Bride of Re-Monte-Mator
Bride of Re-Monte-Mator.
Pairing Blog: Montecristo No. 4 & Hacker-Pschorr Animator
Without cigars, our bar, and the joys of the Cigarden, it’s been a long, arduous winter (Thanks, COVID!). But, now that we’re heading for more temperate climes it means that stogies are back on the menu! And what better way to get back in the swing of things than by sampling an old reliable favourite, the Montecristo No. 4!
Believe it or not, the Montecristo No. 4 is the best selling cigar in recorded history and has been the medium via which many smokers in modern times have been endeared into the wonderful world of cigar smoking. (Fun factoid: It was also the preferred cigar of the legendary Ernesto “Che” Guevara)
There are many reasons why the Montecristo No. 4 has achieved its much lauded status, as a Mareva size (Petit Corona) it sits in something of a sweet spot, not too large as to be intimidating for newcomers and not too small for more tenured smokers’ preferences. In terms of flavour it is often regarded as a yardstick by which other cigars can be measured. Personally, I found it to be replete with initial notes of toasted caramel, leather and cocoa in the first third, which progressed through earthier notes and towards the domain of roasted coffee and spice towards the finish. Overarching all of this was the often discussed characteristic Montecristo ‘tang,’ a bittersweet top note that permeates most vitolas bearing the iconic Montecristo blend.
One positive that I’ve found from the last solid year of being locked down is that I’ve been having something of a personal renaissance in terms of exploration of beer styles, I’ve admittedly been more close minded than I’d have liked in recent years and have set about trying to remedy that. One style I’ve particularly been looking to reconcile with though has been the mighty Doppelbock.
Hailing originally from Einbeck, Germany; the Doppelbock is also a fantastic example of German humour as well as their brewing prowess. The style was often referred to as an “Einbeck,” which when spoken in a Bavarian accent sounds like “ein Bock” (Translated: a billy goat), and as a result of this phonetic gaffe you’ll often find that bottled Bocks and Doppelbocks are adorned with a goat of some description. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that the Germans have no sense of humour!
Stylistically, the Doppelbock is a big, thick, unctuous beast of a beer, typically sitting anywhere between 7%ABV and 9%ABV, although much stronger examples can be produced via ice distilling (Eisbocks). Hacker-Pschorr’s Animator is an exceptional example of the style, pouring a rich mahogany with a light tan head; and positively bursting at the seams with rich, dark fruity flavours; notes of caramel and brown sugar; slight licorice and hints of exotic fruits. It’s also worth noting that there wasn't even a vague hint of the considerable 8.1%ABV in play, which is no small feat in and of itself. However, of our current myriad selection of doppelbocks, I chose Animator for its distinct hoppy bitterness, a quality I felt would be conducive to greatness when placed in tandem with the Montecristo No. 4.
In the midst of typical Aberdonian April weather, and still bereft of our beloved cigarden, I took a chance on a moment’s respite from the week of snow we’d had inflicted on us and set out to a particularly scenic bridge nearby my house to take this understated pairing for a spin.
It’s been a good couple of years since I’ve partaken in smoking a Montecristo No. 4 but upon lighting it was like connecting with a good old friend, comforting and familiar; with all of the earthiness, hints of sweetness and the ever-present tang in play that I’ve experienced countless times over the years. In this early stage of the proceedings the bitterness of Hacker-Pschorr’s Animator played a more significant role, accenting and bringing balance to the early sweet notes of the cigar, but as I progressed through the cigar it began to take a more ancillary position, with the sweetness of both components trading places in a fairly seamless transition. Before I knew it, the toasted caramel and cocoa notes of the cigar had given way to its more earthy and spicy qualities, but ready and waiting to take its place were the almost sherry-like sweet flavours of the beer, adding some levity to the ever-intensifying roasted notes of the cigar.
All things considered I was more than pleasantly surprised with how well this pairing worked in practice, as I’d initially formulated the idea from hypothesis and conjecture, it goes to show that sometimes you really should just trust your gut feeling. I’d highly recommend this pairing to any fans of the Montecristo brand, German beer fans looking to branch out into the world of cigars, or newcomers to both who are looking to push their boundaries and take a risk on something bold and rewarding.
Thanks for reading!