Perhaps it was my recent (and very successful) foray making brownies with and subsequently eating alongside Portland Brewing BlackWatch Porter but when I received beer mail containing McMenamin's Kris Kringle I was immediately preoccupied with what I would like to make and then drink it with. For whatever reason gingerbread sprang to the forefront of my mind and upon locating my go-to recipe for it I forged ahead.
Before embarking on the baking however I wanted to sample Kris Kringle on its own. Poured into a glass the dark amber color again made me think of gingerbread. Inhaling the aroma, I found it to be sweeter than expected. That sweetness didn't carry through to the flavor however; it seemed more that of an amber or a nut brown with a more assertive hop presence.
Setting the beer aside I began making the gingerbread, opting to bake up mini-muffin bites instead of using a standard baking pan. Partway through I returned to the beer and found as the beer warmed the hops became more prevalent from start to finish and ultimately overtaking the sweetness.
Mixing up the batter and baking the mini-muffins went by quickly and soon I ready to see if my experiment would pay off. As it turned out not only did the bites turn out delicious on their own, their mild sweetness meshed well with the hoppiness of the beer. In turn the beer served to help make the ginger and cinnamon pop.
If you're looking for something new to leave out for St. Nick I'd highly recommend a plate of these gingerbread bites and a bottle of Kris Kringle. No matter how bad you've been all year he's likely to overlook those lapses as he enjoys this pairing, finding someone else's stocking to leave your lumps of coal in.