Friday, March 11, 2022

Girl Scout Cookie Pairing 2022

It's Girl Scout cookie time and that can mean only one thing: our annual cookies and beer pairing at The BeerMongers. In keeping with tradition Chris procured the cookies and we set a date to see what kind of pairing magic we could make happen.

As has been the case in recent years, the Girl Scouts introduced a new cookie this year. Called Adventurefuls, it's described as an "indulgent brownie-inspired cookie topped with caramel flavored creme with a hint of sea salt." In our expert opinion, this cookie was disappointing both in overall flavor and the fact that even though it is supposed to be brownie-inspired, it is a crunchy cookie. Indulgent brownies are not crunchy ever. Flavor-wise, it missed the indulgent mark as well and as such, the most successful pairings were ones that overpowered the flavor of the cookie.

The beers that we found the most success with were all boldly flavored beers that were actually quite different from one another. Early in the game Mag couldn't resist the pull of the cute mini-cans of Harviestoun Ola Dubh 18 Year Special Reserve. The 8.4-ounce cans of "black oil" imperial porter aged in Highland Park whisky casks clock in at a moderate 8% ABV. Kris particularly loved it paired with the S'mores cookies and would have happily grabbed a couple of cans and a box of the cookies to enjoy in the corner by herself. Mag took a chance and found an unexpectedly delicious pairing of it with the Lemon-Ups.

Although we all agree that Thin Mints are one of the great classic of the Girl Scout cookies lineup, they can be challenging to pair. Looking back at previous pairings, we've found nearly as many beers that worked with them as those that didn't, including Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy in which one vintage worked and another didn't. Ola Dubh goes down in the "works" side of things, having enough body to balance the mint of the cookie.

Knowing that we've had a fair amount of success with fruit-forward beers, Chris grabbed a can of Energy City Bistro Raspberry & Blackberry Crumble. The Berliner-style Weisse beer out of Batavia, IL is made with blackberries, cinnamon and brown sugar added after fermentation. It went very well with the majority of the cookies, including Do-si-does (oatmeal sandwich cookies with peanut butter filling) where it was reminiscent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. With the Samoas, whose coconut can sometimes be problematic to pair, it took our tastebuds to the land of a rhubarb crumble just like grandma made.

Another beer that paired well was Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus Classic triplebock. The Austria import is a big one (14% ABV) that is only brewed once per year (on December 6) and is then aged for 10 months before bottling, or in the case of things today, canning. Due to its powerful flavor it did overpower some of the cookies but where it worked, it WORKED! 

One of those was Do-si-does and another was with S'mores, where the beer became slightly more bitter, but in a good way, when enjoyed with the cookies. Kris and Chris were split on it's ability to pair with Samoas with Kris enjoying it thoroughly where Chris was set against it.

As the years of these pairings have gone by we have realized that the limiting factor isn't our imagination or interest in continuing to test beer and cookie combos out but by how much sugar we can handle before we throw in the towel. Nevertheless, it's a yearly game that's anticipated and enjoyed in the moment. It's just a good thing that Girl Scout cookie time comes around only once per year. 

So until next year, support your local Girl Scout and buy some cookies. Maybe give some pairings a try yourself or just toss a few sleeves of Thin Mints deep into the freezer for later enjoyment.

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.