By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

At the liquor store Sunday, dropping half my pay on a bottle of bourbon, I saw a ratty little stand of crappy cigars tilting sadly on the counter. The cigars were mismatched and disorganized. They weren’t even grouped by country of origin. Seriously.

I sadly remembered my days of cigar snobbery. One of my best friends, John, owned a cigar store. I’d help with yearly inventory, smoke cigars and count all night.

When counts were off or a variety had gone out of style, we’d take a few beauties home.

And John would bring cigars back from conventions in Vegas and New York for us to “evaluate.”

Ah, the nights sitting on his lania sipping a Miller Lite and comparing cigars. (H. Upmann, Vintage Cameroon — notes of leather and honey, a hint on the lips of coffee and bourbon. Heady days my friends. Heady days,

Some nights, we’d sip a Jack or Jim on the rocks.

I haven’t smoked a cigar since one afternoon, on a Tuesday, my doctor asked me if I enjoyed sinus infections. The cigars were giving me some doozies.

But seeing that sad rack of tobacco garbage made me think. Where had the cigar stores gone? Where were the beautiful humidors of my youth?

Later that evening, I walked out to the deck to ponder, sat back in my chair and cracked a $10 beer. Mmm. (Notes of boysenberry and lime. Citra hops. A nice nose of alcohol at the finish. Mouthfeel? A bit thin.

I pulled my phone out and logged on to Ratebeer.

What did others have to say?

A group of friends and I camped at the NASCAR championship race in Homestead every November. We would drink about a hundred Miller Lites. We would shoot a little tequila to catch a buzz.

Then we caught the craft beer buzz, literally.

Bye-bye cigars. Hello beer.

Now, we sip light beers between real beers for hydration. Even little Brookings-Harbor is bookended by two great breweries.

A tequila shot on top of these beers will send you tumbling down a hill.

And Jack and Jim? Friendly sounding, but the best of beers are now paired with a sip of Mr. Hayden, as one properly addresses Basil Hayden’s Bourbon (spice, tea, a hint of peppermint).

Some future Tuesday, a doctor will ask, “So, Boyd, do you like being 20 pounds overweight?”

He won’t even know I haven’t spent a weekend sober since my friends John and Walter drove me down to Funky Buddha Brewery. We sipped a 12 percent barrel-aged Belgian Quad infused with blueberries and chocolate.

We paired it with an Uber.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at .