkable, but simply not world class as I had once thought. Nevertheless, the beer got much better as the day went on. This beer demands being drunk from a glass so that your nose can inhale all it’s wonderful fruity, wheaty, and pomegranate smells. It’s quality stuff and I hope I don’t have to wait another year to have it again.
I may have not revisited a classic. I may have discovered this beer’s flaws (not quite alcoholic enough, a little too thin, oddly not pomegranatey enough). But, I did select a near-perfect beer for daytime drinking as we smoked and talked away the afternoon. And, yes, we both polished off a full six-pack by the time our Olivas were smoked to the nub.