Monday, November 30, 2020

Post Turkey Smoke and Drink

After devouring a delicious Thanksgiving meal lovingly prepared by Colleen, while the family "rested" in the living room, I sought my solace on the back deck. The sun had not yet set, and the temperature still hovered in the upper 60's. 

Lighting a Rocky Patel LB1, I contemplated a beverage. I'd been looking forward to a glass of bourbon as a digestive. However, we had enjoyed some bubbly Prosecco with dinner, so I continued that with the cigar.

The Rocky Patel LB1 boasts a smooth Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, along with a Honduran binder and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. Coffee, cedar, and a subtle earthiness make for a satisfying flavor profile, come through first. The medium bodied smoke starts off with a touch of spice, transitioning to a muted sweetness in the background.

To my delight, and some surprise, the crisp flavor of the Prosecco paired well with the smoke. As the sun set and the cigar neared the its end, the call went out that pie was being served. That was my cue to join the family inside. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Flying Dog Barleywine & Crowned Heads La Coalición

Plans for an an early logout from work on Thanksgiving Eve didn't go exactly as hoped, but I was still able to be ensconced on the screen porch before the sun set. It was a bit on the cool side, but nothing the Big Buddy propane heater couldn't counter. I dug through the basement stash and found a Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine. I am not sure how long the bottle has been sitting, but the paper label was faded and a little brittle. It's likely that this is a survivor from the beer tasting we hosted in the summer of 2013. I was confident the 10.2% ABV drink had aged well. 

The Horn Dog Barley Wine poured a translucent reddish brown color. The carbonation level was low despite the brief appearance of a beige head. The aroma was that of sweet caramel with a hint of alcohol. The flavor profile was rich with dark fruit notes like raisin and fig. A mild caramel and brown sugar sweetness lingered underneath to tease the palate. Even after some seven years, there was an aspect of booziness in the flavor still. All and all, this was an enjoyable libation. Alas, after double checking the fridge, it was the lone bottle hidden away.

The cigar choice for the before-dinner repast was the Crowned Heads La Coalición. This cigar is the fruit of a collaboration between Crowned Heads and Drew Estate. This particular stick is a 5 ½ x 50 Gordito vitola. It features a very oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a Sumatra binder leaf. Tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua makes up the filler. The stick starts off with a spicy kick of pepper and cedar. Dark chocolate, espresso, and a sweet nuttiness make appearances throughout the smoke. The pepper notes seemed to decrease as the smoke progressed. Or perhaps that was the numbing effect of the ale.

I nursed the beer and the cigar for almost 90 minutes. The flavor combinations were enjoyable and complimentary. I have more of the La Coalición sticks on hand, and look forward to pairing them with other strong beers and whiskies.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation. 
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington
Although President Washington proclaimed this day of thanksgiving and prayer in 1789, the Thanksgiving Day we celebrate today didn't become a national holiday until 1863 when President Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving.

Have A Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you a day filled with family, friends, and fond memories. May God bless your life with His gifts today and everyday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Classic

This never gets old. It just wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving if I didn't laugh at this again.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Saturday by the Fire

It's was a relaxing weekend in general. After spending a little time Saturday morning clearing some underbrush and fallen trees, we decided to spend the better part of the day relaxing around the fire pit. After getting the fire started, and pouring a couple beers for Colleen and I, the first cigar I lit was the Micallef A

The Micallef A was first introduced last spring as the "To Be Named Maduro." The preview of the cigar gave members of the Micallef Ambassador program the opportunity to try the cigar and suggest a name for the final release. The final naming as simply 'A' is to honor the Micallef Ambassadors.

Micallef A features a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper, an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The 6¾ x 54 Churchill is the only vitola offered. When I smoked the preview stick, there were frequent burn touchups required to maintain an even burn line. The experience this time still required touchups, though they were less frequent. However, the wrapper peeled away from the cut end in several chunks, leaving only binder exposed for the last one inch of the stick that I held in my mouth.

Despite the construction issues, the flavor of the stick was quite enjoyable. A rich coffee and chocolate "mocha" profile dominated. There was a bit of pepper spice that built towards the finish. I paired a Lagunitas IPA with the Micallef A, and the stick lasted well into my second pint.

