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!