CAO blog

When Dan Dunn, The Imbiber himself, sends you tips on how to host a cigar and beer pairing, you read…and repeat as soon as possible: 

One of the only thrills that can top sparking up a fine cigar is sparking one up with a group of friends. Maybe it’s the ancient call to the campfire lodged in our cerebellum, maybe it’s the care you know went into a quality stick from a great producer, but something about gathering and sharing both fellowship and great tobacco with friends is inherently gratifying. All that’s left then for the smart host is to throw in some precisely chosen beverages and some stimulating conversation. It’s a sure-fire recipe for a night that will win you the enduring gratitude of all those that attend.

But before I continue, a word about those beverages. For centuries, friends have been enjoying their stogies accompanied by various varieties of liquor. But over the last few years we’ve been experimenting with something a bit different: cigar-beer pairings. With the results of our research in hand, I’d like to make an official proposal that beer be admitted into the international brotherhood of cigar-pairing beverages. Besides, CAO has never been a cigar-maker to hold with convention. If you’re smoking a maverick stick, it only makes sense to continue the experimentation by choosing a craft beer to go with it instead of a snifter of something.

With those things in mind I’d like to offer a few tips for ensuring your next gathering is one for the history books.


With summer weather coming on strong, consider holding your next smoke-a-thon outdoors in the backyard where the night sky stimulates conversation. If, however, the weather’s not cooperating, there’s nothing cozier than drawing on a stogie while you watch the rain come down outside.


Guests don’t typically bring their own ashtrays, so make sure you’re fully stocked. For something simple, I like Stinky Cigars’ line of high utility, low cost options. I presume you’ll have some experienced smokers in your group who will bring their own cutters and lighters, but for the newbies (and the forgetful), make sure you keep some extras on hand. I like the Cuban Crafters Revolucion Cigar Scissors for easy slicing and the Xikar Executive for torching up afterwards.


The key to pairings is variety, and no drink makes variety easier to achieve than beer. Like cigars, beer ranges from mild to robust on the palate, so having a selection of beers on hand makes it easy for your guests to experiment and fine tune their gustatory odyssey. Flying Dog has you covered, no matter what you’re puffing, from the rich malty notes of Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout to the snappy bite of the Gonzo Imperial Porter.


What you set out for your pals to munch on is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Rumbling stomachs are no good for smoking. Still, you’re not trying to stuff them full either. The idea is to give your guests some interesting things to bounce off the smoke on their palates.

  • Cheese: Stick with the hard cheeses such as a bright sharp cheddar or gruyere. Avoid anything too creamy or rich.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts and pecans all provide interesting accompaniment to a fine cigar.
  • Fruit: You can try dried fruits such as raisins or cherries, or experiment with juicy fresh pineapple, orange or melon.
  • Chocolate: Make it dark, and ideally with a high cocoa percentage.


Tell each guest to bring one of their favorite sticks to trade. In addition, make sure you have at least two smokes per guest. Make one mild, like the CAO Brazilia. That’s how you’ll open the evening. The other should be robust, like the OSA Sol. You’ll use that to close out the night. As your guests arrive, hand them a Brazilia and tell them to put their mystery stogie in the “grab humidor.” Make a list of everyone who drops one in, then offer them their pick, starting at the top of the list. (Nothing like a little incentive to make sure a party starts on time.) After everyone has enjoyed their mystery smoke, break out the Sols and finish the night off with a bang. The primary thing to remember is that your palate will fare best if you sequence move from mild smokes to robust ones as the night progresses.


It’s no coincidence that cigars and coffee come from the same places, which is why I always recommend capping your evening with this classic combination. Match your most robust smokes with the bold flavors of a Nicaraguan coffee. If possible, brew using a pour-over method to preserve the lighter top notes of your favorite beans.

Dan Dunn

Writer Dan Dunn’s work on wine, spirits, beer, and countless other vices can be found on Food Republic, Playboy, GQ, USA Today, Maxim, The Los Angeles Times, and more. Check out The Imbiber’s review of The Art of Craft, our cigar pairing pack collaboration with CAO Cigars. 

