CAO Cigars and Flying Dog Brewery “Art of Craft” Beer and Cigar Pairings and a Contest!

CAO_FlyingDogA month or so ago a box showed up on my doorstep (ok, it was at the garage….it’s a figure of speech) containing four bottles of beer and a four pack of CAO cigars (with a CAO bottle opener attached).  This represented a pairing event held at the Flying Dog Brewery back in June with Rick Rodriguez of CAO called “The Art of Craft” They put together the following pairing suggestions:


  • OSA Sol and Snake Dog IPA: The zesty spice of OSA Sol meets its match with the citrus and resinous hop aromas and flavors of Snake Dog.
  • CAO Brazilia and Gonzo Imperial Porter: Both big and bold, the bitter coffee and chocolate flavors in CAO Brazilia are mimicked by the same robust notes in Gonzo.
  • CAO Gold and Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA: The wildly complex hop bitterness and fruity sweet Belgian yeast notes in Raging Bitch are soothed by CAO Gold’s caramel creaminess.
  • CAO Mx2 and Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout: Dark and dry is the name of this pairing’s game with Mx2’s rich notes of earth and Pearl Necklace’s dry, roast, and slightly bitter character.


This put me in an awkward position. As many of you know, I gave up alcoholic beverages completely over twenty years ago, so I would either have to jump off the wagon, or figure something else out.  Now, I was a big fan of beer in my twenties, but to be honest, I was more into quantity over quality, and I would make projects out of finding how little I could pay for beer.  One experiment included a two dollar six-pack of Carling’s Black Label (even then it was NOT worth it), and countless cases of National Bruce KramerBohemian in 16oz returnable bottles and good old Rolling Rock, which was practically a boutique brand at the time.  Needless to say, my palate wouldn’t be up to this task anyway. So I asked a couple friends over to drink these beers and smoke these cigars, which was a surprisingly easy sell.  I’ve known Bruce Kramer since the old days of the Usenet cigar group back in the ’90s. Bruce is a certified beer judge and a home brewer, and quite the foodie. Obviously, he’s also been a connoisseur of exceptional cigars for a long time. Bruce also is involved in the production of The Bacon Jams, a spreadable bacon product that is about to be featured on QVC, and is taking the bacon world by storm. He was an obvious choice for a panelist in this project.  As I figured four cigars and beers would be a lot to tackle in one sitting I reached out to another friend with a beer, food and cigars background, local author and food writer, Jim Breslin. Jim recently released a novel called Shoplandia“, which is a fun book based upon his lengthy career s a producer at QVC ( I read it, loved it and could relate since I worked at QVC myself briefly in the ’80s). He also writes for the West Chester Dish, a local food and restaurant guide here in Chester County, PA. as well as founding and hosting Story Slams locally. Jim also enjoys fine cigars and has been a reader here, I’d like to think I’ve been able to steer him toward some new and interesting cigar choices. You may also remember Jim from my review last fall of his “Stooges and Stogies” event.  I chose to pair the CAO Brazilia with a CAOBrazila_ReedsReeds Extra Ginger Brew, and the CAO MX2 with a Natural Brew Draft Root Beer.  We sat down in front of the video camera and captured our thoughts on these pairings. The video runs about 12 minutes, a bit long for my tastes, but I think these guys made some great tasting observations and it’s well worth the watch.  Please pardon the umbrella pole, but it only really blocked me out, so no big deal.



Let’s give Jim and Bruce a round of applause for helping out, and subjecting themselves to an evening of fine conversation between segments and some free beer and smokes! If you want to check this out yourself, the CAO “Art of Craft” cigar pack will be available alongside each corresponding beer exclusively at 46 Total Wine stores throughout Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, and California beginning July 1. Thank you to Victoria McKee Jaworski and her crew at General Cigar Co. for providing the samples and a great excuse to get three friends together for some smokes and drinks.  Bruce and Jim hadn’t met prior to this, and had an amazing amount in common. Another great story about cigars opening doors to friendships!  Now Bruce and Jim are after me to arrange another beer and cigar pairing evening!