With the fire burning strong, and the sun starting to slip behind the trees, I returned to the humidor for a Fratello DMV Delaware (2019.) The cigars of the 2019 release of the DMV series all have an Ecuadorian binder with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. Different wrapper leaves gives the variation between the four cigars in the annual release. The Delaware sports a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. 

The 5 x 47 stick burned well and held a long ash. The flavor profile was full bodied with dark chocolate and espresso backed by cedar and pepper. I also detected a bit of leather and wood coming through. I have enjoyed all of the Fratello DMV variations I have tried, and this was no exception.

It was eventually time to stop feeding the fire and head inside for a late dinner. I hated to walk away from the smoky pleasures, but tomorrow was another day holding the expectation of more cigars before the weekend wound down.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Remembering Blessed Miguel Pro

[Reposted from November 23, 2013.]

November 23 is the Feast Day of Blessed Miguel Pro. Born on January 13, 1891, in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Pro was ordained a Jesuit priest in Belgium in 1925. He returned to his home country in 1926, in the midst of that country's Cristeros War. After being falsely accused of an attempted bombing, Father Pro was executed by government forces without trial

Blessed Miguel Pro's final request was to be allowed to pray to his heavenly Father.

After which he refused a blindfold and faced the firing squad bravely, proclaiming ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Father Pro's executioners initially failed at their task, and the deed was finished at point blank range.

I am saddened, but hardly surprised, at the ignorance of the American public regarding the persecution of Catholics, and of the Cristero War that took place in Mexico in 1926 through 1929. Some 250,000 people lost their lives in a persecution that was supported by the government of the United States with both funds and air support. Given the ever-growing intolerance towards Christians, especially Catholics, in the United States, we would do well to remember.

Christ the King, by the intercession of Blessed Miguel Pro, I beg you to answer my prayers. Give me the grace and the strength necessary to follow your heroic example and to live my Catholic faith in spite of all temptations and adversities. Amen.

Images from Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Tabernacle Cigars & The Beach, A Tradition?

I've got nothing else to share, so here's one last beach memory… One of the cigars I enjoyed during our recent vacation at the beach was The Tabernacle by Foundation Cigars. This is a smoke that's been in short supply for most of 2020, but recently started appearing on the shelves again. 

The 6 x 52 Toro features a shiny Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a Mexican San Andrés wrapper and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. The smoke has notes of creamy chocolate, sweet vanilla, and a subtle earthiness

While enjoying this cigar and watching the ocean waves roll in, it occurred to me I had last smoked a Tabernacle during the prior year's vacation. I do tend to take pictures of most of the cigars I smoke and lots of those pictures end up on my Instagram account. Mostly I just enjoy going back and reminiscing about the cigars, as well as the people and places associated with them. I scrolled through those photos on my laptop, and sure enough, there it was.

I recall the weather was exceptionally windy during that trip, and smoking on the beach or even the deck was difficult. We retreated to the somewhat sheltered pool where I was able to enjoy the smoke while the family swam.

Now back to winter…

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Friday Smokes and Drinks

It's hard to believe it's Tuesday, and I'm just getting around to reminiscing about last Friday. It was a busy but fun weekend, spent visiting family and traveling without a laptop.

I "put a lid" on the week early Friday afternoon to enjoy a before dinner cigar in the waning warmth of a moderately warm November day. The weekend kicked off with a Rocky Patel Grand Reserve. The Grand Reserve was first released in 2018 for distribution in Europe. It proved to very popular, and was just released to the U.S. in the summer 2020. The blend for the cigar is undisclosed, the only details being the tobaccos were aged for two years before being rolled at the factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

This 5½ x 50 Robusto is a light, milk chocolate in color and exhibits an even burn all the way through. The flavor profile was that of creamy coffee and nuts. The cigar has a sweet note as well. When I first smoked the cigar this summer, I found it quite smooth and mild. This time, I detected a hint of cedar spice and would definitely rate it as medium bodied. The beverage accompaniment was a warm chai latte.

After a break for dinner, I returned to the porch to continue the welcome period of rest and relaxation. The sun having set, it was necessary to crank up the propane heater and pour something with a little more "warmth." Colleen has been doing some pre-holiday baking that involves rum as an ingredient. Seeing the bottles on the counter this week put me in the mood for a taste so I grabbed the bottle of Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum. I find this to be an easy sipper, with notes of brown sugar and clove. There's a sweet vanilla and oaky aspect to the profile as well. 