Then, find a Total Wine location near you to discover The Art of Craft.



Dan DunnWriter Dan Dunn’s work on wine, spirits, beer, and countless other vices can be found on Food Republic, Playboy, GQ, USA Today, Maxim, The Los Angeles Times, and more. So we thought who better than “The Imbiber” himself to review The Art of Craft, our cigar pairing pack collaboration with CAO Cigars. 

Check out his thoughts below and find a Total Wine location near you to discover The Art of Craft.

 OSA Sol and Snake Dog IPA

The Snake Dog has some serious bite to it, making it an ideal match for an easygoing smoke like the OSA Sol. When it comes to successful beer and cigar pairings, it’s all about balance. Resist the urge to gulp and swallow the Snake Dog, and instead allow the first sip to linger in your mouth, exploring all areas of your palate. You’ll find its strong citrusy flavor quickly gives way to a resinous hop bitterness. And, oh my, how that zest meshes tantalizingly with the earthy goodness of the OSA which, by the way, is short for Olancho, San Augustin — the lush valley valley in Honduras that yields the one-of-a-kind wrappers for this multi award-winning cigar.

CAO Brazilia and Gonzo Imperial Porter

What better to pair with a smoke as deep, rich, and satisfying as the CAO Brazilia than the most robust brew in the Flying Dog portfolio. The Brazilia blend is made with the finest Nicaraguan leaves, brimming with bitter chocolate and coffee flavor complemented by hints of clove and black pepper spice. The Gonzo is a heavy hops lover’s dream, as big and bold as the legendary writer who inspired it, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Try holding the glass with two hands to help warm up the beer. The Gonzo Imperial Porter, like most craft beers, is not meant to be served ice cold, as extreme cold actually masks flavor… but you already knew that, right? This is a perfect pairing for winding down after a hearty meal, a long day on the slopes, or sun and fun at the beach.

CAO Gold and Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA

The cigar burns slow and steady, imparting a beguiling combination of creaminess and spice along the way. As for the beer, well, as the name suggests, she’s a wild one. Exhale through your mouth while tasting, and the Raging Bitch will release a torrent of flavors, from crisp grapefruit to woodsy pine to exotic mango. The Gold is a far subtler, yet certainly no less enjoyable gustatory experience. This is a premium cigar, recognized as one of the best in the world, one that reveals its complexity over time. Among the more pronounced flavor components are caramel, vanilla, and even barnyard hay. Don’t expect the CAO Gold to tame the IPA, but count on its complementing it.

CAO Mx2 and Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout

The Mx2 is made with two types of wrappers that deliver double the delish. The outermost leaf is an ultra dark, super oily Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro, while the inner wrapper is a fuller-flavored Brazilian Maduro. The provocatively named stout is brewed with Rappahannock River oysters, which help to impart a dark, roasted, dry, and slightly bitter flavor. Don’t worry; there’s nothing fishy going on. What is happening here, though, is so powerful your taste buds aren’t going to know what hit ‘em. Prepare to be bowled over by what may very well be the most audacious pairing of the bunch.

Next week, we’ll have tips from Dan on hosting a cigar and beer pairing party (because trust us, it takes more than a few pint glasses and ashtrays). 




JJ Grey and Mofro FACEBOOK

We’re going 99 Shades of Crazy preparing for our first Summer Sessions concert — featuring JJ Grey and Mofro with Thomas Wynn and the Believers opening.

We’ve also compiled this handy list of FAQs for the show:

1. Will tickets be available at the door? 

Tickets are $25 each and the show will sell out. Get yours now to guarantee you get in.

2. Is the show outside? Will it be held rain or shine?

Yes and yes. Only the stage is covered, but with the 0% chance of precipitation we’re praying for, we think you’ll be just fine. (Let’s all now collectively knock on wood, just to be safe.) There will also be no access to the brewery itself and no re-entry once you’ve been admitted. 

3. Is this an all-ages show?

NO. Only those 21 and older with a valid ID will be admitted. That’s the law. And that include babies and small children, even if they’re strapped to your chest and/or attached with a leash. 

