Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Getting Our Sugar on With Beer and Donuts


The holiday season is upon us and with that come indulgences in many areas. Have visiting friends or family in town and want a quick breakfast? Donuts are always a hit.

But donuts aren't just relegated to morning hours, they are quite honestly good any time of day. Some donut shops/bakeries shut down in the early afternoon or when they run out but those folks that have pink boxes and most grocery/convenience stores will have some form of donut at any hour of the day to sugar you up.


We recently returned to our pairing shenanigans at The BeerMongers, with Milners bringing a selection of Hostess and Franz products, which fall into the latter category, and Kris bringing a selection of donuts from family-owned SE shop, Delicious Doughnuts. Once the donut haul was laid out we dug into some serious research.

We've done plenty of sugar-based beer pairings in the past (cookies and a variety of candy) and one thing that tends to ring true is that a dark, heavy beer like North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin is generally a slam dunk with a good number of the sugary treats. Not so this time. At best it was "ok" with Hostess Donettes crunch mini donuts. For the most part it clashed with the donuts or overpowered them. The Franz birthday cake old fashioned donuts and Delicious Doughnuts Bad Grandpa (apple fritter with chocolate, bacon and peanut butter) were the exception in that they were able to hold their own.

One of the beers on tap that day was Urban Roots Ales for ALS Rye IPA. This beer was a nice pairing with Franz birthday cake, with the cake mellowing the hop bite of the beer and the beer mellowing the sugar rush of the donut.


Also on tap was Reverend Nat's Valley of the Pear spiced cider, a cider that Kris would have liked to have had a bit more spice profile but the subtleness of it may have been the key to its donut pairings. The best of the donuts with it was Hostess Donettes Strawberry Cheesecake and while sweet, it was enjoyable. It also worked well with Delicious Donuts Vietnamese Coffee raised donut and it provided a nice contrast to the double chocolate Hostess Donettes.

Chris grabbed two Crooked Stave Petite sours - raspberry and blueberry. The raspberry went best with Hostess strawberry cheesecake Donettes and Hostess glazed Donettes with the blueberry finding a serviceable pairing with Delicious Doughnuts maple old fashioned and Bad Grandpa.


The most surprising beer of the day was Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier Lentbeer, a beer Kris noted had "a lotta smoke." With Hostess crunch Donettes the smoke of the beer and the subtle coconut of the donut balanced each other well. Hostess glazed Donettes were an "interesting" pairing that worked fine as well.


Finally, since it was that time of year, the Wayfinder Beer Corpo Seco Pumpkin Ale worked with Hostess crunch Donettes and provided a depth to Hostess double chocolate Donettes. This collaboration between Wayfinder, Cloudburst (Seattle) and Magnolia (San Francisco) was less "spiced" than many beers of this genre, with Chris commenting that it has a bit of a "pumpkin pie crust thing going on."


While we aren't suggesting you bust out the beers when you serve up donuts to friends/family in the morning, as long as you are willing to incur a possible sugar hangover it's an interesting exercise. Besides, one can always tap out and continue down the solo beer or donut path.


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Girl Scout Cookie Pairing 2021


We're still here even though it's been quite some time since the last post. And even though the pandemic may have cancelled a lot of things, it didn't cancel Girl Scout cookie season and our annual beer pairing. Per usual, Chris sourced the cookies. Then he graciously divvied them up for a COVID-safe handoff/tasting last Saturday at The BeerMongers. We both started with a draft of StormBreaker Brewing Eagle Fang All-Valley style (shout out to SB for the awesome Cobra Kai reference). We agreed that the moderately hopped IPA was a nice pairing with Lemon Ups cookies that enhanced the hop flavor.

