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Downers Grove 2011 Beer Bowl Winners

On a cold Friday night, Binny’s in Downers Grove wanted to know- Which Craft Beer will reign supreme and be called the champion of the 2011 Beer Bowl?

Our Beer Manager, Matt Bentley, had separated the sixteen contenders into four categories. Bracket #1 featured Pilsners and Lagers. Capital Brewing Supperclub went up against Great Lakes Brewing Dortmunder Gold and Lagunitas Pils took on Victory’s Prima Pils.  Bracket #2 had Pale Ales and IPA’s going against each other.  These match-ups featured Smuttynose Pale Ale against Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Stone Brewing IPA versus Bells Two Hearted Ale. Bracket #3 had Amber and Red beers.  The pairings there were Green Flash Hop Head Red against New Belgium’s Fat Tire and Flosmoor Station’s Pullman Brown versus Avery Ellie’s Brown.

The final bracket had Porters and Stouts.  Great Divide’s Yeti Stout and North Coast’s Old Rasputin went head to head and Founder Porter took on Emmet’s Robust Porter.

When Matt announced the Beer Bowl was beginning, we threw an interesting twist in to mix. First round match ups were tasted blind.  The 100+ participants knew what beers were being tasted but the beers were poured in glasses behind a screen.  The tasters were given a sample labeled A or B and then given a ticket to vote for their favorite sample.  This made for some interesting comments from the tasters, and we had some surprise winners come out of the brackets.

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Binny’s TOP 25 Cigars of 2010


After some grueling and intensive research by our in-house panel of smoking experts, it’s time to release the second annual Binny’s Top 25 Cigars. Not only are we going to give you insight to the top new releases (and some not so new) of the past year, but we’re putting them on sale through the entire month of February. We’re positive you’ll enjoy them as much as we do, especially at these prices.