The cigar for the evening, was the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial. The 6 x 54 Torpedo features a dark San Andrés wrapper. The binder and fillers are from Nicaragua. The Serie V Maduro is a full bodied smoke featuring rich, creamy chocolate with cedar and nuttiness in the finish. The ligero leaf added to the filler gives it a bit of strength. The cigar burned beautifully, producing about a 90 minute smoke

The rum and cigar worked decently well together. The milder rum flavors may have been slightly underwhelmed by the full bodied cigar, but overall the flavor profiles were a good match. The fact that I smoked the cigar down until it was literally burning my fingers is testimony to that. But all good things must eventually come to end. It was the same with the bottle of Don Q which must now be replaced.

Friday, November 13, 2020

CAO Brazilia Box Press - A Square Chimney

With temperatures in the upper 70's last weekend, sitting inside was out of the question. Sunday afternoon started with washing the car in the driveway, just like in the summer. Then Colleen and I did a short hike through the woods of a local National Battlefield park. Shorts and t-shirts were the order of the day, and I even worked up a sweat. Later in the day it was finally time to settle in for some proper relaxation on the deck.

After grabbing a couple of cold ciders from the fridge, I selected a CAO Brazilia Box Pressed while we watched the sun slowly sink. The Brazilia is one of CAO's most popular lines if social media is to be believed. I've enjoyed it many times, but this was my first time smoking the box pressed version.

The wrapper leaf is Brazilian Arapiraca, with a dark chocolate shiny appearance. The binder and filler leaves are Nicaraguan. The Brazilia is a full-bodied smoke, but it's not harsh at all. The flavor profile has a creamy aspect to it. I get hints of cocoa and coffee, with a sweet nuttiness and mild spice in there as well.

The box pressed nature of this cigar is stunning. This one in particular features the most extreme corners I think I've encountered. One side and corner were especially sharp. I suspect this stick may have been on the bottom corner of the box. 

The draw on the stick was loose and somewhat airy. Not unexpectedly, the burn needed regular maintenance to keep straight. I am somewhat compulsive when it comes to touching up even a mildly irregular burn line, so this one did have me reaching for the lighter frequently. That didn't detract from the enjoyment though. And the smoke output was prolific. Even at rest the cigar put off copious smoke. We have a couple tower fans on the screened porch, both for air circulation, and to create an "air curtain" to help block the smoke from drifting into others who may not want to be sitting in it. Colleen, who's not often bothered by wafts of cigar smoke, fired up a second fan on high speed to help clear the air. 

After an hour or so of enjoying our cold beverages and some salty snacks, the cigar was finished. For me it was an exceptional end to a bonus November weekend of warm weather. I don't think we'll get many more of those this year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Rocky Patel and Bourbon

As the temperatures drop, and the nation heats up, we still have summer vacation memories to fondly look back on. An after dinner drink and smoke is always a pleasure. When you're sitting on the coast, with the sounds of ocean waves crashing in the background, it's even better.

The smoke is one of my "go to" favorites, the Rocky Patel Sun Grown Maduro in Robusto. The Sun Grown Maduro features a chocolate brown, dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper encasing a Nicaraguan binder and filler. This cigar has a robust flavor profile featuring cocoa and espresso notes. There's just enough cedar spice to add an accent, but not predominate. The 5 x 50 box-pressed stick gives about a 45 minute smoke, just enough for couple pours of a good bourbon.

In this case, the bourbon is from Blade and Bow. This is one I've been enjoying a lot recently, which is why a bottle accompanied me to the beach. It's a smooth, easy sipper. Notes of caramel, white fruit, and crisp grains are accented by a subtle smoke char and hint of spiciness. 

Not a care in the world. For that week at least.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Tatuaje Avion 13 and 1781 Fimbulvinter Stout

If you're getting déjà vu, fret not. Both the featured beer and cigar have indeed both been mentioned here previously, the former more than once. But some things truly are worth repeating.