4. Are all tickets general admission? 

Yes. All spots are first come, first serve.  

5. Where do I park?

Parking is on our brewery grounds. Attendants will be on-site all day to direct and showcase of an array of neon-colored vests. 

6. Can I bring chairs, blankets, and/or umbrellas?

Due to space constraints and the sake of those around you (umbrella ends in the eye are no fun), we have to say NOPE to all of the above. 

7. Is outside food or drink allowed? 

Again, NOPE AND NOPE. The only exception to this is unopened bottles of water. (But if you don’t BYOW, we’ll have free water stations throughout the area.) Aside from our delicious beers, no other alcoholic beverages can be consumed or served on our brewery grounds by law. Food and soda will be available for purchase from the kick ass food trucks we have lined up. 

8. So, what’s the deal with beer?

All beer is a la carte and available for purchase for $5 each. From Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale to a cask of Bloodline Blood Orange Ale with cocoa and vanilla, our beer list is a doozy.

9. Are pets allowed?

NO. Trust us, they will have a much better time sneaking onto your bed and taking a long nap than they will dodging beer bellies and beards.

10. Is photography and video allowed? 

Yes, as long as it is not professional. Amateur photos and footage for fun, shits (for, not of), and giggles are welcomed and encouraged. While you’re at it, share it with your friends and ours on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. 

11. I plan on drinking responsibly, but what if I need a cab? Hotel room?

We’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of who to call and where to stay. Here’s a list of who to call and where to stay.

12. Are any other things prohibited? 

Funny you should ask:

  • Smoking
  • Weapons 
  • Illegal substances
  • Party poopers 




For craft beer enthusiasts who want to drink their beer and smoke it too, we’ve partnered with CAO Cigars to pair four of their world-class cigars with four of our most iconic beers.

Gone are the days of old dudes sipping from snifters and smoking in their studies. Just as craft beer is defined by a unique blend of malt, hops, and yeast, a cigar’s wrapper, binder and filler determines its flavor profile and aroma, making for rich and complex pairings. 

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. The pack features the following cigars and suggested beer pairings:

  • 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.

Our CEO Jim Caruso and and CAO Cigar blender Rick Rodriguez will host the “Art of Craft” launch on Wednesday, June 25 at the brewery. From 6 to 9 pm, guests will learn about both the beer and cigar making process from the experts themselves and experience the pairings on the brewery’s patio. Tickets are $35 and include the cigar pack, beer samples, and appetizers.

And click here for a complete list of Total Wine locations.



Agave Cerveza release

Our latest Brewhouse Rarities release, Agave Cerveza, is the artisanal answer to the easy-drinking, light-bodied beers typically produced south of the border.

Flaked maize makes up one third of the malt bill and highlights the distinctive corn and cracker flavor typically found in Mexican lagers. The agave is added at the end of the boil and lime peel post-fermentation to impart a distinctively zesty character and a crisp, clean finish.

And if sticking a lime in it is how you like it, go right ahead.

Here are the vitals:

  • 4.3% ABV
  • 20 IBU
  • Specialty malts: Bon Munich, Flaked Maize
  • Hops: Hallertau, Saaz
  • Specialty ingredients: Agave nectar, lime peel
  • Availability: On draft and in 6-packs June through July in the mid-Atlantic

We’re releasing Agave Cerveza next Tuesday at the brewery. Reservations are free and strongly encouraged to guarantee you get in. Our 6-8 pm tasting session is already booked solid, but we still have spots available from 4 to 6 pm. Click here to make a reservation for the 4-6 pm tasting session.

Want to track some down? Use our Beer Finder to see if Agave Cerveza will be available near you.



Dead Rise Cookbook cover

For 75 years, OLD BAY has been a staple on newspaper-covered tables piled high with steaming shrimp, corn, and Maryland Blue Crabs. To commemorate this milestone anniversary, we released Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale, a beer that has quickly earned its spot right alongside that iconic yellow, blue, and red tin.  

Discover the True Flavor of the Chesapeake with The Dead Rise OLD BAY Cookbook.