Marca Binny's 1949 Marca Binny’s 1949 Robusto Largo (23336)
Since their introduction, our own Marca Binny’s 1949 house blend has been one of the hottest selling brands in the Binny’s humidors, with the Robusto Largo leading the charge. Measuring 5.25 x 52, the Robusto Largo offers smokers the perfect balance of flavor and strength. Its all Nicaraguan composition creates an espresso core that’s accompanied with leather, sweet cedar, and touches of chocolate. While it smokes like an Ultra-premium, it’s definitely not priced that way making this not only a great tasting cigar but also one of the best values you’ll find anywhere you shop.
Regular: $5.25   Binny’s Card Price: $4.50  
Cigar Label E.P. Carillo Elencos Edicion Limitada 2010 (24392)
After leaving La Gloria Cubano cigar icon Ernesto Perez-Carillo along with his son, also named Ernesto and daughter Lisette, started this small company in order to continue the outstanding tradition of cigar making that has been associated with the Perez family for years. Last year EPC hit a home run with their Edicion Limitada 2009 and we felt that cigar could not be outdone. We were wrong. The Edicion Limitada 2010 blew our minds away in every aspect that a cigar could. Rich, refined, balanced, perfectly constructed, and aesthetically gorgeous with its Brazilian wrapper, this cigar shows its true colors from the initial light. Notes of caramel, leather, sweet coffee bean, and cocoa hit the palate perfectly and linger. This is a smoke for someone that truly appreciates great tobacco and the art of blending.
Regular: $13.95   Binny’s Card Price: $11.95  
Marca Binny's 1949 Marca Binny’s 1949 Tres Petit Corona (23334)
When the term “Fire Cracker” is used in the cigar industry, it typically refers to a small cigar that packs a punch and most of the time that “punch” is all that little cigar has going for it. The Marca Binny’s 1949 Tres Petit Corona definitely packs a punch but does it with balance that’s rarely found in cigars of this type. No matter what you call it, “Dog Walker”, “Short Commute” or anything else, this Petit Corona has all the right stuff. Flavor, strength, and balance can all be found flowing perfectly together in this little gem of a smoke. Espresso forward, sweet tobacco, cream, and subtle spice undertones are apparent throughout. The cigar finishes strong and clean and leaves the palate satisfied by the layers of flavor.
Regular: $4.25   Binny’s Card Price: $3.50  
Cigar Label La Aurora Puro Vintage 2003 (875671)
The La Aurora Puro Vintage 2003 is a cigar of beauty not just aesthetically, but also by way of construction, composition, and flavor. The draw and burn on this Salomones is near perfect from the initial light to the very last puff. The Ecuadorian wrapper and Dominican inner components are aged to perfection, and it’s evident not only by the vintage designation, but by every puff you take. Dominated by sweet cedar, caramel, and milk chocolate flavors, this Figurado continues to reinvent itself every third of the way down. To put it simply, a delicious cigar that can be smoked now or put away to be enjoyed on a future date.
Regular: $27.50   Binny’s Card Price: $23.95  
Cigar Label La Aroma De Cuba “Mi Amor” Robusto (23899)
Blended and manufactured by Jose “Pepin” Garcia for Ashton, the newest member of the La Aroma De Cuba family sports a silky, Cuban-seed, Mexican Maduro wrapper. The Robusto comes slightly box-pressed and has subtle notes of cedar and raisins on the pre-light. Extremely well constructed with just the perfect amount of tension on the draw, this medium-bodied creation displays intense flavors of coffee with touches of vanilla and coconut that finish with a hint of leather.
Regular: $6.75   Binny’s Card Price: $5.95  
Cigar Label Alec Bradley Tempus Maduro Terra Nova
(24362)
Created using the same inner components as the original Tempus, the Maduro version uses a wrapper leaf that’s grown in Mexico’s renowned San Andreas valley. What makes this Maduro intriguing is the fermentation process that it goes through, a method that hasn’t been used in nearly 70 years. The use of a bethune made from fruit pulp helps shorten the fermentation time of the Maduro wrapper while keeping the strength inside the leaf. This method and combination of tobaccos creates a medium to full bodied smoking experience that’s earthy and has coffee and cinnamon notes with a sweet finish.
Regular: $7.90   Binny’s Card Price: $5.95  
Cigar Label Guillermo Leon Belicoso (24377)
Bearing the name of the president of the company, Guillermo Leon cigars are blended using tobacco from five major growing regions. This combination creates a true medium-bodied cigar that’s rich, complex, and balanced. The Belicoso feels perfect in the hand with a 52 ring gauge that tapers at the head giving you a more comfortable smoking experience. A core of roasted nuts, coffee, and spice are accompanied by sweet earthy notes and touches of butterscotch.
Regular: $8.75   Binny’s Card Price: $6.95  
Cigar Label La Gloria Cubana Artesanos De Obelisco
(25143)
The first thing that catches your eye about this cigar is the Washington Monument shape. At the foot it’s nearly a 60 ring gauge, tapering down to the size of a petite corona. Concerns of an uneven burn due to the combination of the unusual shape and it being box-pressed are premature and unwarranted because it not only burns great, but the shape is very easy to hold and contributes to the complex flavors of the cigar. The Obelisco is loaded with layers upon layers of complex tobacco flavors such as coffee, chocolate, caramel, pepper, and cream. The finish will amaze you as every puff tastes like something different is hitting your palate.
Regular: $8.50   Binny’s Card Price: $7.25  
Cigar Label Nestor Miranda Art Deco Coffee Break (28494)
