Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Beer & Girl Scout Cookies Pairing Year IV

It's hard to believe we've been playing this annual game which is part helping the Girl Scouts out and part adult play. But here we are and once again we've stepped up the game, taking what we've learned to make the pairings more successful, more fun and since we're not kids, more adult-gut friendly.

This year there are some two vegan cookies being made that through our network we were able to get our hands on. That's cool but that also means more cookies to try so in order to avoid total sugar shock we split the pairing into two sessions, the first of which recently happened and the second of which will take place later today. Because what else would you eat on Pi Day but cookies?

Part I Cookies
- S'Mores regular
- S'Mores vegan
- Savannah Smiles
- Lemonades (vegan)
- Shortbreads aka Trefoils
- Thanks-A-Lot

Both versions of the S'Mores cookies are new to the GS cookie line up this year and while both are s'mores-y they are very different cookies. The non-vegan version is a graham cracker sandwich cookie with chocolate and marshmallow filling that has almost an almond flavor. Perhaps one of the best as a stand alone, we found that it paired exceptionally with Alaskan Smoked Porter (which we had opened to pair with another cookie). The beer's smokiness completed the campfire package that the cookie started.

The vegan S'mores also starts with a graham cracker cookie but diverges from there, being twice dipped in crème icing before being covered in chocolate. One of the Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine suggestions (the base that we chose to work from this year) was Cascade Kriek Ale and while that is a local option, it's a 750ml bottle and knowing how many beers we were going to be opening, even with our group, we tried to steer our selections to smaller 12-16oz options. Ommegang Rosetta (thanks, Robby!) fit the size preference and its flavor profile is similar, if perhaps with a bit less tart bite than the Kriek. This may have been a blessing in disguise as the cherry-juice like profile combined with these cookies to taste just like chocolate covered cherries - outstanding!!

The next most chocolaty cookie of this group is Thanks-A-Lot which isn't listed as being new but we don't recall having before (maybe it wasn't in our market last year). A fairly large, thin shortbread cookie with one side dunked in chocolate fudge, the chocolate component allowed it to pair well with Alaskan Smoked Porter, Ommegang Rosetta and Founders Dirty Bastard (again, an bottle opened with another cookie in mind). We also chose one of the CBBM suggestions - Sixpoint Resin - which at least a couple in our group have little love for on its own. But, hey, we've had plenty of beers that we didn't particularly enjoy on their own be great when paired with the right thing so we were hopeful this would be the case. IT. WAS. NOT. The incredible bitterness of the beer was increased by the cookie to the point where it was like chewing on an aspirin. Ick. Perhaps an imperial IPA - the overall suggestion - with a sweeter profile would work better but if you want to play it safe, go with beers that work with the chocolaty-ness.

Since we've now mentioned two beers that we opened with another cookie in mind, let's talk about it - the Shortbread/Trefoil. This cookie has probably been around as long as Thin Mints so no doubt you've tried its buttery goodness. Both the Alaskan and a barrel-aged version of the Founders were suggested for this cookie and we'll agree that they both work. The maltiness of Founder Dirty Bastard compliments and is complimented by the heavy butteryness of the cookie and the Alaskan's strong smoky flavor easily stands up to the cookie's richness.

Moving to the lighter, lemony cookies - the Savannah Smiles that we found a great pairing with last year (thanks, Chris!) and the new-to-us, vegan Lemonades. That great beer is Saison DuPont and although we still enjoyed it with the powdered sugar covered Savannah Smiles, it paired even better with the lemon iced shortbread Lemonades. Another beer that worked well with both was Culmination Peche, especially if you enjoy a bright tartness. Those looking for a sweeter fruit pairing might prefer Founders Rubaeus, a beer that was all around yummy with the Smiles and one whose slight tartness served to balance the Lemonades' icing sweetness. Going in a completely different direction, but taking the CBBM suggestion for the Lemonades, we cracked open Lagunitas Citrusinesis Pale Ale. Its citrus components, the zestiness complimented the Lemonades but really shined bright with the Smiles where witbiers and mieres de miel had been suggested.

With six cookies tackled in that session, that leaves five more - Thin Mints, Toffee-tastic, Do-Si-Dos, Samoas and Tagalongs - for part two which is going to happen later today. So while you enjoy your pie, we'll be slaving away on the cookies. Check back to see, for better or worse, what we discover.

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