Tonight’s Tasting: Stone Mill Organic Pale Ale and 5 Vegas Cask Strength

5 Vegas Cask-Strength Toro (6″ x 52 box-pressed)

Unless I’m missing something, referring to a cigar as “cask-strength” really doesn’t mean anything in the context of tobacco, unless, I suppose, it was soaked in whiskey. No whiskey here, but 5 Vegas promotes this as the company’s strongest cigar, so that is the connotation that is being sought (plus it ships as 20 cigars in a whiskey-type cask).

This cigar is rolled with a dark Cuban-seed wrapper and all ligero fillers. The construction looked good but the cigar was a little soft to the touch. The draw confirmed that it was rolled too loose, with zero resistance while smoking. That can result from storing the cigar at too low humidity, but I confirmed that my humidor was not to blame.

I think the loose draw contributed to the lack of strength, because this cigar was medium in intensity at best. The taste was not harsh, but did not deliver much complexity. Some pepper came through and a begrudging bit of cedar and spice as the cigar reached its finish. Overall burn was acceptable but a bit jagged, no doubt due to the loose roll. For the same reason, the smoke became too hot.

If your goal were to quickly fill a room with smoke, this would be a good pick; it was a real smokestack. But for overall enjoyability and taste, this one is best buried in the cask(et) it came in. A 6.9 on the Morris Scale, and even then only because I was impressed that a single stick could fill my entire backyard with smoke.

Stone Mill Organic Pale Ale

The “organic” moniker always gives me pause. In most cases it means, “this product will not be as good as what you are accustomed to, but at least it’s natural.” In this case, the organic roots did not appear to spoil the taste.

The beer pours with much carbonation and forms a nice head, although it is short lived. The nose is a very pleasant citrus and melon. The taste is sweet malt, with a slight metallic finish. The mouthfeel is light, and the bitterness is just right.

I’d happily keep a few of these in the beer cooler, if for no other reason than to have something to offer the vegetarian/health food nuts that populate my family tree. As an organic beer, I give it an 8.4; in a blind test I’d rank it an 8.0.

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