The Art Deco is the latest release from Miami Cigar owner Nestor Miranda and master cigar blender Jose “Pepin” Garcia. Just like the previous collaborations, the Art Deco puts “Pepin” to the challenge of creating a blend outside his comfort zone with the use of Dominican tobaccos. The combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos creates a blend unlike what most “Pepin” followers are used to smoking. Presented in a vintage metal container that resembles a retro lunch box, the Coffee Break displays a core of sweet tobacco and subtle paprika that flow harmoniously, with notes of cream, cocoa, and butterscotch.
Regular: $6.25   Binny’s Card Price: $4.95  
Cigar Label Kristoff Ligero Corona (24385)
This little Corona is loaded with an interesting array of flavors that hit the palate perfectly and leave it asking for more. The latest vitola in the very popular Kristoff brand gets the majority of its flavor profile from the Criollo wrapper. Cafe con leche flavors hit the palate from the initial light followed with notes of caramel and milk chocolate. A very creamy core dominates this Corona making it extremely pleasant to smoke. The medium body turns full towards the last third of the cigar where all the flavors come together like a symphony and dominate your taste senses.
Regular: $6.55   Binny’s Card Price: $5.75  
Cigar Label Padron 1926 Series #9 Maduro (876958)
The Padron’s are known for making some of the world’s greatest cigars. Their efforts are evident in each and every cigar that bears the family name, with the 1926 Series probably their greatest achievement. The #9 Maduro, a Robusto, takes the title as the “Alpha” cigar in the 1926 blend. It’s an espresso bomb that’s loaded with diverse coffee characteristics. There are also flavors of sweet cedar, roasted almonds, and just the right amount of spice throughout the smoke. This slightly box-pressed Robusto is bunched and rolled by some of the best Torcedors in the business, making sure that each and every #9 tastes and burns exactly as it was intended to do, perfectly.
Regular: $22.30   Binny’s Card Price: $17.95  
Cigar Label Partagas Black Label Magnifico (877128)
A deep, dark, Oscuro U.S.A. Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper surrounds a filler of Dominican and Nicaragua leaf. A full-bodied blend that’s perfectly balanced and intended for the experienced palate. The Magnifico, a Toro, has earth and spice forward notes that are accompanied with flavors of black cherry and licorice. The burn for an Oscuro leaf is phenomenal with the perfect amount of smoke hitting the palate on every draw.
Regular: $7.60   Binny’s Card Price: $6.50  
Cigar Label Alec Bradley Family Blend VR1 (19209)
The Family Blend was originally created for the heads of the Alec Bradley cigar company as their every day, around the office smoke. It was also given out at special events to anybody lucky enough to get their hands on one. Well, the feedback that Alec Bradley received from those lucky few was enough to put it into full production and allow everybody to enjoy this cigar. The line now has five different sizes but the VR1 was the first size created in this blend. A medium-bodied smoke that reveals earthy flavors on the initial light with some leather and woody notes getting in the mix soon after. The cigar is rounded out with additional flavors of black cherry and roasted nuts that just make this wonderful cigar even more appealing to the palate.
Regular: $5.95   Binny’s Card Price: $5.25  
Cigar Label The Edge Battalion Maduro (878068)
The Edge is produced with the full-bodied smoker in mind who’s in search of a straight-forward, get to the point, in your face type of cigar. The packaging has disclaimers warning smokers to prepare themselves for this. The Battalion, measuring a whopping 6×60, has an abundance of flavors that range from dried fruit, spice, coffee, and cedar. If you’ve smoked an Edge cigar before, you’ll know what I’m talking about, if not, then hold on to your seat. A strong, complex, and well constructed smoke that’s simply an unbelievable value.
Regular: $7.05   Binny’s Card Price: $5.95  
Cigar Label Diamond Crown Maximus Robusto #5 (871812)
J.C. Newman’s Diamond Crown Maximus series has a pedigree unlike most any other cigar. The Ecuadorian wrapper is grown by the Oliva tobacco family and the Dominican inner components are provided by the Fuente family. The collaboration of three famous tobacco families creates a status smoke that has been described as “big powerful flavor in a big powerful cigar”. The aesthetics are simply beautiful with its ornate band, dark wrapper, and tight construction. Initial puffs reveal tastes of cocoa, a hint of leather, and just the right amount of salt and pepper on this full-bodied creation. The cigar’s construction leads to an effortless draw, a load of smoke with each puff, and a burn that never needs to be addressed once lit.
Regular: $12.35   Binny’s Card Price: $9.95  
Cigar Label El Triunfador #6 (18549)
If you’re in search of a great cigar that’s an alternative to the style of smokes typically found everywhere nowadays, look no further. The El Triunfador #6 measures 7 ½ inches with a 38mm diameter and provides smokers a break from the norm. This Lancero has an Ecuadorian Habano Capa over all Nicaraguan tobaccos that produce a medium-bodied smoke. The blend is spicy, leathery, and earthy at the start and later opens up to reveal notes of orange peel and chocolate. It’s a very complex cigar that puts the focus on flavor first and foremost rather than strength, the way every cigar should be blended.
Regular: $7.75   Binny’s Card Price: $6.50  
Cigar Label Aganorsa Leaf Toro (23596)