 

After the IPA, Chris took his Girl Scout cookie pairing down a dark, delicious alley with Oskar Blues Brewery 2019 Ten Fiddy. Here he found one of the new cookies for this year, French Toast, to be a great pairing. The cinnamon in the cookie was just the right amount, steering clear of being weird with the complexity of the beer. Also tasty were the chocolate and peanut butter Tagalongs. Last, and possibly best, were the S'mores. If you haven't had these sandwich cookies they provide a surprisingly facsimile of what actual s'mores taste like without the work of building a fire and toasting marshmallows.

 

Next up Chris went another completely different direction with Double Nickel Dot Matrix kettle sour blackberry and raspberry. He found it paired nicely with the gluten-free (not that there's anything wrong with that) Toffee-tastic and I enjoyed it with the new-this-year Toast-yay! French toast-inspired cookie as well as Lemon-ups. We both agreed that the standout pairing was the Thin Mints. One of the OG cookies, it was like putting mint and raspberry in lemonade.

 

The Girl Scout cookie pairing continued with Baerlic Brewing Co. Sundowner Black Lager. While it didn't work with the Thin Mints, it provided balance to: the Toast-yay! (offsetting the sweetness), the Samoas (especially for those who are not coconut fans) and the Lemon-up (dark to the citrus flavor).

 

Two beers that were more challenging to pair with the Girl Scout cookies were Little Beast Brewing Tiger Team IPA and Block 15 Brewing Co. Ridgeback Red. Not ones to back down from a challenge, Chris found a match for Tiger Team with Lemon-ups, the lemon really popping out. And I decided that the creamy peanut butter and chocolate flavors of the Tagalongs were copacetic with the Ridgeback Red. The abbreviated pairing, while maybe not ideal for "scientific" purposes certainly produced less of a sugar hangover than we've subjected ourselves to in previous years.

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Latest Installment of Beer & Cheese Pairing

Our periodic beer and cheese pairing adventure resurfaced this fall with some returning favorites showing up on the cheese front along with new ones and of course, new beers.

Cheddar, as a broad category of cheese, always makes an appearance at our pairings. This time around we had a smoked cheddar from Beecher's and a peppercorn cheddar from Face Rock that both went quite nicely with Gun Hill Rise Up Rye. The beer, brewed in The Bronx NY, was a gift from a friend out east and while we didn't love its rye-ness on its own, pairing it with these cheddars - one smoky and deep, the other slightly spicy from the peppercorns - brought out its best qualities.

Another return contender was the mushroom Brie from Trader Joe's, invited again due to its incredible versatility to pair with beers ranging from hoppy IPAs to hefty stouts and more. Falling into the "more" category this time was Drake's Quint, a barrel-aged Belgian-style quintuple. A beer like this is usually a little too much for us, both with its 14.5% ABV and the intense coriander, orange zest, honey and cherry flavor profile. Pairing it with the earthy cheese balanced the overt sweetness of the beer.

It came as a bit of a surprise to find that this big, sweet beer actually paired quite well with Murray's Blueberry Stilton. Fruited Stiltons in one form or another (apricot, cranberry) often make an appearance and fall into the dessert category of cheeses. On the surface it may seem counter intuitive to pair a sweet cheese with a sweet, boozy beer but the cheese managed somehow to tame the excessive sweet, booze flavor of the beer. 

Continuing further down the dessert path, the Blueberry Stilton was a hit with Fremont 2017 BB Dark Star Spice Wars that happened to be on tap. The beer offered heavy cinnamon flavors and when combined with the cheese was reminiscent of a blueberry muffin. Breakfast anyone?

Like cheddars, IPAs are a constant in our pairing quests. Two familiar ones - Melvin IPA and Baerlic Cut the Fluff hazy IPA - both worked will with Alisios, a semi-soft cow/goat cheese from Spain. The cheese's inherent nuttiness complimented the hop profiles of the beer and was enhanced when adding some roasted pistachios we happened to have on hand, into the mix.

As always we are incredibly grateful to The BeerMongers for letting us indulge in our pairing adventures and pleased that so many of our friends are willing to join in the fun.