It’s that time of year again and if you haven’t seen them hawking their sugary treats around town or been asked by a friend or relative to buy them then clearly you’ve been living under a rock. Since Chris’ niece was once again selling them, he was once again buying a box of each variety available. Apparently the beer gods looked favorably upon us because we were able to sit down for our annual pairing foray less than a week after the cookies arrived.
In advance of gathering at our local we perused past years’ pairing posts to see what beers had worked with what cookies, keeping a particular eye out for the unexpected pairs like Do-Si-Dos (peanut butter sandwich cookies) and Bell’s Winter White (Belgian style) or Samoas (coconuty) with Baerlic What the Fluff (hazy IPA). Referencing that information aided some of our decision making while the rest was left to our palates’ preferences and what shiny new things were available this year.
Block 15 Breakfast with Woodford
Our friend Paul brought this treat from his collection and overall the big, boozy stout brewed with maple syrup was a hit both on its own and with many of the cookies. With Toffee-tastic, the gluten free cookie that we were quite happy to see return this year, the pairing took on the flavor profile of French toast. The cookie provided a brioche-like base with its toffee bits playing off the maple syrup notes in the beer. Not surprisingly the rich coconuty Samoas made for a very decadent pairing. Thin Mints, for all of their perceived easy pairing with big, dark beers, have often not been as compatible as we had hoped however here the beer brought the mint to the forefront, making it pop in a deliciously sharp way.
A favorite beer of Caren’s, this imperial stout was brewed to have a flavor profile similar to that of Mexican hot chocolate - deep with a balanced spiciness. As with the Block 15, it worked well with many of the cookies but particularly well with S’mores. This sandwich cookie not only does a great job of smelling like a s’more but also tasting like it and when paired with this beer the marshmallow flavor became enhanced to the point of almost reaching coconut.
Trap Door Mango Lassi
We’ve been impressed with Trap Door’s beers in general however none of us were particularly enamored by this sour/gose, that is until we had some cookie in our mouth at the same time. A tropical take on the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich resulted from pairing it with the Do-Si-Dos and the bright fruit helped to lighten up the chocolate covered peanut butter goodness of the Tagalongs. That light fruitiness also worked well to balance the overt sweetness of the S’mores cookie.
Tieton Cider Works Apricot
While we have primarily stuck to beer pairings, we have occasionally cracked open a cider and often found a compatible cookie for it. This year we tried out an apricot cider, agreeing that it was enjoyable on its own, and found its best mate in the tried and true Trefoils (aka Shortbread). The cookie’s butteriness held strong with a pleasant contribution of bright fruit from the cider. For a lighter pairing, the Savannah Smiles lemon cookie hit the mark.
Great Divide Orabelle
This Belgian-style ale “with spices” is in the same family as the Bell’s Winter White we mentioned previously. Similar to it, it’s not a beer we find particularly enjoyable on its own but we did find a pairing that redeemed the beer - the super sweet Samoas. The beer did its part to balance the cookie’s sweetness while the cookie transformed the beer into something that we quite enjoyed.
Ex Novo Wooden Teeth
Another big, dark beer, this 13.4% ABV whiskey barrel-aged wee heavy ale also found a friend in the Samoas, here being decadent instead of being lightened. For being a "controversial" cookie (depending on your feeling about coconut) this year it turned out to be one of the most versatile and successfully paired cookies.
Thanks to all the friends that joined us, our local and the beertender on staff for making this another fun and palate-informing outing!