CAO_Signs Contest_3What the heck, let’s give some CAO goodies away!  I have a metal CAO Flathead 660 sign (a pain in the ass to mail, BTW. My problem, not yours!), a CAO Area 9 pack containing six vintage CAO cigars from the original CAO aging rooms, anywhere from 5 to 20 year old! Also a couple of the new Flathead Sparkplugs and a 554 Camshaft. Sorry, I don’t have the 660 Carb that goes with the sign.  Leave a comment with your favorite cigar and beer pairings (I’ll accept soft drink and coffee pairings too!) and I’ll select a random winner on Sunday.


Thanks for watching, and until the next time,





Filed under Contest, Review, Video

49 Responses to CAO Cigars and Flying Dog Brewery “Art of Craft” Beer and Cigar Pairings and a Contest!

  1. Torry Englert.

    Cao Brazilian and Guinness

  2. A Headley Grange with coffee (I no longer drink)

  3. Can you pair Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp for your next adventure on our back porch?

  4. Charlie Hascall

    I am a huge fan of pairing cigars myself but I too gave up alcohol a few years back. I don’t like to drown out the cigars flavors and subtleties with strong sugary drinks or anything with tons of flavor (rootbeer, pop, ect.) but my favorite drink to have with a cigar is Kombucha. It too like cigars can be complex, balanced, or subtle…My favorite is Lion Heart harvest raspberry and this years La Palina Goldie Laguito Especial. Another would be BDK Superberry and Liga Privada Dirty Rat. Thanks so much Craig for the contest! Good luck everyone!

  5. Brian Impson

    Lots of options here depending on weather conditions. For warm summertime outdoors I’ll go with a Macanudo Grand Cru paired with Victoria McKee’s favorite Diet Snapple Peach Tea. Thanks.

  6. Lloyd Ladrillono

    Hard to nail down a favorite cigar or beer, so I’ll just mention some ‘can’t misses’… Padrón Londres and a San Miguel Pale Pilsen.

  7. Benjamin Chidester

    Due to the fact its 110 right now I am going for a lighter beer Pilsner Urquell and a MUAT in baitfish for that cedar slam.

  8. Donald Kozerow

    Oak Pond Brewery (Skowhegan, Maine) Nut Brown Ale and 1502 Black Gold

  9. Patrick

    Fallen angel and cherry coke

  10. Perdomo Lot 23 with a Surly Bitter Brewer. BTW, I usually only drink water with my stogie so I can taste the cigar’s nuances.

  11. Craig

    Sounds like an awesome night with good people, one of the greatest things about the cigar lifestyle is bringing people who have never met together and finding out they have a lot in common.

    One of my favorite pairings is the JdN Antano 1970 with Crème Brule Coffee.

  12. Great article…..didn’t use to like drinking beer with a cigar but now there are plenty of tasty choices to pear up with a cigar!
    Myles at Cigars and Cars

  13. Dan Colley

    Good on you. You maintained your resolve. One day at a time.

  14. Jerry

    Homebrew and any Tatuaje.

  15. Chris McCann

    Quesada Oktoberfest and an Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen.

  16. Kenyan AA coffee with a maduro Padron 4000…my go to pairing.

  17. La Duena Robusto & Schlafly Pale Ale, one of my favorite cigar and beer pairings. CAO flathead 642 goes real well with coffee.

  18. My favorite pairing of late was an LFD Ligero with a Stone Smoked Porter w/ Chipolte Peppers. Both very bold and flavorful on their own. The extra bite from peppers in the beer sent my pallette into a frenzy.

  19. Jeff Ketcham

    My favorite is is to always be trying new cigars and new craft beers. I think any combination is great

  20. one of the first pairings i had that were a great hit was a wilson adams sumatra with a dogfish head 90 minute ipa
    most recent pairing to win was a montecristo espada with a stone brewing old guardian ( barleywine)

  21. Ray Holthaus

    I would love to sample some CAO Cigars. Love a good Octoberfest with a Fuente 858 maddy

  22. Bob Scott

    CAO America and Samuel Adams Octoberfest, love ’em both!

