Well-defined middle-of-the-road medium body brings sharp piney hop bittering to juicy tropical fruiting and creamy crystal malting. Zesty yellow grapefruit-peeled orange rind bite and subdued peach-mango-pineapple tang spread across mineral-grained crisping and floral-spiced recession. Spritzy carbolic fizz adds snap, crackle and pop to frisky fruited fervor.
On tap at Ambulance, passive dry-hopped saison (a collaboration with Three’s Brewery) retains dainty yellow grapefruit tang, brisk lemon zest crispness and subtle curacao-mandarin orange tartness. Mild brettanomyces bacteria deepens sour citric acidity over sugary wax-candied crystal malt base.
On tap at Ambulance, sharp 2nd anniversary pale ale intensifies initial dry-wooded Simcoe and Amarillo hop bittering with yellow grapefruit rind bite. Below the surface, pungent pine-needled forestry freshens floral orange-mango-pineapple conflux, mineral-grained lemongrass herbage and straw-like astringency.
“Freakishly tasty” India Pale Lager combines the bitter fruited hop bite of an IPA with the pale malt smoothness of a light lager. Sunny grapefruit-peeled lemon tang and bitter orange peel surge pick up light herbal-hopped pining and wispy floral perfuming to contrast mild sugar-spiced malt creaming.
On tap at Ambulance, underwhelming bock brewed in “monastery tradition of beer sustenance” simply lacks specificity and depth of flavor. Docile spiced fig snip falls off off as phenol hop astringency pushes back bland pale malt dryness and dank earthiness. No dark-fruited bock semblance exists.
It goes against my old school belief to drink beer with cookies or sweet candy instead of meat, vegetables and fish. After all, who usually pounds amber-grained bitters with sugary treats when it’s so obvious to chow salty potato chips, pretzels or nuts instead? Perhaps I’m oxymoronic, but happily so after spending an afternoon quaffing four different ales with four different cookies.
For the second straight autumnal season, Maryland’s domineering Flying Dog Brewery has teamed up with Baltimore’s iconic cookie maker, Otterbein’s, for a nifty snack and beer pairing. Each mixed match had its own splendor, some more than others.
Beginning with the lightest-bodied pairing, Flying Dog’s Citrus Saison indelibly matched Otterbein’s sugar cookies. The Belgian-styled fruit ale’s advertised lemony grapefruit “pop” fizz soothed into the easygoing pepper-spiced herbs, rotted lemon desiccation and acidulated malt souring. Eating part of the the sugar cookie prior to sipping suds provided the desired “pop” for this worthily compatible coupling.
For Flying Dog’s Cranberry IPA, Otterbein’s lemon sugar cookies sweetened the musky lemon-dried cranberry adjunct, wispy orange peel bittering, herbal-grained salting and brittle piney hop astringency. It may be a stretch contrasting a sourly tart fruit ale with doughy sucrose, but it’s a worthy treat. However, matching the white-peppered tropical fruiting and Saaz-hopped herbage of Belgian-Style Pale Ale to Otterbein’s orange cookie proved more challenging, if less successful.
Perhaps the best pairing matched the dark mocha-malted cookie dough richness and spicy dried fruiting of Flying Dog’s Fig & Fennel Stout to Otterbein’s fabulous oatmeal raisin cookie. Beneath the surface, raw molasses-like sinew and wood-burnt hop pungency lightly embittered the fennel-spiced fig adjunct.
My feeling is there’s an unexplored market for this bitter-sweet beer/cookie pairing. Will the sweet-toothed dessert sect start appreciating brews instead of milk with their cookies? Will beerpubs pick up the trend and succeed? Anyway, Christmastime’s the right time to get decadent. So go for it!
On tap at Ambulance, fiercely complex Imperial Stout-dominated hybrid (limited edition 2015) blends brewers’ bourbon-aged Undead Party Crasher’s chocolate-chipped cookie dough yeast with Scotch-barreled Blaecorn Unidragon’s vanilla-creamed mocha malting and Pierre Ferrand Billionaire’s cognac-aged barleywine for a completely over-the-top full-bodied monster. Rich caramel-burnt black chocolate creaming picks up luscious rum-spiced vanilla bourbon, sugared molasses, black cherry and burgundy sweetness to contrast less prominent black-tarred hop char (and whimsical black coffee bittering). Tertiary peat whiskey snip and latent fig-raisin quip slip inside mighty mocha marvel.
Enduringly approachable medium body leans on tropical-fruited Mosaic hops, crystal sugar malts and piney molasses sapping to provide amiable West Coast IPA spirit. Lemony pink grapefruit and pineapple tang leads the parade of fascinatingly floral-fruited fulsomeness. Juicy orange-peeled mango, peach, tangerine, nectarine, honeydew and cantaloupe illusions contrast never-too-bitter peppery astringency. Like springtime blossoming, Dayglow’s bright, fresh, ripe, lively, sweet, engaging and zesty.
On tap at Ambulance, refreshingly dry Japanese India Pale Ale stays stylistically moderate as subtle mandarin orange adjunct seeps into wispy Maris Otter pale malting and herbal honeyed grain alcohol whisk. Light mandarin orange tang picks up restrained lemon, tangerine, mango, pineapple and passionfruit tropicalia as well as peppery floral nip.