We asked 17 of the area’s most cutting-edge chefs to develop recipes that showcase the unique aspects of the Chesapeake Bay that continue to inspire them. The only requirement was showcasing the seasoning we all know and love:

  • Chesapeake Bloody Mary | Chef Scott Drewno
  • OLD BAY Falafel with Crab Yogurt | Chef Mike Isabella 
  • Beer! Cheese! | Chef Spike Gjerde 
  • Northern Neck Gumbo with Choptank Oysters | Chef Todd Gray 
  • Grilled Oysters with Peaches and OLD BAY Butter | Chef Barton Seaver (pictured above)
  • Maryland Crab Dip | Chef Rob Klink
  • Belgian IPA Bay Mussels | Chef Chris Clime (pictured above)
  • Crab Mac and Cheese | Chef Chad Wells
  • OLD BAY Mustard BBQ Fish Collars | Chef Kyle Bailey
  • OLD BAY Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese Fondue | Chef Chad Gauss
  • Grilled Lamb Merguez Skewers with Harissa Aioli | Chef Zachary Mills
  • Chesapoutine | Chef Jeff Eng 
  • OLD BAY Caesar Salad | Chef Matt Baker
  • OLD BAY Fries with Creole Mustard | Chef John Critchley
  • Maryland Crab Cake Sandwiches | Chef Bryan Voltaggio
  • Maryland Blue Catfish Tacos | Chef Keith Long
  • Gertie’s OLD BAY Peanut Brittle Ice Cream | Chef Doug Wetzel 

100% of the proceeds from the cookbook will benefit True Blue, a program that advocates on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay’s 5,500 watermen and promotes sustainably harvested Maryland Blue Crab.  

The Dead Rise OLD BAY Cookbook is $15 and available in our gift shop and online store. 




To Chef Bryan Voltaggio, OLD BAY is a great finishing spice, but it also represents fond memories of drinking beer and picking crabs with his family and friends. 

In the video above, he shares his secrets to crafting an authentic Maryland crab cake and the importance of using True Blue-certified Maryland crabmeat.

Chef Bryan’s complete recipe is featured in The Dead Rise OLD BAY Cookbook alongside recipes from 16 other local celebrity chefs. Proceeds from the cookbook benefit the True Blue program, which advocates on behalf of the Chesapeake crabbing industry. 

And join Bryan and yours truly on Tuesday, June 24 for our annual Summer SOULstice party featuring these (now) infamous crab cakes paired with our Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale and three other small-plate beer and food pairings. Check out our events calendar for details and to purchase tickets. 



Frederick Beer Week

Next week, the focus is on beer. So, how does that differ from any of the other 51 weeks in the year, you ask?

The 4th annual Frederick Beer Week is upon us. It’s a celebration of not only our fine city’s burgeoning craft beer scene, but also the agricultural roots of Frederick County that got us here.

Below is our complete lineup of events. For more information beyond our list and links, head over to the Frederick Beer Week website.

Hometown Tap Takeover

  • Friday, May 30 at 4 pm
  • Jojo’s Taphouse
  • Nothing but Frederick beer on tap to kickoff the week.

Maryland Craft Beer Festival

  • Saturday, May 31 at noon
  • Carroll Creek Linear Park
  • Tickets are sold out, so don’t delay when they go on sale next year.

Patio Party

  • Sunday, June 1 at 1 pm
  • Barley and Hops
  • Sunday Funday with both of our beers on tap, live music, and a taco bar.

Taco Tuesday

  • Tuesday, June 3 at 7 pm
  • Jojo’s Taphouse
  • Eight words: Dead Rise paired with crab and kimchi tacos.

Raging Bitch Clone Competition Judging and Tap Takeover

Cask Night

  • Thursday, June 5 at 5 pm
  • Madrone’s
  • Double the trouble, double the fun. Cask-conditioned Double Dog Double IPA and Snake Dog IPA will be on the bar.