Aganorsa Leaf is the finest representation of tobaccos grown in Nicaragua’s renowned Jalapa Valley. The Corojo 2006 wrapper is oily, seamless, and smooth as silk. The Toro has a wonderful trunk-press to it and is finished with a beautiful triple cap. The body is full and the smoke is complex, revealing notes of cocoa, graham cracker, sweet wood, caramel, and a slight spice. The finish is long and strong and intended to please the mature palate.
Regular: $7.50   Binny’s Card Price: $6.25  
Cigar Label Avo Heritage Toro (24391)
Avo cigars have generally always been known for being a mild to medium-bodied smoke with the few exceptions coming in the form of limited edition releases. One of those limited edition releases was the LE09 or “Companero” that used a dark Sun-Grown Ecuadorian wrapper that created a bold cigar unlike any typical Avo. The Heritage series uses that exact Ecuadorian wrapper over its blend of Dominican filler and binder tobaccos to create a medium to full-bodied masterpiece. The Toro, measuring 6×50, expresses bold flavors of spice, cedar, dark chocolate, and espresso and is intended to please the mature palate.
Regular: $7.95   Binny’s Card Price: $6.75  
Cigar Label La Traviata Maduro Divino (24367)
A year after C.A.O. released the century-old former Cuban cigar brand La Traviata, they introduced a Maduro version that incorporates a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper to the same Cameroon binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers as the original blend. The Divino Maduro, a Robusto in size, offers a rich medium-bodied smoke that exudes some of the same black pepper and woody character as the Divino but also delivers a unique bitter sweet chocolate note that’s attributed directly to the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The La Traviata Divino Maduro is lush, rich, and round, combining sweet and spice simultaneously, resolving in a creamy-chocolate finish.
Regular: $4.95   Binny’s Card Price: $3.95  
Cigar Label Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Corona Gorda
(23809)
To commemorate his 15th anniversary in the industry, Rocky released a special cigar that had been in the works for over two years. The wrapper is a special leaf grown in Ecuador from Habano seed with the filler and binder leaf coming entirely from Nicaragua. One of the filler leafs was grown on a farm in Esteli that was dedicated entirely to this cigar. This cigar needed to be great in order to honor the achievement; and great it is. The Nicaraguan and Ecuadorian tobaccos create a medium to full-bodied smoke that’s rich yet refined, showing the properly aged tobaccos with every puff. Loaded with rich hickory, cedary, and nutty flavors, the Corona Gorda puts the emphasis on that special wrapper that’s oh so delicious.
Regular: $8.50   Binny’s Card Price: $6.50  
Cigar Label Casa Fernandez Arsenio Maduro (24609)
With the success the original Arsenio had with consumers, Casa Fernandez decided to produce a Maduro version that could deliver a smoke of the same caliber. This dark leaf colored Robusto sports a Criollo wrapper that’s been fermented to perfection and provides an entirely different flavor profile. While still remaining medium to full-bodied, the Arsenio Maduro reveals flavors of roasted nuts, dark chocolate, and hints of licorice from the get go. The flavors intensify as the cigar is smoked opening the door to added flavors of caramel and black cherry with an appealing aroma on the nose.
Regular: $6.50   Binny’s Card Price: $5.50  
Cigar Label Oliva Serie V Double Toro (873721)
A complex blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos creates what the Serie V is, a full-bodied cigar that maintains an unparallel smoothness throughout. The use of specially fermented ligero tobaccos in the filler and a high priming Habano Sun Grown Wrapper from Nicaragua’s renowned Jalapa Valley gives the Serie V its unique characteristics. This flavorful blend accompanied with the dimensions of the Double Toro exhibits complex tobacco with rich coffee and dark chocolate tones. A subtle spice is present throughout that’s perfectly married to every other flavor hitting your palate.
Regular: $7.65   Binny’s Card Price: $6.50  
Cigar Label Ashton VSG Tres Mystique (870356)
A classic little smoke that has continuously pleased the palate of its followers with a rich and powerful blend, this Tres Petit Corona definitely packs a punch. Wrapped in a beautiful Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrapper that’s grown by the Oliva Family and accompanied with tobaccos grown by the Fuentes, this collaboration creates a smoke unlike anything on the market. Rich notes of cocoa and earth linger on the palate with touches of caramel and spice.
Regular: $9.65   Binny’s Card Price: $7.95  
Cigar Label La Aurora 107 Corona (23537)
Blended to commemorate the 107th anniversary of the La Aurora Cigar Company, the 107 delivers a sophisticated smoke for the mature palate. The combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos capped off with an Ecuadorian wrapper, create a medium bodied smoke that produces notes of hickory, cedar, black cherry, and a sweet spice on the back end of every puff. A great 30 to 45 minute smoke meant to deliver, and deliver it does.
Regular: $5.50   Binny’s Card Price: $4.50  
Cigar Label Cusano 18 Robusto (871633)
Cusano 18 have been a favorite mild to medium-bodied smoke for years, and continue to have a huge following due to their consistency in construction and flavor. Blended by Hendrik Kelner and rolled at the Davidoff factory in the Dominican Republic, each cigar burns evenly from beginning to end, with the feel of a smoke that’s priced three times as much. A gorgeous Connecticut shade wrapper covers the Dominican inner components that all come together to create a slightly spicy, nutty and creamy smoke with a sweet, woody finish.
Regular: $4.95   Binny’s Card Price: $4.25  

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