Brand: Brick House Classic
Size: Robusto (5” x 50)
Factory: J.C. Newman PENSA, Estelí, Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador Havana Seed
All cigars, like the Brick House, were once made with Cuban tobaccos. The Brick House brand has been around since the early days of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. The first-generation Newman that started the company, Julius Caeser, came up with the name.
Prior to his immigration to the United States, J.C. lived in a brick house in Hungary. He and his family lived in a small village where they would all gather in that brick house to eat, drink, and smoke. I imagine that brick house felt like a friendly, brick and mortar cigar shop. J.C. blended this cigar to reflect his times at his brick house: a place for good conversations and memories.
During the great depression, many companies were forced to consolidate brands. This brought about the end of the Brick House cigar. Despite lying dormant for 85 years, Bobby and Eric Newman had not forgotten their grandfather’s notorious brand. They brought back the Brick House and blended it with Cuban seed tobaccos grown in Nicaragua. This not only pays tribute to the Newman family, but it also emulates old school flavors once common in Havana clear cigars that were rolled in Tampa factories. Now made at our PENSA factory, this cigar takes you back to the days of pre-embargo cigars.
At first glance, the Brick House greets me with an off-white logo on the band, complemented by modernized yet ornate old school detail. The cigar slides right out of the cellophane and the first thing I notice are the oils on the wrapper. It really shines yet has a slight toothy feel to it. The veins are consistently mellow and have good structure. There are no zipper-like veins compromising the construction of the cigar. When I give it a good squeeze, it has a nice give, but there are no holes or pockets. It is made very well with a good triple cap stacked on the top that will clearly handle any variety of cut. I used a classic guillotine cut at a rather shallow depth as is my preference. The foot of the cigar has hints of spice and hay. On the cold draw, the wrapper taste delivered a nice fig flavor that was very noticeable with a nice nutty undertone. There was a slight sweetness to the wrapper which was subtle yet savory. I found myself enjoying the entire cold draw experience and was thoroughly intrigued.
After toasting the foot of the cigar, I was able to get a fast and even light on the cigar. The first few puffs alerted my senses and delivered a lot of flavor. During the first third of the cigar I got a good intensity with spices, nuts, licorice, and figs on the finish. I was glad that the fig taste on the wrapper stuck around once the cigar was burning. The spiciness was the most prominent attribute and I found the flavor and intensity in the first third to be medium to full. The retrohale was smooth overall, not overpowering. I found the draw to be excellent; not too tight, not too open. A double puff revealed a little more complexity with woody notes to add to the array of flavors. The cigar was burning beautifully and required no touch ups in the first third. The teeth on the wrapper showed on the ash. The color of the ash was more white than grey and had no flakiness to it.
By the end of the first third, I was really falling in love with this cigar. The burn, construction, appearance, strength, and flavor were all delivered in a way that made you commit to finishing the cigar. The first third did what it was blended to do; keeping you around for the rest of the experience. I have smoked cigars in the past that were so boring in the first third that I wanted to put them out. This was not the case with the Brick House Robusto.
During the second third of the cigar, I found the spices to die down a bit and the sweetness from the wrapper crept back into the profile. Dark fruit, nuts, and wood were the most present flavors, but the spice was still a factor. The texture of the smoke was creamy and on the thicker side. After such a spicy beginning I found this transition to be refreshing. The sweetness and smoke texture proved to be a nice contrast to the first third of the cigar. The Brick House burned like a champ. A straight, white, and grey ash held on beautifully with no flakiness. Whenever the burn started to get a little wonky it soon evened itself out with a little rotation. Some of the veins showed through the ash. At the end of the second third my favorite part of this cigar was the foreground. Wood notes and spice died down a bit more and I was able to find the taste of figs to be obvious once more with definite sweetness on the finish. At this time, I decided it was time to part with my old friend, the ash.
As with most cigar blends, the final third picked up in intensity. Licorice and spice were most noticeable and delivered in a medium to full bodied package. It never got hot or bitter however I found myself only single puffing at this point in the cigar to avoid the heat. There was still some sweetness from the wrapper coming through at certain points as well as that beloved note of fig. Upon retrohaling the cigar, I was able to get more spiciness quite like the first third of the cigar. It was still very smooth which was uncommon for retrohaling a cigar in its final stages. The burn remained steadfast and even. I only had to touch it up once in the final third. The ash held together decently but did develop some flakes though they were not a major issue; I was not worried about the ash dropping or making a mess all over my clothes. By the end of the final third of the cigar, I was able to keep an ash that was about the length of the remaining cigar. I decided it was time to put it down only because my fingers were getting warm. The final third resembled the first third: a spicy yet smooth finish.
In my smoking experience, price has a lot to do with how I judge a cigar. If I pay $20 for a cigar, I hold it to higher standards.
If you are not familiar with Brick House and are reading this review, you will probably be wondering how much of a hit your wallet is going to take. You will be both comforted and surprised to know that the Brick House goes for around $6-$7 I consider this to be a must-have for any humidor and a box purchase makes so much sense. My travel case holds three cigars and one of them is usually a Brick House Robusto. The variation of flavors, construction, burn rate, appearance, and price of this cigar makes me regard it very highly.
At the conclusion of smoking the cigar, I found it to be more medium-bodied with high points that put the strength at medium to full. Even with a 54-ring gauge, I found this cigar to burn incredibly easily and evenly. Usually, a thicker cigar means more margins of error in the burn.
After smoking three Brick House Robustos, all burning consistently for about an hour and fifteen minutes, I can make one final testament to this cigar: the Brick House is constructed much like how J.C.’s family house in Hungary was surely built. This cigar holds up to everything you can throw at it. Just like J.C. Newman as a company, overcoming hurdles and adapting with the times for the past 125 years.
A Note to Retailers:
From the perspective of a retailer, this cigar just makes sense. The guy that comes into your store 5-7 days a week doesn’t smoke $20 cigars. He smokes something in the $6-$8 dollar range. Consistency and bang for your buck is what frequent cigar shop customers are looking for. The Brick House fits the bill on all accounts. I’d also like to note that J.C. Newman usually has at least one Brick House promotion a year. The Man Cave promotion in the past consisted of buying a full box of 25, receiving Brick House accessories, and getting a chance to win either a humidor or ashtray.
Earlier this year, we featured the “Brick House At Your House” promotion to support retailers during the quarantine.
Currently, some shops are offering our 125th anniversary cutter and ashtray set for free when purchasing any box of Brick House.
This brand has been relevant and highly rated for years and I don’t see it going anywhere. More times than I can count, customers walk through the front door and ask, “Do you carry any Brick House”? I couldn’t imagine my time as a retailer without Brick House on the shelves.
About Nikolaos Psilopoulos
Nik has been working on the retail side of the cigar industry for 5 years. The past 3 years his palette has been experienced enough to formally taste and review cigars for your reading pleasure. At El Reloj he is running our factory store and giving tours. He is a Certified Retail Tobacconist with the PCA’s educational resource, Tobacconist University. You can expect him to further his tobacco knowledge with us at J.C. Newman and encourages visitors to ask all the questions that come to mind.
Outside of the world of cigars, you can find him enjoying the great outdoors or participating in dog sports with his Australian Shepherd.