Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Beer & Girl Scout Cookies Pairing Year III

This third year of pairing Girl Scout cookies with beer was definitely the most successful yet. Using what we'd learned in the past - primarily that stouts work well with many of the cookies, as does Lindemans Framboise, and that Samoas will be the most difficult to pair - we delved in again this past weekend.
One change this year is that the Girl Scouts now offer a gluten free cookie called Toffee-tastic. We figured that was as good as any place to start and to stay with the gluten free theme chose Ground Breaker Olallie, a blackberry rose hip ale. The cookies are a crumbly shortbread, larger in width and thickness than any other of the cookies, and received two thumbs up from our group of gluten-lovers. Unfortunately our choice of beer wasn't successful and it was agreed that a porter would work better with the toffee flavor. Tabling the cookie, we forged ahead.

With the intent to play off the success we'd found with Lindemans Framboise we chose a bottle from Minnesota brewery Brau Brothers that we'd received from a friend. Barrel & Bog, a dark ale brewed with cranberries and soured in oak barrels, turned out to be tart and dry, pairing wonderfully with Savannah Smiles. The lemon cookies proved to be one of the easiest to pair in the past but this beer really made the lemon flavor pop. A second, and more widely available beer, Saison dupont also was outstanding with the Smiles. Not a particular favorite of mine on its own as it's a Belgian farmhouse, Chris was spot on with this choice.

Another beer that I do not enjoy on its own is Bell's Winter White. Not usually available in the Portland market Bell's products have been brought in on a limited time basis and that timing turned out to be perfect for this pairing event. Not only did it pair well with the Trefoils (shortbreads) and Do-si-dos (peanut butter sandwich cookies) but it worked with the difficult-to-pair Samoas. It seems that the coconut is what makes the Samoas a challenge, particularly for Chris who simply doesn't like coconut, but in this pairing he found a way to enjoy the cookie and I found a way to enjoy the beer.

Moving along to darker beers and what we anticipated to be more successful in pairings we popped Off Color Dino S'mores (RIS), 21st Amendment Lower Da Boom (barleywine) and Stone Americano (espresso). It was here that we found a beer that matched well with the gluten-free Toffee-tastic in Lower Da Boom. The high ABV is obvious in the beer, making it one I generally wouldn't drink much of but if I did want to get smashed, I'd grab a few cans of it and a box of Tagalongs (chocolate-covered peanut butter cookies) as they mellowed the alcohol bite with their creamy goodness. On the flip side, when paired with the addictive Thin Mints the alcohol bite became more pronounced. Also take heed of Mag's warning regarding the Savannah Smiles: "NO - not with the lemon!"

Dino S'mores, as one might expect, completely dominated the mild Trefoils, but unexpectedly and conversely was drowned out by the peanut butter of the Tagalongs. It did however work well with the Do-si-dos and provided a nice compliment to the Samoas, with flavors that that were along the same vein but different enough not to be blah together.

The lightest of the three, Stone Americano, offered a pronounced coffee flavor that was accentuated by the Do-si-dos (yum!!) and played well enough with the Thin Mints, Trefoils and Samoas, making it perhaps the most successful beer of the day. The mild, buttery Trefoils, the bright, lemony Savannah Smiles and the oatmeal-peanut butter Do-si-dos seemed to be the most agreeable cookies to pair beer with. The latter found its "jelly" with the gluten-free Olallie, similar to what we'd found with Lindemans Framboise last year. All in all it was once again a different twist on enjoying our most favorite of beverages.

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