  23. KOPTim

    CAO Brazilia with Booker’s Bourbon … ahhhh, priceless.

  24. Donald Kozerow

    Marshall Wharf (Belfast, Maine) Oyster Stout. Yep, it’s brewed with real oysters. And an Epicurian Azul

  25. smoke770

    joya de nicaragua antano dark corojo and guinness

  26. jeradadam

    A lot of good ones, but a less common one for me is the HdM Reposado en Cedros and a Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale. Spices merge perfectly.

  27. Tim McCabe

    I like a Bodega Aperitivo with a bottle of Honeymoon Trail ” Chillin’ Concord “. Thanks and good luck everyone.

  28. John Monaghan

    I’m a fan of a Hop Devil and a Rocky Patel vintage 1992.

  29. Chase A

    Nica Rustica & coffee

  30. bingöl haber

    Nica Rustica & coffee.

  31. Kevin Shahan

    Guinness and Camacho is my new fav.

  32. I’ve always enjoyed pairing Rocky Patel’s 1992 Vintage with a double chocolate stout!

  33. cmbrose11

    Even though its not a great cigar, one of my favorite morning pairings is a La Vieja Habana and coffee. Something about this in the morning is just right when smoked in the mornings.

  34. Tim

    Murćielago with a cold Dos Equis amber….

  35. For years I’ve enjoyed pairing Lake Superior Brewing’s (Duluth, MN) Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout with a variety of cigars. Their stout is dark and luscious without being overly heavy. It has wonderful coffee and chocolate overtones making it a perfect pair for medium to heavy smokes. My current favorite to pair with this LSB brew, is from JR Cigar’s “Limited Alternatives” line — the “alternative” to the Cuban Cohiba Sublime. With a lovely Maduro wrapper, this sizable (6.62″ x 54), heavy smoke easily lasts and hour or more. The Oatmeal Stout has the chops to bite back and sooth the palette when enjoying one of these big sticks! Herf on!!

  36. Sean Conroy

    I always like an Ashton VSG and a Sumatra bean coffee. Second choice is an Undercrown and a Sam Adams Harvest Saison. The Undercrown has a distinctive barbecue smokiness, and the saison has a spicy, sharp smoky flavor–pairs really well.

    • Sean Conroy

      Thinking about it, I’m kind of surprised they didn’t pair the CAO Italia with the Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout. The Italia has a strange gamey/”seafood” flavor profile that I’ve haven’t found in any other cigar–my favorite of the CAO portfolio. Missed opportunity.

  37. Lonnie Brooks

    Hey, I really like a good hot cup of Starbucks Gold coast coffee and Alec Bradley American Classic. I think that is the best.pairing!!

  38. Duane Holmes

    Camacho Corojo (old band) with a St. Pauli Girl N/A.

  39. swede214

    JD Howard Reserve, Johnny Walker Black. Very Good

  40. Paul

    Sitting on the deck with a Siglo VI & Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.

  41. Whatever (hopefully) great cigar, and a shot or two of vodka to cleanse the palette.

  42. jjo

    I would have to say that my most memorable pairing was a Man ‘O War Armada with a Unibroue Terrible (Belgian Strong Ale).

    Oyster stouts seem to be pretty popular. Elysian Brewing here in Seattle did one in collaboration with New Belgium..

  43. a 2009 Anejo Shark and 2 drams of Macallan 30 yr Fine Oak.. it was given to me by my BF on my 60th BD

  44. Chad Miller

    CAO MX2 and flying dog gonzo stout

  45. The contest is over, but feel free to leave comments about the video or pairings!

  46. I had the pleasure of being in Belgium last summer and had a great pairing of Corsendonk Agnus beer and a Bolivar Tubos #2. If you can find this beer in the States I highly recommend it!

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