FBW Collaboration Ale Pairing

  • Thursday, June 5 at 6:30 pm
  • Barley and Hops
  • Sample the FBW collaboration, a Sour Mash Belgian Wit, brewed by yours truly, Barley and Hops, Milkhouse, and Monocacy

Happy Hour

  • Friday, June 6 at 5 pm
  • Bushwaller’s Irish Pub
  • Like you don’t already drink Frederick beer for Friday happy hour…

Brew Fest at the Farm

  • Saturday, June 7 at noon
  • Stillpoint Farm
  • Frederick Beer Week’s annual closing festival. On a hop farm.



Summer of Dead Rise INSTA

The Summer of Dead Rise is upon us. And we want you to have it plastered across your chest all summer long.

This Memorial Day weekend, it’s time to see Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale in action. From now through Monday, post your videos and photos of the beer that’s taking the DMV by storm on Instagram for a chance to win a Dead Rise Tee.

To enter, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Follow @flyingdogbrewery on Instagram. You don’t follow us, we don’t see your posts. 
  2. Tag @flyingdogbrewery and use hashtag #SummerOfDeadRise in your entry. Spelling, especially after you’ve had a few, is key. 

We’ll pick our favorites on Tuesday, May 27 and notify each winner via the world wide interwebs by 5 pm.



Summer of Dead Rise

America, you have questions about our Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale. And unlike any politician (except Honest Abe, and maybe William Taft) who has served the greatest nation on God’s green earth, we’ve got answers:

Where is Dead Rise being sold? 

Dead Rise will be available in Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia throughout the summer.  

Where can I find it in [insert your city/state here]?

Our Beer Finder is your best bet to track some down near you.

OK, but your fancy schmancy Beer Finder said it was available at [insert store/bar] here and it wasn’t. What the hell?

Let’s get real for a minute. Dead Rise is selling out faster than Cabbage Patch Dolls in the mid ’80s. So, let’s now take a moment to be thankful that we now have things like the Internet to help us find things. (No one wants to see Grandma get arrested again trying to make Little Julie happy.)

Our Beer Finder is updated when a store/bar/restaurant places an order for our beer from our wholesaler. It’s not real-time data, so if a place sells out of Dead Rise before you make it in, we just can’t help it. 

So what’s a beer drinker in peril to do?

If a retail location (via our Beer Finder or elsewhere) says they have Dead Rise, call before you head out. We know, actual human interaction is gross, but this is the only way we can guarantee you can get some.

And everyone wants to get some, amIright? 

Can I buy Dead Rise at the brewery?

The law in our great State of Maryland states that consumers can only buy beer directly from a brewery once they’ve gone on a guided tour of said brewery. So, if you have a reservation for our brewery tours in the next few months, you’re golden. 

If you don’t, get a growler. Growler fills are the one exception to that law. We have Dead Rise on tap all summer long for growler hours, Thursdays and Fridays 4-8 pm and Saturdays 12-6 pm, which are open to the public. 

Can I buy a keg of Dead Rise for my Aunt Judy and Uncle Kenny’s annual crab feast? 

It’s illegal for us to sell kegs out of the brewery, but some beer stores can place a special order for you. Given how popular Dead Rise has been in its first few weeks of existence (it’s growing up so fast!), we can’t make any guarantees. Your best bet is to call your favorite beer store at least a week before. 

On a scale of 1 to never going to happen, what are my chances of getting Dead Rise outside of the states listed above?

Unless you have friends in high places in said states listed above, chances are “never going to happen.” Dead Rise is exclusively available in the mid-Atlantic all summer long. At least there’s still time to change those vacation plans. Maryland is beautiful this time (and, let’s face it, anytime) of year.

So can I order some Dead Rise from you guys and have it shipped to me? 

If this question were a scratch-off lottery ticket, you would not have three cherries in a row. It’s illegal for us to ship beer directly to consumers. Even if you bribe us.   

So, our fellow Americans, now you know. And according to the great G.I. Joe himself, “knowing is half the battle.”

Be even more in the know by keeping an eye on our Events Calendar and following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Enjoy the Summer of Dead Rise.


Page 19 of 49« First...10...1718192021...3040...Last »