As I headed over to 1781 Brewing for a relaxing Saturday afternoon, I saw that my return trip would likely be delayed by an overturned tractor-trailer on the other side of the road. Arriving at the brewery, I decided to pass the time with a large vitola cigar. I had started to pick out another Tatuaje Karloff. Then the proprietor, knowing me well, pointed out that she had another box of Tatuaje Avion 13 smokes in stock. The 6 ⅞ x 52 Double Perfecto would be perfect to kick off a long afternoon.

Tatuaje Avion 13 features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper encasing Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Avion 13 wrapper differs from the other Avion vitolas, which have Ecuadoran Maduro wrappers. The robust, full body smoke has caramel and roasted coffee notes. It's a nearly two hour flawless smoke.

There normally wouldn't be much more to say about the 1781 Brewing Fimbulvinter with which I paired the cigar. It's a favorite of mine. You can read other reviews here and here, when the beer was paired with other cigars. However, this evening I was enjoying a variation the brewery offered called "Americano." The stout was brewed with the addition of a robust locally roasted coffee. This created an even richer coffee profile. The stout with the smoke made for an excellent combination.

After a few hours I heard that the road home had been cleared. But then I saw the food truck of the day, Cap'n Corbins Sea Food, had a table set up and they were shucking fresh oysters. That led to me grabbing a dozen on the half shell, another beer, and eventually another cigar. The afternoon soon turned to evening. When it was all said and done, it was an extremely enjoyable day, spent with good food, good beer, good cigars, and fine people.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Morning Circles

Ah, beach memories. Sitting on the deck enjoying the ocean waves in the morning, I looked down and marveled at this view as well.

How many circles do you count?

I need more mornings like that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Powstanie Broadleaf

The Powstanie line of cigars is one I turn to frequently. Debuting in 2017, the brand name comes from the Polish word for "uprising," and the company's logo includes symbols used by the Polish Resistance during World War II. The cigar is available both Habano and Broadleaf versions. The Powstanie Broadleaf is my favorite. Sadly it was in short supply for much of 2020 but a few months ago my local shop was restocked and I picked up more of these flavorful smokes.

A fitting smoke when paired with a good bourbon, I've enjoyed the Powstanie Broadleaf in Toro, Robusto, and Belicoso vitolas, the Belicoso being my favorite. The cigars feature a chocolate brown broadleaf maduro wrapper, with an Indonesian binder, and Estelí Ligero, Jalapa and Pueblo Nuevo tobaccos making up the filler. The cigar gives a full-flavored smoke with creamy chocolate and woody notes throughout. A touch of cedar spice lingers in the background. The construction and burn is consistently excellent.

Enjoyed watching the sunset over the Appalachian Mountains…

Or while working in the cigar lounge…

At the beach last summer…

And again this summer…

It's a cigar for all seasons.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Tailgating 2020 Style: Cigars, Beer, Back Porch

There's no college football tailgating this year thanks to the Chinese virus, but we can still make do with pregame cigars and beer. After a morning spent splitting and stacking wood for the fire pit, I prepped for Saturday's Virginia Tech football game by relaxing with a cigar and beer on the deck. The cigar of choice was the somewhat apropos La Flor Dominicana Special Football Edition 2020 Miami edition. I grabbed some tame New Belgium Fat Tire ale for my afternoon glass. 

The La Flor Dominica stick was one I picked up last January. The annual special release is created especially for the market hosting the Super Bowl, and is made available only in the market hosting that game. Fortunately, I know somebody who knows somebody… Even though I have chosen to not watch any NFL for several years, I grabbed a couple of the sticks with the intent of adding them to our tailgate menu.

The 2020 football edition is a beefy 6 ½ x 50 stick with a mixed Ecuadorian Habano and Maduro wrapper used to create the artistic football design. The binder and filler is from the Dominican Republic. The flavor profile ranges in the medium range, with creamy notes of nuts and toasted bread. The burn was decent, but needed a couple touchups.

Fat Tire Amber Ale is a fitting afternoon beer at 5.2% ABV. The creamy caramel and toasted bread flavors are a nice match for the cigar. 

In truth, we wouldn't have been tailgating in Blacksburg for the afternoon's Virginia Tech vs. Louisville game since it was an away game. That doesn't diminish the disappointment of missing the fun fall activity this year. The time spent sipping and smoking was an acceptable substitute. And it was a Hokies win!